Tag: Documentary

The Mothman Legacy

Ya’ll ever hear about the Mothman? You know, the large moth like creature the size of the man? With its glowing red eyes and soft gentle plan? With its wings like a moth and its chicken frying on the pan? With its beacon of doom and its skin never tan?

Sorry, I wanted to rap a little bit about Mothman.

A lot of people know about the Mothman thanks to the book and movie called The Mothman Prophecies. It had Richard Gere and Laura Linney! That is definitely when I first heard about it, dealing with events leading up to a bridge collapse in West Virginia in the 60’s.

Maybe if you read the book before that you heard of it, or lived in West Virginia, or near West Virginia. It is there Loch Ness Monster up in the woods. It goes back decades and people like to talk about seeing the Mothman and how it is a bringer of doom, or a warning, or a symbol.

In this documentary, The Mothman Legacy, they examine the legacy of the….uh….Mothman.


Actual Mothman picture. No, just kidding, just another graphic.

In this documentary we have interviews with people who claim to have seen the Mothman when they were younger, or when they were old, and how it led to something in their life. How they can swear they never heard about it before but described it to their siblings who say they saw the same thing.

We also have interviews with people who were there in the 60’s and saw or dealt with the bridge collapse, and the mood of the town at that point. We have people who have their own Mothman museum and the Mothman festival that happens yearly. And heck, we even got an expert about Native American tribes in the area and the reason why their mountains were left alone.

And that is what the documentary gives you. If that sounds like a hoot and a holler, then go for it. But I can only take so much ominous noises as background music, with artist rendered Mothmen, and hear these stories over and over before wanting something different.

And sure, it tried to break it down into sections and themes, but they didn’t feel different enough to me to basically keep giving the same format. Sure, they had a specific topic or time frame or whatever. But by golly, and I don’t mean to swear, it was a bit drab. Boring. Sleep inducing.

I wasn’t going into this expecting to be convinced about an urban legend or anything. I was expecting just…something more exciting. But this is presented in its best made for TV special format, with easy to insert commercial breaks, like something that could be on the History Channel. And I mean the modern History channel, not the old one.

Moths were already relatively uninteresting to me, but I guess so now are the Mothman stories.

1 out of 4.

Trump Card

Fuck, it is 2020.

And I am not saying that for all the many reasons you might be thinking about. I am saying that because it is an even year. And every even year, for the last 8 or so, we’ve gotten stuck with a summer/fall documentary by Dinesh D’Souza.

It is clockwork now. Big election soon? Let’s get my huge ass propaganda piece out so help convince people with false facts and weirdly produced scenes.

For example, Trump Card, it begins and ends with a torture scene. A futuristic big brother thing of a government official torturing and brain washing a regular republican to a new way of life. All the same or else. Completely ridiculous stuff, and that is just one of the many things Dinesh throws into his movies.

Like most of his previous documentaries, this one has overall the same theme. Democrats are bad an evil, Republicans are trying to save the world. Repetitive talking points, no real proof, and occasionally patriotic music to really drive home that propaganda.


Ah yes, this is the part where Dinesh is the main focus.

You see, at this point, these documentaries are basically all about Dinesh too. He can’t help have himself be part of the main focus. He can’t help showcasing himself more in every interview instead of the speaker. He loves to ask his interviewees leading questions as well. You know, to get that specific sound bite. But for some reason Dinesh doesn’t even edit these things to get rid of that fact. Come on dude, you could make it look more menacingly if you don’t look like you are spoon feeding the people on what to say!

And so how does he phrase these arguments? Eh, just regular old gaslighting. “You know how the democratic parties seem to appeal to women, or the gays, or black people, or Hispanic people, or foreigners? Well, here is one person saying they don’t. And also everything they do is evil, and it is actually the Republicans who help these group the most! Yayyy!” Usually he also likes to give a throwback to something decades ago to why the republicans today are totally helpful. Because decades ago was relevant.

But hey, he is not done. Let’s go and attack Ilhan Omar, and Biden’s family some more, and things like that. And at the very very very end? Give a quick comment that sure, Trump might sometimes not be the most eloquent, or not be nice with his words, but can we blame him, what with all the attacks he deals with?

If you like being gaslighted, you will love this documentary. And if you do see this documentary and love it, please let me know.

-1 out of 4.

Totally Under Control

Alex Gibney is a big name in the documentary community. He has been doing this for quite a few years and seems to love the pursuit, as both a director and a producer. He directed such documentaries like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, and Citizen K.

And now he is back with a surprise documentary, Totally Under Control. Seriously. It is a huge surprise. The trailer dropped in early October and announced it would be out that same month. It is going straight to VOD and will be available for everyone on Hulu starting October 20th. It is an incredible quick turnaround, no one knew it was coming out.

Well, the people interviewed knew, and the people behind the camera knew, but that was about it. So why the secrecy?

Well, the topic is dealing with the Coronavirus threat, and its impact on the United Sates, and dealing with how the current administration completely fucked over a whole lot of Americans.

fauci
One of these men wants to save and protect you. The other does not.
So who do we talk to in this documentary? Oh you know, people who were parts of the pandemic response team, both before the pandemic stuff started, and after. People who helped predict models and were in data analysis groups as information started coming out. We also have a person who was a part of a volunteer task force, officially run by the White House, that had a lot of light to shine on the process. Heck, we even got a guy who was the only major face mask producer in the USA who warned about this scenario as well.

They also go out of the way to show how safe the interviews are, in case you are curious about that.

This film has a big time frame to focus on, but honestly, most of it is from December 2019 to March of 2020. The early parts of the pandemic and the US response from it. We do get some information about the 1918 pandemic, and the past big health scares during the Obama administration and what they did to make things be better in the future.

And. It. Is. So. Detailed. I would have swore this would have gone basically from just February to August or so, but it ends so much sooner to that. I am already expecting a sequel.

Obviously this one was put out now to make sure voters are aware of some of the actions their government took this year, and honestly, this feels like a documentary everyone should take. If you have access to Hulu, take a couple hours to give a gander next week. It is important, it is detailed, and it is perhaps more eye opening than you expect.

4 out of 4.

Through Greenland (Gennem Grønland)

Greenland. Green. Land. Greeeeenland.

A country with a lot of mystery, because honestly, they don’t have an army and don’t affect the world in any other way that makes us look at them. That isn’t a bad thing. Just somewhat of a truth. People hear about Greenland mostly when we hear about melting ice sheets and similar topics and that is bad.

Enter Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. You may know him as Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones. You may know him from Black Hawk Down, you may even know him from Wimbledon!

He has a history with this country, but also knows little about it. His dad worked here in the 1980’s away from their home in Denmark, and his wife (Nukâka) is a Greenlander, also an actress and a former Miss Greenland. So he has been to the country, he has met with her family and friends, but he hasn’t really experienced all of what the country has to offer.

So in this five part mini-series, that is what Nikolaj is going to do. Experience the shit out of Greenland. He wants to go Through Greenland, which yes, is the name of the thing.

train
Regardless of content, it is a bitchin’ graphic to open the show.

At five episodes with around 45 minutes an episode, there is a lot of Nikolaj to go around. It is spread over a longer period of time of course, with various people he knows acting as camera men and guides along the way. He is visiting towns and communities, both small and really small. A military base! Schools! And places far from the communities as well. The ice sheets to spend the night, to go on a long arduous hunting trip and more.

Nikolaj has always cared about climate change and so it is clear another reason for this series is to focus on the changes that are affecting Greenland that are notable to the residents, who can attest to the melts.

And if you want your content to be in Danish, then I have good news for you. This is a lot more Danish than I expected. It started out misleading, since the first thing he did was go to an American military base, but after that it goes a lot out of the window. I can’t tell you if it is mostly in Danish or Greenlandic, but maybe our host knows the latter and thus naturally can communicate anywhere on the island.

This small docu-series is not going to change the world. But it does offer some insight to a country that is often ignored for its human population. When we speak of Greenland, we speak of ice and emptiness, and ignore that it has its own communities, customs, and ways of life. So it is good that something is putting a stamp on it.

It features Nikolaj going the whole Greenland experience, I don’t recall him saying no to anything really. And it really shows those details which might be a curse or a blessing. I feel at times we spend a lot longer on a scene than necessary, or conversation. As a viewer, you may wonder if they didn’t want to do too much editing? That becomes the problem. If they edited it down, then we wouldn’t see the real country. But then they’d also need more content to fill five episodes. I hope the goal was to showcase the country and then give it the episodes they felt represented their footage, and make it a goal specifically to just pad it to five episodes.

Oh well. Two-Handed Jamie Lannister does manly and impressive things in nature with friends. That is what most people might take away from this.

2 out of 4.

Well Groomed

How many people here have dogs? Are you a fancy enough dog owner to get them groomed to looking their best? I know I am not fancy enough for that. I have a hard enough time cleaning up my dog’s sleeping area to worry about how pretty she feels. But that is why I cheated and got a dog with short fur that handles her own business.

Assuming you actually get your dog groomed, you might already be aware that there are dog grooming competitions out there! To see who can style their dogs to look the neatest, with the most precise cuts, and best brushed hair, I guess. Well, if you are interested in that, then this is not the documentary for you.

No, Well Groomed goes that step further. Because there is dog grooming, then there is creative dog grooming. Where you take your precious fluffy, and you add color, bling, art style, pizzazz, the whole nine yards. You make them into a real life pinata, or statue, and you show off your “doggy sculpture.”

No really, this is a real thing with competitions and judges, and trust me, people love it.


The dog is now multiple chickens.

The creative dog groomers end up doing a whole lot to make their pets stand out. They dye their hair, they add other accessories, and they still get all the normal grooming aspects, like nails cut and everything in its perfect place.

But is it cruel? Well, it could be. But if you talk to the dog owners, they go out of their way to make sure anything they use is safe for their pets, especially the dyes. They make sure their pet is loved, and only do it to pets that show a willingness for the act. They aren’t forcing a dog to accept it, the dogs look happy to be receiving so much attention, even if they don’t get it themselves.

I will admit, I expected to hate this documentary. It has been available on HBO for awhile, and I never got around to it, but the version I watched is a longer version, with 20ish more minutes of footage, and it was a delightful evening.

The documentary follows four contestants through a normal circuit of competitions, so we get to see them hone their craft and designs, take their ideas and turn it from concept to actual doggo. The women that are seen are very different, at various stages of their careers as competitors, have businesses related to dog grooming and really explain their drive and why they are passionate about this competitive scene. After all, that is what really matters, having passion (and fine, pet safety, get out of here PETA).

Without Well Groomed, I likely wouldn’t have known about the creative side of dog owning. I would have just continued happily with my Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show knowledge (which is close to zero) and been content. But it is fascinating to watch what people can still learn to do as a new form of pet owning, and that we still have somewhere to go creatively as a species. Even if it means dressing up other species.

3 out of 4.
And you can see a video interview with the director of Well Groomed, Rebecca Stern, here!

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo

Who is Danny Trejo? Okay, well, for this one, you might not know his name, but you have likely seen him in a movie. As of this moment he has 383 acting credits to his name, from TV shows, to movies, to things still in production.

The title, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, comes from the fact that many of his early roles in films since the 1980’s did not have a real name for the character. He was known as Boxer, Inmate, Prisoner, Tattoo Artist, Chink’s Gang, Costello’s Bodyguard, and even once apparently “Mean” was his character, which I assume was not a name either.

So how did this man, this tough burly Mexican, get into acting at the age of 40, and how did he get over 300 roles in less than 40 years?

Well, the main and obvious part of this documentary is that he didn’t start as an actor, but as a regular kid who was involved with crime. He was in a gang, his family members were in a gang, and he did a LOT of bad stuff. Robberies mostly, but having weapons and threatening his community, he was in and out of juvenile detention. And once he got to being an adult, he did more that got him put away for a long time. And when he was in prison for real, that is when his life really began to change.

danny trejo
Let’s assume that backdrop was a green screen. Would be fucked up to do an interview in what looks like an actual prison or…abandoned school or whatever this is. 

So how can someone go from being a life long criminal, with lots of trauma in his life, to being an actor that no one seems to have any problems with, and is known for his huge amounts of work ethic? Well if I tell you all of that, why would you watch the documentary?

But needless to say, things happened in there that changed him. His life took on new meaning, and once he got out of prison he had a focus to make not just his own life better, but the lives of his friends, family, and the community he had wronged. He has spent the second half of his life writing those wrongs, and what came as part of that? Well, a vibrant movie career.

And he was able to take that and evolve from scary background Hispanic man, to friendly scientist in Spy Kids and eventual leading man of his own over the top franchise, Machete. He was SIXTY-SIX YEARS OLD when Machete came out, which is probably the oldest aged person to lead a new franchise (who also had never been the lead man before). Hell, Liam Neeson was in his 50’s when Taken came out (but again, he was already known as a leading man).

The reason I liked this documentary is it presented Danny Trejo as a real person. His flaws, and his successes. He has a message of hope coming from someone who was a pretty bad dude into someone who wasn’t. He has grown from his mistakes and in order to do that, you have to admit you have them. Pretty easy to admit mistakes when they are on public record of course, but still, admitting them is important.

Thank you Danny Trejo for bettering your life and showing people there can be a way out if you can get help from your community.

Also featuring some of his friends and famous people telling stories (along with his former crime buddies and family). You will see Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez, and Robert Rodriguez in here, amongst others.

3 out of 4.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

Who is Walter Mercado? No really, who is Walter Mercado? I don’t think I have heard of his name before watching this movie and review.

Now, I saw reviews of this, brief reports, and that it was now out on Netflix. And looking at the pictures, I just assumed he was an eccentric weather man on Hispanic based television. Boy was I wrong. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado isn’t about weather at all.

For those of you who do not know, Walter Mercado was a famous (and likely, the most famous), Astrologist in the world. Astrologist? Yes, Astrologist. You know, zodiac signs and horoscopes.

Mercado grew up different than his friends, and was always seen as a spiritual person. Apparently in his community he was slightly worshiped as a kid because a neighbor saw him “heal” a bird back to life and fly away. So people wanted to come by and touch him. It’d be hard to grow up thinking you were a mini-god at that point I imagine.

After being an actor for awhile, with lots of substance, Walter was put on the air once to do an interview for an upcoming show. The interviewer didn’t want to talk about the show, wanted to talk about horoscopes, because Walter talked about it a lot to the staff before the show. Because the show got so many calls during that segment, they asked him to come the next day and do it again with new readings. And the rest was history.

walter mercado
History is fabulous!

So what happened after that? He eventually got his own Astrology show, which had lots of ratings. That show led to another show. It led to him being on the news, and to traveling across the world to various shows and getting his readings out there. Basically, if you grew up in a Spanish home in the 80’s or 90’s (or 70’s?) you likely knew about this mysterious man.

And then he went away at some point, and no one seems to know why, which is what this documentary wants to explain.

You see, it is all about law suits. He trusted a manager to be a good person, and this led to him signing a bad contract letting them do whatever they wanted with him. Once the money stopped flowing, Mercado wanted answers and out, but this led to big legal battle that lasted years. Overall, Mercado got to keep his name, but the company got to keep his likeness and old material and shows for profit. At that point, Mercado had tried a few comebacks but failed, and the rest, again, is history.

Now my biggest issue with this documentary is two fold.

First of all, astrology itself is all just made up, and that should not be a controversial statement to make. Vague statements that can be applied to most people, and if it doesn’t, well, you usually remember the ones that are spot on. There is lots of information out there on this and similar topics. So Mercado got big and famous over lying to lots of people. Okay, whatever.

The second thing is that this documentary is 100% a puff piece documentary, not going to much nit or grit of his life. The entire last third of the documentary is preparing for and being excited about a museum show honoring his life in Miami in 2019 and just drags. But Mercado was involved with some shady shit. He had a psychic hot line and also was involved with selling “magic” jewelry (which the documentary left out) and the documentary swept it under the rug. They blamed his manager, said Mercado wasn’t out to hurt people at all and then moved the hell on.

Come on, this is a documentary, lets be truthful. It is okay if you did bad shit. Talk about it, admit to it, and lets move on. Instead they focus on this person only being an angel and worshiped, but ignoring the bad stuff and that it is all based on a lie anyways. It just rubs me completely the wrong way.

This documentary will definitely inform you as to who he is and why he became popular, but I find myself skeptical at other parts of it due to the glaring obvious parts that are ignored.

And hey, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez are in here, and they are famous. The former also opens the documentary and has an extended part at the end. I also did like to hear about his long time best friend and assistant Willy Acosta, and I wonder what he is up to now with his life in his own hands.

1 out of 4.

Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

Who Killed Garrett Phillips? Is the third out of 3 HBO documentaries about really recent and important court cases involving a dead body. This follows I Love You, Now Die, and Behind Closed Doors.

Clearly the third and final one is removing any sort of clever title behind and getting straight to the point. Garret Phillips is dead, and we have no idea who killed him.

Garrett was a 12 year old boy, son of a single mother and a brother of another boy of similar age. He liked skateboarding. And when he got home alone, at some point someone else was in his house. There was a struggle, a strangle, and eventually when someone can open the door to find him, he is so close to death, he cannot talk and he cannot say who did it.

We know for sure it wasn’t something done on his own, mostly because of a window that was broken out of, where the most likely killer jumped out and ran away. Oh, this all happened right around 5pm in a very white town after school.

deadboy
A story about a dead white kid and I didn’t hear about it sooner?
The main stream media must be slipping.

So who did it? Well, the people who might have been in position to see someone leave the window couldn’t see it, because they came inside due to police presence. It really comes down to one person, according to the local police force. It must be Oral “Nick” Hillary, the local African man! You know, the one who stands out and used to date the mom of Garrett, but they broke up.

And the rest of this documentary, overall a bit over 3 hours, examines the police findings on him and his trial and his defense. And I will be honest, this documentary is extremely compelling on why it wasn’t him and who it likely could have been. It is someone you would imagine really early into it as well, thanks to foreshadowing, before they go out and say it, and it seems like a huge injustice in the world.

This is very dense and full of important information on the trial, but not 8 hour miniseries on Netflix dense. This is a good amount of dense.

I am shocked to not hear about it earlier, and honestly, it made me feel outraged and a little bit scared. And as of right now THEY STILL DON”T KNOW WHO DID IT. Fuck. No wonder this true crime stuff is addicting. It is teasing you up the whole time and no release. Erm.

4 out of 4.

Tell Me Who I Am

Alex Lewis was in a motorcycle accident went he turned 18 years old. A bad one, but it didn’t kill him. It did fuck with his brain real good though, giving him that amnesia.

Yes, most of the time amnesia is a dumb plot device in shows who don’t know what to write about, because it is super, super rare. But this happened for Alex. When he woke up in the hospital, he didn’t know anyone who sat beside his bed, except for Marcus. Who was Marcus?

Marcus was his twin brother. That is good, because if anyone can help Alex with his life, it would be someone who spent most days with him growing up, and someone who knows everything about him. Marcus’ job is literally to tell Alex who he is, which is why we got the fun title, Tell Me Who I Am.

And that is a big job for anyone, especially if you have something to hide.

bros
Well, if they turn the lights off, I guess they are mostly hiding from each other.

You see, when Alex asked Marcus about their home and their past, he gave answers and Alex had no reason to question them. He told them about their home layout, their previous vacations, their routine, their parents, their friends and all of that.

Eventually questions got more detailed and less basic, and Alex had answers for them too. Why were his parents like whatever, why did they do blank in their house, why as their dad a jerk. You know, advanced questions.

And it wasn’t until after both parents had passed, when they were cleaning out the house together, when Alex found something incomprehensible from what he knew about his own past, and his brother confirmed it when asked. But he refused to give details, and they started to drift further apart.

In this documentary, we hear Alex’s side of the story after waking up from the accident, we then hear Marcus’ side of the story and why he did what he felt necessary, and we find out what they’ve been dealing with for the last 20 years apart. But finally? They get to meet in person and just get the truth out there. Alex needs to know for closure, and Marcus has to tell him and relive his own worst nightmares.

This documentary is so goddamn compelling. For basically just being two guys talking separately, than to each other, there is so much to unwrap and follow. It breaks your goddamn heart, especially when you realize that at this point, there is nothing that can be done. The bad people are gone, the lies were told, and now they just have to live out the rest of their lives.

Bless these men for not only going through these terrifying experiences, but by also choosing to tell their story in a compelling and unique way. If it wasn’t for Marcus’ cowardice, we would have never had something to fucked up to even follow. It is heartbreaking, I never want to see it again.

Thanks, I hate it.

4 out of 4.

Aquarela

When I first heard about Aquarela, I knew I had to see it, because I knew a lot of people wouldn’t go out of their way to see it and what’s the damn purpose of my site if I don’t go and see it?

It’s a documentary, and I try to champion documentaries on here. It is about water. And that is about it.

This is not a documentary talking about climate change. It doesn’t have scientists explaining things over beautiful footage. It doesn’t have an overarching story of people doing things in the water. It is more or less just footage of water, or its frozen version ice, just doing its thing. We have /some/ talking, which comes with subtitles, but that is few and far between. Because the humans are not meant to be the star, but the water is.

Now, this film was done with incredibly detailed cameras. It was filmed at the insanely high 96 frames per second. If you remember all the Hobbit fiasco, some of those films were shown at 48 frames per second, and it rubbed plenty of people the wrong way. But because this is nature, seeing it in a higher frame rate seems like a fantastic idea just to get all hard on nature.

I can’t tell you what level I saw the movie at, but I assume I saw it at 48fps, so not as good as the filmmakers intended.

Oh, and because this movie is Denmark in nature, it also features a lot of metal music. In fact the composer was the main member of Apocalyptica, a Finnish cello metal band. You’ve probably heard their covers of Metallica or some Christmas stuff.

It's Water
It’s Water, folks, water.

Okay, now yes, there are actual problems with this documentary. Not including the over hour wait to see it due to having the wrong codes. For 90 minutes, I think around 45-50 minutes of it are about ice and glaciers. That is half the movie! About ice!

And it had some great shots. In fact, the best part of the movie is in the beginning. Just so you know, a person dies in the first 20 or 30 minutes. We don’t see their body, but we see what causes it, we see the attempt at a rescue, and we see reactions of his friends. It is the highlight due to being a tragedy. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie does not hold up.

One of the main problems with the film is of scale. We eventually are on the ocean, with two people on a boat, and for way long we get footage of them, I dunno, turning dials and cranks on their boat. No dialogue, no reason for what they are doing, just cranks cranks and waves. And we see very big impressive waves! Or tiny ones. I don’t know, because the scale is really damn hard to tell.

Eventually we also see some hurricane disasters, and river things, but they have way less time than the other two parts. And also during this part is this very strange out of focus cave scene, and it takes FOREVER to get through with no real reason for its purpose.

It feels like this documentary has too much filler and didn’t get enough diversity in its extreme water scenes.

It also doesn’t have enough metal music. I think it brings in metal only three times, maybe four, during the movie. And that is great. This whole thing should just have gone for extreme footage and metal. That would have made it more entertaining, like a concert film with water extreme visuals. But the metal is too few and far between.

Overall, it is pretty to look at, but its unevenness with its structure and focus, its lack of scale, and lack of party, means almost no one will care about this documentary.

2 out of 4.