Category Archives: Documentary

Reincarnated

This is a documentary, produced in part by Snoopadelic films, about Snoop Dogg’s visit to Jamaica to become a rastaman… supposedly.

Snoop claims a few times that he felt he was a born rasta, so he needed to go to Jamaica, cut a reggae record, meet Bunny Wailer, convert to rastafari, and of course smoke plenty of weed. He did all this, although he just didn’t seem all that sincere about converting to rastafari, or was at least too stoned to take anything seriously. As it turns out Bunny Wailer was not too pleased after the film was released.

From Wikipedia: Bunny Wailer made a statement where he indicted Snoop of “outright fraudulent use” of the Rastafari faith.

I thought the portrayal of rastafari faith in the film seemed a bit too stereotypical, they basically seem to like saying “Jah Rastafari!” a lot, then smoke plenty of ganja.

There was a bit of Snoop Dogg history interspersed throughout the film, including his days as a drug dealer, as well as his short time as an actual pimp. He seems like a very mellow fella now, but that will mostly be down to the large amount of blunt he consumes. His daughter sang one of the songs on the album he recorded in the film.

Not essential watching.

Date watched: December 3rd
Score: 5/10
Film count 2017: 140

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

This is a documentary made by Ice=t about how rappers go about writing their music.

He starts off in New York where rap started, and talks with people like Grandmaster Caz (never heard of him, but he is supposedly one of the first rappers), Yasiin (formerly known as Mos Def), and a few others. He then goes to Detroit to see Eminem, who Ice-T seems to have a lot of respect for, then off to Los Angeles. There he meets up with B-Real from Cypress Hill, Run and DMC, Chuck D, Ice Cube, Kanye West, KRS-One, and Snoop Dogg, amongst others. There is also a look at the history of rap.

He asks each rapper about their writing process, and gets them to do a rap to the camera, most of which are quite impressive, and each one has their own unique style. Snoop Dogg was a highlight as he is such a chill and funny guy.

Ice-T was totally down with each person he met, he seemed to be very chummy with all of them. He did a couple of raps of him own.

But unless you like rap this is probably not for everyone. I did find some of the raps a bit tiring at times, they mostly rap about how dangerous they are and how they like shooting guns and spliffing spliffs. But, their passion for writing their music is clearly evident, and they are certainly talented and confident of themselves. They were also all very knowledgeable and respectful of the history of rap and other forms of music.

Date watched: December 9th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 139

Weekend of a Champion

I stumbled across this on Netflix and had to watch it becaue it was about Formula 1 and Jackie Stewart.

It was directed by Roman Polanski who is a good friend of Jackie’s, and was filmed over the course of the 1971 Monaco GP weekend.

It followed Jackie as he prepared for the race, with plenty of behind the scenes footage which was fascinating to watch. There was footage of him talking to his engineers about car setup, talking with other drivers including Graham Hill, Francois Cevert (Jackie’s teammate, who died two years later), and to Roman himself.

The trackside and in-car footage was good to see. Jackie had a 16 mm camera in the car with him which gave some great footage as he screamed around the circuit during practice. The cars in those days looked fragile and lacked basic driver safety, so those drivers were truly brave and slightly nuts. Both Chris Amon and Denny Hulme were in the race also (both NZ drivers).

The almost total lack of safety was clearly evident. Jackie was at the time trying to get Formula 1 safety improved, and it was his efforts that have made F1 as safe as it is today. But, in this documentary you can see track marshals, photographers, and other people right on the side of the track during the race, with absolutely no barrier between them and the cars which in places were passing by only a metre or so away.

As this is Monaco there were plenty of celebrities around, and in the after-race dinner we saw Ringo Starr, Joan Collins, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainer.

After this premiered in 1972 it had a small release then was forgotten for 40 years. Roman rediscovered it, recut it, and it was re-released in 2013. Roman added some present day footage shot in the same hotel room where Jackie and his wife stayed during the 1971 race weekend. He talked with Jackie about the race, his work on F1 safety, Jackie’s dyslexia, and sideburns.

This is really only for Jackie Stewart and Formula 1 fans, of which I am both so I enjoyed it. For others it might be a bit dull.

Date watched: December 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 138

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

I am a fan of both Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman, so this was an essential watch.

This is a documentary about the making of the Jim Carrey film “Man on the Moon”, and also about Andy Kaufman. Sitting in a studio, sporting a full beard, Jim is interviewed about the film and comments on previously unseen footage that is shown throughout the documentary.

Jim actually went into full Method acting throughout the making of the film, between shots he was either Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton, the whole time. I thought he took it a bit too far as he was really getting on people’s nerves at times, and really pissed Jerry Lawler off. In reality Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler were friends and were both in on the joke as far as the wrestling goes. Jim though treated his relationship on set with Lawler the same as the one we saw in the famous David Letterman appearance. Then again, perhaps the behind the scenes footage was also staged, and the behind the scenes of the behind the scenes will show a normal Jim Carrey.

But, apart from the Jim Carrey histrionics it was an interesting look into the minds of Andy Kaufman and Jim Carrey.

Jim hasn’t really made a funny film for quite some time now, and it appears he has no major film coming up.

Date watched: November 23rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 132

Depeche Mode: the Dark Progression

I felt like watching something random again, so this unauthorised documentary about Depeche Mode seemed like a good choice.

I am not a fan of Depeche Mode at all, and I am not into synth-pop, but this was still a fascinating look into the history of one of the biggest and most successful electronic music bands in the world (according to the documentary), and how they make their music.

There were interviews with various people involved with the band, and also with the likes of Thomas Dolby, Gary Numan, and Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, all three of whom were very interesting.

As this was unauthorised there were no interviews with the band members, except from archives. This did not feel like an unauthorised documentary though, there was no dirt or tales of debauchery, rather it was a respectful look into the history and music-making of the band. The lead vocalist did have a serious drug problem in the 90’s, but this was only very briefly touched upon. The band were pretty hardcore at one time when it came to rock ‘n’ roll excess, and I was reading that even Primal Scream could not keep up with them. As for me, I am quite happily addicted to music, films, and writing about them.

I am still not a fan of Depeche Mode, but I found this to be an interesting watch. As for my preferred synth bands, I quite like Chemical Brothers and Buck Futtons.

Date watched: November 21st
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 130

Target for Today

Browsing through YouTube for something to watch I found this 1943 propaganda film made by the U.S. government about the preparations for bombing raids over East Prussia (North east Germany). Something different for a change.

Like any other propaganda film it of course did not show the human side of war, we did not see any of the suffering of those that were ultimately injured or killed in the raids, although there was some footage of injured aircrew as they were taken off the planes. It was all told in documentary style and made us feel proud of the job the airforce boys did in those days.

I was quite surprised at just how much prepration went into the bombing raids, and the amount of detail they went into to make sure everything went swimmingly. The aircrews had about four hours of briefings where they were told about the weather, where they were likely to encounter flak, what type of bombs to use and how the fuses will be set, and a whole bunch of other things.

All of the people involved in the film were actual airforce people, from the generals down to the tail gunners. A lot of it was obviously staged with some pretty wooden acting, but some of them were actually quite good.

There was plenty of footage from the bombing raids which looked pretty nasty for the people in the factories being bombed, some of the explosions were huge.

Fascinating stuff if you like a bit of WWII history.

Date watched: November 17th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 129

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

This is a 1988 documentary about metal, and mostly about glam metal or hair metal.

While I do like a bit of metal, I cannot stand those old hair metal bands, most of them are fake and play terrible music, some still continuing to do so today somehow. However, this documentary was well made and told, and some of the interviews (some were faked or staged according to Wikipedia) were quite funny. The bassist of W.A.S.P. was interviewed lying on a pool floaty thing, clothed in his metal garb and swigging from a Smirnoff bottle. He was quite blotto, and to make it even more cringe-worthy his mother was sitting poolside. Read this article about the interview, funny stuff.

There were interviews with bands like Odin and Seduce which at the time were convinced they were going to be the next Guns ‘n’ Roses or Ratt, but didn’t get anywhere. There were interviews with Aerosmith (they mostly talked about their drug and alcohol addiction), Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley of Kiss (lying on a large bed with scantily clad ladies around him), Dave Mustaine, and good ol’ Lemmy from Motorhead who was the most sensible one of all. The best though was Ozzy Osbourne (interviewed while cooking bacon in a kitchen, all staged it turns out), who was just plain funny, and while comprehensible (unlike these days) was probably on something at the time.

So, despite being about hair metal it was quite fun to watch, kind of an enjoyable train wreck as you knew most the the bands in this were soon to disappear. Here is an article about the main protagonists in the film.

Date watched: November 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 124

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