Category Archives: Best Documentary

Inside Job (2010)

Inside Job won the Best Documentary award at last year’s Oscars over such notables as Restrepo and Exit Through the Gift Shop. I was surprised when it won, because I have never heard of the movie until it won. Like most documentaries, it was not played in regular theaters during 2010. Watching this movie made me angry that people are profiting over other’s suffering.

Writer/director Charles Ferguson takes a pointed look at the genesis of the economic meltdown in 2008 that lead to the recession that the world is now under. Matt Damon narrates all the keys components of how greed would drive people to do dangerous things that affect peoples’ jobs, homes and life savings.

It all stems from the deregulation of banks which have destroyed the way that they are being run. If there are no regulations on loans, then the head honchos wouldn’t gobble up private banks like a midnight snacks to grow bigger and bigger. Banks have borrowed money from the people who they serve to spend it on themselves, fellow business partners and their friends.

During that faithful days of September 15, 2008, Lehman Bros and AIG filed for bankruptcy. They knew that their clock was ticking down months before everything turned to shit. Nothing was being done about it. There were insiders that predicted the way that Wall Street conducted their business practices would result in an economic collapse of global proportions three years before it happened.

When the banks collapsed, trillions of dollars were lost, unemployment tripled, people lost their houses, and the top CEOs are ranking in millions of dollars to live off of it. Some of the people that were responsible for the collapse are currently serving under the current administration to help with the crisis.

It pisses me off that people could be so greedy and heartless that they would break the law or sense of mortality to stay rich. It boggles the mind that they are people struggling to sustain themselves that there are people who were responsible for it and have not been brought up on charges.

Judgment: If you have affected by the recession in any way, you must see this movie.

Rating: 9/10

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The Cove (2009)

The Cove is a movie that has been getting a lot of critical acclaim in all the various film critic circles. This documentary may be in contention of winning the Oscar this year. I heard some blurbs about what the central story is but I want to be surprised about what I saw. I didn’t read any review, see the trailer or anything. I went into the documentary fresh, but the result is a heart-wrenching that makes you want to take immediate action.

Documentarian Louie Psihoyos wants the take the world on a journey that few have thread. He is the co-founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society with Jim Clark that funded this film. They are concerned about the state of the oceans and how they are deteriorating.

Louie is fascinated by Ric O’Barry, an outspoken dolphin advocate from the Earth Island Institute that is hated among his peers against speaking about a ritual in Japan that locals have known for centuries which is considered inhumane by most. There is a place where over 23,000 dolphins are brought in be slaughtered for food. Even though, most experts stress that dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury, the practice was still being done. Nobody in other cities in Japan know about the killings talking place in Taiji. They are horrified to hear the news.

Ric wants to expose the dolphin killing grounds to the world in order for the operation to be shut down. Psihoyos wanted to film the documentary through legal channels, but he got resistance from local officials.

His crews tactics are to wear masks all times to keep from being detected by the constant police presence around the area, to venture at night with hydrophones, a blimp shaped as dolphin, night vision and thermal cameras to where the dolphins are kept in Taiji, Japan. Louis had the ingenious idea of someone’s rigging the rocks with hi-def cameras so they could record what’s going on without getting arrested.

This whole crusade started with O’Barry time as a dolphin trainer on classic show, Flipper. Spending time with the dolphins made him realize that they should not be in captivity, trained as circus performers. They are intelligent creatures that deserve to be in the open ocean. Also with the suicide of “Flipper” aka Kathy in his arms turned his life around. He made it his life’s mission to correct what he has done and save the dolphins.

O’Barry relays the systematic process of wrangling up the dolphins, by creating loud sounds to stress them out, drive them towards the shore, and seal them there. The dolphins are picked out females for seaquariums or some for “swim with dolphins” programs around the world. The one left are taken to the secret cove to be slaughtered out of the public eye.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) that doesn’t protect dolphins or porpoises banned whaling in 1986 except for a small loophole for killing for scientific purposes. People jumped on that bandwagon.

You might think that this is environmentalist propaganda, but you must watch it to feel the dolphins’ pain. Hearing the cries as they are taken in the cove, seeing the blue water turn red, and your heart is breaking when the cries suddenly go silent, it does something to you.

Judgment: Run, don’t walk to this movie. A must see.

Rating: ****1/2

Man on Wire (2008)

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If I die, what a beautiful death!

— Philippe Petit

Man on Wire took bouquets of awards, including the Oscar for Best Documentary at this past award show season. It has been on numerous top ten lists. It also has a Metacritc score of 89. I have to ask the question, “What’s the big deal?”

Director James Marsh recreates the events that happened to tightrope walker, Philippe Petit in this talking head/dramatic recreation narrative infused with actual footage of Petit practicing his infamous wire walk.

I went into this movie having high expectations that I would be blown away by it, but I wasn’t. Let me just say that I didn’t hate the movie. I liked it, but I had some problems with it.

Here are my problems with it:

  • I don’t know if it was my player, but I could get the French translation from Petit’s former girlfriend and one of the people that participated in that walk on August 4, 1974.
  • I had no idea who anyone was. The way a new person was introduced with hokey, trying to be edgy. Fail.
  • The broken narrative did not excite me. Going from his previous walks in Notre Dame, the bridge towers in Sydney interlaced the “heist” of the WTC walk took away from the dramatic tension.
  • The out-of-place stock footage and the cheesy was unnecessary.
  • Also, when the doc won the Oscar. I knew that I might not like it.
  • Lastly, I wish that Philippe Petit was not in the movie. Him in the documentary takes away the suspense of “Did he survive the walk?” We all know the answer. Why should we care? Philippe Petit was not that likable to root for him to succeed.

Judgment: This movie is not my cup of tea, but I think others will enjoy it.

Rating: **1/2

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