Documentaries – hots and nots

JUNE 2012

Golden Slumbers  Dir: Davy Chou

Discover the unknown history of the birth and destruction of Cambodian cinema, from the first film ever made in 1960 to the arrival of the Khmer Rouges in 1975. In 15 years, about 400 films were produced. Only 30 films remain today. Almost all the actors were killed during the Khmer Rouges regime and only a few of the directors were able to flee the country. Most of the old movie theaters of Phnom Penh have become restaurants, karaoke places or squats. With a few of the survivors telling their stories, Golden Slumbers tries to bring back to life the myths and legends of this lost cinema.
Davy Chou is a Cambodian French filmmaker. He is the grandson of Van Chann, a famous film producer in the 60s and the 70s.

The characters in this film are rich and entertaining and their story at times really emotional. At times I was lost with the direction however, the intrigue of the story and the stars kept me engaged.

Hot.

MAY 2012

The Brain that Changes Itself 

Based on the best selling book by Norman Doidge, this film tells personal stories exampling the revolutionary view that the brain can change itself. For the past 400 years we have thought of the brain as a hard-wired instrument incapable of fundamental change. We’ve been wrong. The discovery of neuroplasticity, that our thoughts and activity can change the structure and function of our brains, even into old age, is the most important breakthrough of our time. Very very interesting.

Hot.

A Jihad For Love  Dir: Parvez Sharma

A very emotive documentary, made in secret under the ruling of the Muslim government, about homosexuality and Muslim faith. Islam today is the world’s second largest and fastest growing religion. This is the story from Islam’s most unlikely champions: lesbian and gay Muslims who explore complex matters relating to their sexual preference and the love of their God.

A very heavy subject. I could watch this again as I found I missed a lot skipping between focusing on the personal treatment of the film and the heavy dialogue which if course was subtitled. I’m not sure I could make the emotional investment again though.

Not quite hot but better than warm. Let’s say it was toasty.

APRIL 2012

The Perfect Vagina  Dir: Lisa Rogers

In this honest, witty and compassionate documentary Lisa Rogers tries to find out why more and more women are considering vaginal surgery for either aesthetic or cultural reasons. Rogers tries to understand why girls as young as 16 are requesting this surgery, reveals how British men and women feel about vaginas, and confronts her feelings about her own vulva. Lisa is really likable and takes an ope and honest approach to this subject. I really enjoyed this and learnt a thing or two. HOT.

FEBRUARY 2012

Good Hair by Chris Rock

Chris Rock visits beauty salons, hair shows, scientific laboratories and Indian temples to explore the way hairstyles affect the activities, walletts, sexual relationships and self esteem of the American black community. This is actually very entertaining and actually really interesting. Hot!

This Way of Life  Dir: Thomas Burstyn

Peter Karena seeks freedom from material trapping yet also has to provide for his wife and family of five. Set in the beauty of New Zealand’s rugged Ruahine Mountains and shot over 4 years, this is an intimate portrait of a Maori family and relationship with nature, adversity, their horses and society at large.

Hot – not steaming. Very touching in parts.

JANUARY 2012

Murderball  Dir: Henry-Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro

I’m not a big fan of group sports, particulary those with an aghgressive edge. I couldn’t help but get involved in this game and caught myself cheering (really not like me). This film tells the amazing stories of a group of extraordinary menwho have lost the use of their limbs. These stories of recovery, triumph, redemption, romance and family are tremendously inspirational and moving.

HOT HOT HOT!!

DECEMBER 2011

Something Unknown  Dir: Rene Scheltema

Telepathy, Clairvoyancy, Healing, Telekinesis, Remote Viewing – Can these miracles of the mind be explained? Really interesting and well put together. Toasty!

Freakonomics  Dir: Morgan Spurlock

An adaptation of the bestselling book about incentives-based thinking. Interesting but luke warm in my opinion. The pause butting was ht several times.

NOVEMBER 2011

 1 a Minute  Dir: Namrata Singh

An unprecedented push by international women celebrities, who are cancer survivors, to raise funds for a cure and raise awarenes of cancer. The film follows one womans journey through breast cancer. At each stage of her journey we cut back to celebrities who recount their experiences at that stage of the journey.

Great concept and powerful topic however, I found myself pausing to do housework etc. It lost momentum at stages.

Mrs Carey’s Concert  Dir: Bob Connolly

THIS WAS HOT! I loved it.

At a Sydney girl’s school, music director Karen Carey prepares the students for a concert at the Opera House. Believing in the tranformative power of music, Carey sets an extremely high performance standard and expects all girls in the school to participate. Carey inspires many of the girls but not all of them share her passions.

I can’t fault this film. I want to watch it again straight away!

SEPTEMBER 2011

La Danse – The Paris Opera Ballet.  Dir: Freferick Wiseman

Filmed over the course of a year this film documents the daily going-ons at the world’s most prestigious ballet company.

I enjoyed it because watching this kind of thing helps fuel my fantasy of being a ballerina in a parralel life. My love and respect for the artform kept me holding on. If you don’t care for ballet, then don’t bother.

His and Hers  Dir: Ken Wardrop

Interesting and original way to tell a story about the transition from female child to crone. The hallways, living rooms and kitchens are used as a canvas for the film’s rich tapestry of female characters as the story unfolds sequentially through life.

Great concept but personally I think it wasn’t engaging enough for a feature. Would have made a great short film though.

JULY 2011

Roman Polanski – Wanted and Desired  Dir: Marina Zenovich (Documentary)

Exploring the tumultuous life of director Roman Polanski and the sex scanda; that promopted him to flee the United States. Well put together.

JUNE 2011

The Hungry Tide  Dir:

Position Among Stars  Dir:

I loved this.

Project Nim  Dir:

The subject Matter was disturbing and I barely made it past that so it’s probably not fair for me to comment on anything further than that. I walked out 3/4 way through because I found it so upsetting.

MAY 2011

Mother Teresa  Dir:

Interesting portrait but a rather dull doco.

Standard Operating Procedure  Dir: Errol Morris

Morris examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison. I can’t understand what some people think is okay to do to another human being – disturbing!

APRIL 2011

Glass – A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts  Dir: Scott Kicks (Documentary)

Scott Hicks follows legendary Philip Glass across three continents, creating a remarkable portrait of this brilliant composer. Terrific.

MARCH 2011

Food Inc Dir: Robert Kenner

This film lifts the veil on the food industry, exposing the highly mechanised underbelly which is hidden from the American consumer with consent from the government’s regulatory agencies. The nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of health and welfare. A shocking look at what we eat and how it is produced.

FEBRUARY 2011

Catfish (documentary)

JANUARY 2011

The American – the Bill Hicks story (documentary)

Dixie Chicks: Shut Up And Sing Dir: Barbara Kopple

About the furore surrounding The Dixie Chicks anti-Bush comments. Lead singer, Natalie Maines, said at a 2003 concert (on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq) “We are ashamed that the president of the United Staes is from Texas”. I enjoyed this and have a new fond respect for the band.

DECEMBER 2010

At the Edge of the World Dir: Dan Stone

46 volunteers on two ships are willing to risk their lives to shut down an illegal whaling fleet in Antarctic waters. This doco puts you in the middle of the action as the crew unleash an arsenal of tactics t stop the whaling. No country is willing to support their efforts. Great to actually see the lengths these passions people will go to. I did find myself disengaged at points. I would have liked to see a focus on one or two specific crew members so as to really experience their journey and motivations. Some more footage of the magnificent creatures they were working so hard to save would have been nice also.

NOVEMBER 2010

Gasland Dir: Josh Fox

Josh Fox received a letter from a natural gas company offering him $100,000 for permission to explore his family’s upstate New York property, in the lush Delaware River Basin area. He didn’t accept the offer and soon discovered that the race for ‘cleaner’, greener and more efficient energy sources, the largest natural gas drilling boom in history is sweeping the globe. So he picks up his camcorder. It becomes evident that the multi-million dollar business of fracking has contaminated water supplies. Where’s the regulation?

OCTOBER 2010

Blue Gold – World Water Wars  Dir: Sam Bozo

The war on water has begun. Rampant overdevelopment, pollution and waste has put the demand for fresh water at an all time high. Corporate giants force developing companies to privatise their water supply for profit and more… A must watch.

Nostradamous 2012 

4 thought provoking documentaries discuss the likelihood that life as we know it could come to an end in 2010. In my opinion, lots of bells and whistles but nothing to rave about. Don’t bother.

SEPTEMBER 2010

I’m Still Here Dir: Casey Alleck

A mockumentary about Joaquin Pheonix quitting acting to follow his passion for hip hop. Real or not – what a brave and utterly believeable performance from Joaquin.

JUNE 2010

The Snowman – Dir: Juliet Lamont

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