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Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episodes 5-6

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

tn_lawman2Episode 5: Firearms of Fury

There’s a 911 call about a disturbance with a gun, so the Squad is called in and get the suspect out of his car. Seagal keeps asking where the gun is and eventually the guy admits that it’s in the back of the car – a .44 with the hammer pulled back so it could’ve easily gone off and hit somebody. Seagal instructs another officer on how to pick it up safely.

It’s unclear what happened exactly – apparently an argument between cousins, the guy claimed he’d never point a gun at his cousin, but then why did his cousin call the cops? Seagal says afterwards, “I’m not happy that this happened, but at least we got one more gun off the street.” Sometimes LAWMAN gives me an impression of police work like it’s an old school video game. You gotta keep going around a maze grabbing all the guns you can find but they keep piling up faster and faster until you can’t keep up and then the game is over. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – episodes 3-4

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

tn_lawmanNote: I’m numbering these by the order the air, although the official numbering is totally different on their websight.

Apology: Sorry this is so late. I need time to study these things.
Episode 4: Killer Canines

The Seagal Squad rush to the scene of a burglary. This time they don’t seem as annoyed by his navigating. When they get to the house an alarm is blaring and there’s damage to a door and a window. It seems obvious that the intruder is long gone, but for some reason Seagal and the Squad are convinced he’s still inside. They call in a canine and put him in through the window, and Seagal says, “I hope he didn’t cut his feet on that glass,” seeming to maybe even choke up a little. They don’t find the burglar (he “somehow faded into the shadows”) but they have demonstrated Seagal’s legendary love of animals. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Cove

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

tn_thecoveI didn’t know much about THE COVE (out on DVD today) except that it wasn’t the type of movie I go out of my way to see. Sorry, I’ll do it for ninjas, I’ll do it for bad lieutenants, but for some reason not for dolphins. That doesn’t speak well for my humanity or my enlightenment, I guess. But I’m a pretty nice guy in my opinion. Not to brag or nothin. I would be nice to dolphins if I met any. I’m sure we would get along because we’re both pretty laid back.

I knew that lefties and environmentalists and stuff were interested in this documentary, what I didn’t know until I saw it was that it really is fascinating. This is a great story and document of people setting their mind on achieving a difficult task and then doing it. It opened my eyes to some gruesome shit I never heard of before, but instead of preaching to me it kept me on the edge of my seat with a crazy suspense story. Sonofabitch, they entertained me into caring about dolphins. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman episodes 1 and 2

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

tn_lawman2For 20 years we have known the legend of Steven Seagal. He was the aikido teacher, the white man who ran a dojo in Japan and later impressed people in Hollywood so much they made him a movie star. He wrote and produced many of his movies, directed one of them, created a unique persona. He got more and more into Buddhism and Zen, sometimes working them into his movies, eventually being declared by somebody as a reincarnated Tulku.

During this decade, suddenly, we learned that he was a bluesman too. It seemed ridiculous at first, but it was true. It seemed so out of the blue that you could assume it was just a new phase he was going through, but looking back over old articles I found references to him playing guitar even back in his youth in Japan. And I heard and saw him with my own ears and eyes, and he could play, and his band was tight.

So we got used to that, now all the sudden you’re telling me he’s been a cop for 20 years? In his spare time, like in between the 37 movies he’s filmed? Man, I have trouble working a day job and writing movie reviews, this guy is filming several movies a year, recording albums, going on tour and chasing carjackers? (read the rest of this shit…)

Love the Beast

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

tn_lovethebeastFrom the cover, LOVE THE BEAST looks like some indie movie starring Eric Bana, Jay Leno and Dr. Phil. What the hell? When did Bana enter Dolph’s co-starring-with-daytime-talk-show-hosts period? Well it’s not that, and it’s not THE COLLISION COURSE: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS. It’s actually a documentary about Bana’s love for the Ford Falcoln Coupe he’s had since he was young, and for the 4-day Targa race across the scenic roads of Tasmania. He directed it and it’s so clearly a labor of love that the enthusiasm is contagious.

Heavily narrated by Bana, but admirably low on talking head interviews, it shows Bana’s dedication over the years to his “beast” (nickname for the car) and his “mates” (Australian for “homeys” or “doggs”). One of his friends thinks it’s hilarious that he still works on that same damn car even though he has money to buy new ones. And it’s true – he might be the only Marvel super hero still driving his high school car. In ’05 though he decided to sink his money into rebuilding the whole thing into a top of the line race car, then raced it in the Targa for the first time since before he was Chopper. (read the rest of this shit…)

This Is It

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

tn_thisisitAs a Michael Jackson fan who stuck with him in the later years, I was always dreaming about the comeback he could have some day. I never really believed in my heart that I’d get a chance to see him live, but maybe on DVD. I was so excited for those 50 shows he was gonna do in London, and nervous about what would happen if he wasn’t feeling up to it. There are still a million lingering frustrations about all the possibilities that were cut off when Michael died four months ago. But one of the more dramatic ones was this series of shows he called This Is It. He was so close. And we’ll never get to see the exclamation point on the end of that sentence.

So as a fan it’s a comfort and a blessing to see this almost-concert movie made up of footage taken during his rehearsals in Los Angeles. I mean, I would’ve loved to have seen this even if he hadn’t died, but as the rough draft to his last ambition it takes on extra importance. (read the rest of this shit…)

Not Quite Hollywood + Hurricane Smith

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

tn_notquitehollywoodNOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD is a pretty good documentary with a really good subject: the history of exploitation movies in Australia. Of course, this is a talking heads and film clips movie, that’s about the only way they could do it. And it tries to cover a broad range of movies over many years, so it doesn’t get real deep into anything. It’s more like a real good TV special than a great movie. It’s a primer, an overview, a sampler to get you started. It gives you a taste of a whole bunch of strange movies you might not have heard of before, points you in some interesting directions, tells you a few good stories. And for that sort of thing it’s very good. (read the rest of this shit…)


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

tn_derbyI meant to put this review up months ago when DERBY was new on DVD, but I lost it or something. I bet you didn’t know it came out or that it existed anyway so let’s pretend it’s real timely.

DERBY is a 1971 documentary that you think is gonna be about roller derby. In the locker room team captain Charlie O’Connell talks to a young guy who wants to join the derby and keeps bragging that he can do a handspring on skates. The young guy is Mike Snell, 23 year-old of Dayton, Ohio, father of one, wearer of sunglasses, seems to think he’s James Dean. The cameras follow Mike to his wife, who is very supportive of his plan to quit his job at the tire factory and head to San Francisco for 6 weeks of training that he has to take before he can even try out. Obviously this is gonna be like THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, he’s gonna pull himself up by the rollerskate straps or whatever. Or at least it’ll follow him as he learns the ropes and at the end he’ll try out and we’ll see if he achieves his dream or not. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tyson (2009 Documentary)

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

tn_tysonWell, shit. Mike Tyson’s poor 4-year-old daughter died. I was already working on a couple of Mike Tyson-related reviews and I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to tie in with that terrible news. But he’s an interesting dude and these movies are worth discussing, so I’m gonna put them up anyway.

TYSON is a documentary about Mike Tyson. Actually, it’s an interview with Mike Tyson, illustrated by old clips and photos, so it’s his life story and career from his point of view. In the beginning there’s some split screen with overlapping clips of him talking. For a second I thought “Oh shit, that’s right, James Toback did that shitty movie TIMECODE with the 4-way split-screen. I forgot about that movie.” (I bet you forgot about it too until I mentioned it. Sorry.)  But don’t worry, most of it is a simple, straightforward documentary about an unusual person.

[UPDATE: and as Handsome Dan pointed out in the comments I was confusing Toback with Mike Figgis. Toback is guilty of BLACK AND WHITE, but innocent of TIMECODE.]

I don’t really follow boxing so I didn’t know much about him, and it turns out it’s an interesting story. He talks about being picked on as a kid, then getting in his first fight (a guy killed his pigeon) and winning. That changed his whole attitude about himself. Then he started boxing and he met this grizzled old white guy Cus D’Amato, he’s like Burgess Meredith in ROCKY, he takes Mike under his wing and molds him mentally and physically into a warrior. At first Mike wasn’t taking it that seriously, he was still on the streets robbing people and shit, until this D’Amato convinced him he could be great. They had a father-son type relationship, you see through vintage interviews how much they meant to each other, then the guy died when Mike was 19. Real sad story. (read the rest of this shit…)

Southern Discomfort

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Nope, this is not a sequel or rebuttal to Walter Hill’s SOUTHERN COMFORT, and it’s not a withering expose of labor unrest at the Southern Comfort liqueur factory. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is an hour long documentary about a night of indie wrestling in Alabama made in 2000 by Fred Olen Ray, a director I thought only did no-budget movies with babes and dinosaurs and shit like that. Although much more upbeat than THE WRESTLER or the Jake “The Snake” Roberts portion of BEYOND THE MAT this is that same world, the bonebreaking for small crowds and small pay in high school gyms.

The Iron Sheik is the superstar of the bunch, doing a good job of not seeming drpessed that he went from 19,000 fans at Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden to 400 at the Saks High gymnasium. But the stars are all wrestlers I never heard of before who as far as I can tell have mostly never achieved much more fame than this and in their interviews never imply that they want to. They’re happy working regular small town jobs and then on the weekends putting on a mask and throwing people around. (read the rest of this shit…)