Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Chiller_720x440_55Killer Legends is a tweener, a horror documentary that may not be quite creepy enough for those seeking a scare and not rigorous enough in its fact-finding to satisy those seeking validation of historical facts. Still, there is a sense of perverse fun that runs throughout the film, a guilty pleasure at examining the lurid stories that have been the grist for campfire tales and scary movies for more than 50 years.

Joshua Zeman, who also directed the film, and Rachel Mills, one of the producers, serve as the on-screen hosts that look at four urban legends and search for the true stories that may have given rise to the legends. (more…)

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video-undefined-1EF7D99F00000578-155_636x358We don’t have freak shows anymore. We don’t pay a dime to go inside a carnival tent and lean over the railing to gawk at some poor bastard with a birth defect or other physical abnormality. Such unfortunate souls are not reduced to earning a living by standing on a stage while strangers file past.

We’ve evolved.

Now our twisted interests are served 24/7 by the Internet, where every image of every freak is preserved along with photos of every other forbidden thrill. The disabled are not subject to the same public humiliation, nor do they have the opportunity to profit from it.

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junho08The documentary Junho – O Mês que Abalou o Brasil (June – The Month That Shook Brazil) resembles nothing so much as one of the quickie mass market paperbacks that are rushed to print by newspapers or other media outlets to capitalize on the attention that a particular story has generated. These books are usually little more than a collection of previously published accounts with scant space for context or analysis.

Junho is a filmed version of the same phenomenon. The Brazilian newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, has rushed to get a movie out with a nebulous tie to the World Cup in the hope to capitalize on the attention now focused on that event as well as on the counter-demonstrations that are expected to be held throughout Brazil over the next month. (more…)

Requiem_NN_Still_TombLike many treasures, Réquiem NN, a gem of a documentary film, remains largely out of sight. Screenings of the movie can be difficult to find, but well worth the effort. What, at first glance, appears to be the story of an odd ritual peculiar to one Colombian town reveals itself to be, perhaps unintentionally, a meditation on the living and the dead, and the complex relationship between the two, when viewed through the prisms of identity, remembrance, and religion.

Puerto Berrío is a town of approximately 35,000, located in northwestern Colombia. It has served as a port of commercial significance on the Magdalena River since its founding in 1875. (more…)

hornets-nestA soldier searches for an improvised explosive device (IED) using only his guts, his acumen, and equipment that looks like nothing more than a beachcomber’s metal detector painted Army green. We hold our collective breath as he sweeps over the gravel road that yields no trace of having been disturbed. Perhaps it’s a false alarm. Maybe the report from the local villagers was deliberate false intelligence. Then the soldier calls out that he has located the pressure plate. The IED is deliberately and safely detonated, and the convoy moves on. We release our breath and feel a rush of relief, but all the while the question, “What about next time?” gnaws.

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unknownknownIn 1985, Claus von Bülow, the man who was twice tried for attempting to murder his wife by injecting her with an overdose of insulin, posed for photographer Helmut Newton while wearing a heavily zippered leather jacket and jeans and looking like an aging sexual deviant. “Why would he do that?” people asked.

Learning that Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush during the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had fully cooperated with filmmaker Errol Morris in a documentary focusing on his career in public service, provokes the exact same response.

Why would he do that?

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ImageIf hell is other people, then paradise is the place without neighbors – or so it seemed to Dr. Friedrich Ritter and his patient and lover, Dore Strauch, who together abandoned Berlin, Germany, and their respective spouses in 1929 and settled on the uninhabited island of Floreana in the Galapagos Islands. While not desirous of neighbors, the pair had no such problem with courting publicity and became known in the international press as “the Adam and Eve of the Galapagos.” That attracted the attention of another German family – the Wittmers – who fancied themselves as a potential Swiss Family Robinson of the Galapagos and moved to the island in 1931. Later that year, a woman claiming to be an Austrian Baroness also made her way to Floreana in the company of her two German lovers with plans to build a lavish resort hotel. Not long after, Paradise Lost turned into Lord of the Flies.

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