Tag Archives: Documentaries

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)

"Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You actually paid money for this?  Foolish humans!"
"Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You actually paid money for this? Foolish humans!"

While it may or may not be “the best documentary of its kind in years,” Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is certainly the most comprehensive. Covering almost one hundred years of American horror film history, Nightmares is not a film you watch so much as absorb. It deserves its own study guide, and that’s exactly what I found on the film’s official website. God I love living in the future, don’t you?

It not even a film, really. More the backbone of a college course…or a whole wing of some major university department. Plus it’s got Lance Henriksen as Our Humble Narrator and if ever there was a man chosen by prophecy to narrate this kind of stuff, it’s Frank Black. “Yea, verily, one will be born among them with a face like an Arizona relief-map and the voice of gravel under foot. And he shall narrate horror film documentaries, because that’s certainly better than slumming in a wasteland of straight-to-DVD indie-horror…”

So the “best documentary of it’s kind in years” begins with Frank Black reading our liturgy: Continue reading Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)

If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)

A Monument to American Amnesia

Man, Spike Lee just can’t win.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: he’s a successful, independent filmmaker, three words you don’t see strung together very often. So long as he’s making Serious (Fictional) Drama’s about Serious (Fictional) Black People suffering from Seriously Fictional Problems your average movie critic’s content to churn out a gutless, wishy-washy write-up. “Oh,” they’ll say, “it’s alight, I guess…but its so serious and ambivalent and there’s all these black people in it…I don’t know. The man’s no Oliver Stone.” {More}

The Yes Men (2003)

Would you trust this man with your economic future?The Yes Men, a not-so-gruesome twosome of Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, began their adventures in “identity correction” with a wit, a prayer, and a web site, gwbush.com. Back in 1999, Bonanno and Bichlbaum turned their little domain into the preeminent piece of web-based anti-Bush satire. The Bush campaign, like any good political hit squad, responded with Cease and Desist orders and pitched a bitched about gwbush.com to the Federal Election’s Commission. This generated a minor media kerfuffle for the Governor and a bit of free publicity for Our Heroes.

One publicity consumer, the proprietor of gatt.org, wondered if Bonanno and Bichlbaum might throw the same kind of satirical mud on at the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, institutional precursor to the World Trade Organization. What better way to piss in the WTO’s eye (if, like our two heroes, you couldn’t make it to 1999’s Battle of Seattle) than a satirical website poking fun at everything these real-life Evil Capitalists propagate? It probably would’ve stopped right there…if not for those blessedly idiotic people who don’t bother to read the websites they Google. Occasionally, one of those useful idiots would stumble upon gatt.org and send in an esoteric question on tariffs…or trade…or an invitation to speak on the WTO’s behalf. {More}

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)

A man alone.In the summer of The Year 2000, my parents and I embarked upon a European Vacation. After two nights in Paris, circumstances found us in the quiet little town of Bois (pronounced just like it’s spelled…as long as you’re speaking through a mouthful of yogurt). With a few hours to kill before the restaurants opened, I flipped on the TV and found Manufacturing Consent, the almost-three hour documentary profile of MIT Linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky. Filmmakers Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick followed the man around forĀ  four years, taping talk after talk in a variety of countries. They also managed to dig up hours of archival interviews from as far back as the 1960s. All of which is cut-n’-pasted into a one hundred sixty-seven minute primer for anyone too lazy to pick up one of the man’s many (many, many) books.

For those who don’t know (I was once one myself), Professor Chomsky is one of the most respected linguists in the world. When my mother went back to get her Masters in English, or her certificate to teach English-as-a-Second Language, her coursework amounted to a whole hell of a lot of pouring over various Chomsky’s work. The Professor teaches at MIT, writes shelf-fulls of books, and has appeared on numerous TV shows, mostly in other countries. Thanks to his old-school, anarcho-syndicalist views on the Ideal Society, and his scalding, unrepentant criticisms of America’s most-imperial foreign policy ambitions, he remains largely unknown to the general public, even unto today. {More}

Roger and Me (1989)

Michael Moore uncovers the sad truth about whom I dated in high school.It’s easy to forget that, once upon a time, all the talking heads dismissed Michael Moore as a “comedian.” God only knows why. There are very few ha-ha moments in Roger & Me…unless the slow, painful death of a community strikes you funny.

On September 16, 1908, philanthropist William Durant opened the first General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. With seventy-two years experience in ol’ fashioned, American car making, the company realized record- breaking profits in the the 1980s. It did this, in part, by closing eleven plants in Flint, leaving thirty thousand factory workers suddenly unemployed. The company considered this savings on labor-cost a profit, but it became death blow to the city of Flint, which entered a financial nosedive which it has not climbed out of to date. All attempts to revive the area have failed miserably. Today, Flint is as much an urban wasteland as anything this side of Detroit, South Africa, or Afghanistan. If you’d like a sneak peak at America’s future, hop a flight to Michigan…and bring some spare change for the guy standing on the highway with a cardboard sign. WILL WORK FOR FOOD. {More}