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Documentaries

February 8, 2020

Documentaries

Despite having watched many documentaries over the years, and having even written, produced, and directed one; only in more recent years have I begun to pay attention to some of the documentary filmmakers who created these award-winning projects.

The first to really catch my attention was Laura Poitras and her academy award winning documentary entitled Citizen Four, which told the incredible whistle-blower story of Edward Snowden, a story that was later brought to the silver screen by famed filmmaker Oliver Stone and entitled Snowden.

Some sixteen months later, academy award winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney came to my attention with the release of Zero Days, probably still one of my favorite documentaries. Only when reviewing Alex Gibney's work did I come to realize just how extensive the list is of his incredible projects, many of which I had seen years before and without even being aware that they belonged to him.

Tonight I'm watching another of his documentary films entitled No Stone Unturned. It's an amazing story about a deadly mass shooting that occurred in Ireland and the efforts of the victim's families to find justice and the truth.



HARRIET

January 30, 2020

Harriet

I've wanted to see this movie since I first saw the trailer on my iPad. I was counting down the days and rented it the first day it became available.

Harriet was just as good as I hoped it would be and for all accounts from everything I've read, it seems to have stayed true to the actual story for the most part.

For me, part of the magic in any great movie is in a true story where folks are able to overcome incredible odds not in their favor. That is certainly the theme for this amazing story about the life of Harriet Tubman. If you're not familiar with the story, I won't spoil it for you here; but, suffice to say it's definitely worth watching. Prepare to be amazed and inspired!



MOVIES & DOCUMENTARIES FOR GEEKS

January 24, 2020

Geek Movies

I'm a big fan of true stories about geek stuff that have been made into movies and/or documentaries, especially when they involve other topics of interest such as political matters, financial matters, and even spiritual matters. Some of the films I've watched, enjoyed, and that fit into these categories, or are of similar ilk, include:

Anonymous
CitizenFour
Cyber War
David Koresh / Waco (multiple docs)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Inside Job
Jonestown (multiple docs)
Rogue Trader
Snowden
Spotlight
The Big Short
The Great Hack
The Imitation Game
The Man Who Knew Infinity
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg...Pentagon Papers
The Post
The Social Network
Too Big to Fail
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks
Weather Underground
Zero Day

I'll be adding more to the list as I see new ones or recall others I've watched.



ATLAS SHRUGGED

January 16, 2020

Atlas Shrugged

I suppose my Libertarian leanings have something to do with my appreciation for Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. Actually, it took three separate movies (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to reproduce the 1,168 page novel. Even her novel, The Fountainhead, which was moved to the silver screen with only one movie, was 753 pages.

I'm not a big fan of the idea that three separate films tell the story, and I'm even less a fan of both the length of time between each film and the changes to the cast in each. To, be honest the films had funding issues which probably accounts for most of the problems.

Still, I enjoyed all three films, own all three DVD's, and have watched each more than once. The catch is that if you don't at least have Libertarian leanings, or better yet are a card carrying member of the Libertarian Party, I doubt these three movies are for you.

The ultimate irony for me is that current political trends toward socialism and away from capitalism and free markets have actually made these stories (and Ayn Rand's philosophy) more relevant in recent decades. I suppose Ayn Rand's time spent in Russia made these ideas relevant to her very early on, especially when you consider her exposure, in 1917 at the age of 12, to seeing her father have his business confiscated and the family having to flee to the Crimean peninsula.



SING STREET

January 15, 2020

Sing Street

Remember how I said I'm a sucker for a good movie with a great rock band story? Well, this one is as good as it gets!

I love everything about this movie! The music is catchy, the story seems real and even familiar, I totally connect with the characters, and the teenage angst and love story are completely believable. Oh, and I love how the band evolves to become better and better in their song writing and performing as the story progresses.

Irishman John Carney wrote and directed this movie along with Once and Begin Again. I enjoyed both but Sing Street takes top position and easily moves into my list of top ten favorites films.

Actually, I don't have a top 10 list but if I did I'm quite confident Sing Street would be on it. This movie has plenty of the magic that I love in a movie, and it seems to be present in just about every scene, not to mention every song!

Another great movie for the DVD collection!



SHENANDOAH

January 14, 2020

Shenandoah

I've been traveling back in time and catching up on the classics that I somehow missed when they first came out. As fond as I've been over the years of the classic musical theme from the movie Shenandoah, it's amazing that I had never taken time out to watch it.

To be honest, I'm glad it's worked out this way. I doubt that I would have had near the appreciation and respect for these classics without the contribution of so many of life's experiences over the years, and the free time I now have, that have both led me to pause and reflect at a deeper level.

I could probably say something to which I'm sure we would all agree, that James Stewart just doesn't make a bad movie, and that would be enough commentary. However, the story was built around a theme that all of us eventually face at some point in our lives:

Do we get involved when we see right battling wrong, or do we wait until the battle directly affects us to take part?

While one could easily say that the magic in this movie was found in every element from the music, to the acting, to the writing, and of course the beautiful cinematography; however, the heart of this movie was found in the way each character was affected by, and dealt with, that question.



AMERICAN COUP

January 12, 2020

American Coup

Last night I pulled out the ipad and rented American Coup. It was an amazing documentary about a little-known incident in the early 50's whereby the United States' Central Intelligence Agency and the UK's MI6 worked together to perform a coup d'├ętat in order to remove prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran. This was the first time a covert operation had been executed by United States to overthrow a foreign government during a time of peace.

The whole story of how this came about, and more importantly why it came about, is yet another example of all that goes on behind the scenes in our government and that we never hear or read about until years later, well after the events have taken place.

It was also interesting to see how Mousavi fit into the story after having been introduced to him via the film Desert Dancer, which I wrote about below and back in December.

This documentary is definitely worth a watch!



THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

January 11, 2020

Showman

Whatever the critics feel about a film usually runs counter to my perspective. Such was the case with The Greatest Showman. Despite the negative opinions from the critics, I loved everything about this movie.

The story line was great, as was the acting. For me, the magic of this film was most present in the music and lyrics as well as the dance. Great choreography and songwriting along with the rags to riches to rags to riches stories all came together and were brought home through the wonderfully painted love stories and the depth of heart in each and every character.

This was another DVD for my collection. If you haven't already, give it a chance. It will warm your heart, lift your spirits, and put a spring in your step!



RUDDERLESS

January 6, 2020

Rudderless

I'm a sucker for a good movie with a great rock band story and this one didn't let me down! I've got to give kudos to William Macy for his part in co-writing, directing, and acting in this film. He has put together a real winner!

I love the plot twists in the story and I particularly like how the writing and acting come together to present something very believable! Add stories of love and broken hearts, with great laughs and even greater music, and an ending that I didn't see coming, and this was easily another DVD for the collection!

One of the leads (Quentin) was played by Anton Yelchin (pictured above behind Billy Crudup.) Through his character, Yelchin reminded me of the guy in the band who was everyone's best friend in every rock band that I've ever played in. That's why it hit me pretty hard when I heard, only a few months later, that Yelchin had been killed in a very tragic accident.

From my perspective, Anton's contribution to this film was critical to its success. While I'm definitely one to reach into my collection and watch great movies again and again, just to enjoy the magic that they offer, I must confess that watching this one again haunts me. I can't help seeing Yelchin on the screen and feeling like I've lost a good friend.

May you rest in peace, Anton.



HIGH STRUNG

January 4, 2020

High Strung

Not long ago, I watched the movie High Strung. I liked everything about it including the music, the dance, the protagonist/antagonist competition, and the love story. I enjoyed it to a point that I added a copy to my collection.

I mentioned in a recent post that I've watched several movies lately that were built around dancing and this was one of them. I'm no expert in the field, but from what I can tell it was the synchronized hip hop dancing that impressed me most (assuming that's what you call it.)

I was in no way genetically wired to even attempt dancing like I watched in this movie. Still, I'm always impressed when watching those who can execute anything that's difficult and do it at an expert level!

I thought everything about this production worked well together to deliver a great movie-watching experience. It definitely has the magic that I look for in a great film!



MISS SLOANE

January 1, 2020

Miss Sloane

What's my most important indicator of a great movie? Well, all of the common attributes are important, but probably my leading indicator is how many times I have been interested in going back and watching it again.

I don't mind admitting that the movies I love most are the ones that bring me back again and again to watch them yet one more time. Some of the movies which would fit that bill over the years include Jaws, Fracture, Remember the Titans, and several of the Nicholas Sparks movies, as well as a number of others.

More recently, I would have to add to that list Miss Sloane. I'm not a fan of movies that contain gratuitous sex (or any sex for that matter) but, as long as I'm not forced to endure much of it (as is the case here) I can look beyond it for a great movie.

In this film I gained an increased appreciation for Mark Strong, whose performance I enjoyed in The Imitation Game and even greater appreciation for Jessica Chastain, whose performances I also admired in Molly's Game and Woman Walks Ahead among others.



THE INN OF THE 6TH HAPPINESS

December 28, 2019

Gladys

Recently, I've found myself watching more of the old classics and last night was no different. I decided to pull out The Inn of the 6th Happiness which I had checked out from the local library.

The film debuted in 1958 and stars Ingrid Bergman as Gladys Aylward (pictured above) who was a missionary to China credited with saving the lives of over 100 orphans when Japan attacked China.

The movie in full of powerful, inspirational, and heart-tugging moments and promises not to disappoint.



DESERT DANCER

December 21, 2019

Desert Dancer

I've seen several movies in recent weeks and months that I'll be sharing here and that were built around a lot of dancing. For a guy who has two left feet and no real interest in dancing, it seems odd that I would be so captured by such stories.

The one thing all of these movies had in common is what I refer to as The Magic! Now, the magic can be brought to a movie via the story, or one or more of the characters, or even the cinematography.

The magic is usually completely unexpected and brings a Wow! factor with it. And for me, the magic is the thing that brings me back to watch a movie again and again, especially when it contains heavy doses of magic and that wow factor that so wonderfully pull me into the story and away from reality for a couple of hours.

In the case of Desert Dancer, the magic for me was the simple fact that it was an incredible story which was also based on a true story. It's that old story of good overcoming evil. It's that story of one who rises to the top in the face of incredible odds. It's the story that stays with us long after the movie has ended and leaves us inspired for days, weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. It's that true story that sends us to the making of segment on the DVD and onto Google wanting to learn more.

This was definitely one for the personal DVD collection!.



PURGATORY

December 20, 2019

Purgatory

Tonight I watched Purgatory.

Purgatory is a made for TV film produced 20 years ago in 1999. Everything I read about it provided me with mixed emotions as to whether I would enjoy it. And, the first part of the movie was nothing more than your typical shoot 'em up western.

However, the magic in this movie for me came in the final act as the true depth of the story was revealed. An unexpected spiritual component reached out and pulled me in, in the uplifting and heart-warming way that I like to be pulled into a story!


Copyright © 2020 Hutch DeLoach



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