documentaries

March of the Penguins (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on December 13, 2011

92. March of the Penguins (available to stream on Netflix and via Amazon Instant Video)

Here is the trailer for March of the Penguins.

[youtube V3k-fkOtTDo]

March of the Penguins is a 2005 documentary about the extraordinary lengths that Emperor Penguins take in their journey to reproduce.  They walk 70 miles from their normal environment, the ocean, inland to reach ice that is not in danger of melting and collapsing during incubation of the egg and the early stages of the chick’s development.  After mating, the females pass the egg to the male, and then leaves to go back to the ocean to feed.

The females return after the babies are born to relieve the males and finally feed the chicks, which are unbearably cute in the movie.

This is a beautifully crafted story about this insane journey taken by the penguins. I do think they are anthropomorphizing these animals, but it isn’t too offensive.  It definitely doesn’t sugar-coat anything, there are a lot of sad moments and death presented.  However, nothing is so upsetting that I wouldn’t let a child watch this movie. Plus, as I mentioned, cute baby penguins.

March of the Penguins is available on DVD from Amazon for $7.55.

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Pearl Jam Twenty (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on December 11, 2011

90. Pearl Jam Twenty (available to stream on Netflix)

Here is the trailer for Pearl Jam Twenty:

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Pearl Jam Twenty is a documentary that chronicles the 20-year span of rock band Pearl Jam. I was introduced to this band with all of my friends in the early 90s, and we all fantasized about Eddie Vedder and just loved the band and the music so much.  I had no idea that this documentary would end up making me as emotional as it did, but when certain songs were discussed, especially “Release,” I was a lost cause.  My connection to the music on my own personal level definitely influenced my reaction, but I imagine that anyone can relate.

I don’t want to talk about “plot” too much. There are interviews with everyone in the band, plus quite a bit of Chris Cornell, and no one minds that. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed the movie, and when you have obsessed over Almost Famous/Untitled as much as I have, you can see his style all over the place. It’s a really enjoyable film and an interesting study into the way a rock band works. I highly recommend a viewing, as soon as possible. Get on it.

Pearl Jam Twenty is available on DVD from Amazon for $17.99. Go get it right now.

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Bear Nation (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on November 26, 2011

88. Bear Nation (Available to rent digitally on Amazon)

Here is the trailer for Bear Nation.

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Bear Nation is the most recent documentary by Malcolm Ingram, who I previously praised about his fabulous documentary Small Town Gay Bar.  It teaches the audience about the bear community within gay culture.  The bears are bigger, hairier, more traditionally “manly” men – but the community also includes the chasers who love them.  I’m married to a bear myself, so I certainly understand the attraction.

The bears have entered my consciousness as a flag-waving fag hag in the past 5 or so years.  I knew it was a big deal when the innkeeper at a B&B in Provincetown told me how popular Bear Week was, and theme weeks in Provincetown are a BIG DEAL.  Bear Nation gives us a little more in-depth look at the subgroups within the larger group of “bears,” including muscle bears and leather bears, as well as focuses on a few chasers that aren’t bears but love them all the same.

My favorite part of Bear Nation is the joy I feel when seeing people who have found their people, found their place in the world.  A lot of the subjects of this film talk about being absolutely confused about being not only gay, but not interested in being or being with the twinky standard that many people think of when they think of a gay man.  Thanks to the internet, groups of bears started forming, gatherings started happening, and now the bears all have somewhere to go.

Malcolm Ingram, himself a bear, gives a wonderful look into a lesser-known portion of the gay community that have taken matters into their own hands and have an amazing time doing it.  I definitely recommend checking this documentary out. Go Bears!

Bear Nation is not currently available on DVD, but can be rented for $3.99 from Amazon to watch online, and for $2.99 from Walmart (totally surprising) to watch online.

Also, Malcolm Ingram’s next film will be a documentary about the infamous Continental Baths in NYC, where a young Bette Midler started her career!

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The Gates (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on October 8, 2011

73. The Gates (available to stream via Netflix)

Here is a sneak peek of The Gates.

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The Gates is a documentary covering the proposing, development and launch of The Gates, an art project launched in Central Park in New York in 2005.  The artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, had tried to bring The Gates to the park in the 70s, but were shot down by a number of people who thought that the project was silly and was like painting over another painting.  All while watching the footage of 70s New Yorkers who hated the idea, it seemed that they were just arguing to argue.

The Gates: Tree of Orange

The Gates: Tree of Orange by LarimdaME on Flickr.

Part of the completed project in Central Park.

Mayor Bloomberg approved the installation of The Gates and so the project was launched.  Huge teams of volunteers had to get involved to first install the bases and then the arches.  The flag-like fabric hanging from the arches was released with a tab, which allowed all of the gates to be opened within a few hours.

The documentary is a little bit long.  The installation process is sprinkled in with pissy New Yorkers who think it is ridiculous.  Once the project is launched, lots of happy New Yorkers are shown enjoying the park being filled with orange saffron fabric blowing in the breeze, in the middle of February.  I have to say, the timing was important, the impact would have been completely different had all of the trees been covered in leaves.

I don’t know why people were so bent out of shape about The Gates.  It was only there for 16 days.  It did no permanent damage to the park, but changed the vibe in the park for a little while.  I still think the documentary could have had 10 minutes less of footage of just the exhibit, but I still enjoyed it.

The Gates is available on DVD from Amazon for $21.99.

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F-ck: A Documentary (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on October 3, 2011

69. F*ck: A Documentary (not available to stream via Netflix or Amazon)

Here is the NOT SAFE FOR WORK trailer for F*ck: A Documentary.

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F*ck: A Documentary is an examination of the alleged origin of a vilified word that is quite popular.  Broken into chapters about different dislikers of the word, it is full of interviews with both proponents and opponents of the word.  All in all, it is very entertaining.

Hunter S. Thompson, who the film is dedicated to, shares his wisdom in F*ck: A Documentary.

Other notable interviewees in the film are Tera Patrick, Kevin Smith, Drew Carey, Sam Donaldson and Alanis Morissette.  There isn’t much more about it I want to say – it’s something you would either be interested in watching, or totally not.

F-ck: A Documentary is available on DVD from Amazon for $9.58.

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