2018-08-09T23:58:06+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director: Jason Reid, Watched:  Online, Rating:  4/5.     The most popular documentary in Seattle right now tells the story of greedy capitalists lying to the American public while pocketing millions of dollars with corporate help and then cowardly retreating behind the walls of their empires to leave in their wake a hurt, wounded, and ignored citizenry. No I’m not talking about Capitalism: A Love Story, I’m talking about a locally made labor of love called Sonicsgate, the sad story of the hijacking of the Seattle Sonics by a lying bunch of faux cowboys from Oklahoma. Director Jason Reid and his filmmaking partners made this film for less than $10,000 and yet he is giving it away online, free, to anyone who wants to go to their website,, and watch the film immediately with a click of a mouse. So far, in a little more than a week, 30,000 people have viewed the film. If you were either a casual or hardcore Sonic fan, you were no doubt just as bewildered as I was by the tragic demise of the longest existing professional sports team in Seattle, and, along with the Seattle Storm, the only one to ever win a world championship. The Storm was saved at the last minute, but the Sonics were lost and are gone forever. Sonicsgate is a thorough, well-organized, and professional piece of work, even though the filmmakers had little game footage to work with. But they have plenty of clips from local newscasts, press conferences, rallies, home movie footage and interviews [...]


2018-08-18T23:30:34+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director: Michael Moore, Watched in:  Theater, Rating:  4/5.     Have you wondered why you hardly ever run into people who’ve moved to the United States from Canada or Europe, especially France and England?  Americans are always moving there, but why don’t they move here to take advantage of our low taxes, our rugged individualism, our health insurance?  Michael Moore tells us why in his latest documentary, Sicko, an utterly depressing piece of agit prop that not only condemns the privatized health care business in the US but also finds something rotten at the very core of the country. How is it possible, Moore asks, that in the wealthiest country in the world we are at our most poor in how we take care of each other. Thanks to lobbyists, anti-socialist rhetoric and back-door political deals, the US has a health care system that actually rewards CEOs and administrators for denying people medical care. The fewer mammograms, cholesterol exams, diabetes tests, etc. that a hospital performs means a fatter bottom line for insurance companies and HMOs and, this being America, where greed trumps every other motivation, that is a good thing. By the end of Sicko, you’ll either revoke your citizenship and move to Paris, or you’ll do exactly what the powers that be want us to do, retreat even more into a fetal cocoon of paralysis. The most alarming theory that Moore offers is the idea that a populace locked into a cycle of debt, work, and fear has neither the time nor the will to change [...]

Standard Operating Procedure

2018-08-10T00:00:12+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director:  Errol Morris, Watched in:   Theater Rating:  2/5.   With Standard Operating Procedure, investigative stylist Errol Morris dissects the Abu Ghraib prison scandal by forcing us to look, over and over and over again, at the photographs that brought the scandal to the world’s attention. He also digs out several other snapshots, much more graphic, revealing, and repellent than the ones we saw in the mainstream press. He intersperses these photos with several talking head interviews of soldiers and investigators involved in the mess and with highly cinematic recreations or imaginings of the events. These exotically lit and elaborately art directed sequences are standard operating procedure for Morris as a filmmaker but, like the guards at Abu Ghraib, he has gone too far. Morris seems to be relishing too much the opportunity to visualize the sordid events that occurred at Abu Ghraib. He fetishizes the extreme close-ups of blood, bits of hair, and steel bars.  Some scenes are lit with an eye for erotic sleaze, as if they were excerpts from a Nazi stag film.  Other moments are rendered in shadows and silhouette, with pools of–one assumes–urine or blood shimmering in the foreground. The onslaught of these scenes, cut together with photographs showing Iraqi men stripped naked and forced into humiliating positions, and other photographs of the guards laughing or taking crude pictures of each other, combined with the endless interviews of soldiers (some of whom seem, I hate to say it, not very bright), adds up to an excruciating and often repulsive 2 hours of movie [...]


2018-08-10T00:43:22+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director:  Robinson Devor, Watched on:  DVD, Rating:  1.5/5.     Zoo is based on the infamous Enumclaw horse sex case of July, 2005, where a man died in the hospital from a perforated colon after he was, um, penetrated by a stallion. The movie combines voice-over interviews with actors and staged scenes. I admire films that push the boundaries between documentary and fiction; especially docs that can tell a story or enhance the reality of it subject matter by avoiding the usual menu of talking heads, news footage, and blandly shot and edited digital video. Too many documentaries these days are simply not worth the time it takes to watch them. It is much more efficient, and usually more enlightening, to simply read the newspaper articles they are based on. Zoo is also ripped from the headlines, but director Robinson Devor and co-writer Charles Mudede, Northwest filmmakers, avoid direct storytelling and even journalism in this film, which amounts to a highly atmospheric but narratively inert attempt at explaining the world of zoophiles, or zoos, men who like to have sex with horses. I have nothing but praise for director of photography Sean Kirby, editor Joel Shapiro, and composer Paul Mathew Moore. They create a pastoral Eden by day and a slightly menacing world of shadowy men by night, with the ghostly presence of Mt. Rainier hovering in the background. Their work is beautiful and often mesmerizing. But Devor and Mudede have used these elements to craft a picture that is artistically and emotionally remote. They’ve avoided, thankfully, showing [...]

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