Film Review: Blackfish

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Even though it’s a documentary, Blackfish has been on my list of “movies” to watch virtually since it was released in 2013. Essentially focusing on the effects of keeping wild animals (in this case Orca Killer Whales) captive, Blackfish attempts to outline the psychological effects on the animals this imprisonment has, as well as, a wider debate about the way the animals are used for entertainment and the safety of training them to perform.

There can be no question that, whether embellishing the truth or not, Blackfish has had a direct and sizable impact on its main target – Seaworld. I need to point out, however, that whilst I try and keep an open mind, try to just watch without prejudice and review without bias, my own personal opinions will, of course, cloud my thoughts. I have never been to Seaworld. I don’t actually agree with zoos either because I don’t believe that taking wild animals and putting them on display is an acceptable thing to do. Or a fun day out. But I do eat meat and I’ve kept domesticated animals as pets, so I fully accept I may appear hypocritical in my choices. Read more

Film Review: Citizenfour

Posted on by 5WC in Film

At the end of last year I watched both the fictional and factual portrayals of the WikiLeaks story (We Steal Secrets and The Fifth Estate) before writing a review for another blog about the relationship Hollywood has with technology. And while they are not a trilogy in any sense of the term, connected to the ideas about information, technology and government conspiracies comes Citizenfour. A documentary following the Edward Snowden whistle blowing.

I had heard seriously impressive reports about this documentary, it’s initial but limited big screen release being heralded as a must search out and see, while it’s reputation so strong that it has taken home awards whenever it has been nominated including both the Oscar and Bafta for Best Documentary. To say I expected a lot is an understatement. Read more

Film Review: Next Goal Wins

Posted on by 5WC in Film

People rave about Next Goal Wins, some declare it the best footballing film ever made, other’s like Empire Magazine placing it in their best of 2014 “Movies You Probably Didn’t See” lists and so, I was really looking forward to it, really expecting a lot from a simple documentary about the American Samoa national football team as they attempt to banish the demons of the world’s heaviest defeat (31-0 against Australia in 2001) and regain pride during the 2014 Brazilian World Cup Qualifiers.

And I’m not exactly sure if those expectations were met? I think in part that is because even with everyone telling me it was great, I didn’t have that mental picture in my head of what great actually was. Certainly, it’s a good documentary, recounting an interesting story that most are probably unfamiliar with, aside maybe from derisive jokes at the size of the loss in 2001 but that was it. Nothing really blew me away. Read more

Film Review: Life Itself

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It seems strange to me to be sitting down, writing a review, about a documentary detailing arguably the world’s most famous film reviewer. Roger Ebert. A man who essentially defined his industry and created his genre. Ebert redefined film reviewing into a simple formula – yes or no: is this film any good?

Roger Ebert died in April 2013, after a long and disfiguring battle with cancer and while a large portion of this documentary about him had been concluded by then, you cannot help but feel that the intervening 12 months before its release, while the finishing touches were applied, have overwhelmingly shaped a lot of the final product. Read more

The Possibilities Are Endless

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Like a lot of people I am sure, I have heard of Edwyn Collins and I can name one song. Girl Like You. After that, everything becomes a blur. I can’t tell you exactly what time frame his career spans, or name an album he made. But I remember the musician fondly simply because of an overly amplified and electronic guitar riff.

So when I first heard about this documentary, and the fact that it details his recovery from a brain haemorrhage in 2005, it was with a tinge of sadness. Sadly though, even though the reviews all stated this was a stunning piece of non fiction story telling that you needed to see. The tale of recovery of a not overly well known Scottish musician was never going to see a wide big screen release. Read more

TV Review: 100 Seconds To Beat The World: The David Rudisha Story

Posted on by 5WC in Television

In exactly the same way as a chance encounter with a tweet lead to me enjoying the scientific delights of BBC 2’s Operation Cloud Lab, it was a chance encounter listening to Radio 2 while cooking my dinner that lead me to hear an interview regarding an upcoming documentary about David Rudisha and his journey that ultimately resulted in him destroying the field at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

I must admit, that it was purely that interview that drew me to watch it. I’m not the biggest athletics fan and being completely honest, I actually watched very little of the Olympics when they were on. And I am pretty sure that I didn’t watch Rudisha, or any of the 800m running. In fact, he apparently even ran at the Crystal Palace event I tethered the Lucozade balloon at 3 years ago, and I only know that because I’ve just looked it up! But there was something in this interview, something about the way they spoke, their enthusiasm for the story that made me want to see it. Read more

Film Review: Tim’s Vermeer

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Once again it’s down to the Wittering Doctor that this documentary came to cross my path and enter my life. Amazingly given a cinema release last year, but unsurprisingly, limited in its showings I never managed to find anywhere even remotely local to get to see it. As a result, I have been patiently waiting, and waiting, or this week to arrive when it is finally released onto DVD and I get to see whether it was worth the wait.

Tim’s Vemeer, as the trailer shows, is an extended documentary brought to film by Penn & Teller about Tim Jenison’s quest, or even obsession, with proving his theory into how Johannes Vermeer was able to paint the pictures he did, and potentially solve through real world experimentation using a technique that was possible during Vermeer’s lifetime exactly how Vermeer may have achieved the astonishing results he did. And as documentaries go, it is absolutely fascinating.
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Film Review: Project Nim

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Project Nim is one of those films that has been on my radar for a very, very long time. A documentary about Nim Chimpsky, a Chimpanzee taken virtually from birth to be raised “as a human” as part of a scientific experiment into whether it was possible to extend human characteristics into primates – whether it is possible to teach them language and engage them in a conversation.

Essentially, as it’s put in the documentary, the nature versus nurture debate.

I have seen the trailer over and over, whenever I see a list of “must watch” or “must own” it always seems to crop up and I always go and look the trailer up and remind myself that at some point I need to get around to seeing it. The problem is I always had this nagging thought in the back of my head that Project Nim is a long documentary, not a short film, and as such, wasn’t something you settled down for with a bag of popcorn to watch. Read more