Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

The Smashing Machine

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

tn_smashingmachineTHE SMASHING MACHINE is a documentary about Mark Kerr, at the time an undefeated fighter in UFC, Pride and other mixed martial arts competitions. The director is John Hyams, whose UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION was so unexpectedly great I felt compelled to watch everything else he’s directed. In fact, Van Damme’s admiration of this movie is apparently what got Hyams the gig on the ol’ UNISOL.

The opening got me right away because it’s a voiceover on top of fight footage, and something seems wrong. The gentle, almost nerdy voice that’s talking to us doesn’t seem to match this muscleman we’re watching use his bare hands and feet to take flesh that God shaped in His own image and reconfigure it into an ugly pile of of bruise and injury. If Mark Kerr called you on the phone and said, “I’m the Smashing Machine,” you’d hear his voice and you’d never believe him. You’d hang up. But it’s true, he’s the Smashing Machine. And also a nice, thoughtful guy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Good Hair

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

tn_goodhairMan, this movie made me feel naive. It’s a documentary about black women’s hair, and it’s not really made for a white audience, it seems mainly designed to inspire discussion about beauty standards among the black community. But it was also fascinating for a white dude like me, and maybe more surprising. I had no idea. I never really thought about some of this stuff.

The director is Jeff Stilson, a writer for Letterman, The Chris Rock Show, Ali G, etc. But the movie is in the point of view of Chris Rock, who narrates and goes around talking to celebrities, hair stylists and experts. He explains that one of his young daughters asked him why she didn’t have “good hair,” and this sends him on a journey to understand why so many black women grow up hating the way their hair grows naturally. He explores straightening combs, relaxant and weaves, asking questions that draw out the absurdity of it all but rarely judging or directly commenting. Though sometimes the look on his face says it all. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episodes 11-12

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

tn_lawman3

The LAWMAN season finale is on tonight, so before that airs I thought I should catch up on reviewing the previous two episodes. The show continues to be interesting to Seagalogists, each time throwing in a few new elements instead of simply repeating itself. These episodes include shit-talking Jean-Claude Van Damme, being mistaken for another famous action star, a sad look at the War on Drugs and a genuinely cute moment that will make you say “Aaaahhhhh, that was a genuinely cute moment.”

(read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episodes 8-10

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

tn_lawman(sorry guys – playing catchup on reviewing the last three episodes before tonight’s new one)

Medicine Man

“I like you, my wife loves you. She love that man. I don’t know why.”

This is the rare episode that begins in the daylight, with the Squad checking out a report of a suspicious person in front of a liquor store. They end up chasing a black kid all over the place, driving, cutting through yards, hopping fences. And I think they would be the first to admit that this chase scene is more like a scene from GRUMPY OLD MEN than DISTRICT B13. To their credit I guess there’s a little POINT BREAK in there. (read the rest of this shit…)

Elvis Presley Gladiators: The 1974 Elvis Karate Legacy Project

Monday, January 11th, 2010

tn_elvisgladiatorsI know Elvis never meant shit to Chuck D, but I kind of like him. I’m not a huge fan or follower, never been to Graceland (yet), but he’s kind of interesting to me. I’m mostly fascinated by his earlier music and his later persona. And I’m especially interested in the fact that he did karate. Maybe if this portion of his life had been made more public it wouldn’t seem that cool, but as it is it’s kind of a mystery. Here’s this iconic part of pop culture, now more of a character than a human being, and you associate him with certain things, but kicking ass is not usually one of them. The juxtaposition of The King and karate is kind of hilarious and awesome to me. (read the rest of this shit…)

Facing Ali

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

tn_facingaliFACING ALI is a great new documentary about Muhammad Ali (out on DVD last week) that tells his story through the eyes of 10 of his opponents. You still get clips of the champ talking, training, fighting, but you hear about these legendary fights from new interviews with the other guys.

Each of them tell a little about their backgrounds, so they have their own interesting stories. Then they tell about the lead up to the fight, what happened, how they felt about it. Some have nothing but respect for Ali, they admire him, even idolize him. Some are still bitter about the way he insulted them, thought he was too mean. But more than one cries when talking about Ali’s Parkinson’s. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episode 7

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

tn_lawman3To Live or Die

This episode begins with the Squad responding to a call about two men shot in an armed robbery. They go to a Hispanic neighborhood where two Latino men are laying on the ground bleeding from gunshot wounds. Seagal and friends ask the wounded men and witnesses about who shot them (two black men with dreads who robbed them and then shot them anyway) but otherwise all they can do is assure them an ambulance is coming. This is the biggest incident we’ve seen in this series so far, but it’s not exciting, it’s just upsetting to see these poor guys moaning in pain.

“Believe me,” Seagal says. “That really pisses me off bad.” After all the people Seagal has left behind in movies, screaming about which body parts of theirs he injured, and after seeing him abandon the body of a colleague and love interest in a wrecked car in EXIT WOUNDS, it’s weird to see him standing around frustrated that two people are hurt and he can’t do anything. Later we learn that one of the men died. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episodes 5-6

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

tn_lawman2Episode 5: Firearms of Fury

There’s a 911 call about a disturbance with a gun, so the Squad is called in and get the suspect out of his car. Seagal keeps asking where the gun is and eventually the guy admits that it’s in the back of the car – a .44 with the hammer pulled back so it could’ve easily gone off and hit somebody. Seagal instructs another officer on how to pick it up safely.

It’s unclear what happened exactly – apparently an argument between cousins, the guy claimed he’d never point a gun at his cousin, but then why did his cousin call the cops? Seagal says afterwards, “I’m not happy that this happened, but at least we got one more gun off the street.” Sometimes LAWMAN gives me an impression of police work like it’s an old school video game. You gotta keep going around a maze grabbing all the guns you can find but they keep piling up faster and faster until you can’t keep up and then the game is over. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – episodes 3-4

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

tn_lawmanNote: I’m numbering these by the order the air, although the official numbering is totally different on their websight.

Apology: Sorry this is so late. I need time to study these things.
Episode 4: Killer Canines

The Seagal Squad rush to the scene of a burglary. This time they don’t seem as annoyed by his navigating. When they get to the house an alarm is blaring and there’s damage to a door and a window. It seems obvious that the intruder is long gone, but for some reason Seagal and the Squad are convinced he’s still inside. They call in a canine and put him in through the window, and Seagal says, “I hope he didn’t cut his feet on that glass,” seeming to maybe even choke up a little. They don’t find the burglar (he “somehow faded into the shadows”) but they have demonstrated Seagal’s legendary love of animals. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Cove

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

tn_thecoveI didn’t know much about THE COVE (out on DVD today) except that it wasn’t the type of movie I go out of my way to see. Sorry, I’ll do it for ninjas, I’ll do it for bad lieutenants, but for some reason not for dolphins. That doesn’t speak well for my humanity or my enlightenment, I guess. But I’m a pretty nice guy in my opinion. Not to brag or nothin. I would be nice to dolphins if I met any. I’m sure we would get along because we’re both pretty laid back.

I knew that lefties and environmentalists and stuff were interested in this documentary, what I didn’t know until I saw it was that it really is fascinating. This is a great story and document of people setting their mind on achieving a difficult task and then doing it. It opened my eyes to some gruesome shit I never heard of before, but instead of preaching to me it kept me on the edge of my seat with a crazy suspense story. Sonofabitch, they entertained me into caring about dolphins. (read the rest of this shit…)