Category: Documentary

Go Find My Tinfoil Hat!

Room 237 (2013)


Most movie fans are familiar with the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name; and many consider it to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time.  What you may not know is that there is a small percentage of the population who believe that this movie is more than just a movie, and is filled with a much deeper message.  There are nine different theories explored in this documentary, and they are as diverse as the enthusiasts who present them.  Some of the theories presented are out there… like, way out there; and all are based in visual clues, some of which only appear for a few seconds in one scene. Here are some examples:

Throughout the Overlook Hotel there are pictures of Indians, so therefore this movie is about the plight of the Native Americans.

There is a prominent maze in this movie, which doesn’t appear in the book, so this must be Kubrick’s homage to the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

There are several scenes with people walking, writing or speaking backwards, so that can only mean that you have to watch the movie backwards.  This leads to a new interpretation of the movie.

Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater at one point, so this can only mean that this is Kubrick’s way to tell the world that he filmed the faked moon landing.

Finally, the number 42 seems to be pretty predominant throughout the film. According to one person, this refers to 1942, the years the Nazis began the holocaust. So… there is that too.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I love The Shining. Love it.  There is all sorts of symbolism in this thing, and I’m sure there are still things that I have not picked up on yet.  But personally, I can’t come up with a single running theme in this movie, as there is just too much crazy going on.  I know Stanley Kubrick was a certified genius, so I’m sure this movie is about something, and there are probably specific reasons he diverged from King’s book, but I can’t quite nail them down.  I guess that is the sign of a good movie, in that it keeps you thinking about it, even thirty years after its release.  As a documentary goes, this is by far the best out there, but if you like The Shining, Room 237 will hold your attention and make to want to watch the source material again!  And as far as the theories, based on that fact that I am writing this, I can’t really judge other peoples opinions. Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim’s Thoughts: The Shining is an iconic film, obviously, and there is a ton of bizarre imagery throughout the entire film, and yes, Kubrick was such a control freak that it’s hard to take any of it as coincidence. That being said, this film, while entertaining gives too much credence to too many theories. It’s more interesting to focus on one or two. Instead we range from a few credible ideas, all the way to the most ridiculous theories you can imagine. The director undercuts the entire film with one line that I will paraphrase: It doesn’t matter if Kubrick meant for this movie to mean anything, people are going to attach their own ideas, and meanings. To me that instantly cheapens all of the ideas for what this movie could possibly stand for. With that rationale I could insist that this is Kubrick’s elaborate and desperate attempt to get his wife to make him 42 ice cream sandwiches. After all, 42 is predominately featured, and Halloran did offer Danny ice cream. It’s that silly. All of those gripes aside, I enjoyed most of this, and I think that fans of Kubrick, or the Shining should check it out. Just be ready to sift through the nutjobs.  Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

room237 door

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.


Abel Raises Cain (2005)

abel raises cain poster

In this ‘documentary’,the daughter of a serial prankster (Alan Abel) tells the world of he father’s exploits using interviews from the man himself alongside old grainy footage. We are treated to stories about all of his ‘great genius’ exploits with quips from actors portraying characters in these bits and members of the media that he duped. Some of his grand hoaxes where campaigns to get animals to wear pants because their nudity was offensive, trying to get mothers to stop breast-feeding because it was incestuous, starting an imaginary school for people to learn how to pan handle and having American’s waste their vote on an imaginary presidential candidate.  He prays on gullible people and those who don’t have access to facts to gather support for these hoaxes. These people believe in a cause and throw their support behind it and end up being played, as well as the media that picks up these stories.  Abel’s payoff is exposing the media and other citizens for not researching and doing their due diligence when it comes to reporting on a story. Which apparently he gets a kick out of for some reason.  Basicly he is the person who yells ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theatre, or calls in a bomb threat  just to get a rise out of people.  We also learn about his untimely death at the end of the film, which is also another hoax by this sad old man just begging for attention. 

Alex’s Thoughts: Damn you Tim for making me watch this piece of trash! This might be the worst documentary I have ever seen, and I think my time would have been better spent watching a documentary about the mating-habits of the sea cucumber.  I can’t recall seeing a person so self-obsessed and living in the past like Alan Able.  I guess I understand what he trying to get across: that the media will take an odd and interesting story and run with it. How good of you to point that out for the past 40 years.  These people’s job is to fill papers and air time with stories, and don’t always have time to fact check. Way to take advantage of people trying to make a decent living and probably getting a few fired along the way, jackass.  This guy is so obsessed with seeing his ‘hoaxes’ in the paper and other media, he just can’t get enough of himself.  Also the fact that you went on some shows with the produces paying you to appear as a hoaxer says that you are only in it to piss people off… that is your goal in life, and that sir, make you a piece of garbage.  Hurray for me, I faked my own death so I could read my own obituary. Go screw yourself.  Alex Rates This Movie 0/10

Tim’s Thoughts:Alan Abel is a wanna be prankster, that thrives  off attention. I was reluctant to even review this, just because we would be feeding into what I think is the problem. The major failing of this film is that it poses as a documentary, but in actuality it’s just another hoax perpetrated by Abel. Everything that isn’t old clips of Abel’s antics are obviously staged, and his daughter and his cronies are such sycophants, that this barely feels like a realistic view of Abel’s life. Instead of a documentary we are subjected to claims of how Abel is just a misunderstood genius and nobody can take a joke. The problem is, none of his jokes have punchlines, and try as he might, he’s no Andy Kaufman. This was a major disappointment, and I say please don’t waste your time. I would be very interested in an objective look at Abel’s life, but until then, all this movie proves is that the press and their lack of due diligence is nothing new. Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here. 

The Main Event

Card Subject to Change (2010)

card poster

This documentary focuses on an independent professional wrestling association in New Jersey. We’re first introduced to the promoter, who has been doing this for three decades and really seems to enjoy his job.  Throughout the remainder of the movies we meet all levels of wrestles; from the guys just starting out, to former WWE superstars in the twilight of their careers.  We get to see their home lives, in addition to their in-the-ring alter egos, and realize that most of these folks are just average everyday people with regular 9 to 5 jobs and do this because they like it.  No one is getting rich wrestling in independent leagues, especially for as little as $25 a match.  These guys and gals show up, sometimes to very sparse crowds, in halls and gyms to do what they love, even though it is hell on their bodies.

We also get to see some of the downside to pro wrestling:  guys too reliant on steroids to keep up their image, rampant drug and alcohol abuse and wrestles who have destroyed their bodies in these hardcore matches where they wrestle on barbed wire and broken glass.  It is clear some of these people has no business putting on those junk smashing tights, and also that some former stars can’t let it go, even though they physically can’t perform anymore; it’s just all they have ever known.  There is a nice wrap-up at the end, with details about all of the featured wrestlers current dealings with wrestling.  For every story about one of them making it big, there are dozens of stories where they stay right where they are, wash out or even worse.

Alex’s Thoughts: It’s pretty obvious that this documentary was made due to the success of the movie The Wrestler, and it looks like the portrayal of these guys was pretty accurate in that film.  While I haven’t really watched wrestling in the last 15 years or so, I know a lot of people still do; and those guys you see on TV have to start somewhere.  You really get to see what some people are willing to go through to try to live their dream, and you sort of feel bad for those who it is pretty obvious are taking a beating for nothing and will never make it to the big show.  They do it for the love of it, and sometimes it ruins their lives.  It isn’t the most well-made doc you’ll see, and it’s sort of a niche topic, but it isn’t that bad if you’ve ever been a wrestling fan.  Alex Rates This Movie 5/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Fans of wrestling will really enjoy this doc, but then again, I am sure they already know about it. It’s the typical sad story of how all these guys destroy their bodies to do what they love, but we’ve seen it done better in Beyond the Mat, and at it’s best in The Wrestler. Still this isn’t bad, I never found it boring and I always find these kind of stories compelling. If you are a wrestling fan and you haven’t seen it, then get off your butt, and fire up the Netflix, because right now it’s streaming. Tim Rates This Movie 6/10

card Kamala

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story (2010)

Ah Monopoly, who hasn’t enjoyed sitting around the dining room table and playing with your family? Who hasn’t called their own mother a ‘filthy whore’ for buying the only green property you don’t own, or threatened to cut off your cousin’s hand if you catch him stealing money from the bank again?  Monopoly has been bringing families together (and possibly separating a few here and there) for almost 80 years, and is truly America’s favorite board game.  This documentary takes us through the competitive US Monopoly season of 2009.  That’s right, we said ‘competitive’.  There are professional players out there who covet the title of US champion and the $20k that goes along with it.  We get to meet some of the past champions and those that aspire to be at the top of the gaming world.  The players range from nerdy math teachers, average Joes, 40-year old virgins to scuzzy lawyers.  This film chronicles their journey from the national compition all the way to the world championships in Vegas, where the twenty-eight best Monopoly players on planet Earth will trade properties, build hotels and maybe spend a little time in jail in hopes of a huge pay day.

In addition to the tourney, we also get a look at the history of the game – its humble beginnings as a teaching tool against capitalism, to the Atlantic City man who altered it to make it a game exactly the opposite of its original intent.  We get to see how a simple board game has influenced popular culture over the past decades as well as some fanatic collectors who have decorated their homes in monopoly themes and who own dozens of versions of the game.  What started as a way to pass the time in the depths of the Great Depression has become an enduring past time in hundreds of countries around the world; and in the end is just a good time to be spent with friends and family… except Aunt Shannon. We don’t care if you usually get extra money for landing on Free Parking when you play at home.  You’ll get nothing and like it at my house. We play street rules here, skank!

Alex’s Thoughts: First off, I’d just like to say eff that fat lawyer in this movie; he plays against little kids and accuses everyone of cheating.  You, sir, are a dickhole. The best part of this movies was watching you come in dead-last in the national tournament.  Now then, where were we?  It is a movie about a board game, and not a fancy big-budget movie like Battleship, but a film made by the fans for the general public.  First off, if you don’t like the game, you will mostly certainly not like the movie. Secondly, you really need to like the game to like the movie.  There are parts about strategy and probability and other very game specific stuff that might not interest the casual fan.  Some documentary fans might get a kick out of it, I did, but the majority of people would probably have more fun peeling the McDonald’s monopoly game pieces off of their hash browns. Alex Rates This Movie 6.5/10 

Tim’s Thoughts: First of all, I want to thank my Stepmom for teaching me how to be good at Monopoly, and I have to thank my sister for helping me be absolutely ruthless. King of Kong has ruined a lot of documentaries for me, that had a compelling hero, a villain, and an epic story that was to strange to be made up. This suffers from a complete lack of any of these characters. The one likable guy comes up a bit short, and I was forced to rely on enjoying the history of the game and it’s evolution instead of getting attached to the players. Except for the guy with a framed picture of him and his cat, that was amazing. All in all, it’s passable, and not a bad watch by any means, but it certainly isn’t as good or captivating as some. Tim Rates This Movie 6/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here, or add it to your Netflix queue

Special When Lit (2009)

It’s no secret that Tim and I are nerds. Not like pocket protector and watch calculator Big Bang Theory nerds, but we like comic books and sci-fi movies, and books; stuff the general population would consider nerd-like. We can appreciate things that aren’t really main stream, and are interested in activities, movies and other things that many people would just pass by. That is why we felt like we had to review this movie. Pinball, frankly, is almost dead. Video games, and specifically the home video game system, killed it almost 20 years ago. But there are still those hardcore fans out there that love it, and we love them for it. It’s is sort of pleasing to know that there are people out there who have an appreciation or have a great skill for something that most people could care less about or have forgotten about completely; whether it be pinball, Donkey Kong or old collectables.

Our documentary begins with a history lesson on pinball; its humble start in the 30’s as a game of chance where there were no flippers and you were simply at the mercy of gravity. This led to betting and thus the game was outlawed in most places. It wasn’t until the flappers were added, that it turned into a game of skill and was legalized again (pinball was illegal in New York until 1974!). Now this game was the shit, and companies sprang up overnight to meet the world’s demands for this new fad. Arcades were full of these machines and they could also be found in almost any US restaurant or store… any place people were likely to gather. This game made more money than the movie industry for almost two decades. As we mentioned above, video games would become the new fad, as the larger pinball machines were ignored or removed to make way for two video game cabinets.

We get to meet some of the people who are trying to preserve this past time: the collectors. Guys, always guys ages 45-60, with pinball machines in every corner of the house and garage. There are wealthy guys with huge beautiful buildings built to house their collections, to shulbby guys who would rather spend their money of pinball machines than indoor plumbing. Pinball was something that wasn’t specific to a race, gender or social status, and we see that in the cross section of collectors. Mixed in with the collectors are the professional pinball players who still compete annually for prizes and cash. To these people, pinball never went out of style, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.

Alex’s Thoughts: This doc wasn’t necessarily well made, nor is it a subject matter that really interests me (I am just awful at pinball, and so therefore being a guy, I hate it), but this thing made me want to scour eBay for a pinball machine for my basement. I just really appreciate the passion these people have for an outdated game. This could have been about people who collect rotary phones, and I would probably be like “Yeah, I totally need one of those too, I like spending 3 minutes dialing a phone number!”. I think most fans of pop culture would like this, whether you’ve played pinball before or not. Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I am not great at pinball either, but if I have quarters and the machine has a theme I like, I spend money. This is one of those doc’s that you can turn on and come in and out of the room while it plays. It doesn’t grip you like King Of Kong, but it does make  you laugh, and you can’t help but love some of these guys who are so nuts for these games. I appreciate their passion, as I feel that way about movies and books, and for that I could really immerse myself. Plus seeing these guys with pinball machines taking over their homes, it makes my 1000 plus movie collection look tame. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

The People Versus George Lucas (2010)

Hold on, because this is going to be a nerdy ride.  This documentary begins with a brief history of George Lucas’ life, how he got into filmmaking, and the troubles he initially encountered with studios re-editing his films.  That was all of 5 minutes; it then quickly ramps into the 1977 phenomenon that was Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) and how that film changed movies forever.  There are dozens of interviews with people from a variety of professions and cultures talking about why people love the film, and how it has affected popular culture for the last 35 years.  There are also some examples of some fan films, including the great and under-rated Star Wars: Uncut (see it), which is the entire film recreated 30 seconds at a time by different people in different mediums.

Now comes the nerd backlash about George tinkering with what they love… probably too much time is spent on ‘who shot first, Han or Greedo’, but when it comes to the alteration of the original film for the special edition, that was probably the biggest gripe fans had.  There are film professionals with alternating views on what a filmmaker has the right to do with their movie, whether it belongs to the public or the creator.  There are basically just a lot of angry individuals here, and most just want to be able to see the film in its original release on a current medium like DVD or BluRay.  Unless you were one of the rich people in the early 90’s who owned a laser disc player, a VHS tape is the only way you can still see it as it was in 1977.

“Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.” – George Lucas, 1988. Explaining to congress why black and white movies should not be altered to color.  Hypocrite!

The bitching continues as fans recollect their first viewing of Episode I, and try to convince themselves that they really like, but come to the conclusion that it’s 90% shit.  Those on the side of Lucas remind the public that these movies are made for kids, and that kids love Jar Jar Binks, much in the same way that people used to love the Ewoks. Despite everything wrong with Star Wars, everyone agrees that there are a lot of things right about it too.  People love to hate George Lucas, and that is pretty much the main message here… and also that the holiday special is utter crap.

Alex’s Thoughts:  Did someone make a movie just for me?  I couldn’t have asked for anything more in a documentary.  Being a hardcore Star Wars fan I think I have a unique view of this movie compared to the casual fanboy/fangirl.  I went through that big swing in emotion watching Episode I the first time, and came out of it saying ‘at least there were still lightsabers’ since nothing else was really recognizable to me.  I don’t really have an issue with Lucas changing his movies all the time, as I have told myself that I will not be tricked into buying another copy, that guy and his beard already have enough of my cash.  If you are into Star Wars you should definitely see this, as I think you would get a lot out of it.  If you’re not, than this is a pass.  Alex Rates This Movie 9/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I would say this is required viewing for every Star Wars fan, but after about 30 minutes into this, I realized that I was watching the same conversation that I have had with other Star Wars geeks, and that’s where I have a problem. While this is an entertaining documentary, I just got bored listening to other nerds drone on and on about something that will never change. Again, this movie is well made, and there are some interesting points, but for me (being a die hard Star Wars fan) I just got bored listening to the same complaints. I could film my friends and I bitching about why we hate stuff we love, and we would have a similar result. There is nothing terrible here, it just didn’t click for me. Maybe it hurts too much to be reminded of how something I love so much has fallen so far. Tim Rates This Movie: 6/10

 “You really fucked it up, George. What are you going to do to un-fuck it?”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

Winnebago Man (2009)

The internet is full of awesome stuff: things for sale, great movie review blogs (hint hint), boobies and most importantly… funny videos of people making an ass of themselves. Some of you might have seen a video called ‘Winnebago Man’, it has about 3,500,000 views on YouTube.  If you haven’t seen it (there is a link at the bottom of this post), it features a guy named Jack Rebney doing an informational video for The Winnebago Company in 1989.  It was quickly clear to the crew that this guy was crazy, so they left the camera rolling between takes and compiled all of the outtakes into a separate video that spread around the country via copied VHS tapes (that’s what us old folks had to do before the internet).  This documentary follows one guys journey to try to find Jack, and see what he thinks about his internet stardom.

Finding Jack turns out not to be as easy as the filmmaker, Ben, had thought.  After locating the crew and getting their thoughts on Jack; they thought he was insane for the record, they never saw him again after that shoot. Although they still think the video is funny, they sort of feel bad about doing it in the first place, as it led to Jack losing his job.  Ben turns to a private eye who can’t find out anything about jack, except for some PO box addresses. The guy is completely off the grid.  Is he that embarrassed by the video?  And one day… BAM, they find him living on a mountain in Northern California.  Ben arranges a meeting with Jack, and he finds him to be the complete opposite of the guy in the video: calm and relaxed, a guy at one with nature.  That was odd, who would have thunk it?  Well, a bit later Ben gets a call from Jack, who feels like he needs to come clean – he was putting on an act, and is exactly like the guy in the video, who can’t finish a sentence without throwing a ‘fuck’ in there somewhere.

So Ben’s happy about this for some reason, and aims to get Jack the recognition he deserves.  He arranges to get this foul-mouthed bastard to a found video screening in San Fran, where Jack is sure people are going to make fun of him or think the whole thing is crazy.  To his surprise all of the fans really like the video, and like him as well.  After saying a few words for the crowd, they go crazy and he is extremely humbled and gracious for the support.  So this insane guy gets some love, and something good finally comes from the internet; not like that escort we got from Craigslist, who came over with her boyfriend AND a penis.

Alex’s Thoughts: I’ll admit that I had never seen the clip before watching this movie.  Tim briefly showed me some scenes from the movie before we decided to review it, and that was enough for me.  I was completely enamored with the guy.  I don’t consider Jack to be a buffoon like some people do, but just thought that his temper and frustration got the best of him; which can happen to anyone.  The movie itself isn’t too bad.  At times, I wonder why this is even a feature-length documentary; but so does the filmmaker, so at least we had that in common.  You can’t help but feel bad for Jack at times, and although he is a bit of a curmudgeon  at times, you can tell that his probably is a good guy at heart.  It was nice to see him get some recognition at the film screening, that poor old bastard deserves something good in his life.  This thing is good for what it is, but it might not appeal to an older audience.  Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I felt so torn while watching this movie, the clips were hilarious, and the interviews the Jack are so sad and nearly tragic. My attention wandered at times, but when he goes to the theater for a live viewing of his clips, it’s so heartwarming to see Jack get some of the love and respect that he was so desperate for. I wouldn’t say that this is a great documentary, but I do think it’s a good one.  Even if you just watch this to see what became of the star of one the first viral videos, I think that you too will get drawn into the world of this sad, crazy recluse. Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

“Will you do me a favor, huh? Will you do me a kindness?”

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The Captains (2011) with a guest review from our favorite Trekkie Shannon Loomis

William Shatner directs and stars in this documentary about the different people and characters who have commanded a starship in the Star Trek universe.  He interviews all of them and gets a feel for how they became an actor, and how their role in the franchise has changed or shaped their lives. Probably of best way to break this down is by person, so here we go…

Sir Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard – The Next Generation) – This starts with a very awkward meeting between the two, despite them having worked together in the past.  Shatner proceeds to inturrupt each question Stewart tries to answer with an anecdote about his own life.  This is probably the main focus of this movie as Stewart gets the most screen time of any of the other actors, and rightfully so, he is a knight for Pete’s sake.  It seems that for the first year or so he was the only one who took his role seriously on the show, and he freely admits that it was the most terrifying role of his life.  He eventually learned to relax a bit and had fun doing it, despite it taking up more of his time than he had anticipated.

Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko – Deep Space Nine) – We learn really quick that this guy is fucking insane.  The interviews with him are pretty pointless, as he doesn’t specifically talk about the roll, and just answers each of Shatner’s questions with another crazy philosophical question… then they sing out the answer together sitting next to a piano. True story.  There are a lot of awkward silences between them, as they smile at each other and try to figure out what the hell to do next.

Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway – Voyager) – Kate had nothing but bad things to say about her experience, mostly due to the long work hours and the fact that she was away from her family so much; which was a shared theme among all of the captains, and probably anyone who worked on a weekly tv show.  She was very honest about the role, and admits while she did her best, it was just a paycheck, she was not emotionally vested in the character. So spoke freely that she is much more comfortable on a stage rather than in front of a camera.

Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer – Enterprise) – As a fan on the show as a young man, Bakula talked the most about the actual franchise itself.  As a science fiction fan he appreciated his role more than the others it seemed.  Again, this interview was awkward as it was outside in a gazebo and apparently he was rushed for time.  Bakula admits that his cast lacked the chemistry that those of the other shows had, and thus was the reason that series was cancelled.

Chris Pine (James Kirk – Star Trek) – This was a pretty brief interview, as Pine has only has the one movie role, but he seemed to really appreciate the legacy and wanted to do the fans proud.  He seemed to be the most relaxed by far, and he kept the interview going rather than Shatner. Most of this interview was just the two of them arm wrestling. Really.

The real meat and potatoes of this movie was the life and times of William Shatner himself.  It is almost as though he realized no one was going to make a documentary about him, so he would just do it himself and loosely base it around Star Trek.  It was only until recently that he has accepted the fact that he is famous due to his role on Star Trek (and not T.J. Hooker or Priceline commercials), and has started to embrace the role and has begun going to conventions and interacting with fans.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I will start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of Star Trek (I am actually a huge Star Wars nerd), but I will freely admit that we owe a lot of what we see in today’s science fiction to Rodenberry’s original series.  Anyone that knows me will just think I am hating on Star Trek, but in reality, I am just hating on this movie.  This could have been a real treat for Star Trek fans, but instead you sort of get a glimpse into William Shatner’s narcissism.  I had assumed there would be more actual information about the movies and tv series, but alas, that is not what I got.  Each time Shatner meets a new ‘captain’, the awkwardness of it all is almost unbearable and difficult to watch.  I didn’t think he made this movie to be all about himself, but for some reason (maybe due to a lack of useable footage from the interviews) it ended up being about his life in general, and went on stretches without mentioning Star Trek at all.  Maybe a fan would get more out of this than I did, because I was not at all entertained.  Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Wow, just when you thought that Shatner couldn’t get  any more arrogant, he makes this movie. On the outside, it would appear to be a meeting of the Star Trek Captains, and as a fan of the original series,(I am also a Star Wars Geek) I thought this was a neat idea. Mostly because I watched a lot of Spenser for Hire with my Grandma and Hawk was a badass dude. Also Patrick Stewart commands such presence without using the goofy theatrics that Shatner resorted to consistently. Instead we get an excuse for William Shatner to present himself to the other actors that tried to fill his shoes, and he gracefully allows them to fawn on him. What I learned was Avery Brooks is batshit crazy, Patrick Stewart, and Scott Bakula are pretty much normal guys, and Kate Mulgrew is filled with regret and has daddy issues. The parts I really liked all took place at a convention, and while Bill Shatner is arrogant, he’s not really a bad dude. As he strolls around the convention floor he sneaks up and photobombs fans, and he takes a few minutes for a special needs fan that traveled a long way. It was genuinely touching. All in all I look forward to the next Star Trek movie, because the reboot has been excellent so far, and I will continue to enjoy the campy fun of the original Kirk, but I don’t think I can indulge the old captain for much else. Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

Shannon’s Thoughts:  This documentary is mostly William Shatner getting teary eyed about his career in acting and the impact of Star Trek on the world. I could have done without the scenes where each captain explained how they got into acting and how, at first, they thought they were too good for Star Trek. I was way more entertained by the interactions between Shatner and the other Captains. There are tons or priceless moments but my favorites have to be Shatner trying to have any kind of cohesive conversation with Avery Brooks, and the arm wrestling scene between Bill Shatner and Chris Pine. I also loved Shatner walking through the Trek convention jumping into people’s pictures and watching them freak out. Overall I thought this documentary had lots of Trekkie goodness for fans of any Trek series. Shannon Rates This Movie 7/10

“If it were to all end for me today, I would largely be known for my work on Star Trek; not as MacBeth or King Lier, but as Captain Jean-Luc Picard… and I’m alright with that.”

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Hollywood For Sale

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011)

We’re sure you’ve noticed that Mr. Pibb soda can that your favorite actress is drinking from, or that car emblem that is so predominately displayed in that rom-com your lady drug you to last weekend.  That is the art of product placement, and almost every movie and tv show today has some form of it.  Truth be told, it generates a large income for the movie studios that partake in this consensual advertising scheme.  Director Morgan Spurlock dives deeper into this form of advertising that is becoming more prominent and more lucrative for those involved than ever before.  He has an idea to make a movie about product placement, financed exclusively by product placements.  Could that even work?

Yes. Yes it can, and it does.  We follow Morgan as he tries to learns how to even going about getting companies to talk to him about product placement, and when most of them hear what he is doing, they are less than interested.  After finding out the demographic that this movie will attract, he is able to finally get some companies to pitch in to make this $1,500,000.00 film.  Some companies are pretty small, such as a regional gas station and a frozen pizza company; but a few of the big boys jump on-board as well, like JetBlue and Hyatt.  In exchange for their dollars, some of the companies have some very specific things they want shown in the movie; but that is what this whole thing is about anyway.  Spurlock ends up getting the cash and the perks that he needs to make the film, but worries that he might be selling out; but upon interviewing high-profile directors like JJ Abrams and Bret Ratner, he learns that is just how Hollywood is run these days. They tell him that if you want to make a movie you are going to have to make some sacrifices; and that just might mean having the star of your action movie wear a Mr. Bubbles t-shirt or have the slasher in your horror movie tell you the health benefits of Sunny Delight before he pulls out your anus through your mouth.  He plays these companies’ games and teaches everyone out there a valuable lesson: you are going to bombarded with ads, so you might as well get on board and make a few bucks if you can.

Alex’s Thoughts:  While I am a fan or Morgan Spurlock, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Supersize Me, or some of the episodes of 30 Days that I’d seen.  It was however much better than the movie he was in about a killer fast food mascot called Drive Thru… that was way shitty.  I’m not sure I gained any more knowledge about product placement that I had before I watched this.  Maybe I didn’t really understand what all of the professional advertising agents were saying.  I did learn that the more popular a movie is going to be, the more advertising want to be a part of it; and the more they are willing to pay, some even putting up enough money to have some creative control of the movie.  That is all I need, some 65 year-old guy who sells energy drinks telling  Joss Whedon how the direct The Avengers, and all of a sudden we get a new back story about how the Hulk was created with gamma ray infused Red Bull.   It’s really enough to make you sick, if you’re a fan if cinema.  There are also a few funny scenes involving Ralph Nader getting pissed off at the whole advertising industry as well as a scene where Donald Trump tried to defend all of the shitty commercials he has been in. If you like the world of modern cinema or documentaries or are involved in marketing, you might want to give this a watch.  Alex Rates This Movie 7/10 (it is more entertaining than it is good)

Tim’s Thoughts:I have never seen Supersize Me, but have been a fan of Spurlock’s other work. Unlike a Micheal Moore, Morgan seems less swarmy as tries to make his point. After seeing this, I can’t wait to see what Spurlock decides to do next, while this wasn’t the most amazing documentary I have ever seen, I will say that this is very entertaining. Also as a movie nut I love this behind the scenes stuff, and yes it’s pretty disgusting how commercialized movies have become, but let’s be honest, to some extent we all wear the blinders and put up with it because we just want to be entertained. So if Batman has to drive a Lexus and drink PBR to get that next Nolan movie funded, then so be it. Back to the movie, I thought it was fun, and great to see how much work goes into just getting a movie paid for. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10 (I laughed out loud, a lot.)

“This is life. This is Hollywood. Get on board or get left the fuck behind.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

A Return to Nilbog

Best Worst Movie (2009)

Troll 2 is a horribly made flick.  Anyone who has seen it can testify to that, but some people seem to like it.  So much so that the child ‘star’ of this movie made a documentary about it and toured the country to prove it.  The main focus of this doc is on the father from the movie, former actor and current dentist George Hardy.  No one knows that George was in this craptastic film, and he sort of comes out of the awful movie closet and embraces it.  The film follows him from screening to screening where he is treated like a huge star and worshiped by leagues of adoring Troll 2 fans.  The highlight of the screening tour is to see how good-natured George starts off being so excited by all of this, to just being bored and tired of the whole thing in a matter of weeks, going so far as to call some fans at a horror convention ‘freaks’ and walking out.  They also reunite the cast for a screening in the town where Troll 2 was made, and it is interesting to see what everyone involved with that shitfest of a movie is doing these days: the mother is certifiably mental and doesn’t leave her house, yet is still trying to break through into mainstream movies – the sister is still acting, but yet refuses to put Troll 2 on her resume for fear of losing work – the general store owner had escaped from a mental hospital and was hired for the part because he looked creepy, yet doesn’t even remember being in the movie – and the Italian director still thinks Troll 2 is a legitimate film and gets pissed that people only watch it to make fun of it.

Alex’s Thoughts:  There is no getting around the fact that Troll 2 is a total dumpster fire of a movie.  It is a film whose only redeeming quality is that it is so very bad it’s funny.  I don’t think it’s one of those ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ movies, because those directors and actors know it’s crap, but still churn out something enjoyable.  Troll 2 was supposed to be a serious horror movie, and they will tell you in this film that it failed on every front.  I’m glad that so many people enjoy it, and have a good time watching it over and over, but that’s not for me.  Troll 2 isn’t something I want to watch repeatedly in a theatre with other people, I would prefer to watch at someone’s house, so I can escape if I need to.  A lot of people in the film make Troll 2 out to be our generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.  Time will tell on that one.  The documentary itself was pretty enjoyable to watch, and you could tell that most of the people had fun reliving what was probably the worst time of their lives.  I also really like to see how George Hardy went from loving the fact that he was in this movie, to hating it and almost everything about it in the span of an hour and a half.  If you’ve seen Troll 2 at any point in your life, you would enjoy this.  Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: While I enjoyed watching the poor actors be confronted with what may be the most embarrassing period of their lives, I also felt like this was trying to force you to love Troll 2, and adopt it as a cult favorite. It may or may not turn out to be timeless, but forcing it is not the way. There’s no denying the charm of this little documentary, and maybe I’m just a bit resentful of the pandering, but having been to horror conventions, there are several movies I think that deserve more attention, and have seen more support than Troll 2, also I have never seen anyone with a Nilbog shirt. This isn’t a bad film and if you love Troll 2 then it’s a must. Seeing what has become of the cast is very interesting, and kind of sad in some cases, and if you haven’t seen Troll 2 then you could watch this much better movie and skip the train wreck. Anyways not a bad documentary, but I wouldn’t say it was great. Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue