I watch a lot of nature documentaries, but space is my jam. I don’t know what it is about that endless, mindbendingly expansive void that surrounds us that fascinates me. But it does. Anyways, I watched Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson, who’s basically the James Brown of the science world. It went over the various wonders of our universe. Most of the stuff I knew already but I’m sure there’s stuff in there I don’t. I didn’t watch the whole series but I might come back to it one day. If you like space, or just the Neil man, then it’s for you.

Just a lil thing I liked about “A Ride Home”

I liked how we don’t learn what Sterling (the former convict who was gettingthe ride) did to get his sentence. We don’t need to know. He’s starting his life over from scratch. It’s behind him and he’s trying to get his life together. A common thing that ex-cons face is people throwing what they did in their face over and over again. So that was just a lil’ something I appreciated.

Class Divide

This movie follows the super gentrification of west Chelsea in Manhattan. It’s actually kind of crazy, it focuses on one intersection in particular. On one ide of the street you have Avenues, a private K-12 school that opened up in 2012 that has an annual tuition upwards of 40,000$. On the other side of the street is a projects housing complex that’s home to 2,500 people, most of which are working poor. The documentary follows families from both sides of the streets. Students who go to avenues, and kids who live at Elliot houses (the projects). It was kind of refreshing when students from Avenues recognize that they’re more privileged and have far more opportunities than those across the street. None of that “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” rhetoric. The movie also goes around taking the viewpoint of gentrification to several different people. Those who profitted from it and those affected by it. It also does a take on New York city and how it’s driving the working poor out. I, personally, am disgusted by the total disregard developers can have to the people of this city, but what’re yo gonna do? It’s an hour and 10 minutes I think. I saw it on HBO but the whole thing’s on youtube so there’s that.

3 and 1/2 minutes, 10 bullets

I saw this expository documentary on HBO, it followed the murder of 17yr old Jordan Davis. On Black Friday 2012, down in Florida, he and middle-aged Micheal Dunn had argued over the volume of music that Jordan was playing from his car. Micheal, using the classic excuse “feared for his life” shot ten bullets into the car of the three unarmed teeangers, most of which hit Jordan Davis. Filmmaker Marc Silver followed Jordan’s friends who were in the car with him and his parents. Interviewing them about Jordan, just letting the viewers know what he was like. I think he also interviewed Micheal Dunn’s girlfriend but it might have been fottage from something else. The documentary also went over the first trial, of which he was aquitted. The film followed the mother and father as they sued again, and garnered awareness. One scene that tugs the heart strings is when the father told a story about how Trevaun Martin’s dadd called him and said “Welcome to the club no one wants to be in.” This doc is 85 minutes long and I highly reccommend it. free if you got HBO.

The stories we tell

In my opinion the documentary “The stories we tell” was interesting the last part that I got to watch explained a lot about the film which was basically  Sarah Polley trying to find out who her real father is. The film had a similar poetic tone as the other documentary we watched in class called “Tongues United”.  The part that made me feel this way was at the end when the father reading  a letter it sounds more like a song or a poem that he is reciting or singing. There is also another part of the film that can be seen as observatory just like the documentary we watched in class called “high school”  where the filmmaker does not interact at all. They just let things happen as they are that is what makes the film realistic. The part of the film that i found very interesting is at the end when you can tell Sarah Polly influenced the film even without wanting to. Or maybe these were her intentions to achieve a certain feeling or mood to the documentary. For instance, this is seen when the father has to repeat the line at the end twice. This can be interpreted as Sarah was trying to have the same affect that “Tongues United” captured. the effect that the film captured was it gave importance through repetition. Sarah did try not to influence the way people answered but since it was a topic that involved her and her life it was very difficult for her.

“We should give people more opportunities” but should we?

I really liked the main character in this short film. He was doing a really nice thing for people that really needed it. But I think the main idea of the film is wrong. I don’t think people should get more opportunities. I think the way the country deals with prisoners is wrong we should try to actually rehabilitate them not put them in a cell for a set number of years and hope for the best when they come out. and for people that truly cannot be rehabilitated they should be killed. The difficult part it choosing who can and can’t be rehabilitated.But with technology it will be possible. And treating them in a way that will make them better will be very hard, because many people that are in prison have had so many traumatic experiences throughout their lives it would be extremely hard to make them a functioning part of our society. but again with technology it can be solved. maybe by changing there brain chemistry this would be possible. And dont even get me started with some stupid laws!

3rd World Birth

throughout the short documentary I kept thinking to myself “wow we’re so close to to living like pure savages.” In some places more than others. at least here in NYC it seems very far away. concret everywhere and not a tree in sight in many places. Technology everywhere, even the things we take for granted, most people dont smell, medical care readily available. Seeing the conditions in that hospital made me feel very lucky. I think its good to see things like this. One woman was asked to if she would like to get her tubes tied. she looked to be in her mid 40s and already had at least 5 kids, she declined.maybe the world would be a better place if people like her didn’t have children. Thats a very cold thought. Kind of reminds me of a movie called “idiocracy” in the movie dumber people have more and more kids while smarter people have less and less kids. this causes humanity to regress and become dumber. Im not saying that the kids born in that hospital are any dumber than other newborns but the fact that they are being born to parents that have no jobs in a 3rd world country really isn’t a good start. how lucky are we huh?

7 minute film on getting out of jail.

The film was very believable it had many key moments that tied everything together. For instance the man who was trying to make a difference by going to get these ex- victims and show them around. He seemed very affected about what happened to him he wanted to show that you are capable. He wanted to show these specific individuals that if he can do it they are able to do it as well and that they are not alone. The fact that these people get out and have no one to turn to is what i believe makes them fall into their old path. If someone is there to help you financially or even just the advice can help a person a great amount. The main person who is talking on the film he is sort of the narrator is an example of this. He went to prison he did his time and when he got out he was completely lost. He even states ” i would go in the shower and i would just cry”. He was suffering because it was hard for him to be isolated from society for so long and then just out of nowhere being thrown back in with no job almost no money and now a new problem which is a criminal record which does not help at all. The reason why is because these people will now have a difficult time finding a job and if they do find a job it may not be a good one because people do not trust ex-convicts especially if they have been convicted of murder or any other violent crimes. This is why it is a drastic problem now a days. It is a endless cycle of people that are unable to get ahead in life because of the chooses they make.

Terminal Bar.

I loved it! All the people showed really peaked my interested. Personal stories with a beginning and end, seeing the people age through the pictures was something I really enjoyed as well. I really wish it was longer. Im glad it was made into a book. It looks like it would fit better as a book. I already have it in my cart on amazon. Also the fact that it was published in 2012 is something i really like. I feel like he will have thing a lot better organized. the fact that the film was shot in 2002 makes it feel so far away. I can barley remember that your, i was 7. One character that that i found really interesting was a black guy that looked like he was in his mid 50s. the man telling the story about him kept saying “he was so strange.. so strange.” and THATS IT! He even looked strange. Honestly i dont even know why i find this documentary and place so interesting. I guess its the historian in me. in history you only really get to hear about the elite in history. This is such a specific place with such specific people in such a short time. The reality in that specific time and place.

My thoughts on Stories We Tell

I really enjoyed watching Stories We Tell. I think it’s extremely interesting to hear other families stories, some of the most interesting,weirdest and captivating stories i have ever heard are my family’s and my friends families stories. I feel like making a family story into a movie would be the hard part. I could not imagine what it must feel like to reveal your family’s stories and share it with the world. Personally i feel like the best stories are told from the outside looking in, and Sarah Polley does this with a twist. While the story is about who her father is, it’s focused on her mom and how she was conceived. Sarah Polley was able to tell her story without actually being apart of it. The people she interviewed had been apart of the story and perceived in various ways as shown through Harry. What Sarah Polley did was allow everyone to tell their experience and compiled it to give a transparent view of the whole situation. I feel like in no way was the movie’s truth bent as a result of Polley keeping her role minimal and choosing not to provide view of this, allowing the viewer to determine what to take away from this film. Overall i feel like Stories We Tell oddly might be one of the most transparent documentaries i have ever seen, which surprises me because the film is literally about her own family.   

A tool not a textbook

I was scrolling my YouTube and found that Werner Herzog and Errol Morris actually did an interview for Vice. It was about the Movie The Act of Killing, by Joshua Oppenheimer. Although that film is incredible and does a lot of things that I don’t think many other documentaries do (from what I’ve heard and seen snip bits of). Herzog brings up his idea that facts don’t exactly mean truth again. He went on to explain that if we wanted something one hundred percent factual then we’d just read a phonebook. That the sense that documentaries have to be this perfectly factual medium is false and doesn’t really do justice to what it truly is. Although this is my own interpretation of his words, from what I gather out of his interview is that documentaries are a tool. Their purpose is solely to help spread the director’s ideas or opinions, sometimes they can inform or help interpret situations or subjects that its viewers would otherwise not know about. By no means though is documentary meant to be a form of education or better put as Herzog puts, “documentaries are not adult education”. It seems silly but it does seem like that’s what people see documentaries as, a form of adult education, its art, its film, Pixar doesn’t put out movies to teach kids, it entertains them sometimes they may happen to teach a lesson. So, do documentaries some may set out to teach, but they don’t necessarily have to. I personally have learnt a whole lot about wars through documentaries, but they only served as a point of launch, I’d delve deeper read some books etc. Documentaries are just one of many artistic mediums, they are an extension of the director and as such can be biased, opinionated, and even fictitious. It’s up to the viewer to educate themselves and decide whether they agree or not with whatever is presented to them, we are all free of will and thought if anything documentaries simply provide a window into a subject and it gives us a chance to decide if we want to dive into that subject or not. 

Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell was enjoyable because I felt like it shifted from what I originally perceived it to be to something totally different. When it began I thought it would just be a family biopic or anything like that, yet as the film went on it shifted its appearance multiple times. It gave me the sense that I was watching this project unfold and shift the way it must have for the director as she set out to film it. What may have been a delve into her family, and as she eventually said, a chance to take a closer look at how peoples stories affect and change our personal history’s or understanding of it, soon became the search for Sarah Polley’s true origin. That story of search for identity, is relatable, it sparks reaction from its viewers as we saw in class and possibly felt ourselves. Whether it’s the inner conflict to decide who is right or wrong based on our own morals and experiences, or understanding Polley’s questions and journey comparing it to our own. It has a sense of a very personal project, which it was, but because of that it causes this spark in emotion in its viewers, something that history docs. Etc. Just can’t have and this is what has made this documentary stick out to me. The power in a film to spark up controversy, or just reactions simply by putting a story out there. I enjoyed watching everything unfold, and getting a sense of a story that we can all somewhat relate too. The scene where one of Polley’s sisters says, “Who cares about our stupid family”, that kind of echoed inside a bit. We probably all see our family stories as dumb but they can be so entertaining for others, and most importantly they do have such a big impact that we can’t even see at times. It reminds me of what our visitor said, about personal projects resonating with viewers and sparking a way bigger reaction that much is definitely true about this film.