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PopcornAndDots

documentaries that you can't seem to forget

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A NOTE to everyone; THE LOUISIANA STORY by Robert Flaherry will be broadcasted on Louisiana Public Television March 5 and 9th,2008. This program brings together the surviving key participants of the original 1940's movie and allows them to comment on this film. Including Richard Leacock cinematographer and associate producer and J. C. BOUDREAUX the Cajun boy who personified Flaherry's vision.

 

This I will tape!!

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Thanks for the information. This is a fairly well made American documentary film, but it is completely staged, unlike Leni Riefenstahl great non-staged Germany documentaries. Also, I think this film was sponsored by an oil company, so it is a commercial film. It is designed to let South Louisiana shrimp fishermen know that the new oil rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will not ruin the shrimp fishing there. This is the same basic theme as Jimmy Stewart's 1953 "Thunder Bay" movie.

 

Yes, record it and save it, since it is rarely shown on TV. TCM aired it many years ago.

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OUR TIME IN HELL is a documentary about the U. S. Marines who fought in the Pacific during World War II. It's narrated by Lee Marvin. Unlike certain movie stars who managed to stay out of the armed forces without any legitimate reason for doing so -- and who were war heroes in their movies -- Lee Marvin was the real deal: a Private First Class in the Marines who was awarded a Purple Heart after being seriously wounded. He was a perfect choice to narrate.

 

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I didn't even know there was a thread for docs. Theremin is one I keep remembering as having the most surprising turns in a story. A true story. Everytime I hear a theremin, like during the Day the Earth stood Still with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, I think of that guy.

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One of the first movies in which the theremin was used was THE LOST WEEKEND. It's the only musical instrument I know of that the musician plays without touching it.

 

Message was edited by: faceinthecrowd

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Two days ago I caught half of "The World of Nat King Cole" shown on PBS and it really moved me. I had no idea he suffered from so much racism which forced his show to be canceled. It was sad that he went through this but I'm glad the international fans gave him the love he deserved, openly and with no color barrier. Mr. Cole showed his appreciation in recording songs in their native language which sounded as beautiful as the English versions. I enjoyed hearing his family talk with so much enthusiasm and good memories of this one of a kind human being.

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I am a bit of a WW2 buff, and when I saw Russia's War. Even when you think you both seen and heard it all about WW2, this even opened my eyes to the abject horrors of that war. What the Germans did to the Russians was far beyond even my nightmares.

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I'd like to send up my salute for Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. The incredible cast of Hollywood talent that went into the writing, directing, narrating, editing, animating and general production of this series makes one's head spin. In a recent PBS documentary on German film industry exiles... one learns that many German ex pats were involved in the production of this series. Populistic and jingoistic by today's standards... yes. But inspirational in how to mold public opinion for a nation's war efforts... priceless.

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I saw one on HBO in 1985 or 1986 called "Radium City." It involved a town where the women were employed painting the dials of clocks & watches with radium, so they would glow in the dark. The women were taught to put the paintbrushes in their mouth, and draw it through their lips to get a nice point, and then paint...thus poisoning themselves w/radium! The cancer & leukemia suffered in this town was tremendous, and I believe as of the mid 80s, the ground was still contaminated, and a geiger counter still brings up high readings.

 

I saw this once, and then set up the VCR to tape it...forgot to label it...and taped over it! I have regretted it since, and have never been able to locate another copy.

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The Secret Land was very good. The cinematography and shots of the barren, snow covered Antarctic land were beautiful and enchanting. 

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When I was in film school I remember watching a new documentary in one of the courses I took. We watched a lot of different movies so this was the only documentary we had to study and write about for that course. I've never forgotten it. Some students actually walked out of the theater during the screening because they couldn't handle some of what was depicted. It's a very unflinching looking at a man dying of AIDS and how his partner and parents deal with it. They photographed him right up to the end, and he died at home, so those final scenes with him are harrowing, to say the least.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108138/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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Two come to mind: Why We Fight (2005), about the military-industrial complex, and Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016).  Why We Fight, directed by Eugene Jarecki, examines the influence of defense contractors, and their lobbyists, and convincingly makes the case this may be the most powerful of all interest groups.  So large and unwieldly is this industry, that President Eisenhauer is quoted as saying he, with his vast military experience, can’t control it.  It’s fascinating and still relevant.

Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold explores the digital age, how it came about, and where it’s going.  What struck me is the pioneers of electronic information never imagined this technology would be used for nefarious purposes.  The destructive force of social media is examined in a sad story involving on-line bullying.  In another segment, Herzog interviews scientists creating robotic soccer players that one day will be advanced enough to compete against humans.  Lo and Behold is a cautionary study, illuminating, and scary.

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More than once TCM aired Marcel Ophüls' THE SORROW AND THE PITY, a fascinating trip back to France under the Vichy government (1940-1944) as seen in newsreel clips and interviews conducted by those who remembered the times in footage shot in the spring of 1969. This material was also done in black & white to match the vintage footage. Perhaps also to show some of their discussions in "black & white" as well? The film was intended for TV, but released theatrically and became one of the more profitable documentaries in the United States of the seventies, famously referenced by Woody Allen in ANNIE HALL. Yet there was a lot of controversy among so many French citizens that it was pretty much banned from TV screens for a decade and a half.

The criticism came from multiple directions, including Holocaust survivors (and one prominent politician) who felt it painted too "rosey" of a picture regarding French sins, while practically everybody else felt their sins were nitpicked way, way, way too much for comfort. Maurice Chevalier sings at the start of the film and then talks at the end, commenting in sound recordings from either 1944 or '45 that he had been away for a while but has been very busy. (Actually the tone of his comments may not be presented fairly if you research some of his life.) This sums up a great many average French citizens in a nutshell. They were torn between obeying the government under the Nazis and being part of The Resistance with its high mortality and imprisonment rate. Obviously it is easier to just lay low and avoid trouble. Of course, after the war, everybody claimed to be part of The Resistance just as so many elderly Caucasian U.S. citizens claimed they always supported "black rights" pre-1960s even if they pretended to not see all of the separate restrooms, drinking fountains, schools, medical facilities, seats on public transportation and practically everything else. Ok, maybe I am stretching for comparisons here, but I am trying to make the situations more understandable.

Yet you always have those who fought against the establishment when they didn't feel it was morally right and this film has plenty of heroes on display as well, those who helped escaping Jews, allied soldiers and even one very flamboyant ex-cross dressing entertainer despite his overt homosexuality. Also you have interviews with those who struggled with the prisons and harsh treatment included. Most importantly, you have some very objective people interviewed who admit that not everything they did two decades back was of sound mind and logic. Obviously they weren't the ones who tried to keep this movie off of French TV screens.

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