Category Archives: Documentary

Rize (2005) Film Review

Remember krumping? I wonder what happened to that? Rize is a documentary surrounding some of the dance culture of South Central LA around a decade after the riots that happened in response to the outcome of the trial of the police who beat Rodney King to death in 1992. Specifically, the rise of Clown groups who put on clown makeup and attended kids parties to dance which then led to krumping. Groups who would get together and dance. It was aggressive, but it was an alternative to so much of the street violence that was happening.

It’s a fabulous documentary that I remember watching when it was first released. This is a world a long way from suburban Melbourne. Watching it again now makes me wonder what happened to these guys. I’ve just had a look – Tommy the Clown, the guy who started it all, has a website, runs an academy and there was a Battle Zone event just last year. Cool.

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United Skates (2018) MIFF Review

So, I know about Roller Derby. That part of skate culture has been on the rise in recent times, and it’s for strong, tough women, and it’s stylish and cool and there are great outfits and names and… but this isn’t about that. In the US, skate rinks are closing and this doco presents two key reasons. Firstly, that developers and the like are offering the owners of the land massive amounts of money to rezone for profit. The second is racism – large groups of African-American people getting together for what is known as ‘Adult Nights’ – all night skate parties that look like an insane amount of fun. That’s probably simplifying it, but it is the way it comes across. Filmmakers Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler follow the story of some of the people for whom skating is a way of life – a way to be with friends, to relieve the tension of everyday life and to have a good time.

There’s a lot in this 89-minute documentary, but I wanted more, especially more of the skating. What I’d love is if the film makers were able to release either an extended cut or perhaps just a whole heap of the footage. It’s amazing that each city has their own style and to see these styles coming together. The history of the rinks is also fascinating. It really made me want to strap on some wheels – though probs best not.

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Amy (2015) Film Review

Amy Winehouse. What a voice. What a talent. What a tragedy. I remember being blown away by her Black to Black album, and then she became this huge joke – a druggie who fought against the paparazzi and gave terrible performances – and then she was gone. And it was awful because she was young and watching this documentary, you see how little chance she had. Bad advisers who were after their own wealth creation, who wanted to milk her for everything she had and didn’t take care of her. It is such a tough film to watch partly because you know what happens to her, and the downward spiral is painful. But also because you know that so many people treated her badly and those who really wanted to save her didn’t have a hope. But oh! The songs! See it.

Amy won an Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Documentary, Feature, and was nominated for Best British Film.

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Tickled (2016) MIFF Review

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David Farrier is a journalist – the type of journalist who does short television reports on the quirky and unusual in New Zealand. So when he hears about a competitive tickling competition, he is intrigued, and only more so when his enquiries are met with a number of mysterious, homophobic and aggressive correspondences from the organisation. Then threats of legal action, including three representatives flown over from the US to put him and co-film maker Dylan Reeve off the story. And then the story becomes so much more than tickling.

If you like strange stories that veer off in unexpected directions, check this out. It’s funny, but also strange and, at times, hilariously unbelievable.

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Miss Sharon Jones (2015) MIFF Review

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If you don’t know the music of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, stop reading this, go to iTunes or your music platform of choice and listen to all of her music. All of it. Now. She is just amazing – I’ve been enjoying her live shows for years, so when I saw this doco was playing at MIFF, there was no chance I was going to miss it. And it broke my heart a little.

As I hadn’t read the blurb, I assumed it would be about her background – where she came from, how she got involved with Daptone Records, that type of thing. Instead, it followed her shortly after she had surgery for pancreatic cancer, and how she recovers and returns to performing. I don’t know how well it would go for someone who doesn’t know Sharon Jones and her music, but for a fan, it’s hardgoing but worth it.

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Audrie & Daisy (2016) MIFF Review

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It seems to be increasingly common that teenage girls are being sexually assaulted and having evidence of this then spread via social media or text message. Boys too, I’m sure, and not just teenagers. Audrie and Daisy focuses on two such cases; one girl went on to take her own life, and the other battled for a long time to get some kind of legal action taken around the situation.

The way the documentary was put together, it was able to capture the gravity of what happened without sensationalising it, and for this reason I think it would be good for use in schools. It recognises that the girls had been under the influence and therefore, in some people’s mind, they had contributed to what happened to them. When this attitude is shown by those in law enforcement, especially the man (whose two young daughters are shown in the film) who is supposed to be investigating this sexual assault, the film audience reacted audibly – and a room full of people making sounds of disgust gave me some hope that the world may, one day, be okay.

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Ants on a Shrimp: Noma in Tokyo (2016) MIFF Review

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What do you do when your Copenhagen Restaurant continues to win accolades for being the best restaurant in the world and is known for amazing experimental dishes and fresh flavours? Pack it all up and take it to Tokyo, of course! This documentary shows Rene Redzepi and his staff as they plan a six-week residency in a Tokyo hotel.

It was interesting to see them discovering new ingredients, trying new menu items, but I felt that there wasn’t really enough focus of the food – though it is perhaps hard to put into words, I’d have love to have heard the various chefs talking about why they used the ingredients in the way they did. What was created by adding ants to that shrimp? How did the creative process actually unfold? I’m glad we got a good look at the final product, though I would have loved a taster…

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