The Velvet Underground is a 2021 documentary film directed and produced by Todd Haynes that follows the band The Velvet Underground. The documentary film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 7, 2021 and was released on October 15, 2021, by Apple TV+, to critical acclaim.(more…)
Buried is a 2021 true crime TV documentary series written and directed by Yotam Guendelman and Ari Pines, broadcast on the Showtime channel. The four-part series focuses on the 1989 murder trial of George Franklin. The case was unique for being the first of its kind where principal testimony was based on recovered memory from an eye-witness.(more…)
Turning Point : 9/11 and the War on Terror is a documentary miniseries chronicling the 9/11 terrorist attacks and America’s subsequent military response — that has defined the last twenty years. With the total withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2021, this miniseries provides a timely retrospective assessment of America’s foreign policy failures.(more…)
McCartney 3 2 1 is a music documentary series streaming on Hulu, featuring musician Paul McCartney and producer Rick Rubin. Consisting of six 30-minute instalments, the premise of McCartney 3 2 1 is simple – the duo are ensconced in a darkened room shot in black and white, whereupon Rubin will play selections from McCartney’s storied career for the latter to react and respond to.(more…)
How to Become a Tyrant is a Netflix documentary series based on The Dictator’s Handbook and narrated by Peter Dinklage. The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics is a 2011 non-fiction book by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, published by the company PublicAffairs.(more…)
1971 : THE YEAR THAT MUSIC CHANGED EVERYTHING (REVIEW)1971 : THE YEAR THAT MUSIC CHANGED EVERYTHING (REVIEW)
1971 : The Year That Music Changed Everything is a music documentary based on Never a Dull Moment, a book written by David Hepworth. The documentary’s premise is that 1971 was a watershed year where rock and pop music exerted great influence on culture in the USA, the UK and the rest of the world.(more…)
WeWork: Or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn is a 2021 American documentary film, written and directed by Jed Rothstein. It follows WeWork, a real estate company run by Adam Neumann, who was ultimately forced out of the company.(more…)
Operation Varsity Blues is an American dramatised documentary film streaming on Netflix. The film is based on the 2019 scandal related to a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. The investigation into the conspiracy was code named Operation Varsity Blues.(more…)
Rise of the Nazis is a three-part historical documentary TV series about how the Nazis seized absolute power in the Germany of the early 1930s. The documentary series mixes wordless dramatised sequences with the usual expert interviews to present an engaging, informative and insightful look back at the critical years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazis caused the deaths of millions of lives during World War II.(more…)
History of Swear Words is a 5-part streaming TV documentary series hosted by actor Nicolas Cage. The series was released on Netflix on 5th January 2020. The concept behind History of Swear Words is straight-forward enough – interview comedians and experts to discuss the origins, usage and cultural impact of swear words down the ages.(more…)
Washington is a three-part documentary cum drama miniseries on the life of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Now, I have personally avoided these kinds of historical ‘docudramas’ believing that a dramatised documentary would be neither good documentary or drama. However, the excellence of Washington may have got me rethinking this approach.(more…)
THE BEE GEES : HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (MOVIE REVIEW)THE BEE GEES : HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (MOVIE REVIEW)
The Bee Gees : How Can You Mend A Broken Heart is a music documentary directed by Frank Marshall about the Gibb Brothers viz. Barry, Robin and Maurice. The documentary basically focuses on the two main eras in which the trio were at their most successful i.e. the late 1960s and a decade later in the late 1970s. There are also cursory examinations of their fallow periods in between and after these phenomenal heights but nothing much in depth.(more…)
Room 2806 : The Accusation is a four-part Netflix documentary series focusing on the allegations of sexual assault made against French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn (“DSK”) in 2011. While Room 2806 : The Accusation is ostensibly concerned with a particular historical incident, thematically it addresses the wider issue of sexual abuse carried out by men of power and status.(more…)
Heaven’s Gate : The Cult of Cults is a 4-part HBO documentary about the religious cult that committed mass suicide in 1997. Heaven’s Gate as a cult documentary is bound to be compared to The Vow, which was about the NXIVM sex slavery cult. Which I guess is an appropriate starting point in discussing Heaven’s Gate : The Cult of Cults.(more…)
Urgh A Music War is a 1981 British film featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. For me personally, the movie holds a special place in my heart as it provided me with a gateway to the new music that was sweeping over the UK and the USA, in the wake of punk.
Back in the early 70s, the Singapore government clamped down on the arts, labelling it “yellow culture” and therefore undesirable. Live rock music was banned in 1974 and the Ministry of Culture practiced an active censorship of pop culture. When punk emerged in the mid-70s, the authorities blocked releases by punk bands in Singapore. Suffice to say there was no rock music on TV either.
Thus, when I saw in the newspapers that Urgh A Music War was playing at the Rex Cinema, a relatively small theatre, I did not hesitate. The main attraction to me back then were The Police. Sting and company were one of the first newly styled rock bands that I had latched on too, together with the likes of The Jam and The Knack in 1979/80.
The movie was about two hours long and featured bands that I mostly had no clue about and styles of music that I was unfamiliar with. The Police opened the movie with “Driven to Tears” and it was a treat to finally watch them live, even if it was only on a movie screen.
The bands that followed made little impression until Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. That performance of “Enola Gay” blew my mind. I had not yet heard of synth-pop yet and it was a mind-ending experience.
This first exposure to electronic pop was cemented by the highlight of the movie – Gary Numan’s performance of “Down in the Park” with him seated in a moving chair! Both OMD and Numan certainly opened my mind (and ears) to brand new musical possibilities.
Strangely enough, I never quite felt any affinity with the out and out punk bands in the movie – they seemed somewhat insubstantial to me. But what did get my attention were the guitar bands that demonstrated more sophistication like Echo and the Bunnymen and XTC.
Naturally, considering my obsession with The Police, I was also drawn to the reggae outfits like Steel Pulse and UB40. It would be a rich vein that I would definitely tap in the coming years.
I realise now almost 4 decades later that there were probably numerous bands that were cut out of the Singapore release – I am sure I would have remember watching Dead Kennedys and Devo. I wonder how my musical habits might have changed if both were never excised. Would I have leant more towards the American punk scene than the British in the 80s? Who knows??
In the final analysis, I owe much to Urgh A Music War – the movie changed my life! 1982 would be a big year for music discovery.
… still there’s more …
The Vow is a HBO true crime documentary about the NXIVM sex cult and their leader, Keith Raniere. The documentary actually chronicles events as they unfold in real-time, in respect of the attempts of ex-NXIVM members to expose Raniere and bring him to justice.(more…)
Agents of Chaos is an American documentary miniseries directed by Alex Gibney and Javier Alberto Botero, revolving around Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.(more…)
As part of its 60th anniversary, the Singapore Film Society (SFS) has programmed a series of independent award winning documentary films between September to October as its core screenings in the lead up to the Singapore premiere of Sandi Tan’s award-winning SHIRKERS on 20 October.
REEL TO REAL – JIM AND ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND [REVIEW]REEL TO REAL – JIM AND ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND [REVIEW]
There’s method acting and then there’s method acting! But when does it go too far? This documentary explores this issue without quite providing any concrete answers.
Anoosh and Arash are young men who make up the DJ-producer duo called Blade & Beard. Nothing special about that fact until you realise that Anoosh and Arash are from Teheran, Iran.
There are two aspects to the Xinyao documentary The Songs We Sang, directed by Eva Tang viz. the objective and the subjective.
We wanna say, we gonna tell ya/About the young idea/And if it don’t work, at least we still tried… (“In the City” – Paul Weller)
The Jam (1972 – 1982) was more than a band, it was a way of life, a way of thinking. And of course, a documentary about The Jam just cannot be a run-of-the-mill documentary.
MOVIE REVIEW: WHEN THE ROOSTER CROWS – FOCUSING ON SOUTH EAST ASIAN INDIE FILM AND FILM-MAKERSMOVIE REVIEW: WHEN THE ROOSTER CROWS – FOCUSING ON SOUTH EAST ASIAN INDIE FILM AND FILM-MAKERS
I was invited by my buddy Michael Lim (Singapore Film Society) to a screening of Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso’s When the Rooster Crows, a documentary on diversity and richness of Southeast Asian Cinema. The documentary highlights four indie film-makers viz. Brillante Mendoza (Philippines); Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Thailand); Eric Khoo (Singapore); and Garin Nugroho (Indonesia).
Ostensibly, I was supposed to contribute to a post-screening panel discussion with Lombroso and Michelle Goh (who acted in Eric’s Mee Pok Man and still looks fresher than the first time I met her 20 years ago!) but really had nothing much relevant to say, except that Eric was a buddy of mine too.
Since I got to watch the movie free of charge, I thought it’d only be fair to share a little review. Conceptually, I loved the way that Lombroso approached the movie not merely as a standard documentary but as a film in its own right. Thus, there was a narrative running through its 88 minutes (that’s a very Eric Khoo number, by the way) that not only featured the subject film-makers and their films but also the context of their muse (their countries of origin).
The manner in which one segment segued into the next seamlessly added to this overall effect and emphasised Lombroso’s observation that even though the four countries highlighted are often differentiated from one other, there were many similarities as well. In particular, in the obstacles that each independent film scene faced in their own countries – whether it be social or political. What was evident was that each scene, as represented by each film-maker, dug deep into the human soul – the belief, the creativity and the fighting spirit – in order to produce works of film art that resonated beyond their respective shores.
One of the obvious takeaways was that each film scene needed to support one another so that South East Asian indie film could be developed and nurtured. Thus, perhaps a more vibrant regional film scene – one that cross-pollinated across boundaries would be a solution to the usual gripes about lack of local support.
For me personally, there was an allegory to be drawn with the music scene here – that we needed to reach out to the music scenes regionally and not be too myopic about confining the building of a fan base to the hard ground that is Singapore. Definitely something to chew on.
More information about the Singapore Film Society may be obtained from its official website.
IS SEDUCED AND ABANDONED AN EXPOSE ON THE FILM INDUSTRY OR AN ELABORATE IN-JOKE? YOU DECIDE.IS SEDUCED AND ABANDONED AN EXPOSE ON THE FILM INDUSTRY OR AN ELABORATE IN-JOKE? YOU DECIDE.
Directed by James Toback.
Starring Alec Baldwin.
The premise of Seduced and Abandoned is simple enough. Director James Toback and actor Alec Baldwin try to sell a film concept at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, and basically make a documentary about the experience.
Along the way they interview influential directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski & Bernardo Bertolucci to get their takes on Cannes and the movie industry as a whole. The duo also talk to actors Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger and James Caan.
DAVE GROHL PROVES HIS HEART & SOUL ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE WITH SONIC HIGHWAYSDAVE GROHL PROVES HIS HEART & SOUL ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE WITH SONIC HIGHWAYS
It’s easy to get a lil cynical about Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters‘ marketing their upcoming new album Sonic Highways by way of a eight-part documentary series on HBO. But the cynicism will evaporate when one watches the first episode as Grohl and co record in Chicago and proceeds to pay tribute to the Chicago musicians who made a difference – from Buddy Guy to Cheap Trick to Steve Albini to Naked Raygun. This is done with a love, respect and fervour that demonstrates once again that Grohl has his heart and soul in the right place – he’s one of us…
Check out the complex yet visceral opening track from Sonic Highways, “Something From Nothing”….