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Documentary Challenge (Official, December 2020)

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tourdesb
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Documentary Challenge (Official, December 2020)

#1

Post by tourdesb »

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Goal
Watch as many documentaries as you can through December.

(Un)usual Rules
- Rewatches allowed
- A feature film (Anything 40 minutes or over) counts as one entry
- 80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one entry.

Challenge runs from December 1st, 2020 - December 31st, 2020

Official Documentary Lists
100 Documentary Films (BFI Screen Guide)
IMDb Documentary
Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Non-Fiction Films (2012)
Sight and Sound -The Greatest Documentaries of All Time


Documentaries on Any Official List

RankParticipantCount20192018201720162015201420132012
1flavo5000206158134143129----
2AssonFire158--------
3adwest151--------
4maxwelldeux136119140109-----
5tourdesb101-100166133---44
6blueboybob981917------
7jdidaco80428260-----
8Lu-Chin70--------
9sebby306056106--26616
10Kublai Khan42---33----
11sol38253761-----
12AB537365-------
1372aicm358544115-----
14allisoncm32415267344272918
-vortexsurfer32312816-----
16klaus78313822226521---
-ororama31101151713---
18DudeLanez26--------
191SO21--------
-cinephage21145643141-
-Knaldskalle21-422----2
22ChrisReynolds20--------
-Obgeoff2010-------
24weirdboy19--------
25hurluberbu17162827-----
26blocho1615152727---
-RogerTheMovieManiac8816--------
28Onderhond11--------
29peeptoad10--------
30zzzorf81-------
31Coryn617-------
-frbrown6-------3
33jocularities4--------
34Hunziker2-4------
35shugs1--------
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#2

Post by 72aicm »

If I do not see that 24h baseball series this month I’ll never see it... I’m in. Thanks for hosting tourdesb.
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#3

Post by blueboybob »

This will be my primary focus this month. Super excited! I love documentaries and learning new things.

Are "mockumentaries" allowed?
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#4

Post by RogerTheMovieManiac88 »

In and thanks for hosting, tourdesb.

However, if we are going by ''usual rules'' shouldn't that be 60 minutes of short films for 1 point and not:

''80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one entry''?
That's all, folks!
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#5

Post by flavo5000 »

I'm in on this one fer sure. I think I have more documentaries in my to-watch stacks than anything else other than horror.
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#6

Post by AssonFire »

I'm in, got shedloads I want to watch. Do things like talk shows (e.g. The Dick Cavett Show and Parkinson) count?
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#7

Post by tourdesb »

I would say :
- mockumentaries are allowed
- talk shows are not
- as for TV episodes/miniseries/shorts, I've chosen to increase to a 80-minute threshold so it would be closer to the most voted option for 2021 (44% voted for a 90-minute threshold)

And don't forget : the most important is to enjoy :)
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#8

Post by maxwelldeux »

This is my jam. I've only ever hit 100 points in 4 challenges, and three of them were Documentary. I've been saving up. I'm going for flavo/BBB numbers this month.

Also, I'm going to assume we can float minutes to the next TV episodes/miniseries/shorts block to facilitate discussion (i.e., if I watch 175 minutes, I can claim 2 points and float those extra 15m to the next block). I'd rather not do the alternative and save up large blocks until they're pretty evenly divisible by 80m.
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#9

Post by RogerTheMovieManiac88 »

tourdesb wrote: November 30th, 2020, 10:44 pm I would say :
- mockumentaries are allowed
- talk shows are not
- as for TV episodes/miniseries/shorts, I've chosen to increase to a 80-minute threshold so it would be closer to the most voted option for 2021 (44% voted for a 90-minute threshold)

And don't forget : the most important is to enjoy :)
Fair enough. You are the host. It just seemed strange to phrase it as the ''usual rules''. I think I'll just log the documentary features I see. I have to be honest and say that the 80 minutes for shorts turns me off the more I think about it.
That's all, folks!
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#10

Post by maxwelldeux »

And posting for posterity so I can see how I do:

S&S Doc list: 108/265, #202
Harvard list: 64/122, #147
BFI Doc list: 79/118, #102
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#11

Post by sebby »

RogerTheMovieManiac88 wrote: November 30th, 2020, 6:38 pm In and thanks for hosting, tourdesb.

However, if we are going by ''usual rules'' shouldn't that be 60 minutes of short films for 1 point and not:

''80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one entry''?
Indeed, I believe the new rules were supposed to go into effect next month? :shrug:
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#12

Post by Knaldskalle »

In. I've somehow managed to save up way more documentaries than I'll be able to watch in a month, so I guess I'll just have start and see what happens?
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#13

Post by kongs_speech »

Knaldskalle wrote: December 1st, 2020, 2:25 am In. I've somehow managed to save up way more documentaries than I'll be able to watch in a month, so I guess I'll just have start and see what happens?
Congrats on passing 10,000 posts! :cheers:
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#14

Post by Coryn »

1. 35 Up (1991)

In the lead for once
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#15

Post by sol »

1. Long Shot (2017)

Image

Pretty interesting look at a man accused of murder, convicted based on a single eyewitness composite sketch, and the hurdles that his lawyer had to leap through to prove that he was where he said he was at the time of the murder (a baseball game). Bits and pieces of evidence surface, but it is up to them to then prove that he didn't have time to leave, commit the murder and return. A bit of an insane case, full of "what if?" questions. Could I prove where I was at any given time if I had to? Really chilling to think how a single "credible witness" with "no reason lie" could alone send a man to jail...
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#16

Post by sebby »

01 Time (2020) 6/10

Not bad at all. Stylized in a way that generally works, though a bit scattered and slim.
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#17

Post by Onderhond »

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01. 1.0* - Histoire(s) du Cinéma by Jean-Luc Godard (1989)

I wasn't aware this was a Godard-led project. I figured it was just a documentary series looking back at the history of cinema. Not my favorite topic, but no doubt interesting enough. Five minutes in I realized what I had gotten myself into. It's not that I hate Godard, it's just that my appreciation is mostly for his early work. Once he set off on his quest to find true cinema, the man kind of lost me. This isn't a very traditional documentary, instead it's another one of Godard's crazy cut & paste jobs, sporting textual overlays, meandering voice-overs and very crude editing techniques. It's very low on factual content, it's hard to appreciate any of the references since they're so cut up and it gets a bit too artistic for its own good. The problem for me is that I simply don't care for Godard's modern style. It looks sloppy, crude and cheap. The idea is nice enough, but the execution is substandard. At least the later episodes are a bit shorter and contain slightly more information, but overall this was a very disappointing series.
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#18

Post by maxwelldeux »

sol wrote: December 1st, 2020, 12:24 pm 1. Long Shot (2017)

Pretty interesting look at a man accused of murder, convicted based on a single eyewitness composite sketch, and the hurdles that his lawyer had to leap through to prove that he was where he said he was at the time of the murder (a baseball game). Bits and pieces of evidence surface, but it is up to them to then prove that he didn't have time to leave, commit the murder and return. A bit of an insane case, full of "what if?" questions. Could I prove where I was at any given time if I had to? Really chilling to think how a single "credible witness" with "no reason lie" could alone send a man to jail...
Yeah, that was an interesting one. Honestly, I checked it out originally for the Curb Your Enthusiasm angle, only to be met with an interesting bit of mystery/suspense. But yeah - I couldn't prove where I was a lot of the time. Oddly, one of my biggest fears when I moved to a small town where I knew no one - no alibi.
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#19

Post by maxwelldeux »

1. Tornado Alley (2011)
Did you like Twister (1996)? Do you want to see more of that, but based in actual fact and reality? Then here you go! It's neat enough to see actual scientists studying tornadoes and the equipment they use, but really the series Storm Chasers did it better.

2. Rocky Mountain Express (2011)
This was fine. Great Canada wilderness porn and some interesting enough history on the railroad built there, but if you're not into either of those things, it's gonna get real boring.
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#20

Post by Kublai Khan »

I'm in.

I'll offer up a list I maintain for the opening post: Rate Your Music Top Music Documentaries

Do stand-up comedy specials count as documentaries? Concerts? Pro Wrestling PPV?
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#21

Post by Kublai Khan »

1. Fear of 13 (David Sington-2015) UK 1 official list 316 checks

The subject is a good storyteller, but it doesn't really feel like a documentary as we only get one side of a story without any collaboration or contradiction, it feels more like a narrative story then a documentation of someone's life.
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#22

Post by allisoncm »

1. Invisible Portraits aka (In)Visible Portraits (2020) 8/10
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#23

Post by sebby »

Kublai Khan wrote: December 1st, 2020, 10:47 pm I'm in.

I'll offer up a list I maintain for the opening post: Rate Your Music Top Music Documentaries

Do stand-up comedy specials count as documentaries? Concerts? Pro Wrestling PPV?
My opinion would be stand up yes. Concerts yes. Pro wrestling no (it's a form of fiction storytelling, basically a live-action play).
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#24

Post by maxwelldeux »

You can't HANDLE the truth
1. Tornado Alley (2011)
2. Rocky Mountain Express (2011)
3. This is Not a Film (2011) 6/10
Neat enough for what Panahi was trying to do, but the story around the film is much more interesting than the film itself.

4. Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP (2014) 7/10
I really liked this. Much of it was because I learned a TON from this doc - like I kinda knew he was a Supreme Court Justice and I was vaguely aware he argued Brown v. Board of Education, but I had no idea of the rest of his history. He was HUGE in the civil rights movement and in the NAACP and how it shaped the nation. Amazing doc for historical teaching.

5. The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends (2006)
War bad. Bad consequences. There are enough of these that it's not a new thing, but still interesting and important stories.

6. Shorts (80m, Float 0m):
London Can Take It (1940, 9m)
Vzglyanite na litso (1968, 11m)
Unsolved Mysteries: Washington Inside Murder (2020, 47m)
O Dreamland (1956, 13m)

London was a surprisingly interesting short, making you really feel what was going on in London at the time. Nothing else really stuck out.
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#25

Post by sol »

maxwelldeux wrote: December 1st, 2020, 10:31 pm
sol wrote: December 1st, 2020, 12:24 pm 1. Long Shot (2017)

Pretty interesting look at a man accused of murder, convicted based on a single eyewitness composite sketch, and the hurdles that his lawyer had to leap through to prove that he was where he said he was at the time of the murder (a baseball game). Bits and pieces of evidence surface, but it is up to them to then prove that he didn't have time to leave, commit the murder and return. A bit of an insane case, full of "what if?" questions. Could I prove where I was at any given time if I had to? Really chilling to think how a single "credible witness" with "no reason lie" could alone send a man to jail...
Yeah, that was an interesting one. Honestly, I checked it out originally for the Curb Your Enthusiasm angle, only to be met with an interesting bit of mystery/suspense. But yeah - I couldn't prove where I was a lot of the time. Oddly, one of my biggest fears when I moved to a small town where I knew no one - no alibi.
It was the Curb Your Enthusiasm angle that piqued my interest too; actually not as pivotal a part of the case as I was expecting, but I guess that's what makes the case so interesting. And scary. And I live by myself, so if something happened outside of work hours, I don't know if I would be able to account for my whereabouts either. The documentary honestly made me want to go out in public and socialise more in order to have more proof of my whereabouts -- pretty much the opposite of what's being encouraged in Covid times.

Oh, and way to sell up this one, max:
maxwelldeux wrote: December 1st, 2020, 10:34 pm 2. Rocky Mountain Express (2011)
This was fine. Great Canada wilderness porn and some interesting enough history on the railroad built there, but if you're not into either of those things, it's gonna get real boring.
The first word that jumped out at me from that sentence was "porn"; took me a few seconds to register what you meant. :lol:
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#26

Post by Kublai Khan »

Documented Documentaries
1. Fear of 13 (David Sington-2015) UK 1 official list 316 checks
2. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick-2006) UK/USA 2,859 checks

Great subject matter and good expose on the hypocrisy of the organization that needed to be done (I understand they've gotten a bit better). But the stuff with documenting the hiring of a private detective to undercover identities of raters felt like unnecessary padding with little pay-off.
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#27

Post by Onderhond »

Image

02. 0.5* - Birthplace [Miejsce Urodzenia] by JPawel Lozinski (1992)

A bare-bones documentary about Henryk Grynberg, a Holocaust survivor who returns to the village where he grew up (and was hiding from the Nazis). It's not just a mere vacation to dredge up memories from the past, Grynberg is hoping to get more information on the fate of his family. Lozinski's style is functional to a fault. Endless conversations (horribly framed) make up most of the documentary, and that's all there is to it. Together with Grynberg he travels around town and interviews people hoping to find out more, which sounds exactly like the kind of TV shows I usually try to avoid. The presentation is drab, the town is drab, the villagers don't have all that much to say. I have no idea what the appeal of this documentary is supposed to be, except maybe if you're truly interested in the Holocaust. Even then, there must be better documentaries than this one. Just terrible.

For real
01. 1.0* - Histoire(s) du Cinéma by Jean-Luc Godard (1989)
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#28

Post by sebby »

Bruh.
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#29

Post by Onderhond »

sebby wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 12:39 pmBruh.
Myeah well, it's that peculiar mix of poverty porn and human interest that I don't stomach very well.
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#30

Post by flavo5000 »

Onderhond wrote: December 1st, 2020, 6:21 pm Image

01. 1.0* - Histoire(s) du Cinéma by Jean-Luc Godard (1989)

I wasn't aware this was a Godard-led project. I figured it was just a documentary series looking back at the history of cinema. Not my favorite topic, but no doubt interesting enough. Five minutes in I realized what I had gotten myself into. It's not that I hate Godard, it's just that my appreciation is mostly for his early work. Once he set off on his quest to find true cinema, the man kind of lost me. This isn't a very traditional documentary, instead it's another one of Godard's crazy cut & paste jobs, sporting textual overlays, meandering voice-overs and very crude editing techniques. It's very low on factual content, it's hard to appreciate any of the references since they're so cut up and it gets a bit too artistic for its own good. The problem for me is that I simply don't care for Godard's modern style. It looks sloppy, crude and cheap. The idea is nice enough, but the execution is substandard. At least the later episodes are a bit shorter and contain slightly more information, but overall this was a very disappointing series.
I 100% agree. The older Godard gets, the more pretentious and exhausting his films are to watch.
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#31

Post by Onderhond »

flavo5000 wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 2:37 pm I 100% agree. The older Godard gets, the more pretentious and exhausting his films are to watch.
I could actually live with "exhausting", but his films look like "my first YouTube movie" experiments to me. Or one of those awful PowerPoint presentations made by an older family member, who had to try every animation effect at least once. The editing, effects, text overlays, the sound editing ... it's all so crude and sloppy that I just can't be bothered.
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#32

Post by flavo5000 »

Image
1. London (1994)
I just could not get into this one, a sort of walking tour of London, warts-n-all, juxtaposed with a somewhat fanciful narration that creates a kind of cognitive dissonance while watching it. I get what the filmmaker was going for, but something about it just agitated me.

ImageImage
2. Un vivant qui passe a.k.a. A Visitor from the Living (1999)
3. Sobibór, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures (2001)
4. Le rapport Karski a.k.a. The Karski Report (2010)
Nothing invigorates the soul like a trio of Claude Lanzmann Holocaust interviews, all basically footage shot for Shoah that Lanzmann decided to build out into features for various reasons. A Visitor from the Living finds Lanzmann interviewing a Red Cross worker who was given a tour of a concentration camp and wrote up a favorable report of what he saw, not realizing the Nazis has basically carefully staged conditions to appear much less awful than they actually were. It's fairly interesting but I have to wonder what the ultimate point was. Lanzmann toward the end begins to tell the worker what the conditions were really like in an attempt to... I don't know, shame the worker? But to his point, he was fooled. What could he have done? The main criticism I'd aim at the Red Cross worker is how he perceived the Jews imprisoned, calling them basically weak and unmotivated to do anything about their condition.
Which is actually a nice segue into the next doc where Lanzmann interviews one of the Jewish prisoners involved in the most successful concentration camp escape in WWII. The actual story that Yehuda Lerner recounts is incredibly fascinating and exciting, and Lanzmann has it conveyed it the least cinematic, most annoying way possible. He has Lerner tell the story is short chunks after which he has to stop and let a translator tell that portion of the story. And it's the translator, not Lerner himself, that is subtitled. So you see Lerner very animatedly describing something happening like splitting a guard's head open with ax with no subtitles for a couple minutes. Then he just stops and sits there while a female translator off-screen flatly repeats what he said in French, at which point you finally get the subtitles. Just very frustrating and very easily fixable in editing. This story deserves better.
The Karski Report is basically the second day of an interview with Jan Karski who acted as a message courier on secret missions for the Polish resistance. Shoah actually has the first half of his interview included describing his experiences in this capacity. This interview focuses on his experiences meeting various world leaders after escaping to England and his attempts to convey the atrocities he witnessed first hand. Sadly but not surprisingly, most of what he had to say fell on deaf ears as most he spoke with refused to believe what he was telling them thinking it was a gross exaggeration of events. He even meets with FDR at one point who seems to just want to talk in slogans and general sentiments and avoids discussing the more visceral horrors of the war. While Sobibor is certainly the most interesting story, it's the most incompetently filmed. The Karski Report on the other hand is both an interesting story that is much easier to watch due to Karski recounting the experience in English in a very precise, measured tone.

Image
5a. Monster Makeup (1989)
5b. Hammer’s Lost Worlds (2017)
5c. Producing Schlock: The Career of Al Adamson (2008)
5d. Freud In Color: Guido Crepax (?)
5e. May I Help You? Confessions of a Game Play Counselor (2020)
Monster Makeup is basically a nearly 40 minute How-To video with well-regarded make-up artist Dick Smith (The Exorcist, Scanners) as he walks through how to do some basic make-up effects using easy to acquire items. It wasn't the most enthralling thing to watch, but if you are into practical effects and want to know how they're done or actually want to learn, this is a pretty good starting point.
Hammer's Lost Worlds is a pretty neat featurette that discusses many of the legendary Hammer Studios' projects that never got made. Some of these I would've really like to have seen like a Children's fantasy film starring Vincent Price.
Producing Schlock is a short featurette that interviews producer Sam Sherman about director Al Adamson. It's fine but given there's a new much more comprehensive Al Adamson doc out (that I hope to get to later this month), I can't see returning to this again.
Freud in Color is a neat little featurette about comic artist Guido Crepax (the film Baba Yaga is based on his work) that attempts to show parallels in how Crepax drew panels with film editing. It's obviously an older doc (I would estimate probably early '70s) but I can't find any info online about when it was actually made.
May I Help You? is a nice little interview with one of the video game counselors that dolled out hints for 99 cents a minute back in the '80s for desperate kids needing to know how to find the 5th dungeon in Zelda or how to find the second warp whistle in Mario 3. It brought back memories (not that I was a game counselor but I was one of those kids... although my parents never let me call the helpline).

Image
6. Alaska: Silence & Solitude (2005)
As max would say, here's some primo wilderness porn for you. Important lesson I learned from a legit Alaskan ranger: "Don't let the porcupines eat your boat". Good advice indeed.

Image
7. A Musicares Tribute to Paul McCartney (2012)
This concert tribute to Paul McCartney was, like most tributes, something of a mixed bag. The performances from McCartney himself are solid but stuff like the flamboyant opener courtesy of Cirque du Soleil and a less than riveting Sergio Mendes (and I actually like early Mendes...this just felt lazy) performance left me cold.

Image
8. L'île au trésor a.k.a. Treasure Island (2018)
Here's a doc to chillax to as we watch the various comers and goers of an island waterpark going about their day. Teens exploring remote parts of the island and hanging out, kids trying to sneak in past security guards to the fee-based beach area for a nice swim, the guards themselves shooting the breeze and talking about whatever enters their head... It's a very laid-back doc that rarely actually gets boring despite the lack of any kind of cohesive narrative. Having said that, after it's over, it doesn't really leave much of a lasting impression either making me wonder what the point was to begin with.

[/b]
There's No Such Thing As Fact
1. London (1994)
2. Un vivant qui passe a.k.a. A Visitor from the Living (1999)
3. Sobibór, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures (2001)
4. Le rapport Karski a.k.a. The Karski Report (2010)
5a. Monster Makeup (1989)
5b. Hammer’s Lost Worlds (2017)
5c. Producing Schlock: The Career of Al Adamson (2008)
5d. Freud In Color: Guido Crepax (?)
5e. May I Help You? Confessions of a Game Play Counselor (2020)
6. Alaska: Silence & Solitude (2005)
7. A Musicares Tribute to Paul McCartney (2012)
8. L'île au trésor a.k.a. Treasure Island (2018)
Last edited by flavo5000 on December 2nd, 2020, 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#33

Post by sebby »

Onderhond wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 2:05 pm
sebby wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 12:39 pmBruh.
Myeah well, it's that peculiar mix of poverty porn and human interest that I don't stomach very well.
That's not what poverty porn is, my man.
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Knaldskalle
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#34

Post by Knaldskalle »

kongs_speech wrote: December 1st, 2020, 2:27 am
Knaldskalle wrote: December 1st, 2020, 2:25 am In. I've somehow managed to save up way more documentaries than I'll be able to watch in a month, so I guess I'll just have start and see what happens?
Congrats on passing 10,000 posts! :cheers:
Thanks! I would've never noticed if you hadn't pointed it out.
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#35

Post by maxwelldeux »

sol wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 11:24 am Oh, and way to sell up this one, max:
maxwelldeux wrote: December 1st, 2020, 10:34 pm 2. Rocky Mountain Express (2011)
This was fine. Great Canada wilderness porn and some interesting enough history on the railroad built there, but if you're not into either of those things, it's gonna get real boring.
The first word that jumped out at me from that sentence was "porn"; took me a few seconds to register what you meant. :lol:
I mean, it's nice to look at, but I don't want to be there. Is there a better word? :P
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#36

Post by AssonFire »

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Civilisation: The Skin of Our Teeth

1. The Day the Dinosaurs Died (2017 / Nick Green; Ben Lawrie; Toby Macdonald) 6/10
Less about the dinosaurs themselves than about the effects of the immense asteroid that landed off the coast of Mexico, which is believed to have brought about the dinosaurs' extinction. Some interesting points on how geologists deduce the effect of the impact from the remaining evidence.
2. Stories from the Stone Age: Daily Bread (2003 / Roger Scholes) 8/10
Stories from the Stone Age: Urban Dream (2003 / Roger Scholes) 8/10
3. Stories from the Stone Age: Waves of Change (2003 / Roger Scholes) 8/10
Excellent series on man in the Stone Age, the gradual but often pivotal innovations as he moved from hunter-gatherer to farmer to city-dweller. No doubt overly simplified (it's mostly linear and focuses primarily on the Middle East and Europe), but very clearly laid out.
Civilisation: The Skin of Our Teeth (1969 / Michael Gill) 8/10
4. Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969 / Peter Montagnon) 7/10

7 minutes carried over.
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#37

Post by peeptoad »

1. Vernon, Florida (1981) 6
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#38

Post by tourdesb »

sebby wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 5:43 am
Kublai Khan wrote: December 1st, 2020, 10:47 pm I'm in.

I'll offer up a list I maintain for the opening post: Rate Your Music Top Music Documentaries

Do stand-up comedy specials count as documentaries? Concerts? Pro Wrestling PPV?
My opinion would be stand up yes. Concerts yes. Pro wrestling no (it's a form of fiction storytelling, basically a live-action play).
Same opinion here.
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#39

Post by kongs_speech »

peeptoad wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 5:50 pm 1. Vernon, Florida (1981) 6
I've been to Vernon, Florida. It's more of a 2.
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#40

Post by Onderhond »

sebby wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 4:33 pm That's not what poverty porn is, my man.
For all intents and purposes, it is.
It may not match the old definition of the term (words change), but this doc is dreary beyond belief. And I wouldn't be surprised if they'd chosen to go in winter just so it looked even more depressing.
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