On My Television

On My Television

of dolls and murder dioramaOf Dolls and Murder (2012)

From “Of Dolls and Murder explores a haunting collection of dollhouse crime scenes and our universal fascination with murder. From CSI and real-life forensics, to the Body Farm and a crime fighting granny, John Waters narrates the tiny world of big time murder.”

My thoughts: This was absolutely excellent. It tells the story of Frances Glessner Lee creating her tiny “nutshells”- small dollhouse representations of crime scenes down to the blood spatter. She used these to help train police officers on the art of crime scene investigation. Kind of a pre-CSI. Baltimore still uses the nutshells in a training class today. Super neat.

Warning!: They don’t tell you the solutions to the crimes. No one ever finds out how the crimes were handled and ultimately solved (if they answers were common knowledge, the dollhouse crime scenes would lose their use as a teaching tool).

MV5BMTY4NDY4MDEyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjcyOTkxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Beautiful Darling (2010)

From “Candy Darling was a fixture in the New York Off-Broadway scene in the 60s, in Warhol films such as Women in Revolt and Flesh, and became a prominent personality in Warhol’s circles, influencing such noted contemporary artists as Madonna, David Bowie and Lou Reed. This documentary will use a series of interviews, archival footage, and images from Candy’s home in Massapequa, NY. Archival footage includes rare 25 year old interviews conducted by Jeremiah Newton with members of Warhol’s Factory and Tennessee Williams. The film features interviews with colleagues, contemporaries and friends of Candy.”

My thoughts: Pretty good. Pretty sad. I didn’t walk away with any real feelings one way or the other about this one, but it was a good watch.

MV5BMTc5MjU2NTEwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzU0NjQ2MQ@@._V1_SY658_SX450_AL_Miss Gulag (2007)

From “Through the prism of a beauty pageant staged by female inmates of a Siberian prison camp emerges a complex narrative of the lives of the first generation of women to come of age in Post-Soviet Russia. Miss GULAG explores the individual destinies of three women: Yulia, Tatiana, and Natasha, all bound together by long prison sentences and circumstances that have made them the vigilantes of their own destinies. For these women, undoubtedly, life is harsh under the constant surveillance of UF-91/9, but it is no less so on the outside. Today they, their families, and loved ones are sustained by hope for a better life upon release. This is a story of survival told from both sides of the fence.”

My thoughts: When this came up in my Netflix suggestions, I recognized this beauty pageant immediately. Another good one that I don’t really have strong feelings about one way or the other.

On My Television

voiceI Know That Voice (2013)

From Wikipedia:I Know That Voice is a documentary about voice acting . . . It is narrated by John DiMaggio,[1] the voice of Bender on Futurama, and stars John DiMaggio and many other voice actors, including Billy West, Tara Strong, Tom Kenny, Rachael MacFarlane, and Mark Hamill.”

My thoughts: Super good! I loved hearing from all of the animation voices I know from over the years. I especially enjoyed hearing all of the difficult work that went into each cartoon or film and about the difficulty of recording for video games. I recommend this for sure!

E-mail Order BrideNGC-US: Ep. Code 3979Email Order Brides (National Geographic)

From National Geographic: “Email Order Brides takes viewers inside the emotional and bizarre subculture of arranged marriages between American men and Russian women. This program follows newlyweds Dave and Anna, as the husband and mail order wife team attempt to make this unconventional form of match making mainstream. Their family business takes American men on a heart pounding and sometimes incredibly awkward journey to find true love in the former Soviet Block. With unprecedented access inside this taboo world, viewers will experience the emotional and bizarre subculture of arranged marriages between American men and Russian women.”

My thoughts: Um. . . this was bizarre. I nearly turned it off when the man running the U.S. side of the agency talked about his Russian wife not being 50 pounds overweight like an American woman her age. He was – of course – probably 50 pounds overweight himself. With the exception of one, the men were pretty off-putting (whether down right misogynistic or just awkward). On top of that, it just wasn’t very good. So, pass on this one.

junkieTV Junkie (2006)

From IMBD: “Rick Kirkham was a successful TV reporter, and could have been a major U.S. television profile if it hadn’t been for his massive drug and alcohol abuse. Kirkham filmed his life every day with a video camera from the age of 14 years. On the basis of his video material the story of his life is told in this documentary.”

My thoughts: This was painfully raw and at times difficult to watch. If you want to see a family living the so-called “American Dream” while dealing with drug addiction, this is the film to watch. Kirkham was a functional drug addict for much as the film and things slowly began to unravel and then plunge downward. It stayed with you for the rest of the evening – as a good documentary should. Highly recommended!

On My Television

clickWhen Strangers Click (2010)

From HBO: Finding love has never been easy. But it’s also never been easier. Online dating sites thrive on the promise that dates and mates are just a “click” away. But are they? WHEN STRANGERS CLICK: FIVE STORIES FROM THE INTERNET, from Robert Kenner (the Oscar®-nominated “Food, Inc.”), tells the revealing stories of people whose lives were transformed in unexpected ways by online encounters.

My thoughts: Eh, it was okay. It was a decent way to spend a free couple of hours, but I wouldn’t put it on a “must-watch” list. I will say that the relationships are interesting – it’s not just “met in a chatroom, then went to dinner, fell in love.” There are some really complicated stories.

jigJig (2011)

From Wiki: Jig is a 2011 documentary produced and directed by Sue Bourne about the world of Irish dance and the fortieth Irish Dancing World Championships, held in March 2010 in Glasgow.

My thoughts: I never realized how big Irish dance was around the world. I mean, it’s a big thing locally, but this really opened my eyes. I enjoyed it. The championships were like a pageant with injuries.

film-somm-570Somm (2012)

From IMDB: Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.

My thoughts: A little pretentious, but I enjoyed seeing everything that goes into picking a good wine at the top level. I will admit that it all seemed a little pointless to me – can anyone other than the people who actually pass this test tell the difference? I’ll still drink my $10 bottle of whatever white is already chilled at the liquor store though.

2234942-indie_game_super_meatboy_roomIndie Game: The Movie (2012)

From IMDB: A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

My thoughts: Extremely interesting – especially since it is a couple of years old and a lot of the games they focus on are released and playable.

5-reasons-why-you-should-watch-mansome-the-movie_imgMansome (2012)

From IMDB: A documentary that explores the question: In the age of manscaping, metrosexuals, and grooming products galore – what does it mean to be a man?

My thoughts: Eh, not great. Maybe I expected too much from it?

On My Television

tumblr_n1vdlhpsrc1sn7wjto1_1280Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013)

From IMDB: Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

My thoughts: Loved this – highly recommended! These, mostly ladies, with amazing, highly-recognizable voices. I was really surprised in particular by the music from the 50s and 60s – many of the voices I assumed were part of the main band were backup singers. I also like that the filmmaker interviews the backup singers and got memories/impressions from the “stars.”

Great quote: “You know, when you think about the history of pop music and all the memorable hooks that people sing along with, they’re singing with us most of the time, because that’s what we do on records. We come in and sing the hooks.”

POV-Girl-ModelGirl Model (2011)

From IMDB: A documentary on the modeling industry’s ‘supply chain’ between Siberia, Japan, and the U.S., told through the experiences of the scouts, agencies, and a 13-year-old model.

My thoughts: This was painful to watch. Seeing these young girls leaving homes and traveling to a country where they didn’t speak the language then – highly likely – leaving in debt without having booked the jobs they were promised. Families that didn’t really understand the fine print of the contract they were signing. And then more girls just waiting in the wings to take the next spot. Ugh.

imagesXT80WD4KThe Guy. . . Who Was in That Thing (2012)

From Showtime: We’ve all used the phrase “Oh, it’s that guy. The one from that other thing.” We all recognize them. They appear in dozens of movies and countless television shows, but no one ever bothers to learn their names. Sixteen actors detail their ups and downs as they struggle to forge careers in the world’s most cutthroat environment – Hollywood. They’ve played cops, lawyers, bosses, best friends, psychopaths, politicians and everything in between. Now you’ll know who they are.

My thoughts: Actors talking about being very recognizable, but no one really knowing their name. Nearly every time a new person came on screen, my husband or I said, “Oh, I know that guy!.” Truth in advertising.

article-2559704-1B7FE61500000578-61_634x451Mortified Nation (2013)

From IMDB: Adults share their most embarrassing teenage writings and art in front of total strangers at Mortified stage shows across the country, as the filmmakers explore what the show’s popularity says about all of us.

My thoughts: I loved this. LOVED IT! Mortified is a stage show where people get up and read excerpts from things they wrote as children – mostly teenagers. I remember those years and it is nice to see other people experiencing the same things. Highly recommended!

Great Quote: “We are freaks. We are fragile. And we all survived.”

glowGLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2012)

From IMDB: GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling chronicles the rise and fall of the first ever all-female wrestling show through the stories of those who lived it.

My thoughts: Do you remember GLOW? This documentary sets out to explain how GLOW got started, how the female wrestlers got involved, how it eventually ended, and how it left it’s ladies. It was very interesting, but not one of my favorites overall. The 1980s footage was excellent though.

On My Television

I’m a bit of a documentary-buff. If I have a couple of hours alone, or on the occasions I can convince my husband to watch with me, I like to turn on a random documentary I can find in Netflix. I don’t necessarily have a running list of things I hope to watch, but I love to discover something new. I’ve been on a big documentary kick lately. Here are a few I have enjoyed lately.

Pruitt-Igoe-overviewThe Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2011)

From IMBD: Destroyed in a dramatic and highly-publicized implosion, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex has become a widespread symbol of failure amongst architects, politicians and policy makers. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth explores the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of conventional public housing in America, and the city centers in which they resided, while tracing the personal and poignant narratives of several of the project’s residents.

My thoughts: Pruitt-Igoe fascinates me. It is such an interesting microcosm to study when thinking about the 1949 Housing Act, modern city development, racism, and the urban poor. I especially like this documentary because it focused on the residents. Sure, it mixed in the social and political background, but it really concentrated on the stories of people who lived and grew-up in the development.

Great quote: “In some ways, Pruitt-Igoe failed because housing alone couldn’t deal with the most basic issues that were troubling the American city. There was just no way to build your way out of that tragedy.”

Another great quote: “History has patterns, but it doesn’t repeat . . . . The next time the city changes, remember Pruitt-Igoe.”

Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi_320Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

From IMBD: A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his business in the Ginza Tokio Subway station, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.

My thoughts: Who knew watching someone make sushi could be so mesmerizing? This was fun to watch and I liked seeing a world-class chef without all of the pomp and circumstance that accompanies television chefts. And the music – amazing!

eqla_bronies_documentary_banner_by_pixelkitties-d5jqddnBronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2013)

From IMDB: A film profiling the unusual cross-demographic fandom of the ostensibly girl oriented television series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

My thoughts: Fun! This was a very well-made documentary about an easily –ridiculed subject. I really enjoyed all of these guys (and ladies!) sharing their enjoyment of the show and what they learned from it.

Great quote: “Bronycon means to me, a place where people can go and be tolerated and accepted, it doesn’t matter who you are, you can find a place in this fandom and you can be accepted and I think that’s really cool, because a lot of other fandoms are restrictive.”

22roundup-dumbstruck-articleLargeDumbstruck (2010)

From IMDB: At the annual Vent Haven Convention in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, ventriloquism capital of the world, director Mark Goffman discovers five extraordinary characters straight out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary. But in this delightful, it’s-all-true documentary, the characters are real, and so are the emotional attachments that they have with their “dummies.”

My thoughts: Another fun one and fairly sweet. I loved following all of these different people on their very different paths through ventriloquism.

My favorite . . . television shows

Taking a break from writing about my thymectomy for a little Friday Favorites fun.

Current, on the dvr schedule and regularly watched
-World’s Dumbest. I’ve already written about this one.
-The Big Bang Theory
-New Girl
-Paranormal Witness
-Face Off
-Top Chef

Over, but still watch on a regular basis
-Gavin & Stacey
-The Golden Girls
-Are You Being Served?
-Grace and Favour (a.k.a Are You Being Served Again?)

Enjoy, maybe still catch an episode/wish I could catch an episode
-Married with Children
-Unsolved Mysteries
-Tales from the Crypt
-Keeping Up Appearances

Sort of watch, but tend to build up a backlog and marathon
-Mike and Molly
-The Walking Dead
-How I Met Your Mother