I have been watching a lot of documentaries and television documentaries recently, so instead of doing full reviews I’m just going for a simple yay or nay.
The Devil’s Bible (TV, 2008)
From Netflix: Learn about the Codex Gigas, an alleged cursed text that sprang from a doomed monk’s pact with the Devil.
Would I recommend it? Yes. But be aware, this is about the inspection and study of the book by scholars and archivists; fanciful satanic stuff is mixed in only to keep the television audience from changing the channel.
From IMDB: Since 2007, dozens of teens and young people have been found hanged in Bridgend, South Wales. Most of them knew each other-they were friends, neighbors, even cousins. It’s a mystery that has baffled authorities and town residents. The connections between the victims have led Bridgend residents and the local authorities to believe that something sinister has taken hold in the town. Some believe it’s a suicide pact, others say it’s an Internet cult among friends, others have blamed it on chemical imbalances caused by local cell phone towers. Through incredible, exclusive interviews with family members, friends and local authorities, ‘Bridgend’ explores these deaths and relationships, attempting to put rumors to rest while getting to the cause of these tragic hangings.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Heartbreaking.
Russia’s Toughest Prisons (TV, 2011)
From Netflix: Three Russian prisons unlock their doors to an international film crew and reveal what life inside is like for the nation’s most brutal criminals.
Would I recommend it? Yes. I’m always up for a good prison documentary.
Live Nude Girls Unite! (2000)
From IMDB: Documentary look at the 1996-97 effort of the dancers and support staff at a San Francisco peep show, The Lusty Lady, to unionize. Angered by arbitrary and race-based wage policies, customers’ surreptitious video cameras, and no paid sick days or holidays, the dancers get help from the Service Employees International local and enter protracted bargaining with the union-busting law firm that management hires. We see the women work, sort out their demands, and go through the difficulties of bargaining. The narrator is Julia Query, a dancer and stand-up comedian who is reluctant to tell her mother, a physician who works with prostitutes, that she strips.
Would I recommend it? No. Despite the subject matter, the narrator oozed privilege and was off-putting.
The Final Member (2012)
From IMDB: Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, in the northern Icelandic town of Husavik, stands the Icelandic Phallological Museum – the world’s only Penis museum. Over 40 years, the founder and curator has collected every specimen from every mammal except for one elusive penis needed to complete his collection: The Human Specimen. The film follows the curator’s incredible, sublimely comic, often shocking quest to complete his eccentric collection, and the two intrepid men who have raised their hands to be the first human donor.
Would I recommend it? Yes. It was quite enjoyable and, as an archivist, I could really understand his complications in dealing with over-zealous would-be donors.
NOVA: Secrets of the Viking Sword (TV)
From Netflix: The most formidable Viking weapon was an Ulfberht sword. But details of their creation and their maker remained secret for more than 1,000 years.
Would I recommend it? Yes. In addition to the history, a modern craftsman replicates the sword.
Superheros: A Never-Ending Battle (TV mini-series, 2013)
From PBS via IMDB: Examines the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. It chronicles how these disposable diversions were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created in large part by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is an influential part of our national identity.
Would I recommend it? Yes.
Bettie Page Reveals All (2012)
From IMDB: The world’s greatest pinup model and cult icon, Bettie Page, recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America’s sexual revolution.
Would I recommend it? Yes. I liked that Bettie herself was narrator most of the time (from an oral history interview, by the sounds of it).
A Brony Tale (2014)
From IMDB: Vancouver-based voice artist Ashleigh Ball has been the voice of numerous characters in classic cartoons such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Cinderella and more. When Ashleigh was hired to voice Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash for Hasbro’s fourth series to use the My Little Pony name – My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – she had no idea she would become an Internet phenomenon and major celebrity to a worldwide fan-base of grownups. Bronies are united by their belief in the show’s philosophy. This documentary gives an inside view of the Pony fan-world, and an intimate look at the courage it takes to just be yourself…even when that means liking a little girls’ cartoon.
Would I recommend it? No. There was too much “should we be scared of these grown men.” I suggest Bronies (2013) instead; it is excellent.
Serial Killer Culture (2014)
From IMDB: Serial Killer Culture examines the reasons why artists and collectors are fascinated by serial killers.
Would I recommend it: Eh, it was okay. I’m a firm maybe.