Talk: Documentary Reviews

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Reviewer Bias 


Movie critics often have a leftward slant that makes them droll and predictable. It also means if a movie is at all political, has anything that's politically incorrect, or can be re-imagined that way, then reviewers will likely get out of touch with the audience. Since I lean towards the audience preferences and away from marxism as movie-reviews, this spread (or the inverse of the reviewers opinions) can be a better indicator of how much I'll like a film than their actual reviews.

13 Hours: The secret soldiers in Benghazi

A documentary by Michael Bay? What is this world coming to? While it seems like an oxymoron, and there was plenty of explosions and some jitter-camera effects, it was more Saving Private Ryan and true to history than anything Oliver Stone or Michael Moore has done, and those are called documentaries. And it was a good motive, and mostly historically accurate based on the people that were there. So worth seeing, if you want to see an action film based on real life events.

2016 Obama's America


Hated by reviewers, loved by viewers. A better movie than Fahrenheit 9/11, but that's a pretty low bar. It tries to give you what the Press didn't, the backstory and motivations of President Obama, from a right wing point of view. It shouldn't be taken too literally, but good background on Obama's sphere of influences: what his friends, family, mentor and Father believed. How much you think that shaped him, or how, is likely to be based on your political views. Slow, but informative, and it's up to you to decide what that all means.

America: Imagine the World Without her (2014)

Dinesh D'Souza tries to cover too much. The title is misleading: it's more about American History than alternate reality. Still, a worthy documentary: especially for those who buy Howard Zinn's revisionist American History. Nice to see there's at least a few who haven't.

The Climate Hustle (2016)


CFACT's Marc Morano did his late retort to An Inconvenient Truth, in a one night replay of what they showed at the Paris Climate Summit, for $15/ticket. It basically goes through and tries to explain all the fallacies in the pro-Climate Change alarmism, from what are the forcing factors, how do they rank, how does CO2 rank in them, the fake Climate Consensus, the global cooling scare, and all the sensational claims made -- and then debunking them.

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

The short version is that I liked it as entertainment, but didn't as a movie about a real event. As entertainment it was pretty good -- but it was a little too Hollywood'ed for the people that were there, and they're working on their own documentary of actual events, instead of heroes and villains. If you want to see an entertaining thriller type movie about a drilling ship where you already know the ending: this will probably be the best one of those you see all year. But if you want to see what really happened in any more depth than listening to Noam Chomsky lecture you on the evils of capitalism, then you might be disappointed.

Hillary's America (2016)


Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. The subhead ("the Secret History of the Democratic Party") is more apt description of the film than the heading ("Hillary's America"). It was 75% about the History of the Democrat Party, 20% about Bill and Hillary, and about 5% just filler, Apple Pie, Patriotism, and political propaganda.

Jobs (2013)

Hollywood has this attitude that fiction is more interesting than real life. It is more interesting to people that don't care about the truth as much as they care about shallow entertainment and becoming more misinformed about a topic or person. I'm not their audience, and this movie wasn't made for me. Walter Isaacson's book was pretty good, but flawed. This movie omitted the former and exaggerated the latter.

Steve Jobs (2015)

A fictionalized drama-mentory retelling of Steve Jobs life, by an ultra-Liberal director (Aaron Sorkin). Reviewers preferred it more than audiences +13% (86/73). While the dialog and story is the best of the rash of Steve Jobs pseudo-biographies, this one captured the spirit of many things better, while getting too many actual facts wrong. It would have been great, if only they were fictional characters.

Roosevelt's: An Intimate History


Ken Burns disappoints with a progressive puff-piece, written, directed and shown by the left, for the far left. Teddy the Republican was almost all bad. FDR the Democrat was almost all good. And the complexities that made both 3 dimensional, instead of caricatures, was all whitewashed off the series. I figured the format would allow PBS to do something deep and complex, it was just long and shallow.

Waiting for Superman (2011)


If you're looking for a slowly paced, poorly supported documentary that trashes the American School system with all the lack-of-balances of "An Inconvenient Truth" director can muster, then this will be the best option for the year.

The premise is the failure of the American school system, as told from a far left-of-center director, which will go for tugging at the heart-strings (and person interest stories), instead of offering facts and data to support them.

White Helmets (2016)

If you want a depressing documentary on the heroes of the Syrian War (the aide workers), then this is for you. It's still interesting to watch, but I felt like the rescue workers probably look a little purer than they really are -- so it felt a tad spun and whitewashed, but still important to see some of what goes on in a war zone.