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Current Topic: Documentary

Shallow water. Deep secret.
Topic: Documentary 8:17 pm EDT, Aug 16, 2009

Do you know?

The majority of the world is not aware this is happening. The Taiji cove is blocked off from the public. Cameras are not allowed inside and the media does not cover the story. It's critical that we get the word out in Japan. It's critical that we get the word out -- everywhere. We believe that once the Japanese people know, they will demand change.

Find out at the Tara through 20 August.

From the archive:

He seems to think that the facts speak for themselves. But facts never speak for themselves. We speak for them.

Human beings do not like to think of themselves as animals.

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone.

"Hello human, I am dolphin. You are in my waves, and I am curious about you. Long have we tried to befriend you by saving drowning swimmers and attacking sharks and being cute, and long have you repaid our kindness by catching us in fishing nets, capturing us for dumb circus shows and eating our dinners. But that is the past. Let this contact be the beginning of a new future. Let this morning mark the beginning of a great bond between our two peopl... hey, wtf where are you going?"

(Poster on wall of Nelson's bedroom: "Nuke the whales.")

Lisa [to Nelson]: "Nuke the whales?"
Nelson: "Gotta nuke somethin'."
Lisa: "Touché."

Don't just not be evil. Be good.

Shallow water. Deep secret.

Topic: Documentary 4:51 pm EST, Feb 15, 2009

We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge. Depending on whom you ask, government secrecy is either the key to victory in our struggle against terrorism, or our Achilles heel. But is so much secrecy a bad thing?

This film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government's ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.

A film by Peter Galison and Robb Moss.

For those in the Boston area:

The Berkman Center, Peter Galison, and Robb Moss present a screening of the film "Secrecy," a film about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy, followed by a roundtable discussion with professors Jack Goldsmith, Martha Minow, and Jonathan Zittrain.

Other screenings are coming soon to Berkeley, Hartford, and San Diego.

Recently, NYT wrote:

It’s hard to imagine what, at this point, needs to be kept secret, other than the ways in which the administration behaved irresponsibly, and quite possibly illegally, in the Masri case.

From the archive, Thomas Powers:

Is more what we really need?

In my opinion not.

But running spies is not the NSA's job. Listening is, and more listening is what the NSA knows how to organize, more is what Congress is ready to support and fund, more is what the President wants, and more is what we are going to get.


Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit
Topic: Documentary 10:30 pm EST, Jan  7, 2009

The trailer for Gary Hustwit's new film is now available.

Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary about industrial design. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. It’s about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.

Through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the film documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?


Have we all become objectified?

Recently, on Sherry Turkle's new book:

This book will force you to think about your relationships with technology, and to more carefully watch those around you and their uses of different devices.

Indeed, it will make you think about the machines around you in a profound way; how do these things really make you feel?

Also from Hustwit:

Typography is not simply a frou-frou debate over aesthetics orchestrated by a hidden coterie of graphic-design nerds.

From last year, but not from Hustwit:

“Design stupidly produces more things, and for years I’ve spoken about the importance of living with fewer things. But my position is a little ambiguous.”

Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

Standard Operating Procedure
Topic: Documentary 7:36 pm EDT, Mar 23, 2008

Errol Morris's latest film opens April 25.

Is it possible for a photograph to change the world? Photographs taken by soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison changed the war in Iraq and changed America’s image of itself. Yet, a central mystery remains. Did the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs constitute evidence of systematic abuse by the American military, or were they documenting the aberrant behavior of a few “bad apples”? We set out to examine the context of these photographs. Why were they taken? What was happening outside the frame? We talked directly to the soldiers who took the photographs and who were in the photographs. Who are these people? What were they thinking?

Over two years of investigation, we amassed a million and a half words of interview transcript, thousands of pages of unredacted reports, and hundreds of photographs. The story of Abu Ghraib is still shrouded in moral ambiguity, but it is clear what happened there. The Abu Ghraib photographs serve as both an expose and a coverup. An expose, because the photographs offer us a glimpse of the horror of Abu Ghraib; and a coverup because they convinced journalists and readers they had seen everything, that there was no need to look further. In recent news reports, we have learned about the destruction of the Abu Zubaydah interrogation tapes. A coverup. It has been front page news. But the coverup at Abu Ghraib involved thousands of prisoners and hundreds of soldiers. We are still learning about the extent of it.

Many journalists have asked about “the smoking gun” of Abu Ghraib. It is the wrong question.

As Philip Gourevitch has commented, Abu Ghraib is the smoking gun. The underlying question that we still have not resolved, four years after the scandal: how could American values become so compromised that Abu Ghraib -- and the subsequent coverup -- could happen?

From the archive:

According to one who was present, Churchill suddenly blurted out: "Are we animals? Are we taking this too far?"

From earlier this month, President Bush:

Because the danger remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists.

Unfortunately, Congress recently sent me an intelligence authorization bill that would diminish these vital tools. So today, I vetoed it.

Standard Operating Procedure

Topic: Documentary 7:11 pm EST, Nov 12, 2007

Here's what you're watching tonight.

Everybody wants to be a hero.

DARKON is a feature documentary that follows the real-life adventures of an unusual group of weekend "warrior knights," fantasy role-playing gamers whose live action "battleground" is modern-day Baltimore, Maryland, re-imagined as a make-believe medieval world named Darkon. These live action gamers combine the physical drama of historical re-enactments with character-driven storylines inspired in part by such perennial favorite fantasy epics like the legends of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and the saga of Conan the Barbarian. As role players, they create alter-egos with rich emotional, psychological, and social lives. They costume themselves and physically act out their characters exploits both in intimate court intrigue and campouts and in panoramic battle scenarios involving competitive strategies, convincingly real props, and full contact "combat." Because real life so often gets in the way, it's easy to understand these players motivations.

Perhaps the National Guard needs more chivalry.


The King of Kong
Topic: Documentary 6:22 am EDT, Sep 10, 2007

With a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, King of Kong is a must-see film. Critics call it "improbably compelling, stupendously and wildly entertaining, madly arresting, hilarious and moving, taught, tense, fascinating, rousing, and laugh-out-loud funny."

As Decius said, it's pretty much about how everything everywhere actually works. I saw this on the festival circuit earlier this year; it won the best documentary award at IFF Boston.

Long-time readers of MemeStreams may recall our coverage of Steve Wiebe's new record back in 2003, courtesy of nox. You can still read the article through the Wayback machine:

Mitchell, 37, says he only counts his scores if they're played in a public venue, and he won't say if he can beat his cross-country competitor. He'll only say that he's planning something big and unprecedented in response to Wiebe's win.

If there's one thing to know about Billy Mitchell, it's that he does not disappoint.

The King of Kong

Iraq in Fragments
Topic: Documentary 7:51 pm EST, Feb 10, 2007

See this film.

... mesmerizes with its insight ...

... a genuinely awe-inspiring work of cinéma vérité filmmaking ... mesmerizing scenes—at once beautiful and terrible ...

... such grace and intelligence ...

... its enduring value is assured ... a high-def triptych with suavely interwoven motifs ...

... beautifully shot ...

... poetic ... intimate ... visually sumptuous ...

... haunting, oblique, lyrical, impressionistic ... remarkably contemplative, at times even serene ...

The first third ... so intense—a masterpiece in miniature, really ...

... one of the year's finest documentaries ...

... poetic cinema verité ... shot and edited so beautifully ... in the vein of ... "The Battle of Algiers" ...

White Progressive People Fight Racism - A Zebro Documentary | YouTube
Topic: Documentary 2:40 pm EST, Dec 10, 2006

This is some funny stuff.

White Progressive People Fight Racism - A Zebro Documentary | YouTube

American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980 - 1986
Topic: Documentary 10:33 pm EDT, Aug 10, 2006

Coming soon to a theater near you.

Inspired by Steven Blush's book "American Hardcore: A tribal history" Paul Rachman's feature documentary debut is a chronicle of the underground hardcore punk years from 1979 to 1986. Interviews and rare live footage from artists such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, SS Decontrol and the Dead Kennedys.

Don't give me "The Clash" and claim you're punk. We're talking hardcore, right here!

American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980 - 1986

Why We Fight - A Film By Eugene Jarecki
Topic: Documentary 1:45 pm EST, Feb  4, 2006

This documentary won the Grand Jury prize for best documentary at Sundance. If you live in LA, NY, or Boston, go see it now; otherwise, you'll have to wait for it to be released on DVD.

Why We Fight, the new film by Eugene Jarecki, is an unflinching look at the anatomy of the American war machine, weaving unforgettable personal stories with commentary by a who's who of military and beltway insiders. Featuring John McCain, William Kristol, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, Why We Fight launches a bipartisan inquiry into the workings of the military industrial complex and the rise fo the American Empire.

From a review in The Tech:

Speaking with the BBC about a source in the documentary, director Eugene Jarecki says, "Is she right? I don’t really look for that. I look for people who say things that are arresting, who you may not necessarily agree with, but who you also can't just dismiss."

Manohla Dargis called it "agitprop entertainment." She also says "Everyone sounds smart, if not always convincing." But the best part of her review is this:

The idea is that because the public buys the lies, it also buys the wars. Too bad this doesn't explain why people buy lies, including the obvious ones.

Maybe Ebert thinks so, too?

Perhaps we will find the answers in this Post article.

UPDATE: FYI, David Denby at the New Yorker didn't care for the film.

Why We Fight - A Film By Eugene Jarecki

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