Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Sunday, August 28th, 2016 | Distractions

tony-robbins-i-am-not-your-guru

Joe Berlinger is a film maker known for his documentary series Paradise Lost. He also made Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, a film that I really enjoyed, once I understood just how the studio had butchered it after it left Berlinger’s hands. His latest film is a documentary about motivational speaker Tony Robbins’s Date With Destiny events.

It is interesting to see inside the event. But that is where the interest stops. A review in Variety earlier this year pretty much hits the nail on the heat. It is a completely uncritical look at the whole show, with no interesting journalistic merit to be found.

For example, there is no mention that I noticed of the price tag. It is around $5,000 for the basic package and goes up from there. There is plenty of footage of Robbins transforming people’s lives though, at least for the few minutes they were on camera. Still, I am sure Penn & Teller are completely wrong about these type of events being complete bullshit that never sticks. Especially at that price.

Far from Robbins graciously granting access to a documentary crew for the first time, it seems to be that he simply allowed them to make an infomercial for him.

To be fair to Berlinger, he doesn’t pretend that it is anything other than that. He decided to make the film after being invited to a Date With Destiny event and said in an interview that this was more of a “concert film”.

If you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix.

The City Talking: Tech in Leeds

Saturday, August 6th, 2016 | Tech, Video

Interesting documentary about technology in Leeds. I was already familiar with the history of our tech scene, but it is always nice for a refresher. Many people may be surprised with just how involved we were with the early internet.

Five Star Babies

Thursday, May 12th, 2016 | Distractions

five-star-babies

Five Star Babies was a two part BBC documentary looking at Portland Hospital, a private maternity hospital in London. No expense is spared. The dining is gourmet, you get your own private consultant, and the birthing suites come with a lounge area for guests.

Having not been through the process myself, it’s hard to judge some aspects. For example, sending your baby off to the nursery for the first few days. If that was an option, I think I might take them up on that. As a new parent, I imagine I am going to want all the help I can get.

Other things just seemed downright strange though. Sending your new-born off for a clean and a nappy before holding it for example. That seems like a weird rich-person thing. In fact one of the most interesting confessions on the show was when one of the nannies admitted that she almost always saw the baby’s first smile, but would never tell the parents that.

There is also something about private healthcare. My dad told about the time my granddad went private for something. He needed pain relief and the doctor, rather than recommended what would be best, just gave them a price list. The quotes for epidurals, which come in at just under £1,000 if you are interested, reminded me of that.

As the show goes on, it just becomes silly. People redecorating entire floors, bringing in their own designers, making secret entrances and spending up to £250,000 reveal a deep problem with the growing income inequality in the UK. Do you need all of that? The answer is almost certainly, no.

Jon & Kate Plus 8

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Distractions

Fertility treatment can have a number of side effects. One of which is that it can work too well. This is what The Gosselins found out when they decided to add one more to their twin girls – and got an extra six!

Someone recommended it to me I watched the one hour special and a few of the 23-minute episodes out of morbid curiosity. They seem to cope very well. Their shopping is done at a wholesalers and they drive a full-size van but otherwise they live isn’t too crazy.

I imagine the family adapts. For example Kate sleeps in until 8am! Jon having already gone to work by this point. I didn’t think parents got to do that, let alone when you have eight kids. That is not to say it does not look like hard work – they pretty much have no other life, obviously.

They do totally cash in when they go to Shady Maple (a buffet restaurant). Under 4’s eat free!

Aside from the entertainment, the show might actually provide a useful purpose too. As Kate points out when they are invited onto a TV chat show, if they can cope with eight, it must give new and prospective parents hope that they can cope with one.

Transgender Kids

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 | Distractions

Louis Theroux’s second documentary to arrive this year is “Transgender Kids”, a look at children who are transitioning.

It makes sense. Louis voices the question many people think at first – “what if we’re wrong?” It’s true that some changes are irreversible; you can only go through puberty once. However, as the doctor points out, we know the risks of not allowing people to transition. In contrast, we don’t have much evidence as to how many people transition back to their birth-assigned gender, and I’ve never heard of it.

Theroux has previously been accused by some critics of poking the bear with unjustifiably probing questions, or using the same tired format of looking dough-eyed into the camera while he watches people’s struggles. However, I saw none of that in this documentary. It was carried out carefully, bringing insight into a topic without leading the audience.

louis-theroux-transgender-kids

Billion Dollar Chicken Shop

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 | Distractions

Given the amount of discussion regarding BBC’s new documentary about KFC, I felt I had to give the first episode a watch. Having worked in the industry for years, nothing on the documentary surprised me.

Obviously, there was good and bad. There is a culture of recognition and many of the senior people were talking about how they had been there 20 years and started as a crew member. As for the chicken itself, are you comfortable that your friend chicken was grown in a shed for 35-42 days and then put into a gas chamber? It turns out, that I am.

Here are some of the best quotes…

The thing is, it’s chicken, so it’s healthy

Scientifically proven.

I don’t any meat on the bone. It sort of puts me off because it’s like that was the animal.

There is nothing I can add to this.

Unless you’re really clever, then you’ll end up in Pizza Hut

That’s my highest aspiration too.

Who will buy a house that is opposite a KFC?

I’m sure she meant to say who wouldn’t.

The Super-Rich and Us

Friday, February 13th, 2015 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

I recently watched the BBC documentary, The Super-Rich and Us.

I am getting more left wing as I get older, and I think I am now of the opinion that we should take a cap, saying £10 million, and anyone worth more than that should be lined up and shot.

Well, maybe not that. At least without legislation that allows us to take take control of their wealth. However, if someone did murder a tax-avoiding billionaire, I am not sure I would be able to judge their actions as immoral.

The Super-Rich and Us

It is also worth watching the TED talk by Nick Hanauer on why plutocrats such as him need to be stoped.

Madness in the Fast Lane

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 | Distractions

Madness in the Fast Lane is a BBC documentary that Louis Theroux recommended. It tells the take of two Swedish sisters that one day ran across the M6, repeatedly getting struck my vehicles. One of the sisters then went on stab a man to death.

The style was very odd as it reminded me a lot of Brass Eye. There were lots of unnecessary caption slides, weird music and blurry camera effects. It felt rather cheesy. But the story was certainly an interesting one. It was just mad (literally, according to the court psychologists).

Without a satisfying conclusion to the story though (there has not been one in real life), all we can really take away from it is that Swedish people are crazy.

Louis Theroux’s LA Stories

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 | Distractions, Thoughts

Louis Theroux is my favourite documentary maker. When I read in the BBC Magazine that he had moved to LA and was planning on making some documentaries on his experiences there, I awaited them with much anticipation.

They were not my favourite documentaries he has ever done, but still enjoyable. The dogs one was fairly predictable. It also puts in perspective the destruction of a giraffe in Denmark. One pound in South LA is killing dogs by the dozen on a regular basis. Why are people not up in arms about that? Not to mention all the animals we eat…

End-of-life care helped explain how the United States manages to blow quite so much money on healthcare. Some of the people in there were correct – why not try everything to fight for life if you have the choice? But on a societal level, you do have to wonder whether those resources could be better spent elsewhere. It must be a tough decision for the people who make those kind of budget calls.

The most thought provoking I found was the sex offenders episode. It was pretty clear that nobody thinks these people deserve a second chance. However, if you are going to adopt that kind of attitude, why let them out of prison in the first place? Or put them to death. That is something the US still does of course.

I do not know how this compares to the UK system. I can, for example, get a list of all the sex offenders in my area from a handy site called “UK Paedos Exposed”. However, this seems to be built from user submissions, rather than state-published data. That is a pretty sick website, but not on the same level as the state-run database you can find in the US.

This is available from the UK government, but only if you are a parent or carer and want to check a specific individual. However, The Sun newspaper claim to have plotted every convicted sex offender on a map.

Meanwhile the open access in the US, as Theroux points out, leads to apps like “Offender Locator” that allow you to find them.

offender-locator

Speaking of Louis Theroux

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 | Distractions

No, he hasn’t announced another documentary.

But he has done what some might consider the next best thing – and produced not one, but two lists of documentaries that he thinks are awesome. I haven’t checked any of them out yet, but I plan to. You can find the lists here and here.