Here are some encapsulated reviews. I watched the following Documentaries awhile ago and I find it difficult to write about them. I like documentaries, and I read a lot of non-fiction, however I’ve yet to be able to penetrate the surface of the films for a review any deeper than “I learned a lot”. In the future I will make a stronger effort (or avoid them entirely). Without delay, on to the show…
638 Ways to Kill Castro, directed by Dollan Cannell, is the story of the United States’ relationship with the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, focusing on the many times that Castro‘s assassination has been attempted. It is an interesting film about a figure that, for Americans, is shrouded in mystery and embarrassment. The CIA has tried to kill Castro through many intermediaries, some of whom are terrorists. This is the type of information typically covered up and saying it in a public place would get one branded as a “conspiracy theorist”. These things happened however, and this film illustrates them in a way that detracts from the information. Set as an examination of suspects, complete with found footage of an actual police lineup, the film veers too far into trying to entertain and misses an opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter.
Manufacturing Dissent, directed by Debbie Melnyk, is a story about a Canadian journalist’s attempts to interview Michael Moore, while simultaneously picking apart the man’s films and attempting to expose him as a fraud. An interesting attack on a filmmaker. The film is most interesting when exposing the mistakes of Michael Moore‘s films, but fails to back up many of the claims. The weakest elements of the movie are the filmmaker’s attempt to smear Moore as a “bad person”, like that has anything to do with the man’s films. This reeks of a right-wing-hatchet-job but also contains some interesting facts about Moore‘s films.
Brother’s Keeper, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, a brilliant documentary about the Wards, a family of reclusive, ill-educated, brothers who are launched into the national spotlight when one of them dies. The death happens overnight in the bed that the brother shares with his younger brother, Delbert. Delbert is then arrested and charged with his brother’s murder. He signs a confession, which he cannot even read. The documentary penetrates the bizarre lives of these illiterate farmers and the small town they live in.
My initial reaction to the movie relates to what I felt last year during a murder trial in which I was a juror. During the trial there were many police who testified, some of them detectives and the impression I got was that even the highest ranking police officer wasn’t that smart. I’m not saying that they aren’t capable of protecting and serving, I’m saying that one would like to believe that detectives are intelligent (not Sherlock Holmes but close) but after seeing the testimony of a few my suspicions have been confirmed. They aren’t that bright*. The police involved in Brother’s Keeper, did what anyone would do, they looked for the easiest answer. This answer just happened to be one that ignited a community.
I won’t spoil it but the film is emotional and kept me involved throughout.
* My cousin is a police officer and, while he’s a great guy and I love him, he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.