Blog Archives

Netfix: Casting JonBenét

casting_jonbenetThe murder of JonBenét Ramsey will probably go down in as one of the saddest, strangest unsolved murders in American history. Despite all that science can give us, 20 years later we still don’t know who killed JonBenét. The Netflix original documentary, Casting JonBenét, takes an original look at one of our nation’s most speculated upon murders.

What makes this documentary so interesting is that it’s not so much a documentary as it is a deconstruction. No actual associated parties are involved – it’s all reenactment. This method  is incredibly appropriate, considering that this case is pure speculation.

From the moment they made their public appearance, Patsy and John Ramsey were judged unscrupulously by the public, and would be judged for the rest of their lives. Additionally, there would be little to no personal time to grieve, let alone process this atrocity, while being prime suspects for the police.The beauty of this documentary is everything we witness is that spectacle.

On the whole, this is an exploration of mass perception and how it shapes our views of others, while reflecting on our own inner troubles. During a powerful point in the story, when John and Patsy are meant to be making their statements to the police, the actors spill their guts about their darker character manifests. The finale is an emotional cacophony, which renders the viewer overwhelmed, and ultimately very sad.

The Good
In the end, I found this film to be haunting. The spectrum at the end – every possibility played out to its fullest – cements that this was a real tragedy that actually occurred to real people.

The Bad-ish?
As much as I appreciate the idea of a speculative documentary about a news spectacle, it’s really an anti-documentary. Though an exploration of emotional gravitas, one can’t help but feel it hides behind the Ramsey’s limelight to create an art piece. …Not that there’s anything wrong with that, is there?

After all, art is inspired in the strangest or bleakest of places, and there’s hardly any exploitation to be had – the performers are of their own bias and the filmmakers do not portray any opinions on the matter. It’s less about the Ramseys themselves and more about reflecting on theoreticals. So in a sense, the film is false advertising. An additional ironic cherry on top is that JonBenét is hardly even in the film at all – after all, the parents are the real stars of the show.

The Bizarre
…Does that sex-ed guy just carry those flails around with him everywhere?

Netfix: I Know That Voice

movie+posters+21Voice acting could easily be one of the most over-looked arts in the TV/film industry. It’s one thing for a well-known actor to provide a voice for a character – they’re mostly playing themselves. But for a person to hide themselves completely and be utterly unrecognizable amongst us common-folk, that takes talent.

I Know That Voice exposes and pays tribute to such talent as June Foray, Jeff Bennett, Daran Norris, Pamela Segall Aldon, Billy West, and many, many more. (Did you have to google some of those? I don’t blame you in the least.)

As far as documentaries go, you really can’t get any more cut-and-dry than this one. I Know That Voice goes into a brief history of the establishment of voice acting, talks about some industry pioneers, and carries on about recent happenings and new kinds of media. Plus it’s chocked full of all sorts of talent and trivia.

The Good
Now, I’m a total dork about this kind of stuff, so I really enjoyed learning about the history of voice acting as well as methods of the craft. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves learning about filmmaking – or loves cartoons.

The Bad
Nothing dates a documentary like bouncy, animated text. I’m not going to hold that against it, though.

The Just Plain Neat
Corey Burton illustrates his process for performing as Porky Pig – it’s pretty impressive.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Netfix: Blackfish

MV5BNTkyNTkwMzkxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzAwOTE2OQ@@._V1_SX214_Blackfish the story of the stars of SeaWorld – namely an orca named Tilikum and his dark history with his trainers. Told by whale experts as well as the trainers themselves, Tilikum’s tale is as relentless as it is heartbreaking – unfortunately also in a narrative simply meant to enrage you.

But shouldn’t you be enraged? I only wonder, where are all of the soul crushing documentaries about all the other animals in captivity? I digress – naturally, the ex-trainers speak somberly and with regret. As they say, hindsight’s 20/20. Granted, I can’t blame them for not acting against a massive corporation, but considering how they present themselves, one can only wonder why more noise wasn’t being raised at the time.

Similarly, much of the footage – such as recordings of SeaWorld employees lying about orcas’ expected lifespans – isn’t time-stamped, so we’re unsure as to the current state of the company’s use of misinformation, if there still is any. However, a quick look at SeaWorld’s site shows that they have responded since their initial retort, by pasting an open letter on their front page – notice they do not mention Blackfish, nor do they provide many dates to imply if there was change in protocol.

Regardless, this a very disturbing account of the tragedy between the whales forced into captivity and the trainers who are risking their lives – wonderfully filmed and certain to shake you up.

The Good
Though others felt it too slow, I thought this film was very well-structured. And I cried about five-ten minutes in – it was like watching Dumbo getting taken away from his mom.

The Bad
Sometimes it seems like the ex-trainers’ feels are trying to beat out the whale abuse in a pity-fight. Plus the bit at the end was pretty cheesy.

The Ugly
From wounds to whale dick, this gets pretty gruesome. Seriously though, a guy gets crushed. It’s hard to watch.