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Friday, February 05, 2010

Quickie Movie Reviews (2010): Volume One

I love having a library that lets me borrow movies for free, especially when they carry some really interesting titles.

Such as the following:

Torturing Democracy
Possibly one of the most important, and sadly relatively unknown, documentaries ever made on the U.S./War On Terror torture issue. It follows, moment by moment, the beginning of the programs that authorized torture in Guantanamo and provides witnesses and expert testimony to show how the U.S. essentially got away with some of the worst human rights violations in this country’s history. And, to echo what one of the interviewees said: our military men and women will suffer for years as a result of this, because we have now officially told the rest of the world that all of this is okay.
Pros: Absolutely shocking. I knew about the whole torture thing already, but this documentary takes things to new heights. All the witnesses are credible ones, not just random people disconnected from the subject; they are either victims or part of the resistance to the movement towards torture. You have got to see this documentary. If you think for a second that the torture thing was right, or that the people who did it didn’t know what they were doing, this will set the record straight. It’s just…astonishing. Well crafted, well informed, and a must see.
Cons: It’s narrated in fairly typical documentary style, which can make it a little dull at times, but I think the shock of the information is enough to keep anyone interested in this topic regardless of the narration style.
Rating: 4.75/5
Value: $10.00

Deadly Enemies (Documentary)
This short documentary offers insight into the U.S. and Soviet bio-weapons programs during the Cold War, told through the eyes of those who were actually there, doing the work or fighting against it.
Pros: This is another of those documentaries I think everyone should see to get a clear picture of what was really going on during a time of when propaganda was normal (on both the U.S. and Soviet sides). The inclusion of actual Soviet doctors who worked in the Soviet bio-weapons programs (and on the U.S. side too) is a nice touch. Overall, this is an effective documentary.
Cons: There’s a subtle pro-American slant here. While I think it’s likely that the U.S. may have shut down most of its bio-weapons programs after their support for the U.N. resolution that banned such weapons, I honestly doubt that all of them were shut down. I think some investigation into this would have helped, because this film does lean too much against the Soviets, who were just as terrified of us as we were of them during the Cold War.
Rating: 4/5
Value: $9.75

Life After People (Documentary/History Channel)
Probably one of the most fascinating of the History Channel’s documentaries, Life After People strings together the thoughts of scientists and writers on what the world would be like if our species were to simply disappear.
Pros: Great ideas, decent visuals, and a lot of fun. Not much more needs to be said.
Cons: Some parts are a little dull and sometimes the visuals are kind of lame. It’s good, but it could have been better.
Rating: 3.75/5
Value: $9.25

Life of Brian (Monty Python)
A crazy retelling of biblical legend in which a young fellow named Brian is born on the same day as Jesus Christ. Crazy antics ensue.
Pros: There are a few moments of brilliance here, and overall the story is entertaining.
Cons: Not as good as The Holy Grail. Sometimes the comedy is too juvenile for its own good. I enjoyed it, but it could have been better.
Rating: 2.5/5
Value: $4.75

And there you go. Have you seen any good movies in the last few months, old or new? Let me know in the comments!

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