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Comic Book Confidential (1988) July 31, 2006

Posted by Eury in Documentary, Movies.
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shoot me now!

Dir. Ron Mann

starring: Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller etc.,

I’m a person that is curious about many things and quite enjoy documentaries. I just knew this was going to be great, right? Comic books… who hasn’t read one? If you were alive in the last 50 years, there is a good chance you had a neat (or not so neat) pile in your bedroom. Some people read superhero comic books or war stories and others, just fun teen stuff like Archie and Veronica. There was something for everyone.
As a history lesson, there was much to learn. I had no idea that there was such terror that comic books would turn us or our children into violent, crazy, gun-toting, rock-hitting friends over the head psychopaths. There was also censorship. Each comic had to pass the “Comic Book Code” and were checked by some puritanical groups. Whatever they didn’t like they either edited out with white paint or simply did not allow to be published.

There were a few funny little videos included to show us examples of the hysteria that the advent of comic books created but on the whole, I was bored. The pace was slow and sluggish… I wish they would have mixed it up a little… it was very logical going forward in chronological order, but I couldn’t wait to get out of the gritty, smudged images and the bad sound. I understand the need for showing us the underground material that was produced, but I wanted to see comics that I recognized and thought were fun. Instead, the last 20 minutes felt like torture to me… I just wanted it to be over.

As I stated before, I usually really like documentaries… I often find that they make me interested in a subject I may little or no knowledge about. Although I could certainly not be considered a huge comic book aficionado, I have had my share of reading comics as a teen and even later in life. I wanted to like this… I really did; I just didn’t. As a historical document that states facts … yes, it does it’s job…, as a piece of work that I found interesting… except for a few funny videos, I’m afraid not. 😛
I would have called this documentary “The Comic Book Blues” because, sadly, it just got me down.

Keywords: Superheroes, Comic Books, Censorship

Comic Book Confidential (1988) July 31, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Documentary, Movies.
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I think there ought to be a law against them

Dir. Ron Mann

Starring Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller, Stan Lee etc

We can laugh at it now. In the fifties, comics were turning kids into juvenile delinquents panel by panel. This movie starts off echoing the sentiments of the times, with clips from a PSA-type information film about the dangers of comics. It is a shadow not unlike the one currently hovering over videogames, usually cast by confused parents of irreverent children.

Comic Book Confidential flips the pages of comics history, with candid, informative interviews with people who were in the business as things happened. How comics evolved from sunday funnies for the kids, into the diverse multi-market of today (well.. 1988 anyway). Talking heads can make a documentary tedious, but there’s no danger of that here. The interviews are mixed with samplings of the authors’ work, the comics themselves, complete with narration and sound-effects. It’s a treat to see and hear Frank Miller, pretty much finding his feet at the time, knowing his recent success as a movie director.

The movie manages fairly well to portray and explain a world that has spread it’s tendrils into many areas of entertainment nowadays. You don’t need to know about comics, or the people in this movie to get the point. It’s better than anything on Discovery Channel, except less sex on the savanna.

Keywords: Superheroes, Comic Books, Censorship

Block Party (2005) July 18, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Documentary, Movies, Musical.
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Dave Chappelle's Block PartyDir. Michel Gondry

Starring Dave Chappelle, The Roots, The Fugees, Erykah Badu etc.,

This movie, directed by Michel Gondry is quite different from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I was expecting it to be as this is a documentary and the other was not. It did have a bit of the feel of someone’s home movies… as it was not very slick, but I think that added to the personal and approachability factor they surely were attempting to achieve and I think it worked well.

The movie starts off with Chappelle giving out free tickets and free bus rides to a block party that he would be throwing in Brooklyn.

I really enjoyed seeing Chappelle, his interaction with people and their reaction to him.

I don’t know a lot about rap music but often found myself slapping my thigh to the beat and thought it was enjoyable.

I enjoyed the behind the scenes with the artists and Chappelle, rehearsing, fooling around, telling (sometimes corny) jokes. It felt natural and not forced.

There are a few places where I thought the movie was lacking though. In the beginning, Dave invited all these people to the concert: Excited black teens, eldery white folks from Ohio who knew little or nothing of rap and hip hop music, and a group of college kids that were in a marching band (who arrived at the party in full regalia). Where were they during the concert? What was their reaction? The little old lady with white hair… was she tapping her foot and sporting a smile? I wanted to see… but alas, they were not to be found. I didn’t necessarily want an in-depth interview with them, but geez… a 2 second spot of them smiling, wiggling their butts, anything, something.

We did get escorted throughout the property of a mildly eccentric couple that have taken an old broken down building and have re-broken it but to their own taste and ideas. A minute less of them, and one more of the folks in the crowd would have made me happy. I did, however, think they probably could be the subject of their very own documentary.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie, found David Chappelle to be very personable and was quite entertained.

Keywords: Concert, Brooklyn

Block Party (2005) July 18, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Documentary, Movies, Musical.
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Dave Chappelle's Block PartyDir. Michel Gondry

Starring Dave Chappelle, The Roots, The Fugees, Erykah Badu etc

Fresh from watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind we took on a totally different Gondry experience. Block Party is part road movie, part improv comedy, but most of all a concert movie.

Some of the negative bits: I had heard it was a feel-good experience, even for people who didn’t listen to / like hip-hop music, but I found it fairly uneven. I’ve listened to quite a bit of hip-hop, both more and less underground than the featured acts, and I found the mix a bit one-sided – mostly very established artists. It would have been fun to see more up-and-coming talent getting to spread some love. In the beginning of the movie Dave Chappelle invites a bunch of people from around where he lives in Ohio, in the way of ‘golden tickets’ that give the recipients a free ride and lodging in NY. While it may have been a cool premise, it didn’t really do much for the movie. Either there were just no interesting takers, or they didn’t have place for it in the theatrical edit. There’s a bit of goofing off with old folks, but it could have been a lot funnier. I suppose they’re just way too regular and loveable in Ohio.

On to the good notes: Chappelle is just a cool guy, and proved to be an excellent host. He makes for a good vibe throughout the movie, never letting it get boring, and plays well with others. The practice jam sessions with the house band and guests are very funny. And then there’s of course some laid-back and enjoyable music performances, Jill Scott is diverse and excellent for example.

Keywords: Concert, Brooklyn