Documentary Review: Citizenfour (2014)

1280x720-vay_Citizenfour

You ever have the feeling that you are being watched? As in, whenever. Well those fears have in recent years been justified. Whether you’ve been on your computer or on your cellphone, you’re always watched. So have great respect for those who stand up to these types of stiuations. These so called “whistleblowers”.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Citizenfour”.

In “Citizenfour” we follow a documentarian and a reporter who travel to Hong Kong to meet with former NSA-employee Edward Snowden. If you didn’t know, NSA is a government-funded orgainzation that spies on basically every person in the U.S. (and probably a lot of other countries. And Snowden is the man who got sick of that shit and decided to leak out the fact that people were being spied on to the public. And I’m not gonna lie, I have a lot of respect for the guy. He risked life, limb and family to let people know that their own government were spying on them. And while this movie really is on the side of Snowden, it never feels like it straight up says “Snowden good, government bad”. It’s more like “The government did this shitty thing and Snowden was brave enough to expose it”. It also manages to somehow portray the events and story in a pretty tense way. So it not only feels like a documentary but also feels a little bit like a tense drama. And a lot of that comes from not doing the typical “Sit in a chair and talk to the camera” style, but rather be there as an observer and watch all of these events/interviews unfold. And that is what I love with how they portrayed the story aspects of “Citizenfour”. It feels like a real and unique movie thanks to the excellent way all of this is presented. I mean, I was rivited the whole way through and loved every minute of it.

The funny part about the soundtrack is that they really only use portions of songs. And those portions come from the Nine Inch Nails album “Ghosts I – IV”. And not only do they actually fit when used, but they manage to add something to the movie that I can’t really explain properly. I also appreciate that they chose to limit the use of music. If they had used music all the time/too much in the movie it would’ve ruined it. But luckily they had the perfect amount in this movie.

This is a movie that looks terrific. Sure, it isn’t always steady if we put it like that, but I have no problem with it since it’s simply handheld, not shaky-cam. Also, they don’t overdo it, it all looks great. It almost has a Michael Mann quality to it. But when they do use steady shots it looks fantastic. Also, “Citizenfour” is apparently part of some kind of trilogy that takes a look at the U.S. post 9/11. So maybe I should check the other ones in the trilogy at some point?

“Citizenfour” was released to almost universal acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% (100% is you go by “Top Critics” only) positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 88/100. And on good ol’ imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Documentary. 

“Citizenfour” goes beyond being a normal documentary, in a way it manages to actually become a really tense drama about a man on the run(ish). It presents the story of Edward Snowden and the NSA in a way that keeps it interesting from beginning to end. It also benefits from not being your standard “Sit in a chair and talk to the camera” documentary. The soundtrack’s pretty great too. Time for my final score which I stole from the NSA before running. My final score for “Citizenfour” is a 9,87/10. It most definitely deserves the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Citizenfour” is completed.

Question of the day: Are you on the side of Snowden? Or are you against him and his actions?

 

Advertisements

Documentary Review: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

cobain-montage

As much music as I listen to, both in the amount of genres and in the amount songs, you shouldn’t be surprised that I am a fan of grunge band Nirvana. While their style in a lot of songs might be too “raw” and “unpolished” for some people, I certainly like it a lot. So when I heard there was a new documentary about the band’s lead singer coming out I got pretty curious. So now I have finally gotten the chance to see it. So what did I think? Let’s have a look!’

Ladies and gentlemen… “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”.

So in this movie we basically get the life story of musician Kurt Donald Cobain (R.I.P) who was the lead singer of grunge band Nirvana (Wait, I already mentioned those details in the intro). And we follow it from an objective point of view as we see how Kurt got from his humble beginnings in Aberdeen, Washington up to the point of his suicide in 1994. The story of Cobain is presented through a mix of interviews from people in his life, animations laid on top of voice clips of Cobain himself and also through a lot of different videos of him from different points in his life. All of this culminates into an interesting presentation of one of the most odd yet surprisingly complex people of the modern era. And while you can make your own opinion about the man, and the people who get interviewed say one thing or another about him, this movie is really an objective look at Cobain and his life. And I really enjoyed seeing how it presented itself, it was both entertaining and educational.

I think it is obvious that if you don’t like the music of Nirvana, you will hate the music in this movie because majority of it are Nirvana songs. There are a few other tracks too, mainly small pieces of original score to add to some parts where they really couldn’t use a Nirvana song to good result. But the original songs they did use were pretty great and fit very well into the mix. And if I remember correctly, at least two of the tracks were slowed down and more atmospheric versions of some Nirvana songs. And the Nirvana originals used in the movie weren’t blasted all the time but often sat in the background to keep the scene a little more interesting, even if the original scene is interesting on it’s own. And I might be a little biased about the music in the movie considering I love Nirvana, but even looking from an objective standpoint you can see that it fits perfectly. And with that whole “Bias” thing, even I know that if they would suddenly throw “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into “The Godfather” I would find it stupid and terrible. Oh my god, someone please photoshop Kurt Cobain’s head onto Marlon Brando in any scene he is in from “The Godfather”, that shit would be fucking hilarious!

This movie is edited in such a way that it would give some people headaches. It would also make the same people really fucking annoyed. But I personally don’t mind, the often frantic editing and direction fits the fractured mind of Kurt Cobain and the pretty strange life he led. I also think it gave the movie a ceratin edge that really makes it it’s own thing. I also liked the animations that they put on top of interviews and audio clips of Kurt Cobain, those were not only really well animated, but they also really worked a lot to help tell the story. Really, those animations could make for a very interesting movie on their own. Someone make it!

This movie has been very well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification (Sidenote: If you go by “Top Critics” on the site the movie has a 100% positive rating). On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” is a very interesting look at the late grunge singer’s life. When you watch this you notice that while he did drugs, he was never really a bad person (and that was an objective observation, thank you). You will get sucked in and you will stay interested through the entire thing while also getting to listen to some great music. Time for my final score. *Strums on guitar*. My final score for “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” is a 9,88/10. It definitely deserves the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” is completed.

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now; entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now; entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey
Yeah

Documentary Review: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

blog_20090319

Disclaimer: Trying my hand at reviewing documentaries as well. And for that I am using a slightly different format. Yeah… disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father”.

What this documentary is about is filmmaker Kurt Kuenne going around interviewing people who have met, known and loved his childhood friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby. That idea seems very random at first, but you also get to know why he does this. He does this because of a tragic incident where Andrew was murdered by his ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner… who in a turn of events also happened to be pregnant with his child. So we get to see Kurt go around and interview all of these people from Andrew’s life but we also get to see how a lot of people, including Andrew’s parents trying to change the legal system for the better. And with that said, this story was not only well put together but is was also really emotional. This is a movie that obviously was very personal to Kurt and everyone else involved and I think that is what really made it all come together so well. If it had been done by any other random filmmaker trying to make something out of this I don’t think it would have been as powerful or genuine. Throughout the entire thing you get to feel all emotions you can think; sadness, joy, anger, you name it. And I am not going to lie, this movie made me cry… a lot. Rarely do I ever feel this emotionally distraught. While it was difficult at times, I still really ‘”enjoyed” (Sidenote: In lack of a better word) seeing this unfold.

One thing that really stood out to me in the documentary was the music. Not only was it fantastic, but it also really helped set the mood in a neat way. There were times when the music helped build a bit of suspense to then build up to some twist/revelation. Then there was also the music that was very emotional with a mix of strings and piano. And while most people would call that a cheap trick to get people emotional, I feel like it just worked for the movie in the right way. To really sum it up… the score for the movie was fantastic in every way.

The editing in this movie is quick, aggressive and never lingers on anything for too long. Kuenne really showed his talents as a filmmaker with this documentary. Getting good shots while filming, using cool little editing tricks to keep it interesting and also being able to switch between several people/situations with ease. I got nothing else really.

Yes, reception of said media will have a return in documentary reviews as well. That is what happens, shut up. Anyway, a lot of people seemed to like this. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a really high rating with a 94% positive rating (Sidenote: 100% if you go by “Top Critics” only). On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 (Damn, dude).

I really feel like this documentary is a good way of testing if you are able to feel emotions or not. And I can safely say that it managed to get to me and get me all emotional. With great filmmaking, a great score and genuine emotion behind everything in this movie I am ready to hand it my final score. My final score for “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” is a 9,89/10. Of course it then gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
49920178

Review of “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” if completed.

If you want to know more about this, go visit http://www.dearzachary.com/ and have a look.