Series Review: History of Swear Words – Season 1 (2021)

This is a bit exciting. First 2021 release to be covered on the blog. Are you excited? Because I’m excited. So let’s get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “History of Swear Words”!

Fuck you. Don’t worry, I don’t actually mean that. But it’s an interesting phrase. Especially the first word, “fuck”. Why is it like that? Why do we use it as an expletive? Well, this show seeks to answer that. Every episode sees Nicolas Cage introducing us to a well known swear word. And then various linguist experts and entertainers come in as well to give us facts and opinions on swear words and their etymology. You’d think this premise might be a bit of a one trick pony, something that’ll get old after the first five minutes. But you (and I) would be wrong. They not only manage to keep the funny side of the premise going throughout all six episodes, but it also manages to be incredibly informative about the expletives and even language as a whole. They balance comedy and history really well to create a fun whole that is both really entertaining and surprisingly informative. And it’s also interesting when we get the entertainers coming in and giving their thoughts on each of the six curse words, as it sparks a lot of thoughts and discussions within my own head. Am I saying that this is the most nuanced and perfect documentary series ever? No. But the fact that they manage to keep it feeling fresh and entertaining throughout all six episodes deserves to be commended. By the end I felt both amused and educated. Plus, living legend Nicolas Cage makes for a really good host/presenter, so that’s a great bonus.

One thing I like about the craft behind “History of Swear Words” is just how snappy and energetic it is, despite using a lot of familiar documentary tricks. The editing is fast paced and manages to keep things from feeling stale. It also helps that they use a lot of cute little animations when explaining some of the backstories of the words. Basically the directing, editing, and all that manages to ground the show without sacrificing any of the silliness around the premise, making for a highly enjoyable whole.

At the time of writing (I am an early bird) the show has no real ratings on any of my usual sites. So I’m just gonna attach the links and you can see for yourself how the ratings may evolve over time, because I’m too fucking lazy to edit this shit later down the line. Here’s Rotten Tomatoes. And here’s imdb.

While not a revolutionary piece of media, Netflix’s “History of Swear Words” is still a highly enjoyable little piece of edutainment, featuring interesting facts, plenty of laughs, and living legend Nicolas Cage. Time for my final score. *God damn ahem*. My final score for “History of Swear Words” is an 8.73/10. So I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

My review of “History of Swear Words” is now completed.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUDGe is delicious.

Movie Review: The Changin’ Times of Ike White (2020)

Howdy. Back in January, in my “Last Breath” review, I kind of alluded to the fact that I’d try to cover more documentaries this year. Well, I better try to keep that promise, I guess. So here’s such a review for y’all.

Ladies and gents… “The Changin’ Times of Ike White”.

This movie documents the life of Ike White, a young man sent to prison for life for killing someone. During his tenure in prison, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime… to record an album while still incarcerated. An album which would help change his life forever. And if you don’t know the story of this man, which I certainly didn’t before watching this, then I won’t say much more about his life. But let me just say that finding out about White’s life was fucking fascinating, but that says more about White than it does about the way the documentary presents it all. Something about the execution just feels quite standard, which does affect the pacing at times. White is a fascinating subject, which is what kept me somewhat engaged throughout. But there’s something about the delivery of the entire thing that just feels a bit too dry for such a colorful individual. He’s an interesting person, and I did like hearing about him and all his shenanigans, but I wish there was something more to the storytelling than just him. The second half does pick up a bit more, and changes direction ever so slightly, but it still has slight drag in the pacing.

There is a little bit of music throughout composed by Andrew Phillips, and it’s fine, nothing you’ll remember after hearing it. Now, let’s talk about the other songs used in the movie… that being the songs written and recorded by White. They’re a sort of soul-funk-R’n’B-psychedelia hybrid that I found myself quite fascinated by. It’s clear that White was a talented musician, as shown by his tunes that were featured in this. It’s good stuff.

“The Changin’ Times of Ike White” was directed by British TV/documentary filmmaker Daniel Vernon, who did an okay job with it. There’s some nice energy given to the shots of the people getting interviewed. You can tell that he’s competent, and knows how to put together a solid product. Now, it’s not just interviews and such, as there’s also recreations of stories told, using minimalistic animations that are really interesting to look at, giving the movie a bit of much needed extra style. The occasional use of found footage and home videos also adds a bit to the film’s presentation.

This movie doesn’t have a lot of data on my usual sites, but here’s what I got. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists without a rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While it does feel slightly lacking in parts, “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is still a watchable documentary about a fascinating man. It has an interesting tale to tell, with some good music and direction to boot. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is a 7,02/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a watch.

My review of “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is now completed.

Part “Searching For Sugar Man”, part something else…

Movie Review: Last Breath (2019)

Hello and welcome to 2020, friends! To kick it off I decided to review something I haven’t looked at in a while: A documentary. The last time I did was in 2015. I don’t know why it took me this long to get around to it again, but I think we should stop dwelling on that and instead just get into this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Last Breath”.

“Last Breath” is about a group of men who work with diving in the North Sea, doing maintenance on underwater structures. However, during this one dive, something goes wrong and one of them gets stuck down there with a very limited oxygen supply, forcing his colleagues to find a way to try and save him. The movie is partly interviews with the people who worked on this operation, mixed with recreations of what went on, as well as actual footage from the incident. Now, while this approach is simple and something we’ve seen before in other documentaries, I feel like it still works in this movie’s favor. It’s a simple story of a terrifying situation, so there’s no real need to complicate how it’s told. It’s simple, but effective. They get you invested in the people involved with some quick behind-the-scenes goofing from one of the crew members filming on the ship, and then the main incident happens. Now we have a scary setup that manages to retain good tension throughout the rest of the runtime. Yeah, it’s well told and I was utterly invested from start to end.

The music for the movie was composed by Paul Leonard-Morgan, and before we get to discussing this movie’s music, I just wanna go on a quick sidenote. It is so weird seeing his name again. Don’t think I’ve seen his name attached to a movie since 2012’s “Dredd”. Anyway, back to “Last Breath”. His music is very good. It has a solid mix of emotionally resonant strings, with some electronic flourishes at one or two points. Some might call it emotionally manipulative, I call it good.

“Last Breath” was directed by Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson, and I think they did a good job with it. The way they mix old, real footage with recreations is pretty great, and while they stylistically look different due to differences in technology, they still make the transitions feel natural. And even taking the new footage on its own, it is really well handled. Especially in terms of cinematography, I thought that was fucking stunning. Kudos to Alistair McCormick for those good looking shots. But yeah, the way it all comes together is really well handled.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Last Breath” may be simple in its approach, but it’s still a damn fine documentary that put me on the edge of my seat. It has an interesting story featuring some interesting people, its music is very good, and the way it is shot, edited, and directed is pretty damn great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Last Breath” is a 9,67/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Last Breath” is now completed.

Kicking off 2020 on a high note.

Documentary Review: Citizenfour (2014)

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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?

 

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

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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)

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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!”
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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.