Little Reviews, 1

New Series

Let’s start something different.

Usually, we have one post dedicated exclusively for one title, but this post will consist of five, relatively shorter, reviews.

Let’s dedicate today’s edition to five non-fiction titles: four of them documentaries and one a “variety show” (or at least that’s how Wikipedia classified it).

It’s not a “Top 5” list or anything like that. The list is basically in a random order, with no real logic behind it and the grade will be at the end of each review.

Behind The Curve (2018)

A relative new Netflix documentary directed by Daniel J. Clark. It’s about the growing phenomenon of the Flat Earthers. This documentary, however, it is not an effort to call them dumb or to mock them, like it’s the first urge most people could have.

The documentary follows the routine of some Flat Earthers, like Mark K. Sargent and Patricia Steere and also interview some scientists.

It’s nice how they demonstrate that the Flat Earthers are normal people, with normal lives and normal hobbies, with the only difference being that they believe our planet is flat, some kind of a stage like “The Truman Show”.

Mark K. Sargent in “Behind The Curve”

The scientists interviewed also don’t mock the Flat Earthers and are more interested in understanding this phenomenon, much different than what the British newspaper “Express” put in the titles of their articles about the film.

However, the movie demonstrates that conspiracy theories are a dangerous thing, even though the Flat Earth one is probably the least damaging for society. Now we have the rising of the Anti-Vaxxer Movement and climate change deniers, endangering the whole planet.

I highly recommend the documentary, that encourages empathy and the necessity to be informed by reliable sources. My rating is 8 Moons.

The White Helmets (2016)

Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2017.

The documentary shows the work of a group of rescue volunteers, part of the Syrian Civil Defense.

With 40 minutes of duration, the filmmakers are able to show us a little about the life of the volunteers and their work rescuing victims of the bombings, many from Russian planes.

Later, we see the training of the volunteers in Turkey, where they learn, from professionals, better techniques for their humanitarian work. While in Turkey, there are worries with what might happening to their loved ones in their homeland.

Overall, the film is very sad and impacting, and I honestly feel disgusted to think that the people suffering are almost always innocent, while the people responsible are safe.

However, in the middle of all this sadness, the movie leaves us with a very hopeful message. Let’s hope all the conflict in Syria gets solved soon with the best possible outcome for the Syrian people.

I could not give it a higher rating for the movie because it’s such a short one, making it seem a little rushed to me. So it’s 8 Moons.

Period. End of Sentence. (2018)

Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2019.

Another short documentary Oscar, very good as well.

India is a country with a heavy taboo around menstruation, the women there have many difficulties regarding this natural cycle. One of them is the price of the industrialized sanitary pads.

Seeing the difficulties his wife went through, a man called Arunachalam Muruganantham invented the machine to make low-cost sanitary pads with very few training required.

Producer Melissa Berton and Producer/Director Rayka Zehtabchi

With this man’s invention, a group of women starts the production and selling of these pads, from woman to woman.

It’s nice, and it’s much lighter than some of the other documentaries reviewed here. While the “The White Helmets” have children killed by Russian bombs, “Period…” is much more hopeful.

I see this movie as a great documentation of an important achievement for Indian women. Not only they managed to produce and sell these pads for their peers, but it was also what made possible for them to advance in their dreams in life.

It’s a good movie for our time, another one with 8 Moons.

The Act of Killing (2012)

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and co-directed by Christine Cynn and another anonymous individual. It was one of the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary in 2014, losing for “Twenty Feet from Stardom” (2013).

In the documentary, Anwar Congo and his associates reenact their part in the Anti-Communist Purge from 1965-1966, during the Suharto dictatorship.

Just as a side note, the United States backed this genocide financially and militarily. The death toll was around 500 thousand to 3 million.

Listed by many as one of the best documentaries ever made, I see this movie as highly overrated.

This documentary was boring as fuck. It might have been shocking for more impressionable people, maybe for people from very developed countries with a well-established democracy, but that’s not my case.

Anwar Congo in the reenactment

The numbers of the genocide are definitely shocking, but the documentary is not about the genocide, is about how this small group of street criminals took part in it.

The estimation is that Anwar participated in under 0.2% of the total deaths, without considering that he probably bloated the number. That’s a small number in comparison to what the Indonesian State was responsible.

I know, that’s not the point of the documentary. The point is how these individuals killed so many people, went unpunished and even boast about it, but it didn’t impress me regardless.

Maybe someday I’ll watch again, someday with a very bright mood, to see if my opinion change, but for now, I was bored to death and give it 4 Moons.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (2018–)

The comedy show by Hasan Minhaj and Prashanth Venkataramanujam presents several topics from all over the world with references from pop culture.

A new episode is released every Sunday, with a total of fourteen episodes released so far.

One of the criticisms around this show is the formula, similar to other shows, but that doesn’t bother me at all. Different comedians have a different kind of humor, they usually cover different topics as well, so that’s fine by me.

The topic with the most hate was probably the episode about the Indian Elections. It seems some Indians considered Hasan Minhaj a traitor, or at least that was what I perceived from the commentaries in the IMDb’s user reviews.

Hasan Minhaj in last week’s episode

When you decide to talk about political topics, you know some people will get their feelings hurt. Usually, these hurt feelings affect the way they will judge the quality of your work.

In my view, Hasan Minhaj is charismatic, funny and don’t hold his jokes back nor the themes he covers on the show.

Sometimes it might feel a little shallow, or that a topic was not well covered, probably for making it more accessible for the general public.

In a 20 minutes episode, is not possible to cover a topic in every detail, but sometimes, we feel that something is missing.

Another thing I don’t like much is the interviews he does. I think the people interviewed probably know that it will not be a serious interview, but usually, it feels a little cringe-worthy.

Even with some criticism, I will be biased in my rating because I like comedy and politics, so it’s 9 Moons.

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