Doc

Jun 24 2012

In an attempt to counteract the emo tendency of my previous posts, time for some content.

I’ve been in a mood for documentaries. We live in a golden age for them, and here’s what I’ve watched recently:

Sin Cities Legendary Sin Cities — A CNBC retrospective on the three infamous “cities of sin” of the 1920’s and 1930’s: Paris, Berlin, and Shanghai. Fortunately, the filmmakers take pains to explain the socio-economic forces that brought in all the prostitues and drugs, as well as the forces that ended those eras (Black Thursday, the Nazis, and the Japanese, respectively). We live in such a fascinating world. Bonus: if you’re looking for inspiration for a story or game, you’ll find societies ripe for adventure here.
Dr. Bronner's Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox — I buy an all-natural liquid castile soap. The label is a densely-packed religious manifesto (example: More good is caused by evil than by good, do what’s right! Enlarge the positive! Replace the negative with the Moral ABC’s ALL-ONE-GOD-FAITH, that lightning-like unites the Human race! FOR WE’RE ALL ONE OR NONE! “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!” WE’RE ALL ONE OR NONE! EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? NONE!!”). The film begins with Dr. Bronner’s son Ralph, then dives into the history of the soap and Dr. Bronner himself, weaving its way through Nazi Germany, the hippy movement, the FBI, and electro-shock therapy. It’s an intimately human story about eccentric people who are just trying to do what they think is right.
Special When Lit Special When Lit — A documentary about pinball, from its early days to its nadir today. Did you know that pinball machines were illegal in the U.S. for 30 years? This film covers a lot of territory, to the point that it becomes a bit unfocused; I found its profiles of today’s “major” American pinball championship players uninteresting. Overall, though, it’s fair while celebrating its subject, and doesn’t shy away from the near-certainty of pinball’s demise.
American Scary American Scary — An exhaustive documentary about American “horror hosts,” those people who would cover themselves in cheap make-up, get on TV late at night, and introduce schlocky horror movies. Every single one had a child-like love of horror hosting, including folks who stopped thirty years ago. I’ve never seen a happier collection of folks. The filmmakers even include Joel Hodgson and Mystery Science Theater 3000 as an extension of the concept.

What have you been watching lately?

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