TL;DR – An absurd story of an equally odd yet compelling bad that survived many different seismic changes.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
The Sparks Brothers Review –
To be honest, when I heard the pitch of a documentary about a band that has been both hugely influential but also under the radar? Well, I didn’t know quite what to think about it? Then you find out that Edgar Wright of Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver fame was directing it, and well, then you go from unsure to very interested in a moment, and I am glad that I did.
So to set the scene, we open all the way at the start, where brothers Ron Mael and Russell Mael growing up in California. Then coming together after college to form the band Sparks after a couple of failed starts. From here, they would put out some well-received but not as popular albums until someone in their record had the idea “let’s try them in England”, and the story snowballs from there. Now I should say that my screening was interrupted by a fire alarm, which may have influenced my thoughts on the film, but given the documentary style, there was a moment at the start when I thought the warnings were some sort of immersive element, so I think it was fine.
TL;DR – This is a delightful documentary exploring a world that hits a deep nostalgic note for me.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Disclosure – I watched this on ABC IView
Chopsticks Or Fork? Review –
Tonight I was looking for something to watch as I ate my dinner, and in a world of streaming where you have so much choice, it is almost paralysing at times just to pick one thing. But as I sat there with all those windows open, there was this moment when a documentary series about rural Chinese restaurants in Australia appeared, and it intrigued me. Now that I have watched every episode, I can tell you that this was the right choice.
So to set the scene, the premise of this show is that presenter Jennifer Wong and the crew, including director Lin Jie Kong, travel to rural towns in Australia to look at the Chinese Restaurants that take up a focal point in these communities. Here we get a show that is a part travel show, part food exploration, and part look at the intersections of culture these restaurants make. We get these stories and more as we meet six different families from restaurants across Australia from The New Bo Wa in Moree, Raymond’s at Malua Bay, Oriental Palace in Hervey Bay, Pagoda Chinese Restaurant in Atherton, Gawler Palace & Happy Garden in Darwin.
TL;DR – I found the show engaging, confronting, juvenile, overblown, and interesting, sometimes all at the same time.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this series.
History of Swear Words Review –
Whether you call them ‘Swear Words’, ‘Curse Words’, or Profanity, every single person on the planet has used them at least once, some on a daily basis. But one of the things that I have always wondered was where the words came from because there are many stories, but they usually smell of the words they are describing. This is the series that looks six of the more popular terms of ill repute.
This series’ framing device is sitting down with a full suited actor Nicolas Cage in front of a fire with a drink globe nearby. It is the epitome of class, clearly positioned as a juxtaposition between the framing and the content. We then cut to a selection of experts and comedians as we explain the many different words.
Growing up in Australia, even if you might not know who Slim Dusty is or even if just the name rings a bell, you will still know a bunch of his songs, even if it is only through osmosis. Songs like A Pub With No Beer and Duncan sit in the pantheon of Australian music, and you probably started humming at least one of those tunes to yourself just with the mere mention of the name. However, I must confess that I didn’t really know much about his life beyond those touchstone moments and even less about Joy McKean, the I in Slim and I and the main focus of the documentary.
The documentary follows a (mostly) chronological look at the lives of Joy McKean and Slim Dusty’s from their start in music through to today. We get to see them go on these gigantic Australia wide tours, raise a family on the road, and also write at least two albums a year which might be the most bonkers part of the entire process. Indeed, over their 50-year love story, they wrote at least 107 albums which is frankly ridiculous. They show this story with a mix of interviews with both Slim and Joy’s family but also with key members of Australia’s Country Music scene like Keith Urban, Missy Higgins and Kasey Chambers. As well as this, we get archive footage going back to the 60s, both professionally shot and also just from home cameras. There is such a varied amount of footage that someone had to be well ahead of the curve in adopting that technology and preserving it all these years.
TL;DR – A look into the world of Rubik’s Cubes and those who can solve them in under 7 seconds.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
One of the great things about documentaries is when they take you into a world that you have no idea about. Today we get a film that does just that, with the world of Rubik’s Cubes. I don’t get Rubik’s Cubes. My brain cannot compute them. The skill involved boggles my mind, so watching it all unfold is a real joy.
Where this documentary works is by offering us an insight into a world that everyone has a handle on but then also something you can’t quite comprehend. I think everyone has played with a Rubik’s Cube at some point in their lives. It is a novelty thing, that let’s be honestly more than a few of us have only finished one because we pealed the colour panels off and switched them around. It is a tactile situation that we can all relate to, so when you see people move their fingers in a blur and shift chaos into order in mere seconds.
TL;DR – A fascinating look into Latin American food and culture.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
A couple of years ago, we got the next evolution in David Gleb’s food documentaries with Street Food Asia. It explored a side of the different countries that you don’t usually see. It delved into everything from food, culture, history, governmental practices and more through the lenses of these street vendors. Today we dive back into this series with a look at its next destination Latin America.
So to set the scene, we jump across Latin America from Las Chicas de la Tres in Buenos Aires, Argintina, Ré Restaurante, in Salvador, Brazil, Memelas Doña Vale in Oaxaca, Mexico, Al Toke Pez in Lima, Peru, Tolú in Bogotá, Columbia & Rellenos de Doña Emi in La Paz, Bolivia. Every episode takes a glimpse into the cities and the food that drives them.
TL;DR – An interesting exploration of Psychedelics through personal stories but it didn’t quite sit well with me at times.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit and end credit scene
If there is one policy area that has received more attention than any other in recent years/decades/centuries it is that of drugs. Governments across the world have tried everything from the death penalty to throwing up their hands to turning a blind eye and all in between I mean, America is still fighting a War on Drugs for little to no effect. Well, how do you approach an issue like this, well one way is to actually talk to the people involved. This is the documentary that we explore today, though I should preface this goes into depth with the experience of drug and it is a hard R rating for a reason and you should know that going in.
So to set the scene, Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is a documentary that talks to people in the arts sphere about their experiences with drugs of the psychedelic variety. This documentary is broken up in several different ways, there are long-form interviews with people like Sting, where the documentary animates their stories, there are a wide range of talking heads from musicians, comedians, actors, and more, while also having old school educational videos (both real and created), while Nick Offerman pops in occasional as a teacher type figure.
TL;DR – A documentary about one of my favourite shows of all time, please and thank-you
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and end-credit scene that you need to stay for
I have made many allusions in the past to just how much I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and to this day it is still my favourite installation in the Star Trek franchise. So when I heard that there was going to be a documentary made about it, I was excited, when it was coming out in Australian cinemas I was going to be there, and then that one weekend my life fell apart. Well, things are mostly better now, as long as I don’t read the news and stay home, which was the perfect time to catch up with something I missed and always wanted to watch.
So to set the scene, back in the 1990s the producers behind the very popular Star Trek series decided to do something a little different, instead of being in a ship that warps away at the end of each episode, the set the show on a space station. A station that is permanently positioned in the newly independent Bajor system, abandoned by the Cardassians after decades of ruin. It was an ambitious show, it was a controversial show, and it was and is still my favourite.
There are whole worlds out there that I had no idea existed or no idea of the complexities involved. One of those worlds is racing and specifically the F1. I know it exists, the basic rules, even many of the races and racers. However, I know very little about its history or the people that shaped. Well, today I take steps to fix that with a look at the life of Juan Manuel Fangio.
So to set the scene, we open in on Balcarce, Argentina as a voice-over lets us know how specialised being a top F1 racer is. It is here where we get a sense of just who this Juan Manuel Fangio is and the power his legacy has over the sport and racing in general. We start back in 1941 at the height of the WW2 where tiers were hard to come by, but he scraped it together and in 1947 was sent to Europe in Galliate, Italy which became his European base as he raced around the world.
TL;DR – An interesting look at the rise of one of the world’s most played video games, even if there are a few rough edges to the presentation.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
When you think about sporting spectacles, you think about Wimbledon, or Superbowl, or The Olympics. However, as time is going on, Esports is a growing phenomenon drawing in more people and more money than ever before. In this world of Esports, one of the biggest and fastest-growing games is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) that goes by the name League of Legends. This documentary explores the history of Riot Games’ League of Legends, its growth and its potential future.
The fact that a game created in 2006 is still around today, is one of those quirks that rarely happens in the video games industry, the fact that it continues to be one of the most popular games in the world makes it more so. For that very reason alone, it makes this documentary interesting because it is really engaging watching a game go from being working out of a basement to having a grand final in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. This is coming from someone who does not actually play the game. I have tried to get into MOBAs like LOL and DOTA before and while I like watching them be played but I have no skill in playing them.