Tag: Documentary

Marshawn Lynch: A History

Compression, concision, velocity are my three watch words. And you could say that’s true of Marshawn as well.

Lynch: A History is a documentary about American Football player Marshawn Lynch.

I learned about it from Austin Kleon’s tweets this morning. I’d been aware of Lynch and his refusal to speak to the media, which I had never realized was part of the contract professional athletes sign. One day he stopped talking to them. Stopped giving interviews. Stopped playing into the professional sports game of things like we played hard out there or we didn’t do enough tonight to get the win. There’s so much utter nonsense about the interviews after games.

The team either won or they lost. There’s not a lot of deep thought that needs to go into why. They were outscored or they outscored the opponent. Done. Why do we need this “analysis” after the game? Why talk to the tired, sore and frustrated/pleased athletes after they performed for us?

It’s streaming on Kanopy, (likely available free through your local library), so I watched it this evening. Making a film about a man, but without the man himself must have been a challenge. When filmmaker (author and professor) David Shields approached Lynch he was told no, but they wouldn’t stop him from makin it. So the result is a video collage.

The result is almost jazz-like: pulling together more than 700 video clips and a handful of literary quotes, “Lynch: A History” forms a collage around the athlete that spirals out with greater and greater aims. The movie jumps quickly, sans narrator or an overt guiding hand, and yet it tugs its viewers through time, linking sports to mythology to biography to history and back.

Watching the film is like riding on Lynch’s shoulder as he twists and spins his way through blockers and kicks into high speed. It’s a frenetic ride that goes hard for 84 minutes without stopping to breathe. The collage is about race and athletes. The insistence that entertainment and politics should be separate by a vocal minority and how athletes (often black men) are told to Shut Up And Entertain.

With 700 clips, I hadn’t even considered the fair use implications of making this film. There would have been no way to get clearance (or afford it) to make this film, so as Shields had his lawyer on speed dial brevity was key. Use as little of a clip as possible. This exercise in artistic restriction shaped the film into the bruising ride it became. This film is an amazing balancing act.

And then a third thing for us — just sort of boringly but crucially — was just sort of fair-use considerations. I had my intellectual property lawyer on speed dial and he explained to us over and over again that it’s crucial that all clips be as brief as possible, and that they all be making a commentary, and that the cultural commentary be legible to so-called average viewer.

Two things I was curious about that while the film didn’t answer, subsequent stories about the film did.

Has Marshawn Lynch seen the film?

A couple of months ago I sent a vimeo link of the film to Marshawn’s entertainment agent, at the agent’s request, and now I asked Marshawn if he had watched it and what he thought; he said, “I wanted to hate on you, but I couldn’t, ’cause you did a good job with it.”

What’s up with the Skittles?

“You’re not just dating Skittles,” Waggoner told Lynch. “You love Skittles.”
“We intimate,” replied Lynch. “We done became one.”

His love started young.

It was during his prep years that his mother, Delisa Lynch, began giving him “power pills” — or Skittles — during games to keep his stomach settled.

I wish Lynch: A History would have gone deeper but without his participation, there was little chance of that. It’s an interesting project and a fascinating piece of art. I’m glad to have watched it and tells a story that needs telling.

Chaos on the Bridge

Chaos on the Bridge is the story of Star Trek: The Next Generation now on Netflix. It’s a fun documentary with some great artwork. I enjoyed the story behind the scenes of how it got made and succeeded. I’m glad it rode the good vibes of the original and it had time to find itself in Season 3. I’m very happy Patrick Stewart wasn’t made to act in a wig. It’s worth a watch if you enjoyed the series, or how things get made.

It also brought this image into the world. And that makes me smile.
Dancing Crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Glitch Mob – Behind The Blade

I don’t remember where I first learned about The Glitch Mob but it may have been the remixes from the Tron Soundtrack. I heard EDit’s Ants which is a spectacularly beautiful song and was curious to learn more. I found out he was 1/3 of The Glitch Mob so I gave them a listen and was hooked.

I saw them first at Bonnaroo at 2:15am and that was a magical experience. I saw them again in Washington, D.C. and really enjoyed them again. The music speaks to me and moves me.

Part of their act is The Blade. It’s an instrument / platform / space ship of music.

It’s something they’ve created themselves to house their instruments and program. I always wondered what went into it and now they’ve released a short documentary on it. Two laptops, two Mac minis, and 12 iPads are just the start of The Blade. I love knowing how things work and this didn’t disappoint.

Netflix Streaming’s Hidden Treasure

Ever since the launch of Netflix’s streaming movies I’ve heard complaints about the lack of new or good movies available for streaming. Sure, due to the movie studios reluctance to join the 21st Century the latest blockbusters are not available.

However, there is a huge untapped resource in Netflix. Documentaries!

Netflix’s hunger for content and the huge amount of documentaries being made and looking for an outlet are a perfect match.

I love watching documentaries. There is always something I can learn or a topic I’ve never thought about being explored in abundant detail.

Sure, documentaries may not be as interesting as watching idiots parade drunkenly on television, action movies with explosions and romantic comedies which are neither. However, there is a vast wealth of excellent documentaries available.

Here is a sample of the documentaries I’ve seen on Netflix streaming:

Dive!: Living Off America’s Waste
– Every year 96 billion pounds of food is thrown away from our nation’s grocery stores. Much of this good and trashed before its expiration date. The documentary follows the path of Los Angeles-based dumpster divers who salvage a huge amount of food for their own use and to give to those in need.

Waiting for “Superman” – Children are falling through the cracks of our education system. There are many alternative schools popping up trying to educate those lost children. This is a heart-breaking look at parents trying to make the lives of their children better through education. Sometimes succeeding and sometimes falling short.

Maxed Out – Credit card debt is a toxic snowball slowly burying its victims. It’s easy to go down the road to credit card debt but takes many years and a lot of discipline to climb back out of debt. You owe it to yourself to watch this one.

Life In A Day Remember back in June, 2010 when a call went out for video from people across the world of their life on June 24th? This movie is the result of that call for video. 4,500 hours of video were edited down to make eye-opening film about how people across the world live.

Helvetica is a movie about a typeface and Objectified is all about industrial design and are required viewing for design geeks.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated shows how the MPAA chooses ratings for movies. Or more truthfully, how secretive the entire organization is and how cloaked they are about their decisions and who chooses what all movies are rated and how. A very eye-opening look at the decision makers for every movie that the MPAA rates.

Young@Heart is a chorus of elderly performers singing modern music. This film will restore your faith in humanity and leave you laughing. I got the opportunity to see a different group perform in DC and it was a great show.

Word Wars is all about Scrabble and those people who play it at a very high level.

Nerdcore Rising follows nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot and others and delves into the culture of nerdery, gamers, bloggers, and other nerdy topics.

This should be enough to get you started on your voyage. Go forth and find what interests you. I guarantee there is a great documentary about what you’re into and you might even learn something.

Be careful because once you start watching. Netflix will recommend more and more and you’ll have a list a mile long like I do.