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  1. So, about Allen Funt's theatrical, x-rated version of "Candid Camera" - the 1970 film, "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" The first actor in this trailer sure looks like a younger version of the guy in "Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977) being on the receiving end of Feel-Around.
  2. Don't *ever* say I'm not thorough. Because I didn't go ga-ga over "The Shining," I took it upon myself to rent and watch "Room 237," a documentary ripping apart Kubrick's film, exploring all sorts of conspiracy theories, going frame-by-frame over many scenes, etc. Because I just watched "The Shining" yesterday, the film was still fresh in my mind, therefore, "Room 237" was very watchable; if I hadn't been up-to-the-minute on "The Shining," then this documentary would have been very, very difficult to finish - it's 1:43 in length, and you can feel every minute. So, in terms of recommendations ... this is priced just like a regular full-feature film on all the movie rental outlets - if you want to drop $3.99 to watch an analysis of "The Shining," at an exhaustively detailed level, narrated by people who may, or may not, be as intelligent and knowledgeable as you, then you'll undoubtedly get something - however small - out of this. However, even just a day after watching the movie, I found it tedious, and struggled to finish: I had to sift through a lot of babbling, just to extract a few tiny nuggets of interest. This film is subdivided into nine chapters, each supposedly offering a different "meaning" of "The Shining." From Amazon Prime's "X-Ray" commentary, I noted this, which sums up my own feelings about "Room 237" quite nicely: "Stephen King - never a fan of Kubrick's adaption of his own novel "The Shining" - started watching this documentary only to give up halfway through as he felt the filmmakers were reaching for things that simply were not there." Stephen King got it right - there's very little here. You'll get another level of depth from Kubrick's film, but is it worth it? Only if you're a serious enthusiast.
  3. "I Am a Killer" is an interesting documentary series on Netflix, with each episode trying to get inside the minds of the death-row inmates. I've seen several of these, and my favorite, i.e., the most interesting to me, has been Episode 1, "Means to an End," featuring Florida death-row inmate James Robertson. Aside from looking every bit the part of a death-row inmate, Robertson's story is fascinating - he wants to die (and in case you're wondering why he doesn't commit suicide, that's easier said than done in prison). Despite his misdeeds, I genuinely feel sorry for this man. There's nothing gruesome in this series, but the stories are, by their very nature, troubling; but they're also fascinating. I would recommending watching this particular episode, and if you get something out of it, then continuing on from there. Aug, 2018 - "James Robertson: 5 Fast Facts You Need To Know" on heavy.com
  4. *** SPOILER ALERT *** If you know nothing about "Three Identical Strangers," close this now, and watch it before reading anything else about it. I just finished watching the documentary "Three Identical Strangers," and I'm going to rave about it in the exact same way I raved about "The Thin Blue Line" to a friend when it came out thirty-years ago (she saw it, loved it, and appreciated the recommendation - ironically, both she and her husband are members here!) This is technically a documentary, but it's really a "drama," as well as a masterpiece in cinema, as it uses subtlety to manipulate (and I use the word "manipulate" in the positive sense) the viewer into thinking one thing, when something else is happening. In fact, the viewer will think this film is primarily about one topic, when it turns out to be primarily about another. "Three Identical Strangers" is available on Amazon Prime now (for a price: $5.99 to rent), and it's 96 minutes of must-viewing. I cannot imagine that anyone wouldn't be able to take something away from this wonderful, beautifully made documentary, whether that "something" is a humanistic micro-drama, or a fearsome, Orwellian, indictment of society - or, maybe something in-between, or all of the above. This isn't "the best movie I've ever seen" or anything like that, but it is engaging cinema, expertly done at the hands of Director Tim Wardle and Cinematographer Tim Cragg, as well as Editor Michael Harte, all of whom share in the triumph of this important "little" film. To the naysayer "critics" who are angry that they were manipulated: I thoroughly appreciate having been manipulated, because everything was true, and it was entirely based on the choice of how the facts were presented.
  5. I stumbled upon Season 1, Episode 1 of "Making a Murderer," and was surprised at how much it sucked me in. One thing led to another, and before I know it, the entire first season, which was released on Dec 18, 2015, had been power-watched. I knew absolutely nothing about the documentary beforehand, and waited until it was over to look anything up about it at all. Now I see there will be a Season 2, and also that it is widely criticized for being one-sided and for leaving out crucial evidence, and emphasizing skewed evidence - two of the very same things it accuses the Wisconsin criminal justice system of doing. Has anyone else seen this popular series? And, if so, are there any opinions, either about the show, or the subject matter?
  6. "For the Love of Spock" is a tribute documentary by director Adam Nimoy about the life of his father, Leonard Nimoy. Of course, the 800-pound gorilla, Mr. Spock, is always present throughout the film. This documentary clearly came from the heart, and is required viewing for any "Star Trek" fan. There are no grand surprises, but there is an enormous amount of detail and family-only heirlooms that are revealed to the viewers, and for that alone, it is well-worth watching. It's less than two-hours long, and is currently available on Amazon Prime. You don't need me to write a summary of this; just rent it and enjoy it.
  7. If you've ever wondered what the oldest film in the world is, as far as anyone knows, it's the two-second clip known as "Roundhay Garden Scene," filmed by French inventor Louis Le Prince. Click on the title, and the film - which you'll miss if you blink - is on the top-right of the Wikipedia page. There's also a wealth of information there - the film was shot in Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.
  8. There are three versions to the 1895 documentary, "La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon," which has a running time of about one minute: The versions are referred to as, "One Horse," "Two Horses," and "No Horse" - it will be obvious why when you see them. All three can be viewed right here on Vimeo. Admittedly not much of a plot. It is not impossible that, if Jeanne Calment was born on the day this film was released, she still might have been alive this very day (Jeanne Calment remembered meeting Vincent Van Gogh!)
  9. Although I've never read the groundbreaking 1947 book on which it is based, this is a fine documentary which covers German cinematic development and progression between the two World Wars, and does it using beautiful, important film clips from historic movies. Its major flaw is that, were it not for the clips, it would be akin to enduring an arduous lecture about something you don't know enough in which to have an interest. This is an extremely fertile period in German Cinema, and it is explored here very thoroughly - although the clips save it from being completely austere, you really must *want to learn* about this subject to get the most out of this fascinating documentary - look closely enough, and you can see WWII on its way, which chilled me to the bone. Has anyone else out there besides me seen this important documentary? If so, which parts struck you as being the most poignant? I believe this is a documentary to see by those who have seen some of the films, and not a primer which tells the viewer which they should watch (although it certainly could be used as such) - a certain amount of prerequisite knowledge is required in order to fully appreciate its otherwise-meaningless words. One legitimate way of watching the documentary would be to stop anytime a film is referenced, watch that film, and then return to where you left off in the documentary - by the end, you'll have a working knowledge of this period in German cinema superior to that of even most film students. "From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses" (<--- this is an outstanding review on variety.com) is available for free with an Amazon Prime membership (an oxymoron, I realize).
  10. I've never been a big Conan O'Brien fan, and that's probably the main reason I watched this documentary. Conan was forbidden from being on TV for six months after The Fiasco, but do you know what his compensation package was? $40 million. I can't, and don't, feel sorry for him. I understand he's a "tortured artist" and all that stuff, but I cannot think of one, single time when he has ever made me even giggle - he's just not funny. He says "he's the least entitled person there is," but he comes across as being about the *most* entitled person there is. Give me $40 million for six months, and I'll be out having the time of my life. Conan O'Brien is angry, bitter, *entitled as hell*, and not the least bit funny. I can see him being a comedy writer, but as a performer? He's a pasty white, uncoordinated, hack. Just once I want him to make me smile, or at least be likable. He is *so lucky* to be where he is right now, and he doesn't see it; he thinks he fully deserves it. Maybe one of my problems is that I *still* don't know what NBC did that was so wrong. Yes, Conan got ousted, but so what? It happens all the time - he's rich, famous, and successful, and it's because of NBC that he is. Or am I missing something? And as for Jimmy Kimmel? He comes across as about the biggest jerk I've ever seen - and also *not* funny. Not once has he ever even made me smile. Part of being successful with the masses on television is that you need to be *likable*, and neither of these two are, especially not Kimmel - what he did to Jay Leno with that "Ten Questions" list was about the lowest thing I've ever seen. Kimmel came across as a hateful, vindictive, little twit whereas Leno tried to take the assault in good spirits, and did about as well as he could. David Letterman? Also not funny in the least. Why is it that I find Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno likable, and none of these other people? So far, I've watched about 40 minutes of this 90-minute documentary, so I have about 50 more minutes to go. I just can't watch 90 straight minutes of Conan - would a Conan fan please tell me what I'm missing? I want to either 1) like him, or 2) figure out why I don't. Truly - and Seinfeld is pretty much the same way: He thinks he "deserves" to be a near-billionaire; I think he's about the luckiest person who ever lived, at least in terms of money - if he hadn't known Larry David, we may not even know who he is. I think that, beginning with Tom Snyder (*) and continuing on with Larry King, late-night television hosts have always come across to me as the least-talented people that could be found. And the networks did a great job of finding them - these hosts actually thought - and still continue to think - that they're talented interviewers and stand-up comedians. It baffles my mind how this set of late-night hosts somehow duped the networks into thinking they were worth something, and I'm pretty convinced that, unless someone here who's intelligent sits me down, talks with me like an adult, and tells me what I'm missing, I will simply never understand. I will add that, quite often, in the early days of television, their shows were followed by a test pattern which lasted throughout the night, until about 6 AM. (*) I remember, as a child, watching "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder, and one of his guests was a twelve-year-old boy with something like a 200 IQ (I'm not sure about the exact number, but it was high enough for him to be billed as having one of the highest IQs in the world). Snyder was a chain smoker, and puffed throughout his entire show. At one point, this child, a southerner with a heavy accent, who had almost no social graces, said, very bluntly, "Would you mind putting out that nicotine factory?" A completely flustered Snyder says, "Oh, does it bother you?" The child replied, "It makes me sick!" I still remember that to this very day and it was over forty years ago.
  11. I wasn't sure whether to post "Hitchcock/Truffaut" in film or literature, because I highly recommend both the book and the documentary about the book. I bought a paperback version of "Hitchcock/Truffaut" for a friend last summer, and when it arrived, I grabbed his copy and read it cover to cover for about four straight hours. If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut or filmmaking in general, this book is a must-read. The book is based on a 1962 week-long conversation between Hitchcock and the then 30-year-old Truffaut. You get a real sense of both men, their filmmaking style and the art of filmmaking when you read this book. The documentary, which is readily available to stream online now, is based on the exact same conversation from 1962, but it is very different from the book. Because both directors are no longer living, there are numerous interviews in the film with other iconic movie makers, including Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater. All share how Hitchcock's groundbreaking filmmaking style influences them and the movies they make. This is an engaging film that any fan of the cinema should not miss.
  12. At nearly three hours in length, "Hoop Dreams" may seem like an arduous proposition, but it's going to be three of the fastest hours you've ever spent watching a film. I saw it on release in 1994, saw it a second time last night, and on both occasions, I was equally riveted. Steve James spent five years filming the lives of *** SPOILER ALERT *** William Gates and Arthur Agee, *** END SPOILER ALERT *** two promising 14-year-old basketball players from Chicago, and detailed the lives of these two amazing young men, their families, and their dreams of getting into the NBA. That's really all you need to know about the film - the most intelligent, wisest thing Steve James did in making this movie, was to let the story tell itself, barely speaking at all except when absolutely necessary. This "light-touch" approach makes the movie all about Gates and Agee, and displayed a maturity and confidence by James which, if it wasn't there, could have ruined a fantastic movie. If you've never heard of Hoop Dreams, I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, and at the conclusion of his review (which I advise not reading until after you've watched the film), writes that "It is one of the great moviegoing experiences of my lifetime." The added bonus of an extra 20+ years of time makes Hoop Dreams all the more fascinating and poignant, once you find out what happened to some of the characters.
  13. I certainly take no pride in being the only restaurant-based website in the world that has two different threads dealing with Zoophilia, but so it is. Having watched - and, surprisingly, enjoyed - "Dolphin Lover," I took a morbid fascination in dracisk's comment: not because I care about Zoophilia, but because the film "Zoo" supposedly won an award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, which is an honor I trust *much* more than an Academy Award - although I can't find out what it won. It was also represented at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival (I understand that many of my film threads are "Academy Award-heavy," but that means very little - I value both of these film festivals more than I do the Academy and its pandering to the masses, and I hope others here do also). I can't believe I'm saying this, but if you wish to watch only one of these films, make it "Dolphin Lover" - first of all, it's only 15 minutes long, but more importantly, it's a *much* better film - the lighting is better, they're not using actors (Michael Minard's "interview" in Zoo is painful to watch, knowing he's just an actor), Dolphin Lover is succinct and articulate, and it's actually enjoyable and fascinating to watch; "Zoo" is, quite frankly, pretty damned boring. And I'm not saying it's boring because it isn't graphic (although the one graphic part was very well-done, in a restrained and elegant manner); I'm saying it's boring because it's *boring* - dull, ponderous, dark, ambiguous, and just hard work to finish. Forgetting the subject matter, I simply did not like the film *as a film* - it was trying too hard to be "artsy," and fell flat on its face. It is now, however, nine years old, and a lot has changed in the past nine years in terms of what we've become numb to - think of "The Walking Dead" as an example. I'm debating whether or not I want to broach the topic of Zoophilia, because that's really a separate thread (yet, I'd prefer not to have three threads on this arcane subject). There are all kinds of profound philosophical implications with Zoophilia: Is it consensual? Is it animal abuse? (I think this is *the* key question if laws are to be enacted.) Is it natural? Is it innate? Is it developed? Is it immoral? Should it be illegal? These are all questions for someone more qualified than I am, but I do have some thoughts - not strong opinions; just thoughts. In the middle ages, i.e., about twenty years ago, most people thought that any type of sex that wasn't between a man and a woman (of the same race) was abnormal - some going so far as to think that unmarried sex was not only immoral, but also abnormal - I'm still trying to figure out how a marriage certificate might lend "normalcy" to a particular type of sex drive. It is clear to me - now - that just because something isn't in the majority, doesn't make it wrong. Most people aren't gay, but *relatively* few people remain who would disparage those who are. I suspect that, twenty years ago - much less five-hundred years ago - gay people would have given *anything* if they could "push a button and no longer be gay" - not because there was anything wrong with it, but because societal pressures were so brutal that their lives were a living hell. I feel *so sorry* for my gay friends who were forced to remain in the closet for fear of being ostracized by society - that type of mentality was cruel and unfair; yet, it's the type of mentality that most people had earlier in *this century*, and I'm talking about the 21st century. In my opinion, it is the internet that helped to open people's eyes, about this, and about many other things. After millennia of cruelty, our society has finally educated itself to the point where being gay is considered to be perfectly natural and moral, and one reason is that it involves two consenting adults, not hurting anyone. In this "age of enlightenment," and I say that with something of a grain of salt, whoever would deny gays and lesbians their basic right to be happy is <insert your own negative epithet here>. You know exactly where I'm going with this, which is exactly why I'm putting in this dividing line: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I put that dividing line there because I'm now going to go from discussing subjects which are perfectly moral, to discussing subjects which are, at best, uncomfortable; and at worst, completely immoral. Just to be perfectly clear, the *only* correlation I'm making with people living out of wedlock, or people who are gay, is the way that society has mistreated them over the centuries. Please do not read anything more into this post, because there's nothing more here. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Zoophilia. Does the animal consent? I don't know. But I suspect these people would give *anything* not to be in the situation they're in - if they could "push a button and be normal," I'd bet the farm (yes, pun intended, with apologies) that they would. If you watch "Dolphin Lover," you may well feel sorry for the subject of the movie - I certainly did, though I can also easily see how someone else might not. One thing that's clear to me is that the man in that film feels his sexuality is perfectly natural, and not something to be ashamed of. One fetish, compulsion, proclivity - whatever word you prefer - I've *never heard of* is the desire to have sex with inanimate objects (unspeakably macabre things such as necrophilia notwithstanding). Nobody wants to have sex with a coffee table or a daffodil - so is Zoophilia a variant of legitimate sexuality, forever-ingrained in the person's basic psyche? Has it been there since birth? My gut feeling is, perhaps so; or, perhaps not. Even if it is, does that make it right? Not by itself it doesn't: Many people have a natural tendency towards violence, and they are legally obligated to keep that in check; otherwise, they go to jail. So clearly, there are lines which cannot be crossed and explained away by "it's been there since birth." But what are those lines? I've had red hair since birth, some people have been left-handed since birth, and some people have been gay since birth - that makes us all minorities, but it doesn't make any of us immoral. There's nothing wrong with being abnormal, but where do you draw the line of immorality? Is it their fault that they have strong urges to have sex with animals? I just cannot imagine that anyone would wish to have this "condition" (or whatever it is). There are videos - documentaries - on the internet of people bringing elephants to orgasm for the purposes of insemination - how different is that? I must stress that I do not have any answers, and honestly, if I never think of this subject again, that would be perfectly fine with me. Pedophilia. This seems about as clear-cut to me as it can possibly be: There is absolutely no consent given, and it must be considered a "crime" or whatever you want to call it. Whatever you want to call it, it must be stopped, immediately and decisively, by any means necessary - if I had caught someone in the act of abusing my son, I probably would have killed them. That said, I do think pedophilia is an uncontrollable compulsion, urge, drive - whatever the term is - and that these people are mentally ill. They need help more than they need punishment, and I honestly believe that voluntary castration should enter into the discussion, because "once a pedophile, always a pedophile" ... that's how I see it until I'm convinced otherwise. For a long time now - maybe a decade - I've felt that pedophilia is often an illness, perhaps even existing since birth. Yes, pedophiles must be locked up - but in my eyes, they need to be locked up not "to punish them"; rather, to get them off the streets at all costs because it is too difficult to control sexual urges, and the consequences of *not* controlling them are just too severe. Castration must be discussed as a potential option to the convicted pedophile, rather than only locking them up for twenty years, and having them do the exact same thing as soon as they walk out of jail, because I don't think they can be "rehabilitated" or "taught a lesson." If that constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment," I would personally rather be surgically castrated than to spend the rest of my life in prison - others may feel differently, I don't know. I took a big chance writing this post, and I beseech people to read it for what it is: a way to get things out in the open, rather than burying our heads in the sand, and pretending they don't exist - intelligent discourse is the only way to move forward. Apr 25, 2007 - "Into the Shadowy World of Sex with Animals" by Manohla Dargis on nytimes.com "Zoo" on rottentomatoes.com --- Summary: All this philosophical crap aside, this movie, as a movie, is terrible - good luck finishing it: It's one of the worst films I've seen in a long, long time. If you're a masochist, you can find the entire thing here on YouTube. I'll also add that I've tried to be as non-judgmental as possible in writing this, as it's the only way I could suffer through it.
  14. Although the man who killed bin Laden is now known, if you haven't seen any actual interviews with him, this animated compilation of interviews is an absolutely fascinating 18-minute film. This film is being presented without judgment, and is done so for the purposes of historical education only.
  15. When I was a pre-teen, I got a new, bright orange, Schwinn Chopper: which, despite dating me, remains the coolest bicycle I've ever had. Like a good boy, I went up to the Glenmont Police Station and registered the bike (I had it set in my mind that you were absolutely required to do this), and noticed on the precinct bulletin board a warning sign about Blasting Caps, something which I'd never heard of before and knew nothing about. Sure enough, the next day, I noticed some "Blasting Caps" in our driveway, and scared the crap of my mom, who called 911. The police arrived, and 10-year-old me explained to them what I had found in the driveway (a wire that had fallen from our car, no doubt). Anyway, I just stumbled upon this 1956 documentary short film produced by the "Institute of Makers of Explosives" about "Blasting Caps." It's a somewhat interesting 50s-America educational short, warning people about Blasting Caps, and no doubt inspiring other well-meaning pre-teens to call 911 and report fallen car parts in their driveways to the police. "Blasting Cap Danger" by the Institute of Makes of Explosives on archive.org As an aside, the film implies that there were *no* female commercial airline pilots in the United States in 1956 (this is implied in the first five minutes). People think we're such an advanced species; we're nothing but a bunch of primitives (I won't even mention that this was just two years after the Brown v. Board of Education case).
  16. No, it's not April Fools Day - I watched a 15-minute documentary called "Dolphin Lover" - which involves a general topic known as zoophilia, the entire film being Malcolm Brenner explaining how he came to fall in love with - and have consexual sex with - a dolphin named Dolly (I think if you Google it, you can watch it on YouTube). And as incredible as it sounds, it was actually interesting. At first, I thought it was going to be a comedy, but it's a serious documentary - I can safely say that this topic never crossed my mind before seeing this film. Jan 26, 2015 - "New Documentary Tells the Story of a Man who Had Sex with a Dolphin" by Arielle Castillo on fusion.net
  17. Season 1, Episode 1 of "Parts Unknown" starts tonight - Myanmar is the first episode.
  18. I suspect some of our younger members have never heard of "The Thin Blue Line" (1988), but due to a Facebook post by Sweth, I was inspired to watch it again last night - the only other time I'd seen it was when it was released in theaters 27 years ago. I was raving about the film when it came out, and I think every bit as highly of it now, even though I knew exactly how the story ended. This is a non-fiction exposé of a murder conviction that might have been incorrectly decided. The two principal suspects, Randall Adams and David Harris (I'm purposely not linking to them so you don't peak at their fates since 1988) play a central role in this crime-re-creation (*) documentary which is about as *exciting* as any documentary I've ever seen. "The Thin Blue Line" is an incredibly important film, yet is only the 95th-highest grossing documentary produced since 1982, grossing a mere $1.2 million - unbelievably, this great film lost money; nevertheless, it is timeless, and will be just as great in 2042 as it is in 2015 as it was in 1988. One thing I never knew is that the music is by Philip Glass (see "Koyaanisqatsi"), but I was jolted into noticing the opening theme song, and when Glass's name came on the screen, I just smiled - he really is a terrific composer for the medium. Watch this movie on Amazon Prime ($3.99), and if you don't like it, I'll pay you back. (*) I originally didn't hyphenate crime-re-creation, but it came out as crime-recreation.
  19. I just watched Koyaanisqatsi for the second time. This must-see film is mesmerizing and thought-provoking. With no dialogue or characters, it tells a story through stunning cinematography perfectly paired with an evocative score. Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word meaning "unbalanced life." It can be argued that this film is about the effect of technology on the natural world. Time-lapse and slow-motion footage of landscapes and cities throughout the United States are shown, juxtaposed with moving, minimalist music by Philip Glass. Yes, there are contrasts between the natural world and urban life, but the film is so much more. The imagery of the cities, even the slums of St. Louis, are beautifully shot. Watching this film is a transformative experience. It draws you in, transfixes you, and Koyaanisqatsi becomes a personal experience for the viewer. To appreciate this film you need to watch it, uninterrupted, preferably on a larger screen with a decent set of speakers. Don't go on Wikipedia and read a synopsis. There is no point. (After viewing the film, however, I found it interesting to read about how the images were shot.) Watching Koyaanisqatsi brought me to a meditative state. I watched it, on the recommendation of a friend, when my life felt "out of balance." I became lost, captivated by the imagery and the music that accompanies it. It altered my mood dramatically, both times. I thought I might lose interest the second time I watched it, but the experience was richer and more moving than my first viewing.
  20. I watched Ken Burns' second documentary on American Life, "The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God" (1984), released three years after his fine "Brooklyn Bridge" (1981) documentary, and while I learned a lot, I thought it was somewhat dull in comparison with the Brooklyn Bridge (which I touch on here). Don't get me wrong: It was worth watching, but for Burns to be able to pick *any* American Historical topic, and to choose The Shakers seems obscure to the point of being odd. The Shakers were, quite literally, "Shaking Quakers," named as such for the ecstatic dances they would perform, falling into an almost hypnotic trance as they sang and worshipped - that, in and of itself, is fascinating, and would have been great to see, but other than one small drawing, and a five-second clip of an aging shaker demonstrating a move, there was absolutely nothing about the dancing - which I found inexplicable. When you hear "Shaker," you think Shaker furniture, and this film reveals why: They celebrated God by trying to achieve perfection in their work, which is why their work was of such high quality. I, personally, have shaker-style (ladder-back) dining room chairs, and I love them (E.A. Clore in Madison, VA, if anyone is interested in artisan furniture, but that's really going off on a tangent). To summarize, while I'm glad I watched the documentary, and while I learned something about Shakers, this came across to me as an opportunity lost. There were too many interviews with aging women (which may be intentional, as the Shakers are dying out very quickly, and may soon no longer exist), but these interviews, after awhile, became painfully dull. This is one of those things like reading "Walden" (1854): Yes, I'm glad I read it, yes, I'm a better person for having gotten through it - and I was largely bored the entire time. For Burns "completists," it's a must, but for someone in search of a great example of what Burns is capable of (and he is capable of fantastic, entertaining documentaries - he truly does have a gift), I would bypass this one - although I've only watched several of his works to date, I believe "The Shakers" will end up being one of his more obscure films. One thing that I vividly remember: a representative of the Shakers went to Washington, DC as the Civil War broke out, went directly to President Lincoln, and requested the right to passive dissent when it came to fighting, i.e., he was a conscientious objector. At first Lincoln declined, saying that these men were able-bodied, but he was finally talked into exempting Shaker males from participating in the war due to their religious beliefs - this is thought to be the first case of an exemption from fighting in a war due to religious beliefs in United States history - an important milestone. And they weren't just trying to worm out; they genuinely were against harming their fellow brethren; quite to the contrary, they would take in total strangers, and treat them as family. Sometimes, knowing full well that these strangers were merely seeking warmth during the winter - these people became known as "Winter Shakers," and you know what? They didn't care - they accommodated them anyway, with open arms. When thieves stole a portion of their crops, do you know what they did? They planted more seeds, figuring that a certain percentage would be lost to those desperate enough to steal food. These were good people who loved their fellow man, and went out of their way to be kind to them. If only the world had more people such as this.
  21. Last Friday night I slipped into bed, exhausted, and decided to catch up on some reading before falling asleep. I opened up a copy of the New Yorker from a few weeks back, and on the inside cover was a gorgeous picture of a sea urchin dish on an advertisement for "Chef's Table", a six episode documentary now available on Netflix. The docu-series is from the team responsible for "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." So I closed the magazine, opened up Netflix on a tablet, and went to the series. Mossimo Bottura. Dan Barber. Francis Mallman. Niki Nakayama. Ben Shewry. Magnus Nilsson. Wow. I watched the Magnus Nilsson episode. Then the Mossimo Bottura. I woke up at 4:30am and watched the Ben Shewry. The next night? Dan Barber. Last night? Mallman. This is a brilliant series and I can't imagine anyone on this board would not find them a worthwhile use of an hours time.
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