(2015)Little Miles Scott was diagnosed with leukemia when he was eighteen months old. He has spent much of his young life in chemotherapy. He qualified for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is now age five. His wish is to be Batman for a day. Patricia Wilson and her team set out to transform the city of San Francisco into Gotham and make Miles' dream come true. What happens is far beyond anyone's imagination. I could try to break this down in my normal critic way, giving pros and cons about what I saw, but I won't. I'll just say this is a fantastic and wonderful feel-good story that tugs at your heart in all the right ways.
A Ballerina's Tale
(2015)This documentary takes a look at Misty Copeland. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman to be named the principal dancer of a major ballet company. We learn about some of the hardships she had to deal with along the way. We hear what about an early lack of work ethic, leg injuries that end the careers of most dancers, and self-doubt at least partially caused by institutionalized racism. Her impact on the industry and importance as an African-American woman are discussed. The most amazing part of her story, to me, is not that she overcame those things to rise to the very pinnacle of her profession, but that she the first black woman to do even though this happened well into the twenty-first century. America has been more hospitable to blacks in entertainment than any other field going back to the earliest days of Reconstruction. This is especially true of dance. On the other hand, as recently as early 2008 I didn't think I would see an African-American elected President of the United States in my lifetime. I wasn't even sure my children would see it. The fact that Barack Obama took the highest office in the land before there was a black principal dancer in ballet is astounding. We're told, and I'm paraphrasing, the heads of these companies believe the more muscular and darker bodies of African-Americans would be too big a distraction for audiences. Really? That's still a thing? Knowing that, it's telling that Copeland has a very light complexion. It says that even in the aftermath of her ascent the sentiment may still hold. To be fair, it's barely been a year since her achievement, but the whole situation is still shameful. As for the doc itself, it's compelling theater that paints our heroine as a lovable underdog who overcomes long odds while also being an informative piece of film.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Canon Films
(2014)This documentary examines the history and legacy of the best/worst movie company in the history of ever, Canon Films. We hear stories of the shortcuts they took, the wheeling and dealing they did, and the ineptness they often operated with. Despite this, their love of movies shines through. They just weren’t very good at making them. Or were they? What I mean by that is the majority of these movies were so bad they’re awesome. Canon’s filmography is a treasure chest of awfulness. Believe it or not, that’s how they made money. They made plenty of it, for a while. I personally owe them a debt of gratitude. They provided me with a sizable chunk of random and gratuitous ninjas, zombies, kung fu, and boobs. Occasionally, we got all those things in one movie. We certainly get them in this doc. The people that were there give us the lowdown, except for company founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Unsatisfied with how they're portrayed here, those two decided to make their own, no doubt kinder to themselves, documentary. I haven’t seen that one, but this one is a fun trip down memory lane informing us on how bad movies get made.
(2015)Samantha is an aspiring actress who still lives with her parents in California. They adopted her from Korea when she was an infant. She’s managed to land roles in some low-budget pictures. This is the catalyst for our documentary. A young man on the other side of the globe, London, sees a trailer for one of her movies and can’t help but notice she looks exactly like his girlfriend Anaïs. He brings this to Anaïs' attention which sets in motion a chain of events where the girls try to figure out if they are indeed long lost twin sisters. Spoiler alert: they are. However, the movie realizes it can’t keep up the mystery for long and eventually focuses on their newly formed relationship and the pair’s search for their biological mother. Despite the fact the girls are adults, they are both endlessly cute in the most innocent way. Their demeanor, especially Samantha’s, permeates the doc. This is both an asset and a liability. It’s an asset because our subjects are practically impossible not to like. They are a couple of bubbly girls who were already enjoying life, but enjoy it even more now that they have found each other. On the other hand, the film never rises above that. The hard-hitting emotion needed to elevate this film is missing. Even when the girls are going through a tough time, mostly because Anaïs is not always so keen on this finding their real mom deal, there is little weight to it. The film bounces along pluckily and is very pleasant to watch. Unfortunately, it’s also very forgettable.