Documentary

New place for the documentary movies which usually do not feel like they fit with the typical Movie Review categories.

This can be movies or TV series (aka Tiger King)

docmovies

Hoping to develop a specific rating qualifier for this category.  That is yet to come.

Disneynature’s Elephant (2020)

Disney Documentary with Meghan Markle Narration Gets Shredded by ...

Last year, I was a huge critic of the last Disneynature film, Penguins.  It made my worst 25 films of 2018 because of the way they modeled the story.  There was way too much personification and the main characters went through an idiotic situation that had me rolling my eyes.

So now Disney + has released the next Disneynature film, this time called Elephant.

It is wonderful.

Every complaint I had about Penguins was done perfectly well in Elephants. There was some personification in the documentary, giving the elephants names and motivation, but it did not overpower what was happening on screen.  It managed the humor properly and everything seemed to fit.

The doc followed a herd of elephants on their journey across the Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango delta to the Zambezi river and back again.  The herd’s matriarch was named Gaia and we also saw a mother Shani and her son Jomo.  What they do with these characters really work for the film, as does the dangers they face on their trip such as lions and mud pits.  The scene where Gaia goes into the mud to save a young elephant from suffocating in the mud.  That was an exceptional scene that fit into the narration.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is the narrator and does a wonderful job.  She is clear and provides the perfect amount of humor and balance in her work.

The shots in these nature documentaries are consistently amazing and beautiful.  The creators of these docs, even the Penguins one that I disliked, bring unbelievable imagery of mysterious lands with animals that you rarely get to see.

This film was a real return to the entertainment of this series and I was very happy.  Sadly, this would have looked great on the big screen, but, with the Disney + outlet, my guess is that we will not see these released in theaters again.

4.5 stars

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)

Subject of Netflix's Tiger King Has Ties To Pro Wrestling | 411MANIA

I resisted watching this thing for a bit.  However, several friends started talking about it in our zoom meeting, so I decided that I would give it a chance.

All I heard about it was this was a true crime docu-series that could not be described.  People claimed that it was insane and that you couldn’t look away, like a car wreck.  I would say that my opinion was different than this one.  I enjoyed this doc-series a ton, but I kept waiting for that first episode top deliver these shocking moments.  I did not think that was happening.

It definitely happened later in the series.

This followed the story of a man who called himself Joe Exotic.  His real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage and he was a big cat breeder and dealer who ran a “zoo” while he sold tiger cubs to other zoos in the country.

The story also involved Joe’s arch nemesis Carole Baskin, owner of the Big Cat Rescue, who went after Joe for his practices and methods.  The feud between Joe and Carole was a major basis behind the entire series.

There are other individuals included as well.  Jeff Lowe was one of Joe’s partners whose own motives are called into question.  Rick Kirkham was a producer of a reality TV web series featuring Joe.  Doc Antle who was the owner of the Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, (T.I.G.E.R.S.) of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

This show shows all of these people in an extremely negative light.  It covered the rumors that Carole Baskin murdered her first husband and fed him to the tigers.  Huh?  It was implied that Jeff Lowe may have set Joe up, leading to his eventual arrest.

There is no doubt that this series shows the dirty, ugly side of all of its featured flawed individuals, and it details a story that unfolded over the last 5 years or so that is so unbelievable that if this were a fictional movie, you would have a hard time believing that any real life person would do this.  The cliche “stranger than fiction” was invented for just for this story.

It is definitely compelling and hard to turn away.  It is a reasonable easy binge, time wise, though more difficult when considering the lowlifes involved here.