31 Docs in 31 Days - Part 5



Reviews by Chris MacKenzie

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia13. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia – 3 Shaky Camera Lenses (Out of 5)
The story of a wild redneck family and the hell they raise.

Thoughts: I was looking forward to seeing this documentary, but upon viewing it, I was a little let down. I’m sure my lofty expectations didn’t help, but it just sorta felt like “Honey Boo Boo: The Movie.” There are certainly a lot of interesting characters profiled, but the “look at these crazy rednecks” angle of the film seemed a little mean.

By the time family members face the consequences for their actions, a fifty-year jail term, losing a newborn to CPS, the joke is over and what sympathy the filmmaker tries to elicit from us feels too little too late. I wanted to be on board with everything, but just couldn’t fully connect to what I was seeing or how I was supposed to feel. When the family of a newborn White is crushing and snorting prescription medication immediately following its birth, I found myself rooting for the baby to be taken away, not sympathetic to the sobbing mother.

I understand there’s a good doc on the patriarch of the family, and I will try to find it, because his crazy-­ass dancing seemed like the most interesting, and most glossed­-over, aspect of the family.

The Eames14. The Eames 3.5 Shaky Camera Lenses (Out of 5)
A comprehensive and intimate look at the couple behind the famous lounge chair of the same name and the huge design wave they created.

Thoughts: This slick documentary does a good job of providing insight into a couple whose impact is undeniable. Just as in real life, the overbearing personality of Charles Eames elbows out the story, and contributions, of the others involved. In its defense, the movie does acknowledge a lot of the friction this man created, but at the end of the day, it’s mostly a documentary about him.

The most interesting part to me was to see how unabashedly pro-­corporation Eames was. Ad agencies and design firms are inextricably linked to big business these days, but Eames seemed unique in being such an original creative vision and friend of Industry. There is plenty of great archival footage and interviews, and I felt like the filmmakers did a good job of conveying the concepts of Eames’ work, while providing the history of its evolution. The story of Eames echoes that of the other great “influencers” of that era, and this movie makes an excellent case for elevating him to the status enjoyed by those like Walt Disney.

Wasteland15. Wasteland – No opinion (Out of 5 Shaky Lenses)
A documentary about a Brazilian artist.

Thoughts: I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t finish this one. It came well recommended, but I started it pretty late and fell dead asleep. Even when I woke up I didn’t feel especially motivated to finish it and moved on. I won’t say it’s bad, but there have been others that have kept me awake long into the night, or made me hustle to finish watching them.

“The Wild and Wondeful Whites of West Virginia”, “The Eames” are available on NETFLIX. So is “Wasteland”, but start watching it early in the evening, or daytime.

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