31 Docs in 31 Days



Reviews by Chris MacKenzie

The Sound and the Fury22. The Sound and Fury – 4 Shaky Camera Lenses (Out of 5)
A fascinating look at the controversy surrounding deaf children being fitted with cochlear implants.

Thoughts: This film shines for the simple reason that it speaks to not just the issue of restoring hearing to kids, but how a family agonizes over the decision on whether or not to follow through on it. In what would seem like a slam­dunk idea to hearing parents of a deaf child, the majority of the people in this family are deaf, casting a new light on both sides of the issue. This film does an excellent job of showing you the stress involved in making a decision like this. Again, one that most people wouldn’t think twice about doing, but really does carry the potential to alter the lives and identities of several members of one family.

It would be very easy to condemn the large group of deaf people who bristle at the thought of making kids (their perfectly normal kids( “normal,” but there is no denying that the emotions are real. These implants very literally mean the death of the deaf culture. The fact that the implants work much better for kids than adults, coupled with the prevailing developmental theory that those kids shouldn’t learn to sign, is understandably threatening to many in the deaf community. It is this element that proves to be the most insightful, as any instance in which one can radically change their perception of the world, at the expense of what they’ve known, will make some waves.

The film is a few years old and there have been follow-­ups to what decisions the parents made. I didn’t watch those follow­-ups, but did poke around on the internet to see how things eventually turned out. This was a fascinating story.

The Tents23. The Tents – 3 Shaky Camera Lenses (Out of 5)
A documentary about the birth, development and rise to prominence of New York City’s fashion week.

Thoughts: While my girlfriend is deeply involved in the world of fashion, and specifically the Fashion Week shows, I had little knowledge of what these shows were all about. This documentary does a good job of providing context for a “scene” that most outsiders would not give a lot of importance to. But the social, artistic, and business aspects of Fashion Week are well­ explained by the folks who forced, through blood, sweat, and thread to make New York Fashion Week as important as (and maybe even more influential than) any fashion event on the planet.

Lots of great interviews from people who border on the ridiculous don’t alienate you from the subject matter, but give a better appreciation for it. The film does feel a bit dated as it specifically deals with the last year the fashion tents were in Bryant Park. They have since moved to Lincoln Center, but the movie stops before they get there, looking back to pay homage to where it all started and how far they’ve come.

How Beer Saved the World24. How Beer Saved the World – 3.5 Shaky Camera Lenses (Out of 5)
A sometimes cheeky, sometimes deep analysis of the role beer has played in fueling every major development in the history of civilization.

Thoughts: While definitely one­-sided, this (originally a TV program) documentary does present some interesting facts about beer. Starting with the first interesting fact, that beer has been around 3,000 years longer than bread, the program shows just how important the most “common” of alcohols is. From serving as the paycheck for workers building the Egyptian Pyramids, to re­directing the route of the Mayflower, beer’s influence is felt from the microscopic to the galactic.

The further we get into the show, the more obvious it is that Miller/­Coors most likely bankrolled the production. But to their credit, they don’t beat you over the head with it. As a big beer fan, and former leader of beer tasting seminars, there were several tid­bits I had never known. These are the real gems of this movie, learning cool facts that, if nothing else, may get you a free round at the pub.

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