Category Archives: documentaries

What do vampires do in their off time?

Vampire movies tend to concentrate on the stalking and killing of unsuspecting victims . But what do these denizens of the night do in their off-time when they are not drinking blood or sleeping in their coffins?

I just watched “What We Do In The Shadows,” the 2014 self-described “New Zealand vampire” mockumentary that answers these questions in hilarious ways from the creators of “Flight Of The Conchords.”

For example, if vampires famously have to be invited into the homes and businesses of their victims, what happens when they go clubbing? It can be tricky to get a club doorman to actually say the words necessary to gain entry. 

These three vampire roommates deal with the day-to-day issues with which we have all wrestled, albeit with macabre twists such as one roommate who keeps leaving human spines laying around for the others to trip over and won’t clean up his bloody dishes.

One of the roommates, Vladislav (the “pervert” who likes orgies) goes on and on ad nauseum about the times he’s battled The Beast,  which turns out in the end to just be the derogatory nickname he’s chosen for his hated ex-girlfriend. 

There is a scene where our vampire protagonists (and one human IT nerd) are out for a walk and get into a verbal pissing match with a group of passing werewolves in human form who are trying to stop using salty language. (“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves” they keep chanting in unison whenever one of them says “fuck” or “shit.” )

The entire movie is brilliant, but the jokes fly by quickly and often quietly, so I’ll have to watch again to catch all the ones I missed.

How did I not hear about this movie when it was in theatres?

This blog is not about movie reviews, but if you liked “Shaun Of The Dead” you will probably like this one.

Available on Amazon Prime now. It was on Netflix but is available there no more. 

“On Beauty” presents physical appeal in a different light

There’s an old joke in the gay community: Why did God create gay men? So overweight girls will have someone to take them to prom.

The joke is funny because it has the ring of truth to it. If you talk to a lot of gay men, many of them — though certainly not all of them — did go to prom with girls who were not part of the beautiful people cliques. Often the girls were their best friends. 

This goes to the reasons that so many women in general have best friends who are gay men.

Women in the company of gay men can find that they are accepted and appreciated for deeper qualities than just their looks. Being smart or funny or kind or any of the other qualities that make an interesting whole person can make someone attractive outside of whether they have physical imperfections by the dominant culture’s standards.

 I have female friends who are like this and I listen to their stories of heartbreak at the hands of heterosexual men and I look at them and think. “Well, I think you’re beautiful. I don’t get why straight men cannot see it.”

Fashion photographer-turned-activist Rick Giudotti.

Which is why this remarkable film caught my eye. It’s getting a lot of buzz and critical acclaim:

From Emmy-nominated filmmaker Joanna Rudnick (“In the Family”) and Chicago’s Kartemquin Films comes a story about challenging norms and redefining beauty. “On Beauty” follows fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world when he grew frustrated with having to work within the restrictive parameters of the industry’s standard of beauty.

After a chance encounter with a young woman who had the genetic condition albinism, Rick re-focused his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows to change the way we see and experience beauty.

At the center of “On Beauty” are two of Rick’s photo subjects: Sarah, who left public school for homeschool after being bullied so harshly for the Sturge-Weber birthmark on her face and brain; and Jayne, who lives in Eastern Africa where witch doctors hunt people with albinism to sell their body parts and the society is blind to their unique health and safety needs.

The film represents Sarah, Jayne and the millions of people around the world who have dealt with the constant stares and judgments from others. It illuminates Rick’s photos, which challenge both the mainstream media’s narrow scope of beauty and the dehumanizing black-bar convention of medical textbooks.

“On Beauty” is call to action that will change public perceptions and educate people about genetics and bullying. 

You can find the film’s Chicago dates here. Showings elsewhere and more information can be found here. General information about the film, including how you might schedule a showing for your group, can be found here.

Fashion photographer-turned-activist Rick Guidotti
Sarah and Jayne. Sarah left public school for home school in eighth grade because she was bullied so harshly for the Sturge-Weber birthmark on her face. Jayne lives in Eastern Africa where people with albinism are highly discriminated against and are sometimes even killed for their body parts.



Just watched this Antarctic documentary on Netflix

The guy who did this taught himself how to use all the cameras, still and video — and modified them himself to withstand the bitter cold of the Antarctic — sometimes to no avail as he lost much money in terms of equipment.

The results are outstanding, and I’m not a guy who is given to watching endless scenes of snow. But the film is as much a study of the people who choose to work and live there and that is what makes it different.

I learned things I did not know before. Plus the scenery itself is amazing. Watch it on a high def TV in the dark with the lights off. 

It’s a new release on Netflix and is also available on Amazon Instant Video.