Monday, January 16, 2017

Instant Gratification Theater: Recommended pop culture documentaries!

Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector: I saw this amusing documentary at VHS collectors on Shout! Factory TV. It's a compelling look at the subculture. Because the avid VHS fans seem to be horror fans, you get a lot about that genre and not much about others, but the film focuses on the individuals. Check out the dude who built his own mock video store in his basement.

I don't think this movie paints the most flattering picture of these collectors, but I don't think it judges them, either. These folks are really into VHS! I recommend this entertaining documentary, and it is especially watchable if you grew up in the era.

Electric Boogalo: The  Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films: Speaking of growing up in the 1980s! This is a fast-paced look at the outfit that brought us the American Ninja films and other epics and aspired for something like world domination. It's often too fast paced for its own good, but it is loaded with great stories, and I guarantee you will not be bored. One funny thing is that the actual brothers behind Cannon made their own documentary and rushed it out to beat this one to the market. I haven't seen that one, but I do recommend Electric Boogalo. It's available on Netflix.

I saw the following movies on Showtime, which has a weak library of feature films but a strong selection of pop culture documentaries:

All Things Must Pass: Colin Hanks' affectionate look at the rise and fall of Tower Records is not as..I don't know, transcendent as I hoped, but it's very well done. There are strong comments from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and (of course) Dave Grohl, but it's best hearing from some of the people who actually ran the franchise. Who would have thought we'd all be so nostalgic for stores that sold CDs for 18 bucks a pop?

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon: Excellent at detailing the origins of the magazine and the impact it had on the culture, but it seemed to run out of steam when chronicling the publication's decline. Maybe the participants just didn't have the heart to delve into some of that as much. I still recommend this one, too.

Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall: It's directed by Spike Lee, but don't hold that against it. This is a solid look at the pre-Wacko Jacko years, a reminder of the power the man had as a performer and talent before the tabloid stuff overwhelmed the creative stuff.

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