Biggie & Tupac

This director has to be one of the worst documentarians on the planet. And definitely the worst narrator. And yet I managed to learn a few things from this movie. And strangely, the people that he approached for interviews and filming seemed oddly to allow him a level of access that I wouldn’t have expected. Why? How?

This is probably only for real fans of the title characters. Otherwise, just check out Notorious – much more entertaining.

Art and Craft

There was more than one person who suggested that, given his talents, Mark Landis should paint original works, and sign them with his own name. Which sort of misses the point.

What he does, and why he’s become famous, is copy works by famous painters. Or copy their style, at least. And then pass off the works to museums and galleries as originals. One key point though, is that he doesn’t try to sell the works, and therefore he is not committing any crime.

He may know that what he does is forgery, but he calls it “philanthropy.” For Landis, it is the act – the entire act, of painting and presenting a work, complete with paper and wood and frames and canvases all made to look age-appropriate, and then presenting it to a gallery as authentic – that is important.

Yes, his work is undeniably good. But if he had toiled for these same years producing originals, would he be a famous painter? Probably not. As someone in the film said, his schtick is as much performance art as it is painting. And what a performance.

Voyeur

1. Should the statute of limitations be allowed to run out on sick fucks like this guy?

2. If it was this easy way back then, how much simpler must it be today, with all of our miniaturized cameras and other electronics?

3. Is Gay Talese as guilty in his own way, a bit overly eager for the salacious tidbit, to the point where fact-checking becomes an afterthought?

Sour Grapes

How much is that bottle of wine? Where did you get it? Check the label, carefully. And the foil. And the glass. And also the contents…

Fascinating account of a wine savant gone rogue. It’s juicy, but something doesn’t smell right…

Gaga: Five Foot Two

Cameras follow her everywhere she goes – sounds like a typical, modern documentary, right? Meant to be intimate and give you an inside look. Which is fine, except with someone like Lady Gaga, there’s very little that is not scripted, or at the very least, not very un-guarded.

She’s a genuine talent, but I can’t say I like her any more after seeing this than before.

Minimalism

As someone who owns 18 chairs (paired down from 20), I might be considered the target audience for this film. There’s something to be said for rejecting consumer culture, and the constant lust for buying something new.

There was no mention of Marie Kondo, but her philosophy seems less extreme, more balanced, than that of the Minimalist guys, who seem to live out of backpacks, with 4 shirts and pants and socks, and little else. Yes, their goal is happiness, but might that not include things that bring joy to one’s life?

What about objects that have real meaning, or real utility. Art? A painting or a sculpture in my home… is that okay? Things that were handed down to me by my parents or grandparents, a ring or a book or a pocket knife – can I keep those?

As always, balance…

Rats

O.M.G. I’ve never been afraid of mice or rats, but this brings a whole new level of gross to the table. The diseases that they carry, and can transmit to humans so easily, make them a huge menace, whether or not you ever see them… When we destroy the planet, cockroaches and rats are going to rule…

The Seven Five

In an era when dash cams and citizens with cell phones record the worst kind of police brutality and abuse of power, this story may seem like a quaint piece of history, but in his day… there was police corruption, and then there was Michael Dowd. Wow. This guy was epic, with his cash grabs and protection of dealers, etc.

However, in his testimony, as well as in the filmed interviews, he comes across as a pretty stand-up guy. And the fact that he refused to implicate any other of his fellow officers raises him in my estimation. I don’t think he ever shot anybody without justifiable cause…

X-Rated – The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time

Um, yeah, this felt like it was made for like $10,000. Interesting to get the views today of those who make these “greatest adult movies of all time,” but ultimately not the most exciting doc I’ve ever seen, whatever the subject matter…