Thursday, January 5, 2017

Four Interesting and Unique Documentaries

Documentaries may not be perceived as exciting as a fictional movie, but nevertheless, the subjects they address are fascinating all on their own.  These four documentaries approach their subject with un-ironic appreciation.  Here are four varied and interesting documentaries to check out.
Show Business: The Road to Broadway examines the 2003-2004 Broadway Season, through the eyes of four Broadway productions: two of the most successful: Wicked and Avenue Q, and two which closed that same season: Caroline, or Change and Taboo.  The show starts with workshops and ends with the Tonys, detailing many aspects of production, including writing, composing, rehearsing, set design, dealing with the press, etc.  The major New York City critics are also featured in the movie, where sometimes they know what they’re talking about and sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about.  While the four above mentioned musicals are the main focus, the movie also takes a short look at all the plays appearing that year.  Fans of Wicked and Avenue Q will find much to appreciate, but it is also fascinating to look at the failed plays, Caroline, or Change, which was a critical darling, and Taboo, which garnered controversy but had a small but passionate fan base.  The movie was released on May 11, 2007, to the public after premiering at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, and grossed $151,708 at the box office.
                Maidentrip profiles Laura Dekker, the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world in a sailboat, at age 16.  She grew up living on a sailboat with her family around New Zealand, but at age 5, her family settled in their home country of the Netherlands.  Her parents divorced, and she chose to live with her sailboat loving father rather than her mother.  She began to fall in love with sailing and wanted to, at age 14, be the youngest woman to sail around the world.  However, after she left on a trial sailing trip without telling her father in person, the Dutch authorities took her into custody and brought her back to her home city of Wijk bij Durrstede.  When her plans to for her solo around the world trip became known to authorities, even though her father approved the trip, Dutch child protection intervened, and Laura had to fight them in court.  Ultimately, Dutch court relented and Laura was allowed to sail.  The majority of the film is shot by Laura herself on her boat, showing a young woman growing up on her own on the sailboat, where she meets other sailors, reluctantly takes interviews from the press, and battles her own initial loneliness and storms.  The movie was released to the public on January 17, 2014. 
                Above and Beyond details the story about the people who transported and fought in aircraft for the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.  In 1948, Israel is about to partitioned from Palestine to become a nation.  However, Israel has no army or aircraft to speak of, so how can it defend its own country?  Starting with American Curtis C-46 Commando transport aircraft, Israel slowly starts to build their own air force.  Unfortunately, US maintained neutrality at the time, so, led by American Al Schwimmer, former Jews, many of whom were American and fought in WWII, snuck the planes around the world to get them to Israel.  Several other aircraft from Czechoslovakia were obtained for the war effort, and six fighter pilots (some of whom were Jewish-Americans) trained there to become fighter pilots.  With these small but important aircraft, the Israeli air force started pushing back the Egyptian army that was encroaching on the newly formed nation.  Above and Beyond was released on July 15, 2014, and made $288,751 at the box office.
                The Drop Box is about South Korea Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his wife, who have a drop box, a box on the side of their house where unwanted babies can be dropped off without papers or the mother identifying herself.  Lee Jong-rak then cares for the child, and he must ultimately place him or her in the custody of the state.  Lee Jong-rak and his wife also have several handicapped children of their own, both mentally and physically.  Jong-rak’s life was changed forever when his son was born severely mentally handicapped.  In choosing to care for his son, his heart leaned toward caring handicapped children and unwanted babies in a large city in South Korea.  While Lee Jong-rak and his wife are overworked and tired, they nevertheless never stop serving their handicapped children and the babies found in the drop box.  The Drop Box was released March 3, 2015.
                Each of these films shows a fascinating story, whether it be aBroadway production, a young Dutch woman sailing around the world, the small but incredible forming of the Israeli Air Force, or a South Korean pastor who saves unwanted babies through a Drop Box.  Check out these awesome documentaries about these awesome subjects and people.

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