February 22nd, 2018


Oscar-Nominated Feature Documentaries

OK. This should be the last post about the Oscars until the actual show. We have seen 4 out of the 5 nominees, and I doubt we'll see the 5th before the show. I love documentaries! Well...that is if they're done well. I've also seen a lot of stinkers in my time. So how about this year's supposed best?

"Abacus: Small Enough To Jail" - Probably my favorite of the bunch. It was a "Frontline" episode on PBS. In the 2008 mortgage meltdown, not a single bank was brought to prosecution for making bad loans. Well...except for a small NY bank that catered to mainly Chinese immigrants. The bank itself discovered fraud and fired the banker. He then went to the Justice Department and an investigation was started. There were undercurrents of racism as they thought the Chinese would fold like origami under the pressure and would be a "big win" for the government. Nope. They fought back and won.

"Icarus" - If "Abacus" doesn't win then this one should. It starts off as a film about doping in the cycling world. The director is a cyclist and wants to see if doping really works and if he can get away with it. He gets help from a Russian doctor who shows him how it can be done. By the end of the film the doctor has fled to the US because it turns out he's at the center of the entire Russian doping scheme that got them banned from the Olympics. He directly ties Putin to the scandal. He fled to the US because another doctor had a mysterious heart attack and died at 50.

"Last Men in Aleppo" - This might have been a really good film about the White Helmets in Syria who rescue people from bombed buildings, except there was a short documentary about the exact same subject last year which actually won the Oscar. It's sad that many of the people you meet in the beginning of the film are dead by the end.

"Strong Island" - Yet another "whitey so bad" movie. A black man gets shot by a white shop owner and nothing happens. It's the typical story we have heard over and over. "He was a good boy! He dindo nuffins!" Yeah, except he threatens the shop owner with violence once so when he came back again all angry, he gets shot. There were hints that maybe the shop was mob-owned, but that's even a better reason not to start trouble. As you can guess, it was my least favorite of the bunch.