I AM GRETA

Cert 12A Stars 4

Hot on the heels of David Attenborough’s big screen rallying cry to save our planet comes this intimate documentary Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, who at only 15-year-old and having Asperger’s syndrome inspired a generation across the globe to go on school strike to demand immediate action on climate change.

We’re given Greta’s eye view of events as this otherwise very ordinary, shy and lonely schoolgirl is thrust into a media and political whirlwind.

Footage of her terrifying wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean shows it clearly not an empty gesture or a mere showboating of her credentials, and by the time she delivers an impassioned speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York I was fully onboard with her message.

Greta is understandably and deservedly cynical about the posturing of politicians, her modesty about her achievements in raising awareness is remarkable and her composure, resilience and humour in the face of appalling abuse from politicians will make you furious.

And if such a small figure can inspire such ire in powerful old men such as President Trump then she’s doing something right.

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM

Cert 15 Stars 5

Gloriously offensive, eye-wateringly funny and ram your own fist down your throat outrageous, Sacha Baron Cohen returns as his Kazakhstani alter ego Borat, in this astonishing mockumentary comedy sequel.

Accompanied by his 15 year old daughter, Borat returns to the US to present a monkey to Vice President Mike Pence, a set up which allows Cohen to tackle recent scandals on an extraordinary whistle-stop tour.

No matter how offensive Borat is, the people he meets are far worse and proves Donald Trump is no aberration but a horrifyingly accurate representation of the wider state of US politics.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: THE MAKING OF PLATOON

Cert 15 Stars 3

After Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, Platoon was the second best Vietnam war movie of the 1980’s, and this enjoyable documentary throws a casual salute to its success by drafting in the key actors to reminisce about their time on location in the Philippine jungle.

As director Oliver Stone comes across as an appalling and tyrannical figure who is noticeable by his absence, the now middle-aged actors Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and so on are good company, though they show an alarming lack of self awareness or interest in the local culture or politics.

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET

Cert PG Stars 5

This hugely important and inspiring documentary warning of impending catastrophe is all the more terrifying for being delivered by the most trusted and respected broadcaster Britain has ever produced.

Standing among the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl, Sunday evening TV favourite and all-round national treasure David Attenborough addresses us in his familiar humble and dignified manner, while his location underlines his argument climate change is a man-made mistake and we need to clean it up. And fast.

Now 93 years old but with no less passion than when he presented his first TV programme, and driven from the knowledge he can’t carry on forever, there’s an unmistakable urgency in his tone.

Giving us a whistle stop tour of his globetrotting career, he persuasively argues his very longevity as an expert on the natural world gives him a unique perspective and makes him the perfect person to deliver this most dire of warnings.

A companion piece to his recent TV show, Extinction: The Facts, he points out with our planet having witnessed five major extinction events in its lifetime – the last being the dinosaurs – we are pushing the Earth towards a sixth, with ourselves the victim.

Having presented us with a terrifying litany of destruction he proceeds to offer a terrifying view of our kids’ potential future, and it’s shocking seeing this most optimistic and beloved of TV personalities in a moment of despair.

And yet he moves on to convince us we possess the means to reverse the damage done and create a clean world for future generations, turning this into an uplifting call to arms and a celebration of the wonder of life.

As ever he’s accompanied by a supporting cast of tigers, gorillas, polar bears and more, while the photography from mountains to oceans and savannahs is as breathtaking as we’d expect.

All climate change deniers should be strapped to a chair with their eyes clamped open and forced to watch. On repeat.

CAPITAL IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Cert 12A Stars 4

Guaranteed to make your blood boil with anger, this easily digestible documentary provides an historic oversight to capitalism and offers an explanation for the often unfathomable actions of the UK government.

Rather than capitalism delivering social progress since the fall of the Berlin Wall, economic data suggests we’re been deliberately taken back to a model of 18th century capitalism, with vast differentials in wealth, health, education and so on.

The slightest fig leaf of optimism is unconvincingly applied at the end, otherwise this is a deserved knife in the heart of the myth we’re all in this together.

FATHER SOLDIER SON

Cert 15 Stars 4

Deeply personal and poignant, this Fly on the wall documentary portrait of fatherhood undergoes a ten year tour of duty following the family of 3rd generation soldier Sgt Brian Eisch.

There’s happiness, anger, anguish and heartache after a tour in Afghanistan sees him coping with a life-changing injury and raising two young sons. What this lacks in the outrageous characters of Netflix documentaries such as The Tiger King, or the sporting glamour of The Last Dance, it makes up with quiet dignity and is a compelling, inspiring and at times heartbreaking watch.

INMATE #1: THE RISE OF DANNY TREJO

Cert 15 Stars 4

Danny Trejo burst onto the global cinema consciousness as a knife-throwing killer in 1995’s scorching action thriller Desperado, and this fascinating and inspirational documentary explores his extraordinary life story of personal reinvention from teenage junkie to violent criminal and popular Hollywood hard man.

Raised by his extended family in a poor violent and semi-rural Mexican neighbourhood in Los Angeles, he spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in prison for armed robbery in the notorious San Quentin prison, and he’s great at describing the toxic atmosphere, the riots and his stints in solitary confinement.

Becoming the prison boxing champ in bouts where the Queensbury rules were pretty much optional, he cleaned up of drugs, found god and became a youth counsellor.

In Hollywood he’s worked notably with Charles Bronson, Salma Hayek and Robert De Niro, and his life experiences gave him a unique and very funny approach to dealing with actors.

There are interviews with his adult children, childhood friends, and co-stars, and a straightforward formula works because there’s absolutely no need to embroider his remarkable life.

YOU DON’T NOMI

Cert 18 Stars 4

Showgirls was an unforgettable sleazy and bare-cheeked erotic drama and the biggest box office flop of 1995, yet as this documentary shows it was far more knowingly subversive than credited at the time.

Derided for being crude and exploitative by those who failed to see the satire in the film’s madly camp excess, Showgirls made a profit on home video where people were able watch it in the seclusion of their own home, it’s second coming sees it enjoying sold out screenings, being embraced by the drag artist community and adapted as a stage musical.

Starring Elizabeth Berkley as a dancer trying to climb the seedy Las Vegas pole from stripper to showgirl, Showgirls was directed by Dutch master Paul Verhoeven flush with success from his Basic Instinct featuring a crotch-flashing Sharon Stone.

We see how Showgirls fits perfectly within the scope of his other deliriously over the top films such as Starship Troopers and Robocop which also heavily feature nudity, vomit and violence. You Don’t Nomi is so enjoyable immediately afterwards I re-watched Showgirls. Twice.

ROGER WATERS: US + THEM

Cert 15 Stars 3

Fans of veteran British rock band Pink Floyd will enjoy this concert recording of former bassist Roger Waters filmed in Amsterdam in June 2018 as part of his sell-out arena tour.

It features songs from Floyd’s best albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall, as well as Water’s last album, Is This The Life We Really Want?

He’s clearly outraged at the state of the world though this a very safe, comfortable and corporate form of protest. State of the art stage visuals offer political commentary and include Pink Floyd’s iconic flying pig.

 

CLEANING UP THE TOWN: REMEMBERING GHOSTBUSTERS

Cert 12 Stars 3

My favourite film from the 1980’s which didn’t star Harrison Ford, Ghostbusters was a box office supernatural smash featuring ground-breaking visual effects and a chart topping theme song from Ray Parker Jr.

12 years in the making, this affectionate, entertaining and remarkably self-financed documentary from filmmakers Anthony and Claire Bueno is a warm and heartfelt tribute and a joy for all fans of the first film.

Exploring its success and impact on popular culture, interviews include cast members Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver.

The next in the series, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is on hold until March next year.