Documentary Review: ReMastered: Tricky Dick and the Man In Black (2018)

Release Date: 2018
Directed by: Sara Dosa, Barbara Kopple
Written by: Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist
Music by: Johnny Cash, Glen Matisoff (music coordinator)
Cast: Johnny Cash (archive footage), Richard Nixon (archive footage)

All Rise Films, Triage Entertainment, Netflix, 59 Minutes

Review:

Tricky Dick and the Man In Black is the story of how Johnny Cash and Richard Nixon crossed paths during a turbulent time in America. A time that was more turbulent than now, if you can believe it.

This covers how Nixon reached out to Cash to get him to perform at the White House, which is a hell of an accomplishment for any artist, regardless of who’s got the keys to the country. And this obviously happened before Nixon’s crimes would be exposed and he would go on to severely damage the reputation of the United States government.

Anyway, in 1970, Cash did perform at the White House. However, Cash soon developed some serious reservations about it as it became apparent to him that his ideals clashed with that of the president.

This examines what led up to the concert at the White House and the reasoning behind how Cash ultimately wasn’t happy with the regime that was in charge of the land he loved.

Overall, the subject matter was damn interesting but I feel like this documentary was too short and didn’t really get deep enough into the mud. But this story is mostly told through talking head interviews by people who aren’t Cash and Nixon, as they’re no longer with us.

This was still a worthwhile and entertaining watch, however. It just needed more meat and felt incomplete. 

Rating: 6.25/10

Documentary Review: Pumping Iron (1977)

Also known as: Pumping Iron & Stand Tall (Australia VHS title)
Release Date: January 18th, 1977 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: George Butler
Written by: George Butler, Charles Gaines
Music by: Michael Small
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, Mike Katz, Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Serge Nubret

Rollie Robinosn, White Mountain Films, Cinema 5, 86 Minutes

Review:

“The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is… The Pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that’s what we call The Pump. You muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, and it’s really tight – it’s like somebody blowing air into it, into your muscle. It just blows up, and it feels really different. It feels fantastic.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Pumping Iron is a much better film than one might think at first glance. It’s really more than just a documentary about bodybuilders, as it features Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno before both men would go on to become superstars of film and television.

With that, you really get to know these guys at this point in their lives and man, are they super competitive and charismatic. Most importantly, both of these mastodon men were incredibly driven and obsessed with taking the Mr. Universe crown.

This takes a subject that may seem completely uninteresting to an outsider and it makes it really damn interesting. The whole culture around bodybuilding in the ’70s was fascinating and this film captures it magnificently. In fact, had I been alive back then and saw this picture, I might have been inspired by it.

Pumping Iron is the culmination of multiple journeys, many of them incredible, as we see these men transform themselves just to be called “the best”. I loved the camaraderie between Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno’s family. This was just a really fun, entertaining watch.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno’s films and television shows, as well as other documentaries about competition.

Documentary: Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995)

Also known as: The Lost Films of Orson Welles (UK TV title)
Release Date: October, 1995 (Chicago International Film Festival)
Directed by: Orson Welles, Vassili Silovic, Oja Kodar
Written by: Orson Welles, Vassili Silovic, Roland Zag
Music by: Simon Cloquet-Lafollye
Cast: Orson Welles, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Charles Gray, Jonathan Lynn, Oja Kodar

Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), La Cinquieme Boa Filmproduction Ag Zurich, 88 Minutes

Review:

When Orson Welles died in the mid-’80s, he left behind some unfinished work.

None of it really saw the light of day until the ’90s when his creative and life partner Oja Kodar started compiling these works together and teamed up with other creatives in an effort to release them in some form. This is one of those releases.

This first debuted in 1995 and it’s really an anthology of unfinished films. Although, it feels more like of an anthology of shorts due to it being a varied mix of stuff, mostly little segments or scenes.

Overall, this isn’t all that cohesive and plays like a video mixtape of random Welles ideas that were put to film but never truly realized or massaged into what they could’ve been. That certainly doesn’t mean this is bad but it feels more like peering into his creative process and his experimentation. Honestly, I’m not sure what his plan was, if any.

I guess it’s hard to interpret what’s here but it’s still entertaining and the man was a fucking legend.

I can see people that are unfamiliar with Welles or who don’t already appreciate his work not digging this film at all. That’s fine. But for those who are intrigued by the man’s creativity and charm, it’s a fun look into what could’ve been.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Orson Welles documentaries and films, many of which have already been reviewed here.

Documentary Review: Life After the Navigator (2020)

Release Date: November 9th, 2020 (UK)
Directed by: Lisa Downs
Written by: Lisa Downs
Music by: Toby Dunham
Cast: Joey Cramer, Veronica Cartwright, Cliff De Young, Howard Hesseman, Randal Kleiser, Matt Adler, Raymond Forchion, Albie Whitaker

Life After Movies, Spare Change Films, Strict Machine, 91 Minutes

Review:

A few years ago, I heard about what had happened with Joey Cramer, the former child actor that was a favorite of mine because of how good he was in The Flight of the Navigator and his few scenes in Runaway.

For those that don’t know, Cramer robbed a bank out of desperation due to his bad drug habit. Upon discovering this, I also learned about his history with prison and drugs and how his life had spiraled out of control in the years since he left acting behind.

Sadly, this isn’t a story that’s too uncommon with child actors who grow up, don’t get work and have to return to a normal life that’s never going to be truly normal due to the level of fame they once had.

I’m happy to say that Joey did turn his life around and this film chronicles that tough journey. You meet his family, friends and get to hear from those who starred alongside him in The Flight of the Navigator. 

This documentary is really two things merged into one. It’s primarily about Joey, his issues and his battle to get better. However, it’s also about the Navigator film and reflects on it, all these years later, as it has become an iconic film, beloved by more than just the Gen Xers that saw it in the theater back in 1986.

All in all, this was a sad but ultimately feel good story. It was cool seeing everyone support Joey and still share their love of the film, as well. I just hope that he can now stay on the right path and keep building towards a better life than the one he lived for the last few decades.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The Flight of the Navigator, as well as the documentary Life After Flash.

Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: Part II (2020)

Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Joe Bob Briggs, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Chris Jericho, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Diana Prince, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Corey Taylor, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Tom Woodruff Jr., Brian Yuzna

CreatorVC, 263 Minutes

Review:

Everything I said in my review of the first film in this series still holds true for this one. Reason being, they’re exactly the same in what they are. It’s just that each one features different films.

I think that I like this one a wee bit better for two reasons.

The first, is that I already know what I’m getting into now. I know that this will just fly through dozens of films and not give them the proper amount of time they deserve. As I said in the previous film’s review, I’d love to see each section spread out into a full episode and have these films actually be a streaming series.

The second reason, is that I like that the films are getting more obscure, as there were a few here I hadn’t heard of. With that, I walked away from this with a list of shit I need to watch and review.

Apart from that, this was more of the same. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just wish that these documentaries didn’t fly through films and other topics so quickly.

I still like these, though. I know there’s a third one coming, which I look forward to, and there’s also one coming out on ’80s sci-fi flicks.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other documentaries in the In Search of… series, as well as other documentaries on ’80s horror.