True Films

Revolution OS


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Two themes that normally don’t intersect in true films come together surprisingly well in this simple documentary: history and the last five minutes. Revolution OS explores the significance of trendy open-source software by going deep into its short history, acting as if open-source technology was a world-changing event of such magnitude that everyone will someday demand to know how it began. Which they probably will. Here is the film they will show later this century. The stress in on the political, not the technical. No drama, either; just clean geek history of a big idea when it started out small.

Revolution OS
Directed by J.T.S. Moore
86 minutes, 2002
$25, DVD

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Posted June 26, 2003 at 2:48 pm


Project Greenlight


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Should the desire to go to film school ever seize you, buy this 4 disc CD set instead. You’ll learn about as much and saved many thousands of dollars. HBO sponsored a contest where the newbie winner — selected from 10,000 entrants after intense auditions — gets to direct and film their first-time screenplay. Of course HBO gets to film *them* as they thrash and burn. Naturally the documentary about the making of is better than the first time film, called Stolen Summer, also included. (I actually liked it.) There’s plenty of drama in the 13-part “making of it” — back-stabbing, flameouts, hysteria, betrayals, and the uncertainty of whether the final film will be watchable. As a bonus, after 10 hours of this insider’s view, you’ll know how films are really made, and you’ll be certain you could do better.

– KK

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Project Greenlight: Season 1
Pete Jones, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
2001, 453 min.
$25, DVD (4-disc)

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Posted at 2:44 pm
in category How to do it


Winged Migration


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Fly like a bird! You are a bird in flight, wing to wing with your feathered brethren as you fly south in this remarkable film. Shot over five years by training birds to fly alongside ultra light planes in locales around the world, this documentary magically immerses you into the bird dimension. Be the bird! Graceful and beautiful, and extremely satisfying. I found it an out-of-the body experience.

– KK

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Winged Migration
Jacque Perrin
2001, 89 min.
$10, DVD

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Posted at 2:08 pm


Hands on a Hard Body


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In the South of the US, where getting a new truck is a type of rebirth, there is a little-known contest whereby a truck dealer, as a publicity stunt, will offer a new truck to the person who can keep his/her hand on a truck the longest. Typically these endurance tests run 80-90 hours, or almost 4 days. During that time, contestants must stand awake, with at least one hand on the vehicle. Each hopeful is absolutely sure they will win (what does it take besides desire?) and the candid stories of their desires are wonderful. As the hours pass into days, fatigue and insanity take over so the outcome of the test is completely unpredictable. This small gem of a film is a testament to the indomitable spirit and outright brittleness of the human mind.

– KK

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Hands on a Hard Body
S.R. Bindler
1997, 94 min
$20, DVD

Available for purchase here.

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Posted at 2:03 pm


Startup.com


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Boy, did this documentary of a dot-com startup and meltdown resurrect old memories. It’s been what, two years? Internet stock hysteria was so inflated that there are few families in America who were not touched by it in some way. Hundreds of thousands of urban workers had direct experience in this madness, but little knowledge of how the particulars worked. This fly-on-the-wall view of the birth and flameout of an Internet startup is the real thing, and should be prescribed as a catharsis if you ever owned stock in the last 5 years. Do you wonder where you pension money went? Watch this.

Startup.com
Jehane Noujaim
2001, 103 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental

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Devil’s Playground


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The riddle of how the Amish can maintain their population growth while choosing to live a stoic lifestyle in the middle of 21st century America is explored in this incredibly fascinating and brilliant documentary. When Amish reach 16 years old, they take off their hats and bonnets and immerse themselves into contemporary America with all its temptations, before deciding whether to join the puritanical Amish church once and for all. Many Amish teens delve deep into sex, drugs, and rock and roll (Amish parties are legendary and filmed here) never to return home, and to be eternally shunned by their large families. But an amazing 90% of Amish kids put beer and drugs binges behind them and take up their horse and buggy. The films follows the excruciating decisions of Amish teens wavering on the edge between these extremes, and allows viewers to enter into the Amish mindset through its youth, and to see modernity in a different light.

– KK

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Devil's Playground
Lucy Walker
2002, 77 min.
$22, DVD

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Posted at 12:15 pm