Quick Documentary Reviews: “Obey Giant,” “Too Funny to Fail,” “A Gray State,” “The Farthest”

By | December 31, 2017

Four different documentaries about creators…

Obey Giant…Shepard Fairey is a street artist I hadn’t heard of much before his iconic Obama “HOPE!” poster, and this is a quick bibliography of his most famous works and a little context for them. It’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Fairey, and is perhaps necessary for those like me who can’t name a street artist other than Banksy. Grade: B

Too Funny to Fail…I can still remember a few sketches of “The Dana Carvey Show,” which didn’t even last a half-season before getting cancelled by ABC in the mid-90’s. So the fact that I can remember comedy bits from the Clinton Administration means this show must have done something right, and you may be shocked to see how many big comedy stars worked on this, like Louis C.K. and the pre-“Daily Show”‘s Steve Colbert/Steve Carell who had never worked on TV at all at that point. It’s fascinating to see what all went into the series, its finding of great comedic talents, and even how ominous it is that ABC was bought by Disney (which just bought Fox) which so quickly cancelled the series for being “off brand.” Grade: A-

A Gray State…It’s hard to know who this doc is really for since I personally had never heard of “Gray State,” a would-be paranoid conservative opus that (I guess) got big on Kickstarter because of a trailer made for a movie that never got made. Well, it turns out the director supposedly killed himself and his wife/daughter, but the circumstances are more than a little mysterious. The doc starts off questioning the murders before embracing them whole-heartedly and painting a psychological portrait of the would be “director” (who never made a movie) as unstable. Yet it doesn’t probe nearly deep enough into why a guy who was so against Islam would write “Allah Akbar” on the wall in blood after killing his family. And sequences like asking two Hollywood “producers” (who have also barely produced anything) to listen in on the director’s private recordings before a meeting so they can rip him to shreds two seconds after the tape is stopped feel more than a little ghoulish. 99% of people are unlikely to be familiar with this case, and yet those that are probably won’t be thrilled to see such a negative portrait. Grade: C

The Farthest: Voyager in Space…An interesting space documentary that spends a little too much time on the recording that was put into orbit for aliens to find, but it is an interesting question: What would you put on a recording for aliens to find? What would best represent us to an alien species entirely unfamiliar with Earth? Would you go for the best of humanity to put our best foot forward or try for a more realistic portrayal? Grade: B-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.