tue 07/07/2020

documentary

Being Beethoven, BBC Four review – from grubby kid to grumpy genius

Documentaries like this one make me sentimental for a time, until about 25 years ago, when classical music was a more or less weekly presence on terrestrial TV. Now fast disappearing from view altogether, on mainstream media and in school...

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The Kemps: All True, BBC Two review - more self-promotion than self-mockery

The spoof “rockumentary” always sounds like a great idea, but it’s hard to pull off. Largely this is because rock stars are so divorced from reality that an element of self-parody is already built in, albeit unwittingly (“everybody’s so different, I...

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Storyville: Welcome to Chechnya, BBC Four review - trauma, tension and resistance

David France’s revelatory film may have been subtitled “The Gay Purge”, but from the start it was clear this wasn’t just another documentary from Russia charting the increasing pressure faced by that country’s queer community. Since “propaganda” of...

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The Hidden Wilds of the Motorway, BBC Four review - mysteries and marvels of the M25

The nightmarishness of the M25 motorway is well known, especially if you get stuck on the Heathrow section on a wet Sunday night, but as she perambulated around the motorway’s circumference for this idiosyncratic BBC Four documentary, naturalist...

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On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour

On the Record, the latest documentary from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (acclaimed directors of The Hunting Ground), dives into the sexual misconduct allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons, the so-called ‘Godfather of Hip Hop.’ It...

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The Choir: Singing for Britain, BBC Two review - the pandemic versus the power of song

Singing in a choir can be terrific therapy for anxiety, depression or loneliness, but one of the cruellest effects of the coronavirus is the way it has restricted normal human interaction. The notion of social distancing might have been designed to...

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The Booksellers review – a deep dive into the eccentric world of bookselling

Picture an antiquarian book dealer. Typically, it’s all Harris Tweed, horn-rimmed specs, and a slight disdain for actual customers. At the beginning of D.W. Young’s new documentary we are guided around New York’s rare book dealerships, and witness...

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Tutankhamun in Colour, BBC Four review - amazing enhanced images bring fabled Pharaoh to life

Tut in colour, and he is! The new painstaking technique of colourising vintage black and white photographs and film was touchingly exploited in this documentary for BBC Four to narrate the most thrilling and best-known archaeological discovery ever...

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Echo in the Canyon review – California droopin'

Echo in the Canyon is a lamentably thin documentary about the vibrant folk-rock music scene that flourished in the bohemian Los Angeles neighbourhood of Laurel Canyon from 1965 to 1967. Though it features priceless vintage footage of the Beach Boys...

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Shutdown: The Virus That Changed Our World, Sky Documentaries review - a chaotic response and an uncertain future

It’s too early for a definitive account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this was very much a Sky News version of what we’ve been through so far. Although it seems the virus has peaked and we’re entering a tentative stage of partial de-lockdown, the...

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Krabi, 2562 review - a trance-like visitation

Have you ever visited a destination you saw on film, only to realise it’s not quite how you imagined? Filled with tourists, the scars of mass visitation, and caught between its own culture and staying commercially attractive. The Thai city of Krabi...

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A House Through Time, Series 3, BBC Two review - Bristol under the microscope

David Olusoga’s A House Through Time concept (BBC Two) has proved a popular hit, using a specific property as a keyhole through which to observe historical and social changes. After previously picking sites in Liverpool and Newcastle, this time he’s...

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