Copyright © by Dan Schneider
I recently watched five pointless documentaries, streaming them on Netflix. They were Nantucket Film Festival’s 2nd Comedy Roundtable, Secrets Of The Freemasons, Decoding Deepak, Are All Men Pedophiles?, and (A)Sexual.
The first of the five films I watched was a 2013, 51 minute long, film that had no listed director and seemed to be little more than a goof, taped at a festival for which it was named: Nantucket Film Festival’s 2nd Comedy Roundtable. Hosted by someone named Michael Ian Black (a name I will not even bother to Google because his presence and moderating abilities were so inconsequential I care not to waste anymore time on him once this parenthetical is complete), the film is an absolute dud.
The three comedians interviewed are all well past their prime: Ben Stiller, Mike Myers, and Seth Meyers. I know and have seen some of the first two names’ films and work, but the third comedian drew a blank, and as with the host I cared not to even Google this abysmally unfunny person’s name. There was another reason I need not have bothered to, as well, and that’s because about 60% of the film is glommed by Stiller pontificating on this or that, as if he’s still somehow culturally relevant almost a decade after his last funny film. A good 30% of the film is centered on Mike Myers- two decades after his comic heyday, and the rest is on the other will not be named quantities.
After inane babble for 70% of the film, it switches gears, and questions are asked from audience members. While marginally better than that asked in the discussion between the four spotlighted people, none of the audience queries brings anything resembling an interesting answer to the question of why or why not a thing is funny, the import of humor, nor its historical context nor the future of the form. In other words, this is 51 minutes of people just farting and handjobbing. That and blatant stereotyping, long in the tooth Jewish humor, and a generally asskissy pervasion through the whole film.
I did not even bother to sit through the credits, nor Google them, but were I to guess (and I shall) I would surmise that this was a vanity project funded by Stiller to promote himself and his lagging career. Perhaps the lone highlight of the film (if one dare to plumb it for anything resembling quality) is the first audience question, which turns out to be a goof, and is a two part question regarding Shrek, and Mike Myers’ voicing of the character, but, in the time it took me to watch the other four films under review, I have totally forgotten what the query was, thus making my posit of the film’s lone highlight utterly wrong and superfluous.
Perhaps not, as superfluous is this film to a T.
Yet, somehow, even Nantucket Film Festival’s 2nd Comedy Roundtable seems a serious work of journalism compared to the 45 minute piece of schlock I watched immediately after it. It was one of those crappy National Geographic channel pseudo-documentaries, or docudramas, titled Secrets Of The Freemasons. This garbage was made a deaced ago, in 2005, and has somehow stuck around the interwebs to bore and annoy hapless watchers like me. It follows utterly rote formulae, such as asking questions that have obvious answers, presenting ‘secrets’ that can be uncovered in a 20 second Google search as something like a Holy Grail, and has narrator intonations that make every scene seem Armageddonish. The narrator is listed as J.V. Martin, and the voice is familiar, as he seems to be a staple of National Geographic and other pseudo-documentaries.
What is especially galling is knowing that I, as a National Geographic subscriber, to the worthwhile society and magazine, am somehow, if however fractionally, funding this tripe. It’s like giving to cancer research dedicated to ending prostate cancer, only to find that the researcher also directs child pornography on the side with the money he gets donated to his research.
The film itself tries to link Freemasons to ever war, despot, disease, disaster and bad thing that ever happened. Your dad came up lame after a brutal hit in a high school football game- did you know the kid who tackled him had a great uncle who was a 31st degree Freemason? Ooh, scary! Yes, this is the level of the film’s posits. Yet, if the Freemasons were really as powerful as the film claims (or any society was- be they Jihadists, Mafiosi, Cartelistas, Illuminati, etc.) would National Geographic REALLY take them on? I mean, really?
The CGI of the film is also dated, just a decade on. Most laughably are plat maps of Washington, D.C., supposedly designed to highlight Freemason symbols, which, when laid over with graphics, actually SHOWS that the claims are nonsense. Of course, the film barrels on quickly, and never returns to such graphics because, well, you know, it undercuts the film’s raison d’etre. We get the Knights Templar tossed about, and ominous claims that Harry Truman dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on because he was a Freemason, not because he wanted to end the greatest human slaughter in world history i>sigh>.
The film’s lone bright spot comes when a talking head mocks this idea by claiming it’s just as logical to claim Truman dropped the bombs because he was a Baptist, and a practicing one long before he reached the 33rd level of- well, you get where I’m going.
Get there yourself, and ignore this garbage, and all like it.
From the frying pan and into the fire, as the saying goes. Hence I went from the last moronic film to one of the most pointless and annoying vanity documentaries I have ever seen: Gotham Chopra’s pseudo-documentary on his father, Deepak Chopra- one of the early 21st Century’s greatest frauds, and one of the previously nameless stooges who rose to fame and fortune via tv talk show host and exploiter, Oprah Winfrey.
Chopra is one of the alumni of a dubious club of idiots that include Dr. Phil McGraw (a disgraced psychologist), Dr. Mehmet Oz (a disgraced medical doctor), Suze Orman (a laughable financial analyst), Maya Angelou (a horrid poet and memoirist), Toni Morrison (a mediocre novelist, but the best of this shady bunch), and Marianne Williamson (a self help guru). All of these frauds and hacks saw their careers and fortunes rise after just a single appearance on Winfrey’s now (thankfully) canceled talk show.
But, not only did these vapid twits and scammers become celebrities, but even some of their children have- see Dr. Oz’s ditzy bleached blond daughter, Daphne) on the horrid daytime food and talk show, The Chew, or Gotham Chopra, the director of this 75 minute long 2012 abomination, Decoding Deepak; dreadfully titled, as if there was anything of depth worth looking into.
Not a single shot nor moment of the film reveals that the son has any hint of talent in filmmaking, and all we get from the father (who is oddly cold to his son) are bullshit nostra of the elder man offering banalities like, ‘Who am I?’ throughout the film, and thinking that this, and other silly and obvious queries that need no real answers, make for enlightenment. We see the father wearing Elton John like eyeglasses, and in a variety of situations, including shaving his head bald to become a Buddhist monk, yet there is absolutely no hint of shame in the man. He is absolutely shameless in bilking all he comes into contact with. Deepak Chopra has less knowledge of the world’s major religions than most agnostics and atheists like me.
The highlight of this film? The very first shot of the father in this film- an awkwardly framed shot from the son, with the camera set below, looking up Deepak’s nose, and catching shots of the father’s nostril hairs. Yes, THAT made me laugh, and only this cinematic incompetence was worth spending more than a few seconds on. That, and maybe this quote: ‘I tried to remember what I dreamt about in my heart….’ Oh well, the reality is that Chopra is not that much different from atheist frauds like Richard Dawkins, and his cult of non-thinkers. Next!
Or, maybe not. If the Chopra film is bad, at least it’s a predictable sort of bad. There is, at least, a familiarity to its horror as film, hence you get a little fun knowing exactly where it is going once it raises a banality you have seen before. Not so with the 2013 film, Are All Men Pedophiles?
Oh, yes, there really is a film with this title- a man-hating piece of pseudo-scientific nonsense that is more at home with Secrets Of The Freemasons. Director Jan-Willem Bult is either a man-hating lesbian, or a recently released mental patient. Forget that the film, stylistically, is not in the least interesting, but its posit is so designed to merely titillate and outrage, and fails- it just bores and stupefies, that one has to wonder who the hell even would fund such a project?
It mangles definitions of pedophilia ephebophilia, hebephilia, and doesn’t support its arguments. It makes proclamations via a narrator that are based on, well, the narrator’s insistence. Perhaps that might gull some people were the narrator as Armageddon tone prone as J.V. Martin, but this narrator is not. Then, after much of the film is seemingly trying to walk the tightrope about whether or not these sexual attractions are good or not, the film reveals its true intentions (mildly pro-these attractions) at the end. Was this film funded by NAMBLA?
The CGI with this film is not good, but the least of this film’s flaws. Healthy sexuality- even accounting for homosexuality, recognizes that as one ages the range of sexual attraction increases, but also steadily rises, age-wise. As example, at 20, a man will be attracted to girls who are post-pubescent to usually some years his senior. By 30, though, a healthy male’s attraction will not extend past college aged females, and then a few years past his own. At 40, even college aged women seem and feel ‘childish’ to such a man. This ‘childish’ feeling reaches to the late 20s by the time a man hits 50, and to the early 30s by 60. It’s been compared to looking down the wrong end of a telescope. There are few exceptions, such as made up supermodels, but they are virtually scientific examples of female attractiveness, not personal sexual attractiveness; yet nowhere does this film discuss this telescoping of normal sexuality.
Instead, it interviews pedophiles with their faces hidden and- oh, hell, on to the final film I watched in this disastrous day!
Of course, sexual iliiteracy (to coin a term) does not end with the idea of pedophilia. No, it extends into the world of asexuals, if one is to believe the poorly made 2011 film (A)Sexual. Just as the prior film reviewed mangled its own sexual definitions, so too does this 75 minute long film, by director Angela Tucker, starting with its titular word.
To be asexual means to have no attraction to any sort of sex, to have no sex, to engage in no sex. In short, while there may be a few true asexuals amongst the 7.5 billion living humans out there, they are likely to number less than a few dozen, and the people profiled in this film clearly are not amongst that lot. They are followed over a several year period, and all of them engage in sex, some get married, masturbate (not on camera, thankfully), have relationships, etc., hence utterly renting the film’s posit.
Most of them are, instead, celibates- at least at film’s start, and the old nostrum- the greatest perversion is celibacy- kept ringing out to me. That and the fact that all the claimed asexuals clearly have something wrong with them, and it’s not that they are sufferers of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome- a syndrome that in the four years since this film’s release has been debunked- nor anything other than some personal confusions; even as the film treats this all as if it is like a homosexual still coming out of his closet. And, this is the very purpose of this film- not a documentary as much as agitprop for a supposedly new class of minority ‘victims.’
The irony is that the film shows asexuals being ridiculed by homosexuals, such as the famously nasty queer advice columnist, Dan Savage, who spends his time basically applying the same sorts of labels and idiotic judgments to claimed asexuals as was once done to homosexuals. The problem, though, is that savage does make some points about many of the asexuals that seemingly ring true (the confusion, the closetedness, etc.) in, at least, all the asexuals profiled in this film. Many of them, after the several years it took to film this documentary, seemingly admit this, and that they had simply never found anyone to connect with previously. This very fact, however, shows them to be perfectly human, and part of the larger mob of men, despite their often puerile claims of contrariness just to be different, stand out, and, let’s face it, get their 15 minutes of fame by appearing in a film.
Of course, all of these things are claims, and lacking an ability to actually read others’ minds, it’s all an exercise in guessing. But, there is no guessing that, like the other four films under review, this film is a mess, and sucks.
All in all, there was not a single one of these pointless films that is worth spending one’s precious time viewing. Anything in them can be gleaned in under two minutes of Googling. Do so.
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