Hey everyone and welcome back (or to!) my blog! I'm Genni, and today I'll be reviewing some documentaries I've recently seen! I actually watched these all on Netflix (which I adore). Keep in mind that I live in the US though, so the movies might not be available where you are necessarily.
**I'd like to preface this by saying that these reviews are quite longer than my normal mini reviews. If you're new here, don't worry! They're not always this long. I just didn't have the heart to cut a lot, considering that they're all about such important subject matters. **
Release Date: July 19, 2013
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
I decided to watch Blackfish out of the blue, and I am so glad I did. Before watching Blackfish, I had actually heard a lot about it. The incidents were brought up often enough on the news that it became a movie that I knew I had to watch sometime. Thank goodness sometime actually came, because I absolutely loved this movie. Blackfish tells the tale of Tilikum, a captive killer whale at Seaworld. Tilikum is a pretty infamous killer whale that received national attention after killing Dawn Brancheau, one of the best trainers (if not the best) at Seaworld. I thought this movie did a wonderful job at exposing Seaworld and the horrific things that have happened because of their policies. Watching this was hard to watch at times, because it was so heartbreaking.
Tilikum was captured in 1983 when he was two, and spent his whole life in captivity until his death earlier this year. I felt such sympathy for Tilikum throughout the film. If you didn't know, orca whales are highly intelligent creatures, and keeping them whales in captivity for their whole lives provide serious consequences. If you were kept in a house your whole life with no way to get out and having to preform for people, you'd go crazy too. Their lives are shortened dramatically (up to 20 years!), they are separated from their families, and they are put into tight quarters that can easily lead to whales getting stir crazy and hurting each other. Tilikum himself was known to be aggressive, and had actually caused two deaths before Brancheau's. And yet, he was still held in captivity (in his own separate pool away from any interaction with orcas), he still performed at Seaworld (even after causing three deaths), and his sperm was still used to make more orcas for captivity, some of which have had their own issues with attacking people.
This film really made me feel sick to my stomach. So many times the consumer is oblivious to what happens behind the screen, or turns a blind eye. Black Fish sheds a light on some of the atrocities that have happened at Seaworld, and the horrible conditions that orcas have been put under. While Seaworld has defended themselves by saying they release and rehabilitate a lot of sea life, they should focus on also taking care of the animals they use for profit. This was so eyeopening, and I highly encourage you to see this, even if there are no Seaworld near you at all.
I give Blackfish an A+. Just writing this made me want to watch it again.
Release Date: October 12, 2016
Run Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
On a different note, Tower is a documentary about the mass shootings at the University of Texas at Austin. This might come as a shock to you, but I had no idea that this ever happened. The shootings occurred in 1966, so well before I was born, but it is something that quite literally shaped my country. It wasn't the first school shooting by any means, but it was one of the first to make headlines nationwide. And to this day, it is one of the worst school shootings by death toll.
Maybe this is because I live in America, where mass shootings are quite literally an epidemic, and are unfortunately too common of a new story, but I have become very desensitized to shootings, acts of terrorism, anything along those lines. It's saddening that more than one of the major events that have occurred during my lifetime have been mass shootings, such as Sandy Hook and Pulse Nightclub. It's easy to watch the news and not really grasp that the people who were injured or died were real, and that they meant something to others. It's easy to just see a face on the screen and not think about it too much. Of course, I always sympathize, but it's hard to really comprehend how much of a tragedy it is when it can only get 10 minutes of press coverage until politics and the economy are brought up. Tower did an amazing job of making me understand the event's impacts and how horrific and life-altering the shooting was. The movie did an excellent job of presenting them as real people. I wish that every mass shooting (and etc.) were to get the voice that the victims so rightfully deserved.
The use of animation was also done excellently in Tower. It gave such a sense of atmosphere and place. Instead of having the victim's talk in front of a camera, their accounts were taken and the audio track was played over an animated portrayal of the shooting. I thought it added a lot to the movie and I was better able to grasp the dire-ness and hopelessness of the situation.
I give Tower an A.
Love Between the Covers
Release Date: April 23, 2015
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
This is the most lighthearted documentary of the three, by far. This documentary follows several romance authors as they talk about the popularity and the hate they get from the book community. Watching this was so validating. Whenever I read a romance novel, I always feel so silly and I'm bound to get a comment. My mom thinks they are basically porn, my friends don't think there's actual sustenance, etc. So watching this was just a great experience for me. Throughout the documentary, several romance authors are interviewed, whether it be about the publishing process, indie publishing, e books, etc. It was great to see everything from the authors' perspectives, and see what it is like on the other side. This documentary didn't move me in any way, but it sure did make me want to pick up a romance novel! I would recommend this to any reader (especially if they read romance or YA, because they both tend to be written off)! Besides the content material, there isn't anything for this documentary to stand out in the crowd. I don't think it's moving enough to make the impact Blackfish will, nor inventive enough like Tower was.
I give Love Between the Covers a B.