Other than his work on Nehring The Edge and AustraliaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best web site ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s A Matter of Opinion Scott Nehring spends his time teaching film and raising two boys. Scott has a background in theatre and film and produced in both mediums. While heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always looking for another writing gig, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s currently working on a Bible Study program concentrating on film.
Simon Owens: When doing film reviews, do you ever focus on documentaries? What are some of the best documentaries you’ve seen recently?
Scott Nehring: Absolutely. Documentaries tend to be thrown aside like used Kleenex in favor of fictional pieces in our culture. This is a mistake since this type of film often has the ability to connect with the audience in a way a regular narrative piece is incapable of doing. The problem with many documentaries is that the filmmaker often gets in the way of their subject (in the case of Michael Moore, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m certain he gets in the way of many things.) Many times this is due to an egotictic filmmaker who is unable to contain their desire to be the star instead of just the filmmaker (Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, Grizzly Man.) While the filmmaker often makes appearances in their film out of necessity, I think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re seeing more and more documentary filmmakers inserting themselves out of ego. This is proportional to the number of hack pieces that have been made as of late. If I see another hyper-political piece with no regard to facts or actually documenting anything other than the filmmakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s myopia IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to spew.
I just used myopia in a sentence. Who the hell do I think I am? Myopia? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m starting to read like a Gore Vidal Word-A-Day Calendar.
Back to your question. Recently, I watched two documentaries that blew me away. Born into Brothels and Murderball. The first focuses on children growing up in the slums of India as they wait to become old enough to join the lines of prostitutes working outside their homes. The latter is about the American full-contact wheelchair rugby team at the Paralympic Games. The films are entirely different in subject and style, obviously. The two productions, when put next to one another show the wide expanse of the form. Born Into Brothels is a quiet, and deeply moving film shot with cheap cameras on the fly. We are taken to a place normally hidden from the view of the international community and meet people weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d never otherwise know existed. Conversely, Murderball is a big explosion of a film. There are plenty of set up interviews, pre-ordained events that are shot (the competitions) and the personal dramas are played out in the open on the international stage. The films couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be more different. What they do have in common is a strong focus on their subject and a willingness to let the stories speak for themselves. We are confronted with needless taunts of politics, and there are no self-promoting showboats. Both films simply offer a look at humanity.
Simon Owens: Do you have a favorite genre of movie?
Scott Nehring: I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say that I treasure one genre over another. I usually think of films as falling into two genres Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1) self-important, self-aware retarded pieces of trash and then there is the stuff I like. That said, I have an affinity for westerns as I get older and I generally roll my eyes at most chick flicks. This is probably a function of being a guy more than anything else. I will admit to having a shameful attraction to zombie films. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what it is, you give me a large group of undead trudging after a small group of survivors, I just have to stop and watch. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not like I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know better. All of these films follow the same darn plot patterns and the end is never a surprise. Now, you give me a western with zombies in it, I may just wet myself.
Simon Owens: How do you think the transition from the 20th to the 21st Century has affected movies? Do we rely too much on special effects now?
Scott Nehring: I assume your first question is speaking to the advent of personal technology (digital cameras, The Internet, etc.) on the industry. The studios as we know them have to change because of the swelling independent movements mixed with the ability for these outside voices to actually be heard. The distribution channels films follow now will be broken as the power of The Internet grows. Any goof with a camera can make a movie. Once the technology is in place for any goof to have his/her film seen online, easily, everything will change. Internet and other alternative distribution channels along with grassroots film movements make this an exciting time to be involved. The fact is that Hollywood is beholden to their corporate structures and will continue to fart out worse and worse product. Yes, they make a lot of money but what they are up to is all so disposable. The whole industry has taken on a fast food culture. Half of the stars forced upon the public in the last ten years should have come with expiration dates. An industry that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t produce for the future has to fail at some point. I pray that the smaller movements rumbling the ground under the clay gods will break this spell.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not edgy for me to say that the industry does indeed lean on effects too much in many cases. The reliance on effects is usually an attempt to mask the absence of content. This particularly the case when a film has been made for purely cross-marketing purposes. If thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a video game sharing the stage with the film, watch out! The obvious trajectory is that film and video games will eventually fuse into one big ball of crap and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll all be asked to take a nibble. The turd merchants of Hollywood are more than happy to rape a wonderful artform for fun and profit. Special effects often offer a dazzling distraction while the Harvard MBA in Tinseltown sell our cultural souls for a quick buck.
Perhaps IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m being a little vague about my feelings on this one?
Simon Owens: What are the five blogs everyone should be reading (besides your own)?
Scott Nehring: Some of the sites I enjoy on a daily basis are:
1.) For film reviews the first place I go is Celluloid Heroes. Paul McElligott, who runs the joint, is the best reviewer out there. His reviews are concise and very smart. He knows what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talking about and his taste can be trusted.
2) Buckley F. Williams over at The Nose On Your Face is a solid satirist. His quirky humor really gets me. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s common for me to find myself laughing out loud when I read his posts.
3) Grouchy Old Cripple From Atlanta is a must see if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know his stuff. First of all, he is hilarious and his political posts are right to the point and most importantly correct. He also throws up the latest in photoshopped humor. Many strive to be half as good as he is.
4) For political hammering I head over to read Van Helsing at Moonbattery. Van Helsing has a sharp wit and knows how to use it.
5) Finally, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Amigo at AmigoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Place. Amigo throws up his views on politics and culture along with the stuff in his life. He consistently has well written and incisive posts that get right to the point. I always feel a little let down when I head to his site to find he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t post yet.