I’m assured it’s not too weird to have a favourite documentary, but it does still feel a bit strange to admit that I have one – and that I’ve watched it more times than I can count. I’m not sure why that seems weird; I guess I don’t know that many people who count non-fiction things as ‘favourite’.
I love music history and I love music documentaries. Led Zepellin are my favourite band. I’m a fan of (early-mid) U2, and I quite like The White Stripes. And I love rock music. So Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White in one place talking about the electric guitar, occasionally teaching each other their songs, and each going on a journey with the documentary maker about their journey to being guitar players… I mean, I was always going to love this documentary.
The moment when Jimmy Page starts playing Whole Lotta Love and Edge and White just stare at him in raptures is everything.
They play Seven Nation Army together. And In My Time of Dying. And, although it’s a deleted scene (WHY), Kashmir.
I really enjoy the background pieces for all three, although I believe very little of what Jack White says (it’s fun to watch but I take it all with a liberal fist of salt). The idea of Page playing muzak and simply revolting from sessional music, and Edge’s horror of the Irish troubles leading to Sunday Bloody Sunday; their sheer delight in music and each other and their drive to keep playing and discovering; it’s all magnificent. I could have had a bit more of them together comparing notes, but I guess I can’t have everything.
Apparently, Carthage had them! And apparently, that was eventually bad, because when the Romans caught one they took it apart, found the numbered planks, and were therefore able to copy them and make something like 200 ships in 45 days. That sounds a bit ridiculous to me, but hey….
I found this out in an old doco on Carthage – I think I taped it last year or the year before, and only just got around to watching it last night. It was quite interesting – I actually learnt something new, like that Hannibal’s father actually set up Carthage #2 in Spain, and that people in Carthage #1 weren’t entirely happy with what he did. The doco started with the founding of Carthage, basically, talking about them using the Mediterranean as their own little pond. It very quickly gets to talking about the First Punic War, of course. This section was interesting, but it also leaned towards Rome – as these things always do – with sentences like Rome becoming a naval power “at last“: as if it was (gasp) inevitable that that would happen.
The bit I was disappointed about was the section on the Second Punic War, and Hannibal. There was, to my mind, too little on the man and very little even on the war itself! I did like the bit on Cato, though; a vicious little self-important declaimer is generally entertaining, especially at a two-millenium remove.
Most disappointingly, though, was the fact that I missed the end of the doco! It stopped right after talking about Carthage rebuilding, against the Roman treaty… so I didn’t get to diss them for including the ol’ salting the earth story.
Sad me. But it was a good doco.
I saw this yesterday, at the Nova – and it was brilliant. Who would have thought that a documentary about people who make and do crytic crosswords could have been that interesting?? It really was just about the people, and their relationship to the NY Times cryptic: there is some tension around who will make it to the Championship stage of the American national competition, and then who will actually win, but it’s structured around the people themselves talking to the camera – the filmmaker is basically invisible, which is a style I’ve always liked. The people themselves were the sort of odd collection that frankly I expected. I liked that they included a few famous people – Bill Clinton, a comedian whose name I forget, the Indigo Girls – but basically the only things they talked about were the NY Time crossword. The people who actually went to the nationals were the main stars… and yes, they’re a bit nerdy (or a lot, in some cases), but they are potrayed in a sympathetic light and allowed to speak for themselves.
Definitely worth watching!