As one watches Werner Herzog and André Singer’s documentary “Meeting Gorbachev,” the mind floats back to the words of the late Gene Siskel, the film critic who was known for, among other things, a hypothetical question he posed to filmmakers: “Is my film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?”
“Meeting Gorbachev” is a film about Werner Herzog and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, having a series of three conversations, including one during which they enjoy fancy chocolates.
It’s a conversation so deeply fascinating that there’s nothing else the filmmakers could have done to spice it up. Herzog and Gorbachev could have joined forces to halt an alien invasion and invent time travel, and it still wouldn’t have packed the same wallop.
To escape the poverty of south Texas migrant camps, Homer Garza joined the U.S. Army. Months later he and his company found themselves surrounded in South Korea by an invading North Korean force.
Garza’s story is one of many shared in the PBS documentary “KOREA: The Never-Ending War.” The film examines the lasting social and political costs of the Korean War — a conflict largely forgotten in the U.S.
It also tells the story of a war that redefined the region from the perspective of families, veterans, and journalists.
Filmmaker John Maggio said he wanted to create something that wasn’t focused on solely on views of ambassadors and historians, but real people affected by the war.
In addition, Maggio wanted his project to explain why tensions between North and South Korea remain nearly 70 years after a series of diplomatic blunders and violent massacres.
“KOREA: The Never-Ending War” premieres tonight on most PBS stations.
“Oklahoma: A Past Preserved” is a 12-minute film about the history of Oklahoma.
Made in 1975 by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the film captures nearly 30,000 years of the state’s history. It was surprisingly ahead of its time in many ways.
Conversely, the short film is also representative of its moment in time. The tragic plight of Oklahoma’s Native American population is highlighted, but the depth of the tragedy is not completely done justice.
From a pop-culture standpoint, there are a lot of gems. From the narrator’s groovy, brown corduroy to the early synthesizer-driven flashback scene music and the soaring existential writing, the footage exudes a 1970s vibe.
It’s easy to think that there’s nothing left to be said, and even less to be seen, about the flight that took place on July 16th, 1969 — one that took three men hundreds of thousands of miles away from earth and let two of them step foot on the moon.
You don’t have to have seen the Oscar-nominated “For All Mankind” (1989), or any other documentaries about the space race to recall the sight of our big blue earth as seen from the Apollo 11’s passenger-side portal.
You don’t even need to have sat through last year’s biopic “First Man” to picture Neil Armstrong shuffling across the Sea of Tranquility.
Some 50 years after that fact, these sounds and images are permanently burned into our collective consciousness. What can be gained by revisiting them for the gajillionth time?
You can’t be blamed for thinking any of this going into “Apollo 11,” filmmaker Todd Douglas Miller’s chronicle of the landmark event.
By the time you leave the theater 93 minutes later, however, you’ll wonder how we were ever able to properly consider this historical occasion without this film.
“Apollo 11” doesn’t just feel like a movie. It gives you the sensation that you’ve been transported right into the middle of history.
Nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, “Green Book” has been a focus for critics and audiences this awards season — for both negative and positive reasons — but a new Smithsonian Channel documentary aims to focus the conversation on the real Green Book, a pre-civil-rights-era travel guide for African Americans throughout the U.S.
“The Green Book: Guide to Freedom” recounts the history of the Negro Motorist Green Book, a history that the movie only briefly references.
Created in 1936 by Victor Green, a postal worker from Harlem, the Green Book originated as a guide to businesses in New York City that welcomed African Americans customers.
In the years that followed, it evolved into a country-spanning travel and vacation guide that ultimately included over 900 locations (only one third of which are still standing, according to the documentary).