The Vietnam War documentary

The Vietnam War poster lvscwej (2)
Telling the story of a war that figured so heavily in the news broadcasts of my childhood.
The war kinda feels other worldly in an era in which opposition forces are taken out by drones.

The TV documentary series by WETA-TV and Florintene Films is compelling.  You learn so much.  (Note, it cost $30 million to make.)
The piece on the memorial was just one of the special pieces.
Ditto, the napalm attack that caught innocent children.
The point blank execution on camera of a Viet Cong agent during the Tet offensive.
A reminder that the North Vietnamese communists could be cruel too.
John Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill.
(It’s possible that bits were missed out – e.g. peace initiatives in the early sixties.  Possbilby a tad harsh on the new regine given what they followed, and that they were to throw out the Khmer Rouge.)

So much to take in, but just one excerpt especially pertinent to today …
Episode 5 showed John McCain being interviewed by a French journalist having been shot down in Vietnam, ejected too low from a plane out of control, broken 3 limbs and having them reset without painkillers.
In the interview, his voice is trembling. He was interviewed because he was the son of a US General in charge of their military in Europe.
He was beaten up afterwards, because he had not been grateful enough to his captors on film.
Years later, he was to be ridiculed, told heroes don’t let themselves be captured and only recently, mocked cos of the physical symptoms he has as he is fighting cancer.
America, get a grip.


James Baldwin and Jermaine Jenas

I am not your Negro” is a presentation of a 30 page draft by notable and nationally known American commentator and writer, James Baldwin, who was often an effective communicator of the oppression black people in America suffered, and was emphatic in expressing that problem as an American problem, and not a black problem.
He knew, and was despairingly affected by the murders of, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Billed as a documentary, but more an illustrated editorial – and none the worse for it – the piece covered wider issues – disappointment that wealth had not brought happiness, and also brought a reluctance to hold serious views.

And then a post-screening debate.
Straight into damning mainstream education, talking up alternative schools, emphasising development of the individual and absence of any common vision or programme.
And *they*, they, expressed concern about the dominance of the right.

At some stage, some of the people present might put a documentary together about the history of Nottingham, though it seems likely any such production is likely to focus on 1958 and the race riots.
And could any such documentary do any worse than BBC 3 tv’s “Teenage Knife Crime” – first broadcast on 3 April and filmed last December.
Host is Jermaine Jenas, Nottingham born and bred.
Notts. Police refused to co-operate and when you watch the production, you get why.
Relative stats., not absolute; wild statements from Jermaine at the end like “thousands” with no justification; ordinary streets like Holgate Road filmed for an interview in the dark that makes it look like a sinister place; even silhouettes of weeds on a wall filmed at night to make Nottingham look sinister; no challenge to statements of teenagers being interviewed; allowing the notions of rivalries between neighbourhoods to go unchallenged; music to set your nerves on end.
No proper analysis of what is no longer done that might have mitigated problems and no mention of cuts to public services, although there was one moment that talked about “we” are letting the kids down.
You can’t watch a film made in your city and often in your ward without having some thoughts about what more to do.
But it would be nice if Jermaine Jenas could do the same.

O.J. – another documentary

Another telling of the O.J.Simpson story, this time a documentary that explains the society of Los Angeles that led to the hard beliefs that probably led to Simpson being found not guilty of the murder of his ex-wife and a waiter.

However, as juror no.2 points out, the police and the prosecution messed things up – failing to keep the murder scene uncontaminated; taking a suspect’s blood to the murder scene; asking Simpson to try the glove on in court; using a (apparently previous) racist police officer as a detective.
Seven and a half hours telling the story more fully than I’ve seen elsewhere.
O.J.: Made in America” is available on BBC tv i-player.
A complement to the terrific 2016 tv drama series (yeah, where are the dramas about inncocent black people being found guilty?)

Melodramatic flaws

bbc-sherlock-04-01-the-six-thatchers-screen-capture-ab0196hWell, I thought the first episode of the fourth series of Sherlock – the Six Thatchers – was great, no matter what the Guardian’s readers have commented.
But perhaps I have too willingly passed over some of the obvious flaws – e.g. not sure Sherlock should be able overwhelm a trained and experienced assassin in a fight in and out of a swimming pool. (But what do I know – turns out the original Holmes knew a type of Asian fighting.)
As for Mary’s death scene,  switched off, cos unlike when Sherlock was shot and a whole set of procedures were followed, here, even her husband, an Army doctor with military experience, did not go through all the proper procedures for someone who has been shot.
Those kind of melodramatic death scenes should have been finished by all the modern portrayals of treating traumatic injuries and life resuscitation.
All those movies involving moving vehicles out of control should now be considered flawed cos we should know better.  –
– for runaway cars – switch off the ignition;
– for runaway cars in lift shafts – a number of measures exist to stop their fall;
– for runaway trains – even in my Dad’s days, there were seven ways to stop a train.
(Mind, Mission Impossible trumped everything with a sequence showing a TGV on the Channel Tunnel route, and without the pantographs and overhead power lines used to feed power to the train – yep, not so much ‘out of control’ as ‘should never have been able to  start in the first place’.)
Still it was better than ITV 1’s alternative – the best of Morecambe & Wise sketches – cos we need celebrities who are trained on telling stories to camera explaining what was funny about the funniest ever British comedy duo on sketches honed to impart joy to half the nation at a time there and then without any explanation.
Banal, and requiring no effort.
But in a way smart, cos really, what else should you put up against Sherlock?

As for other TV highlights shown during the festive period (that I’d not seen before) –
– “The Saving of Mr.Banks” – propaganda for Walt Disney no doubt, along with some documentaries, but enjoyable anyway; and quite a few Walt Disney cartoons;
– Ricky Tomlinson on “Who do you think you are?” bringing light to why Scousers are friendly with strangers and how they got so organised; and how divides between Protestants and Catholics in the city started to be broken down (apparently a repeat);
– “Ethel and Ernest” – a cartoon of an afrtist’s normal parents and their normal ;ife through Britain’s recent history; mildly informative and gentle and pleasant and why not?
– “Doctor Who” – reworking how Lois Lane should never again be allowed to shown not being able to see the difference between Clark Kent and Superman;
– “The Real Marigold on Tour” – the Kyoto episode; highlighting how others are different without implying it makes them ridiculous.

We Will Remember


Nottingham Black Archive and Black Poppy Rose remembered heroes from the Caribbean and Africa who fought in the World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945).
Over 30 adults and 11 children attended.

Pictures and more information available in Facebook.

Happy to update with more information.

Michael Moore in TrumpLand

la-et-mn-michael-moore-trumpland-hillary-clinton-election-movie-watch-20161019-snapHis latest film, and his main attempt to persuade American voters before the Presidential election, was broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 last night.
Distinguished by someone giving themselves the time (in this case over an hour) to explore and explain the hatred targetted at Hillary Clinton which would be not targetted against a man.
Michael Moore in Trumpland” is worth the time and makes points not covered by the mainstream media exchanges.

Hillsborough tv documentary

Hillbrough documentary review d Mirror ab0620h
Painful to watch.  Starting with an extraordinary tale – of how 2 policemen initiating a new member of the force led to the Police Officer who normally controlled Hillsborough matches – and who’d averted tragedy at the 1991 Tottenham vs Wolves semi-final – was moved on and the officer who replaced him didn’t know what to do.
But then the cover-up, and how it kept going on.
Meanwhile the film explains how people died, and that 40 of the 96 might have been saved.
I know colleagues from Nottingham who were at the match cos Forest were the opponents who have stories to tell.
I went to the Leppings Lane end once, pre the disaster, for a Shrewsbury Town League Cup game in the evening, and remember  just what sense of drama and occassion came when walking through the tunnel to the terraces.
The second inquest ruled on April 26 that all 96 victims of the 1989 stadium disaster were unlawfully killed.