Documentaries

I don’t watch documentaries often, but I do love when I see a good one.  Netflix has some amazing documentaries on their “instant” list, and I’d like to recommend a few here:

1. Note by Note follows one Steinway piano from its birth as lumber to its use at a concert hall.  It is beautifully filmed, and I so enjoyed watching the craftsmanship and pride that goes into each Steinway piano.  As a pianist, albeit a frustrated one, hearing famous pianists tell about their preferences in a piano brought back memories of playing more regularly.  It is a truly enjoyable documentary!  Watch it!

2. Cropsey – I have an obsession with Kirkbride buildings.  They are architectural wonders, stemming from Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride’s theory that the environment created by the Kirkbride plan would, in part, treat patients with mental illness.  As such, the buildings are huge, with lots of light.  I imagine myself finding a close one someday and taking loads of photos there.  They are somewhat apocalyptic, because most of them are no longer functioning and are in decay, as is the setting for Cropsey.  I chose Cropsey from a list of recommendations on Netflix because it was in the “horror” section.  Cropsey is much more than horror.  It is based upon child disappearances on Staten Island near the abandoned Willowbrook State School, a Kirkbride-style building and a home for children with either mental illness or mental handicaps.  However, the disappearances, while tragic, did not impact me as much as the story of Willowbrook itself.  From the 1930s to 1987, it functioned as a place for children who were neglected and thrown away by their families.  In the early 70s, Geraldo Rivera did an exposé of the institution and brought to light the horrible conditions for the children there.  Mental institutions are often underfunded and the stigma attached to mental illness or developmental challenges both contribute to the poor conditions in institutions such as Willowbrook.  People, either in the government or elsewhere, conveniently “forget” the existence of places like the Willowbrook State School when it comes to funding or even caring.  It took until 1987 for the institution to close – 15 years after Geraldo’s story.

“What comforts me a little is that I am beginning to consider madness as a disease like any other and accept the thing as such…” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

3. Whole Hog – Whole Hog is a short film, viewable in its entirety on Vimeo, by Joe York, a friend and documentarian at the University of Mississippi.  Whole Hog is set in West Tennessee, where I am from.  In fact, Scott’s Barbecue in Lexington, Tennessee, is where we always get barbecue.  We used to go to Beech Lake during the summers and have Scott’s Barbecue for dinner (if they didn’t sell out at lunch).

Bonus!  The music was recorded at my husband’s recording studio.

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I heart Stephen King… novels.

I love Halloween.  I love horror movies (especially zombie movies).  Even more than horror movies, I love horror novels.  Stephen King is the master.  You think you’ll never be able to finish a book that is over 1,000 pages?  Just read a Stephen King book, and you’ll finish it in a week, tops.

In an age where fictional vampires can go outside during daylight hours and live amongst humans*, Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot is so refreshing (not to mention any of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, more on that another time).  I re-read it not too long ago and was reminded of how scary and secretive vampires are supposed to be.

I also read IT about 2 months ago, for the first time.  It was amazing.  A monster that can subliminally transform into someone’s greatest fear is frightening.  And It’s normal form is a clown!  Have mercy!

Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown in "It" the movie

This brings me to the point of this post.  I watched “IT” the movie yesterday.  I’m probably the last person to see this movie, since it came out in 1990, but I watched it because I wanted to compare it to the book.  Despite Tim Curry being exceptionally fitting for the part of Pennywise the Clown, this was a complete let-down.  I knew it couldn’t be nearly as detailed as the book, but the screenplay changed details without a reason to do so.  The climax – really?  They all killed IT?  If you have read the book and seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.  Oh, and the woefully miscast “John Boy” as Big Bill.  I could go on…

Read Stephen King!  He is a master of horror, of prose, of connecting his stories throughout his entire catalog.  You won’t regret it!

*I am, of course, referring to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.  I read it, and I wish I had those hours back.  She is awful, her books are awful, and those vampires should burn in the sunlight.  Oh wait, they’ll just sparkle.

Here is my review of the Twilight series on Goodreads.  Like I said, I wish I could give it zero stars.