Two Documentaries from BBC Video
Clear the Skies (October 6/05)
Clear the Skies is a slick, straight-forward documentary focusing on the events that transpired on 9/11, told in a straight-forward, chronological manner. As such, there are a lot of familiar moments here - including President Bush's now infamous reading of My Pet Goat - though filmmaker Peter Molloy deserves some kudos for just presenting the facts (ie there's no Michael Moore-esque editorializing here). But the movie loses a lot of credibility thanks to Molloy's bizarre, thoroughly distracting use of re-enactments, which calls into question the veracity of some of these interviews (ie were participants offered multiple takes in case they weren't happy with their answers?) Still, as a general overview of what went down that fateful day, Clear the Skies undoubtedly succeeds. And though there isn't much new information to be gleaned from the film, Molloy does include random bits of interesting trivia here and there (including the fascinating revelation that there were almost 5000 planes in the air at the time of the crisis, all of which had to be grounded immediately).
The Funny Blokes of British Comedy (October 9/05)
As the title suggests, The Funny Blokes of British Comedy profiles about a dozen British comedians who've found success on sitcoms (including John Cleese, Geoffrey Palmer, and John Inman). The film is hosted by Lenny Henry, who himself once starred in a popular Britcom and is probably best known to North American viewers as the star of True Identity (a long-since-forgotten early-'90s comedy in which Henry starred as a black man forced to disguise himself as a white man in order to escape from the mob). Because the majority of the performers profiled in The Funny Blokes of British Comedy are sure to come off as total strangers to most North Americans, there's little doubt that the film will have a much more positive effect on British viewers. As a primer on well-known Britcoms, however, the movie doesn't fare too badly - although it is awfully difficult to work up any enthusiasm for a bunch of people you've never heard of.