The huge success of the Tiger King documentary series showed that we love watching a story about a park that is badly run by an eccentric/unsavory person, is dangerous, and ends up being an unqualified train wreck. The new HBO Max documentary Class Action Park may be about a waterpark and not an exotic zoo, the basic elements are the same, but its death count is much higher. It is a story of greed, corruption, coverups, bankruptcy, the 1980s, and ironically, some really good times as well.
I’m feeling like there’s not much to look forward to these days, so I am enjoying rediscovering the past much more. One of the better experiences I’ve had with that lately is viewing the sparkling new 4K restoration by IndieCollect of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival documentary, Jazz on a Summer’s Day.
Many fine films tell the story of charismatic teachers who change lives, and they serve to inspire. The new documentary River City Drumbeat is one of these films. Promoted as “a story of music, love and legacies,” it follows a dynamic African drumming corps for kids founded and taught by the magnetic Edward “Nardie” White as he prepares to turn the operation over to a successor after a 30-year run in urban Louisville, Kentucky.
Throughout the world, the phrase “Oakland football” conjures up images of Raider Nation, fans who glory in looking as terrifying and tough as they can. But while the Raiders are gone, the Laney College Eagles are still flying high. And thanks to the latest season of a popular Netflix series, a new image of the city’s football can emerge: A kinder, gentler one, that better reflects what we locals call Town Love. And the coach is Hella Oakland, focusing on community and guiding his scrappy (read that working-class) team members to be successful—in sports, and in life.
Do you remember a short film called Creature Comforts?
Stop motion clay animated zoo animals were given voice by a series of non-actors in series of “man on the street” type interviews where they talk about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a zoo. In 1991 the film won an Academy Award for director Nick Park and Aardman Animations.