Doc and a Drink is ALL NEW!

Doc and a Drink has been going through many changes.  Most notably, my partner in crime has decided to leave the D&D team.  I took a sabbatical from the blog.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue but, I am going to push forward.  I apologize for the break in coverage.

We now have a new look and a new style.  The post will have more pictures, more links,  and less verbage.

I just went to SIlver Docs today and I’ll be posting my review soon!

Cheers & Beers,




What are you doing this weekend?

Doc & a Drink is going to the “Our City Film Festival”.  Our first stop is the opening night party tomorrow (Saturday). It’s open to the public — Join us!

It’s at RFD’s (810 7th St, NW) and everyone knows RFD’s has an excellent beer selection.  Katy and I will be interviewing some of the local documentary filmmakers.  It’s going to be a blast.  It’s only 12.00 and all the money from the festival goes back into the organization.  Buy your tickets online – they will sell out! See you there (8-11pm).

**** Celebrate the opening of the film festival with filmmakers and VIPs.

Enjoy beer specials, great raffle give-aways, and performances by

Grammy nominee, Arts and Humanities Council of Washington grantee

and subject of past OCFF film, Blue Line

Then – this Sunday – is the main event.  The films are all about D.C. The festival is only on Sunday, at The Goethe Institute (812 7th St, NW).  For ticket information and a full schedule check the website:

AND – just added — is the closing event with the D.C Cupcake Girls…

Georgetown Cupcakes’ Sophie and Katherine will be special guests,

screening TLC’s Second Season of DC Cupcakes,Our City

hosting a Q&A, and cupcake decorating contest at the finale.

ONLY 10.00 to attend.  Buy tickets here.


5 out of 5 Cheers.

-becky beamer

The Staircase – An EPIC doc

FILM: The Staircase

FILMMAKER: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

This is a true EPIC documentary.  Well, actually it’s a mini-series.  If you like 48 hrs mystery and Law and Order you will really enjoy this series.  It’s 8 x 45min programs on 2 DVDs.  This weekend I conquered the first half.

It’s a more honest look at a serious murder case in real-time.  The access is unbelievable on both sides but, specially the defense side.

You can expect the same twist and turns of a well written drama.  I jumped between the two “sides” several times.  I really became addicted to the series in the 3rd piece.

SUMMARY:   The Sundance Channel’s consistently absorbing, often riveting The Staircase chronicles a sensational North Carolina murder case from the crime to the verdict. When Kathleen Peterson was found dead in her Durham, NC mansion in December ’01, her husband, novelist Michael Peterson, claimed she had fallen down a narrow staircase. The authorities disagreed, and Peterson was charged with first degree murder.  The filmmakers follow the prosecution investigators to Texas, where we see a body exhumed; there’s even a trip to Germany to look into a previous death in which Peterson may or may not have been involved.  Only two key elements remain unexplained: What went on in the jury room during deliberations? And did Peterson do it, or not? Only he knows, and he ain’t talkin’.


4 out of 5 Cheers — Perfect for a long rainy weekend.  I only wish it was streaming on Netflicks.


Give Joan Rivers a Chance!!!

FILM: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

FILMMAKER: Ricki SternAnnie Sundberg

REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

Summary: Documentarians Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg provide an uncompromising glimpse into the personal and professional life of comedian and red-carpet mainstay Joan Rivers, a woman clinging stubbornly and steadfastly to the pop-culture bandwagon. Stern and Sundberg — whose previous film, The Devil Came on Horseback, covered the Darfur genocide — take a no-less-intensive approach to their subject here, taking a hard look at fame’s bitter toll.

Joan Rivers surprised me.  Before seeing this movie I had zero interest in Joan RIvers as a person and certainly didn’t care about her career.  But now … I think she’s super hard working, strong woman, who deserves appreciation for more than her comedy.  Can someone out there try her in drama?  Her stand up is hilarious.  She can laugh at herself but, takes working very seriously.  I had no idea that she thinks “no job is too small”.  She comes across as lovable and impressive.

I totally forgot about the camera work or composition.  I was sucked into her character.

Come on everyone … give Joan Rivers a chance.

And guess what? You can stream it on Netflicks.

4 out 5 Cheers.


Who Said There’s No Money in Documentary?

The numbers are in. A handful of documentaries made over 1 million in box office sales this year.

  • Jackass 3D – Distributor: Paramount – Release date: October 13, 2010 – Box Office: $116,896,922
  • Oceans – Distributor: Disneynature – Release date: April 22,2010 – Box Office: $19,422,319
  • Babies – Distributor: Focus Features Release date: May 07, 2010 – Box Office: $7,320,323
  • Waiting For ‘Superman’ – Distributor: Paramount -Release date: Septeber 24,2010 – Box Office: $6,415,448
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop – Distributor: PDA – Release date: April 16, 2010 – Box Office: $3,291,250
  • Catfish – Distributor: Relativity – Release date: September 17, 2010 – Box Office: $3,237,343
  • Inside Job – Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics – Release date: October 8, 2010 – Box Office: $3,311,773
  • Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – Distributor: IFC – Release date: June 11, 2010 – Box Office: $2,930,687
  • Restrepo – Distributor: National Geographic – Release date: June 23, 2010 – Box Office: $1,330,894


Runner up with a decent profit :

  • The Tillman Story – Distributor: Weinstein Co. – Release date: August 20, 2010 – Box Office: $802,535


And just because you are all curious about Winnebago Man…. a few more.

  • The Art of The Steal – Distributor: IFC – Release date: February 26, 2010 – Box Office: $544,890
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers – Distributor: First Run – Release date: January 29, 2010 – Box Office: $453,650
  • A Film Unfinished – Distributor: Oscilloscope – Release date: August 18,2010 – Box Office: $320,486
  • Last Train Home – Distributor: Zeitgeist/Kinosmith – Release date: September 03, 2010 – Box Office: $285,848
  • Countdown to Zero – Distributor: Magnolia – Release date: July 23, 2010 – Box Office: $272,040
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child – Distributor: ArtH – Release date: July 21, 2010 – Box Office: $256,242
  • Sweetgrass – Distributor: Cinema Guild – Release date: January 6, 2010 – Box Office: $206,728
  • South Of The Border – Distributor: Studio Libre – Release date: June 25, 2010 – Box Office: $199,000
  • Winnebago – Distributor: Kino – Release date: July 9,2010 – Box Office: $181,039
  • Casino Jack and the United States of Money – Distributor: Magnolia – Release date: May 7, 2010 – Box Office: $176,865



More Family Drama in “Tarnation”















FILM: Tarnation  (2003)

FILMMAKER: Jonathon Caouette

This film was recommended by my friend – Craig G.  We got into a discussion about the most F*ed up movies/documentaries that we’ve seen . I think the conversation started with “Happiness” but, it definitely ended with the documentary “Tarnation”.He said “you have to see tarnation”.

General Plot:  Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette’s documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother — a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more — culled from 19 years of his life.

Yes, the story was sad.  But, I focused on the good things about the film.  I got to experience – first hand – how a person’s parents shape them as a child and continue to permeate their life as adult – even if they are nuts. The most impressive thing was the amount of video gathered from the main character’s childhood.  I was impressed by the density of footage, audio recordings, and photographs collected for the film.  He showed all of his family’s faults.  I am sure that wasn’t easy but, hopefully –it was therapeutic.

The film was all about the filmmaker.  This was the films advantage and main disadvantage.  I can’t imagine the director doing another film.  This one was so indulgent.  It was the type of indulgent usually reserved for well-known narrative directors like Quentin  Tarantino.

I do also really like the film’s tag line.  “Your Greatest Creation is the Life you Lead.”

Cheers and Beers — becky beamer

4 out of 5 Cheers.

FILM REVIEW: Dogtown and Z-Boys

FILM: Dogtown and Z-Boys

FILMMAKER: Stacy Peralta

REVIEWER: Kathleen B. Jones

I am revisiting some of my favorite docs while I’m on the road.  (All praise Netflix Instant!).  Most recently I rewatched every 90s teen punk skateboarder wannabe favorite Dogtown and Z-Boys.  I remember this doc as being super awesome when I first saw it (it was realeased in 2001) but wasn’t sure I wasn’t viewing it through the lens of a 20-something media student who totally like thought boys who skateboarded and listened to Black Flag were like totally hot.  Tastes haven’t changed.  Movie is awesome, still like dude who listens to Black Flag.

Dogtown and Z-Boys is the story of a skater gang from California who defined 70s skateboard culture.   The fact that the filmmaker, Stacy Peralta, was one of the Z-Boys, could have made it suck (there’s a rule about being too close to what your filming), but instead it makes it awesome.  The other members of the team talk to him like a person, like, “you remember how Johnny was” and it makes you the audience feel like you’re a part of the experience.  Like you totally know these guys, even though they would totally never actually talk to you.

Peralta himself appears as one of the interviewed characters, as he should since he was a part of that experience, but he doesn’t narrate. Sean Penn does the narration as an omniscient 3rd person narrator.  So you get to feel how much Peralta is personally involved in the story, and cared about making a great film about an experience he was part of, but it’s not like just wanted to talk about himself.

Now, these were a violent bunch of kids who broke into people’s homes and damaged property and ran from the cops and had a total subculture to themselves.  As adults, they don’t lie about it, or hide from it.  The interview with Jay Adams whose life after the crew broke up descended into drugs and jail is a really powerful experience.

It’s a great film, with an authentic voice, great story, thoughtful filmmaker, fantastic historical footage and kind of inspiring subtext.  Kids follow their passion and achieve greatness, with some consequences attached.  They are a totally multi-cultural crew, and they had a chick on their team.  I dug it so much I think I’m actually going to buy it and it will be one of the few docs I keep around to watch over and over again and analyze.   I’m giving it one less than five stars because there were a couple interviews I couldn’t figure out – like why Henry Rollins was in it.

I found the Z-Boys story and Peralta as a filmmaker intriguing. I’m also really interested in seeing what Peralta did next, which was make a film about the Crips and Bloods.  I’m interested in seeing how his life story as part of a gang helps to inform his choices as a filmmaker.  So hopefully I’ll watch that next week.

Four out of five stars.

Katy B. Jones

Between the Folds — there’s room for improvement

So I was really stoked when “Between the Folds” came out last year, I tried to see it twice, and both times the screenings were totally full. It’s the story of origami as art. And how scientists are interested in how origami works.

I was personally interested because I actually like origami, a holdover from a childhood in Japan. Really the only thing I ever fold is paper cranes, and I only do it when I’m feeling sick, because I really believed in that story “1,000 paper cranes” when I was a kid. But, nevertheless, I still like to think I know something about origami.

Also, I was interested because, hello, I’m a science groupie, and every scientist I talk to is totally stoked on origami, so I thought it would be awesome. I love that intersection between art and science.

But I was pretty let down. This just was not awesome at all. It was a bunch of semi-boring interviews, and precious-sounding narration that made origami look less cool than it actually is.

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while. The interviews sounded like there were interesting soundbites. I still think origami is cool. Why isn’t this documentary awesome?

Maybe it’s that part of artists that take themselves too seriously. Like one guy made weird gnomes as his expression of art, and the interview made him seem like he just had no sense of humor whatsoever – like these artists were just overearnest all the time. It’s strange, their earnestness about their art made them seem – flat. One-noted. And the structure of the film, so modular. Not awesome.

I actually got bored.
I’m giving it a three. I still learned something, and the camerawork and lighting was nice if not overly creative. I just had really ridiculously high expectations.

—3 out of 5 Cheers

—Katy J.

Silverdocs is NEXT WEEK ….. hollllllla

The D.C area’s best documentary Film Festival and arguably one of the most anticipated events of the year invades Silver Spring next week.

Everyone should take advantage of the access to the hippest – hottest and hard to find docs.  Check out the long – the short and the conferences.

And, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, Doc & a Drink will be giving the weekly play by play as official bloggers of the festival.

Bookmark these blogs for the inside scoop:

Inside Scoop of the Week: Many of the evening shows are selling out. Buy your tickets today online!

Highlighted Doc of the Week: MEN WHO SWIM

I’m really looking forward to a doc that features Men Synchronize Swimming.  To learn more check out my blog for SilverDocs.

Cheers and Beers — becky

Event of the Month – Environmental Film Festival – Living Downstream

FILM:  Living Downstream

FILMMAKER: Chanda Chevannes

REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Living Downstream is an eloquent and cinematic feature-length documentary.  This poetic and character-driven film follows Sandra during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.

I am so glad that I took the time to attend D.C’s Environmental Film Festival’s Bonus Day on April 25th.   I saw a film that was very special.  My glowing review starts with the first scene –  The opening scene visuals are thoughtful and the narration is extremely well written.  The open also happens to be part of the trailer so I don’t feel like disclosing the narration (below) will be any kind of spoiler …

There was once a village overlooking a river.
The people who lived there were very kind.
These residents, according to parable, began noticing increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the river’s swift current. And so they went to work devising ever more elaborate technologies to resuscitate them.

So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the victims in.
This film is a walk up that river.  The river of human cancer.

Finally, Doc&aDrink has experienced an intelligent Host-Main Character.  The documentary was filled with beautifully – well composed landscapes and solid science.  Simplicity & Style of the visuals just works.  The B Roll was clean and deliberate.  My favorite scene was the beluga whales.  The scene included beluga dissection in the name of science.  It was raw and interesting.  I’ve never seen anything like it – effective.

For all those who were wondering – the screening was free  and the location was wonderful.  Please keep an eye out for the festival next year.

It was well attended and the audience included Senator John Kerry.


5 out of 5 Cheers.


%d bloggers like this: