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:  http://www.yachad-dc.org/Home.shtml

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’.

FOR MORE INFO: http://www.peterson-staircase.com/

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.


The Topp Twins — True Kiwiana

FILM: Topp Twins – The Untouchable Girls

FILMMAKER: Leanne Pooley

REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

This documentary is true kiwiana.  If you aren’t sure what that is – I guess you’ll have to watch.  The documentary was shown prime time on NZ Channel 1.  It’s a free channel here in New Zealand.  Actually, this documentary has taken nearly $2 million at the NZ Box Office making it the Top Documentary Film ever released in New Zealand !

Summary:  Leanne Pooley’s documentary – offers a revealing look into the lives of the world’s only yodeling lesbian twin country-and-western singers.

The documentary was shot and composed in a very traditional manner and thus a bit dry.  But, it was watchable because the twins have a good story.  They are unique and special.  I found myself downloading a few of their songs from iTunes.  If you notice them coming to a folk festival near you – most definitely check them out!

The official website and trailer for the movie: http://topptwins.com/tv-and-film/untouchable-girls


Twins Rule !

3 out of 5 Cheers

b.b  (I may be a Twin)


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.

Doc of the Week : This Film is Not Yet Rated!

Becky Beamer Doc and a Drink Review documentary www.beckybeamer.com

FILM:  This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

FILMMAKER:  Kirby Dick

REVIEWER:  Becky Beamer

This Film documents a history of the MPAA ratings board. Talks to numerous directors and actors about the censorship of their movies before they could be released. Includes directors, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, John Waters, Darren Aronosfsky, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan. Director, Kirby Dick hires a lesbian family of private investigators to find out the names of the MPAA ratings board and see if the raters are actually parents of children 5-17 like the MPAA tells American parents they are.

I love when documentaries make me think about something I’ve taken for granted.  Case and point – the MPAA rating system.  I started thinking about censorship and the all-powerful studios.

Knowing me, if my film was critiqued in an unfair way by the MPAA, I also would have felt the need to push boundaries and boycott the system by rolling with the “NR” or not rated cut of the film.  Unfortunately, it’s not that easy in “real life”.  The “real life” in which your film rating means distribution, marketing, and making a living.


I feel the need to mention that this documentary had great interviews with many well-known filmmakers.  The filmmakers speak quite frankly about censorship of their films by the MPAA.  Even This Film is Not Yet Rated had more than a handful of scenes that needed editing before the NC-17 rating could be removed.

Personally, I do believe that American’s can be prudish.  The MPAA is a reflection of this majority.  The MPAA is not the first system set up to regulate a type of business that ends up favoring big business.  (Check out our review of Beers Wars for another story of conquering big business).

I wish this film actually changed the ratings process.  It didn’t – but maybe it will start the ball rolling…..

4 out of 5 Cheers


Doc of the Week > Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

becky beamer painting of pollock

FILM: Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

FILMMAKER: Harry Moses

REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

What’s Art worth?  This painting worth is so controversial – a feature doc was constructed around it.

After semi-truck driver Teri Horton bought a large splatter painting for her friend for $5, she was forced to sell it in her own garage sale when her friend said she had no place for it. Eventually someone commented on the painting stating it might be an original Jackson Pollock. This documentary follows Teri, her son, and a forensics specialist as they attempt to prove to the world, or more specifically the art community, her painting is a true Jackson Pollock.

I really thought the movie was fun.   It was riddled with talking heads but, unlike other docs we’ve reviewed, the interviews were shot with great lighting and composition.  The characters were quirky and the soundbites were well thought out.  The length was perfect – not too long – and plot continued to build through out the 70 minutes.

I walked away with a new appreciation for Jackson Pollock’s’ work and character.  (spoiler alert – next sentence)  I personally think 1. Teri should have taken the 9 million offered for the painting and 2. I think it’s totally real 🙂  I also feel like taking some paint to canvas – if you know what I mean!

4 out 5 stars

– b.b

becky beamer painting of pollock documentary filmmaker

Doc of the Week: A Music Doc

FILM: The GITS Movie
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer

The rousing and heartbreaking story of Seattle band The Gits, whose promising start was cut short by the tragic murder of spirited lead singer Mia Zapata.

I run into tons and tons of music documentaries.  I usually run the other way as fast as possible but – this Doc was rated 4.5 stars on my Netflicks que.

The Gits  documentary becky beamer Doc and a Drink

After watching it – I know why the doc got a high rating – the only people who rated this film were friends and family of the artist.

Unfortunately, this documentary just came across as a glorified memorial.  I was looking for a murder mystery and instead I  was bored to death.  I learned about The Gits history as a band for the first 75 minutes of the film.  I was also disappointed by the surprising lack of quality archival video and photos of Mia throughout the film.  The family and The Gits were involved in the doc – so what happened?  I don’t know….

Is that too harsh? sorry.  I mean no ill will towards anyone related to the band.  I did enjoy The Gits music – so – go buy some Gits Singles on iTunes when you have a chance.

AND – If I haven’t scared you away – learn more on the movie’s website:  http://www.thegitsmovie.com/

1 out of 5 Cheers.


Field Trip for FEB …. SOLD (the film)

 documentary becky beamer Doc and a Drink

On February 24th Doc&aDrink “took it to the streets” and attended a screening of SOLD:Fighting the New Global Slave Trade.

WIFV hosted the screening at the Jack Morton Auditorium, The Documentary Center, The George Washington University.  What a fantastic venue!  The auditorium has extra screens for those positioned on the outside of the theater, lots of leg room, and excellent space for a speaker.

From the filmmakers:

Our hope is that SOLD: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade will do more than just expose the darkness of slavery today. There are already so many films that document what is wrong with the world, exposing us to image after tragic image, adding to our collective compassion fatigue.

The challenge has been to balance the bleakness with hope. We want people to be outraged by the problem but also to be inspired by these three extraordinary abolitionists. Each of them battles a different virulent variety of slavery, with humor, grace, righteous anger and unflagging determination.

The film was just well done.  Not too long and not too short – just the right time.  This doc boast good videography –  mixed with interesting interviews – and stock footage.  But – the most impressive thing about this documentary is the characters involved.  I was drawn to the stories of the victims and lifted-up by the volunteers who are risking their own life for child victims of the slave trade. Yes, the topic was serious but I wasn’t sad when I left my seat in the auditorium.  Instead – I was uplifted and moved towards actions.  AND that’s the point.

For more information about the film and how you can help :  http://soldthefilm.com/

4 out of 5 Cheers.


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