Documentary Round-Up 12/21/2011

BLOOD IN THE FACE

A fascinating, often chilling 1991 film from Anne Bohlen, Kevin Rafferty, and James Ridgeway examining the neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan movement. Featuring archival footage of George Lincoln Rockwell (illustrating how such an unenlightened point of view can take root when expressed in an eloquent, reasonable manner), the majority of the film focuses on a white supremacist jamboree in Michigan, where the participants share their ideologies with uncredited interviewer Michael Moore. A sobering look at racism in late-twentieth century America. (The title refers to Caucasian people’s ability to blush, a characteristic the Aryans believe make them superior to people of color.)

DR. MONEY AND THE BOY WITH NO PENIS

The heartbreaking and disturbing story of Brian and Bruce Reimer, twin boys born in 1965. When newborn Bruce’s penis is irreparably damaged during circumcision, his parents approach sexologist Dr. John Money for help. In a strategy the makers of SLEEPAWAY CAMP must’ve read about, Money opts to raise Bruce as a girl in an assertion of his “nature vs. nurture” gender theory. Unfortunately, as this 2004 BBC doc describes, Money’s priority didn’t appear to be the boys’ best interests (brother Brian, brought up as a traditional boy as a sort of control group for Money’s experiments), but rather his own academic renown and advancement. The emotional fallout over the rest of the boys’ tragic lives makes for poignant viewing, while revealing much about the way gender (and one’s self-concept of same) affects us.

IN SEARCH OF DRACULA

A nostalgic favorite, this one. I remember watching Calvin Floyd’s 1975 study of vampirism and its most iconic symbol–on PBS, no less–as a kid with my dad. An atmospheric look at the undead starring Christopher Lee (who, in addition to narrating, appears as the Count and Vlad Tepes), it’s a little bogged down with footage of Lee menacing heaving-bosomed ladies and a detour into Mary Shelly’s creation of Frankenstein, but it offers much enjoyment for bloodsucker enthusiasts–although, I must warn you, the most frightening thing here is the wicked ’70s porn ‘stache Lee sports in several scenes.

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