‘A Peloton Of One’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Everyone leads a different life and can overcome many obstacles. Even though something can be a shared experience, the majority of the time it’s how the individual processes the situation. In regards to sexual abuse, everyone has their own story, but it takes one person to form a unity between others who have faced the same thing. In A Peloton of One, Dave Ohlmuller began his journey as a peloton of one. A “peloton” is a cycling term that means a group of riders. The title is very strong considering the subject matter; like many sexual abuse victims, he believed he was alone in his despair.

We see in this documentary that Ohlmuller was dedicated to helping the millions of Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse in this country and across the globe. He wanted to raise awareness for survivors and to shed light on the statute of limitations. He went on a solo bicycle ride from Chicago to New York to inspire other Survivors to come forward and tell their own stories. Along the way, more and more survivors join him in telling their stories. The one 700-mile ride shows the perseverance of survivors and how they have all fought for others in their own way. Ohlmuller connects his journey to so many others who have been abused within the Catholic Church over the years.

It is a fairly generic documentary, but the stories from each individual, even the members of the clergy, open up many different perspectives. It’s heartbreaking to hear all of these stories and the aftermath of each journey. One individual had taken his own life, which in turn left an empty hole in the heart of his parents, and they have kept fighting for their son. The statute of limitations has a very limited range in years varying from state-to-state making it almost impossible for children of sexual abuse to not get any justice whatsoever for their trauma. Even though the direction doesn’t do anything new in the documentary format, the subject is important enough for everyone to watch.

A Peloton of One is a heartbreaking look at the way children who have been sexually abused become individuals plagued with memories of their difficult past. In a way, this journey is meant to heal Ohlmuller, but also to assist others in expressing their truth and educate viewers on the American judicial system. There have been many stories about the Catholic Church and the stigma around sexual abuse, especially in Boston. Children do not know or understand how to process anything until later on in life, and it does affect their relationships in the future. There needs to be a way to help these young children though whatever situations they might face without leaving any form of trauma.

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Lucy and Desi’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What can be said about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that hasn’t already been said? Well, Amy Poehler brings the two of them together again in this beautiful, heartfelt documentary Lucy and Desi. What was so perfect about this documentary was the genuine care and love that went into retelling their story through archival footage, home videos, interviews, and clips from the beloved sitcom, I Love Lucy. Amy Poehler truly did both of them justice with this documentary because she understood their work ethic, love, admiration for the industry. It came from such a pure place and it translated with the structure of the documentary.

Poehler really gave us their full story with all the ups and downs done in such a tasteful manner. She even had on-screen interviews with their children, Desi Arnaz Jr., and Lucy Arnaz. Poehler also had comedy icons, Norman Lear, Bette Midler, and Carol Burnett speak about Lucy and Desi. That one-day in 1940, when two budding stars met for the first time in the RKO Pictures commissary, they were unaware that together they would change the face of pop culture. Lucy and Desi made I Love Lucy the blueprint for all sitcoms that came after it. Without them, there wouldn’t have been the surge in television that would give us many other shows, courtesy of DesiLu Productions.

The most beautiful aspect about Lucy and Desi is how they showed the impact Lucille Ball made as a woman on television and how much of an impact Desi Arnaz made as a Cuban man on and off-camera. People don’t realize the empire the two of them built while working on a show that stole the hearts of so many people. It was just really beautiful to see Lucille Ball understanding her role as a trailblazer in the industry late in her career and used her platform to empower other women coming up in the industry. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have known Carol Burnett or even Joan Rivers. She worked with them and just wanted to share the joy that comedy brings to so many. If it weren’t for Desi Arnaz and his good eye for great writing and unique story angle, we wouldn’t have gotten Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek, or, The Dick van Dyke Show.

Lucy and Desi is just such a beautiful documentary that shows Lucy and Desi as the power couple they were back in the day. Even through their divorce, they still worked together because they loved each other and how well they worked together. Even though Desi Arnaz took a backseat near the end of his career, he was still working with Lucille Ball. They had a connection from the very start and sometimes life just doesn’t work out as you thought it would. There was always a genuine love for the industry that was shared between them and sometimes that’s strong enough to hold a lifelong friendship together. Poehler made sure that you could feel the weight of their career and how much they meant to the world.

Sundance Film Festival: ‘The Princess’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

After decades of processing Princess Diana’s untimely death, she continues to evoke mystery, glamour, and the quintessential modern fairy tale gone wrong. As we all know, Diana was the People’s Princess. This documentary directed by Ed Perkins highlights the struggle within the castle and in front of the cameras. She was a woman whose very presence left the monarchy and the media completely shaken. Her every move was documented which was the ultimate invasion of privacy. Whether she was performing her rightful duty to her country, being a mother to her sons, or navigating the media landscape, Princess Diana lost her sense of self and her public persona snowballed into something uncontrollable.

The documentary is crafted entirely from immersive archival footage and Perkins constructs a narrative that many did not see all those years ago. This was a more personal approach to Princess Diana’s story, as every piece of footage that was chosen showed the full spectrum of her emotions and her true story. Even with the media swarming her, she was always gracious and welcoming, but all of that takes a mental toll. We see the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana fall apart right in front of our eyes. The interviews and body language within them, show that there was a clear disconnect and something more was happening behind closed doors. Princess Diana had to deal with so much and still present herself as the person the media created.

Watching the lengths that the paparazzi went to just to snag one photo was sickening. Yes, the monarchy needed to change, but to make them populist ultimately changed the perception of the Crown itself. After everything Princess Diana had to go through publicly; her wedding, the birth of her two boys, the adultery, the suicide attempts, and even her life after Prince Charles, all of it was done to make the monarchy more relevant and it was just self-destructive. Sure, they’ve had scandals, but once you get the media involved, these scandals take on a life of its own. We see how harmful her living situation was to the full extent, leading to her eventual “death”. Perkins structured the story through the eyes of Princess Diana and her spirit came through with the archival footage. We saw her for who she was and how all of this was unfair to her and her children.

The Princess connects the people to Princess Diana once again, but Perkins managed to show her in a different light. Even though the documentary feels a bit by the numbers, Princess Diana’s story will haunt the monarchy forever. The fact that films are still being made today to show the unfair treatment from the Crown and the invasion of privacy from the media, proves that she will forever be an example of an injustice that no one will ever fully understand. The monarchy created a monster through the media that consumed one of their kindest members. The perfect image of their institution will forever be tainted by the stories that surrounded the People’s Princess.

‘Missing In Brooks County’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There are documentaries that come along that give you more insight on a situation that the news just won’t give you. Over the years, people have noticed that some news stations, do not give you the full story. Instead, they give you, their version of the story. As we all know, one singular story, can have multiple perspectives, depending on who’s telling it. Those who dive into documentary filmmaking are seeking the truth and are asking all the right questions. Missing in Brooks County is one of the most honest, harrowing, and emotional pieces that dives into what actually happens at the United States/Mexico border.

Two families travel to Brooks County, Texas, to look for loved ones who went missing after crossing into the United States from Mexico. During their search, they meet vigilante ranchers, human smugglers, activists and Border Patrol agents. What Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss did was bring the harsh reality to the forefront. They interviewed many people, in order for viewers to understand the gravity of the situation. The voiceovers and the actual phone calls really pull you into the stories from the missing individuals. It is incredibly devastating, not only to hear their voices, but to see the aftermath of what happens to these migrants.

The horrible feeling in their gut was felt. The guilt in celebrating a birthday, while their loved one is missing, was felt. It is a terrible, sunken feeling, that you can’t quite explain. There was a balance between visually showing viewers the unfortunate deaths at the border, and the emotions that were shared by their loved ones. At times the structure of the film didn’t quite work for me, but Bemiss and Molomot always reeled me back into the story because of the need to share the truth. That is why this documentary feature is something everyone should watch. Honest filmmaking, or even journalism, is hard to come by. These stories need to be told in the right way, and the right way, is showing every single angle, even if it is difficult to watch.

Missing in Brooks County slowly unravels and leaves the viewer in a state of shock. How can any of this be happening, every single day, right under their noses? That is the one question that will stay in your mind, while you’re watching this. It is hard to accept the state of the world, and why anything this horrible would even happen. You can either shut yourself away from it, or acknowledge the injustice, and try to use your voice for some good. Your heart will ache with the families who have lost their loved ones. The search for truth is something that should keep every journalist and documentary filmmaker going. Their voices are important and will help many people understand the true state of the world and their own country.

‘Whirlybird’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Journalists are always craving a new story, they live for the fast-paced environment, and most importantly they want to tell the truth. Some stories that are covered can definitely take a mental toll on journalists and there are some situations that can stay in their mind forever. Thanks to Zoey Tur, the breaking news aspect of journalism reached its peak in the late 80s, early 90s. Whirlybird explores the dynamic journey of a young couple, who revolutionized breaking news with their bold helicopter reporting. They both dive into action-packed live coverage of monumental moments in the history of L.A., including the 1992 riots and the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase in 1994.

What was so fascinating to see was the behind-the-scenes footage from those massive stories. Everything Zoey and Marika had to go through to get the footage, in order to tell the honest version of that story. Because they were in the helicopter, getting an aerial view, they would see everything before other news crews. They created action news and everyone wanted in on it. The aerial view offered a wider lens of the situation, you could see mobs of people, you could see natural destruction for what it was, and that footage leaves an impression on you. There are raw, emotional moments, from Zoey and Marika that really make you feel for them as journalists.

Not only do we see the couple dive into their past with the archive footage, but we go on a separate emotional journey with them. The first half of this documentary sets up their relationship, and their character traits. Like most of us, none of us want to become our parents, and for Zoey, that was her main struggle during her early years. She did not want to become her father. Before her transition, her dad was the only paternal figure that really taught her what it was to be a man. It was a disjointed relationship, a difficult situation growing up, which had long-term effects on her.

The one thing that Whirlybird will teach you, is that no matter how much you distract yourself with your work, and repress your pain, or the person you truly are, everything will come out eventually. The issue there, is that you don’t know how it will reveal itself. Everyone can reflect on their past and realize their mistakes when handling certain situations. But in that moment, you’re a different person, and that is what pains your present self. Seeing what Zoey and Marika had to go through in the second-half of this film really struck a chord and made for an emotional ending.