You may recall that a couple of months back I commented on a documentary I’d just seen called God Bless Ozzy Osbourne. In that entry, which could probably double as a mini-review, I expressed my misgivings about Ozzy in the wake of watching it, and I must reveal now that my feelings have not changed much in the interim. I was very much bothered by God Bless Ozzy Osbourne and will attempt over the next few hundred words to explain exactly why.
I must say at the outset that God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is not a bad documentary at all. In fact, it’s about as good of a documentary about the life and career of Ozzy Osbourne as you are ever likely to get. Delving into all corners of his life, it tells the tale from beginning to now with thoughtfulness and care. It should receive full credit for doing this, especially since it’s because of this thorough approach to the subject matter that leads one to the almost inescapable conclusion that, whatever else Ozzy Osbourne might be, he is not a particularly good person.
The film begins with Ozzy as a child, talking about his family and his hardworking parents, especially his father. Ozzy’s relationship with his father was contentious, largely because Ozzy was such an inveterate ne’er-do-well. When the police came for a teenaged Ozzy in connection with a robbery he’d pulled off with some friends, his father told the cops to take his son away and put him in prison. They did.
You can’t really blame Ozzy’s father for feeling the way he did. Ozzy seemed destined to be an eternal screw-up, a drain on society. For a man dedicated to his career and family, Ozzy must have seemed like some kind of alien being. Certainly he did not share any of his father’s upstanding traits.
It was only when Ozzy fell into music that things began to change for him. He got into the band that would eventually become Black Sabbath on the strength of having his own amp. That he had a unique singing voice didn’t hurt, and the band proceeded to develop a signature sound that would later catapult them to mega-stardom. As of this writing Black Sabbath has sold over 100 million records. Yes, you read that number right.
I will do a full review of God Bless Ozzy Osbourne at some point, as it’s gone at the bottom of my review backlog along with my most recent views, but I have a few thoughts to share ahead of time that I believe are worth discussion. Hopefully you’ll agree.
Before I say anything else, let me reiterate for those who have not been reading this blog for very long that I am a huge Ozzy fan. I saw Ozzy for the first time in concert two years ago last month, and I expect that my fandom had a big impact on how much I enjoyed the show. Ozzy is well past his prime musically, and his vocal performance was fairly middling, but I found I didn’t care too, too much for the simple fact that there I was, watching Ozzy, in fulfillment of a dream I’d had for thirty years. My biggest wish coming away from that night was that I had seen him earlier: 1) because he would have been able to handle the singing duties more effectively, and 2) because my hearing would have been more resilient. We are both older gentlemen now.
Anyway, we were talking about God Bless Ozzy Osbourne. The documentary came out in 2010 on the fortieth anniversary of Black Sabbath’s first album and it reached all the way back to his childhood to tell the story of this guy’s unlikely rise to fame.
I knew most of this story already. Ozzy was from an extremely poor, working-class family in Birmingham and he was a screw-up almost from the very beginning. He served time in prison. He couldn’t hold down a job. He seemed destined to live on the dole for his whole life, contributing nothing to society, until he finally died and saved anyone further trouble. I think he would have been the first one to tell you that he did not expect the way his life turned out.
On the one hand, this is a very inspiring tale, so I didn’t mind hearing it again. It was the stuff I hadn’t paid much mind to that bothered me.
Considering how much meat Americans eat, we sure do love our animals, cats and dogs especially. Though cats seem to outnumber dogs ten to one on the internet, thanks to various memes, I suspect that there are far more dog-lovers out there than of the feline variety, but if someone has figures to prove otherwise, by all means share them in the comments. Certainly One Nation Under Dog: Stories of Fear, Loss and Betrayal doesn’t touch on the cat phenomenon at all, focusing instead on man’s best friend.
I will tell you right off the bat that if you’re an easy crier, One Nation Under Dog is not the documentary for you. There’s some extremely upsetting stuff in here, including footage of dogs being packed into a gas chamber for euthanasia, so should this sort of thing be the type of depiction that will give you nightmares, and/or keep you up at night, avoid this movie at all costs. That said, I am an easy crier and I am disturbed by images like that, but I forced myself to watch it anyway. It was tough, though not as tough as those shelter dogs had it.
As you might expect from the title, One Nation Under Dog follows three thematic threads that are related only by the fact that they feature dogs. And you might be forgiven for wondering just what this thing is going to be all about judging solely from the way it begins. One Nation Under Dog starts with the story of Robert Taffet, a doctor in New Jersey, who owns a small pack of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Though it rapidly becomes clear that Taffet is devoted to his animals and they treat his family with nothing but adoration, it is also clear that the dogs represent a clear and present danger to other human beings.
Taffet refuses to leash his dogs and refuses to socialize them properly, so they become aggressive and bite-y around strangers. In what is probably the most disturbing part of the documentary’s early going, one of his dogs tears the ear off a young girl’s head. More disturbing than that, a court decides that it was all just a misunderstanding and of course the dog should not be punished. It’s enough to make you wonder just who’s taking responsibility for anything these days.
Longtime readers of this blog may recall way back in August 2010 when I reviewed The Expendables. Those of you who are new should probably click through and read that review so we all know where we stand vis-à-vis that movie, because I’m going to reference my thoughts concerning The Expendables from time to time in this review.
As a helpful study-aid for those who really don’t want to read my Expendables review, I will recap my thoughts thusly: I didn’t care for it. I felt it was poorly shot, not particularly well-structured and a general misfire. I very much wanted to like it, but in the end I did not. Which makes my decision to watch Inferno: The Making of The Expendables all the more surprising.
Well, maybe surprising isn’t the word. I chose to watch Inferno because The Expendables 2 was due to hit theaters soon, and though I had disliked the original film I was told by a few people that I might gain a new appreciation for it if I watched this documentary on the production. I wasn’t totally sold on that, but Inferno was available for instant streaming from Netflix, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a peek.
All I can say about Inferno giving me a higher opinion of The Expendables is that it didn’t. That is different, however, than saying I didn’t like Inferno or found it to be particularly wanting in any significant way. It is an entertaining documentary and it does grant some insight into why The Expendables is the way it is, both to the good and to the bad.
Inferno consists primarily of footage following Sylvester Stallone around making The Expendables. It features no narrator and no crafted storyline that we are meant to follow. It’s actually one step up from just being raw, home-movie footage, so if that sounds like the sort of thing that’ll put you off, I recommend you stay away. I’m a more forgiving sort, however, and I was willing to work with what the film gave me.