List: 5 Other Annoying Things About Going to the Cinema 9 217

Thoughts On Film - List - 5 OTHER Annoying Things About Going to the Cinema

I love going to the cinema. For me nothing beats sitting down in a giant dark room  to watch a movie on the big screen with the booming surround sound. I’m sure many of you share the sentiment (or am I just being sappy?).

However, as much as I love going to the movies there are many, many things about the experience that annoy the hell out of me. Of course there’s the obvious ones like people using their phone (phone calls and texting aside, the general light pollution it causes is beyond infuriating), noisy/smelly food, overpriced tickets, people commentating on the movie as if they made the damn thing and so forth.

But what else is there to annoy the rest of us who just want to watch the movie in peace? We’ve listed a group of the worst offenders below.

Why do I have to wait in THIS line?!

This is a problem that occurs before you even get near your comfy viewing seat. Picture the scene: You arrive half an hour before a movie is scheduled to start (more on scheduling later) and notice the place is pretty busy. You go up to wait in line to buy your ticket and are stuck standing there for a good 15-20 minutes as the people in front you seemingly decide to buy one of every food and drink item on the menu. Or at least that’s what it seems like because you’re standing there so long.

Why is there no separate line for people who want to buy tickets and people who want concessions? This is a problem found only at certain cinemas while others have been courteous enough to offer two separate purchasing areas with two separate economic functions. But when you turn up to see a movie at a cinema which does have the problem, you’re already there, it’s too late to choose a different establishment. You have no real choice but to suffer through the waiting.

Somebody turn off the lights!

This is an increasingly common problem that’s just as irritating the 30th time as it is the first. You get yourself comfortable in your chair, ready for that familiar feeling of the lights dimming down and the adverts starting (more on that later) and then realize there’s still an annoying bright light that hasn’t been switched off right above your head. You wait. And you wait. And you wait. No one wants to be the one to go out and complain but eventually someone does and the brightness suddenly slams off like a floodlight in an action movie. Or sometimes it doesn’t happen quite so quickly and you’re stuck with this glaring light for a portion of the movie’s opening sequence until eventually it’s turned off and all is finally as it should be. If I wanted to watch a movie with that sort of distraction I’d go watch one on my iPod while standing under a lamp post.

Of all the seats in all the cinemas…

If you’re like me and you like to seek out the film showings most likely to make for a relatively empty auditorium then this unfortunate problem should seem sadly familiar. You spend a minute or two scanning the near empty rows of seats to find the perfect seat in terms of being far enough away from the screen but not too far, eye-level exactly right. You have yourself settled and then out of the corner of your eye you notice one, or two, or three (etc.) people come in and start heading up the stairs. Nah, there’s no way they’ll choose a seat near me, the place is empty! Or so you’d think. Nope, they decide of all the seats in the place to choose one of the ones in front of you to sit on. What to do now? If you move it might seem rude, if you stay your previously perfect seating choice is utterly ruined. This is a problem of inconsideration. If you’re guilty of causing this problem I politely ask you to think before you sit.

Wasn’t this movie supposed to have started by now?

This is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves when it comes to going to the movies. The cinema listings say a movie starts at 9pm, for example, and so you turn up in plenty time for that specified starting point. You enjoy/internally scream in annoyance at the music they play before that starting time for any early-birds patiently waiting for the movie to start (remember, they turned up early to get a good seat before someone sat in front of them and they had to move). You look at your watch just as it turns 9, when the cinema said the movie was going to start. But what’s this? No movie but advert after advert after bloody advert selling you everything from cars to deodorant. This isn’t what you paid your ticket price for, to sit through 10-15 minutes of completely unrelated advertising.

It’s different from everyday advertising where you pass posters and billboards trying to get you to buy things because you’re not forced to look at them. In a cinema you’re a captive audience and are being forced to watch ads for things which aren’t movie-related (for the most part). You wouldn’t expect to walk into a clothes shop and before getting to look at that new jacket you came in to buy you were sat down and forced to watch movie trailers, would you? 10-15 minutes of those trailers follow those cinema adverts but this is completely understandable because they are at least are advertising to you other movies which you might want to go see in the future. When you turn up for a movie which is supposed to start at 9pm and it doesn’t actually start until 9:30pm something is very wrong.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

The fifth and final problem on this list is another audience problem. It never used to happen as much (or maybe I was too young to notice/care) but it’s become annoyingly common. You’ve sat through almost the entire movie you paid to see and it’s clear, as is often the case, that it’s about to come to an end. But since you paid your (overpriced) ticket you’re going to stay until the credits start rolling. Why wouldn’t you? But not everyone feels that way. It doesn’t usually happen en masse but at least one person, usually someone with shopping bags for some reason, will get up and start walking out before the credits. Are they in that much of a hurry that they can’t stick it out till the end? Perhaps they are, on occasion, but it happens almost every single time I visit the cinema. Often it’s the damn person who irritatingly sat in front of me when there were plenty of other seats available, in which case I get to enjoy a view of them stumbling their way out of the aisle as I try to catch the final line of movie dialogue. Typical…

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Do you ever find yourself falling victim to one of the above cinema-going annoyances? What other alternative issues have you experienced? Let us know in the comments below!

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I'm a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features. I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.


  1. I’ve only had the joint ticket/concessions thing happen at very small independent theatres, or extremely slow times of an off-day (like 1pm on a Thursday or something), when they shunt the box office line into the concessions line because there’s only like two customers there anyway. For the most part, theatres here have completely separate box office and concessions lines, largely because the box office is almost always outside the theatre, and the concessions are inside. That arrangement could be a function of our weather, but even when I lived in St. Louis, where it gets quite cold in winter, the box office was always physically separated from the concessions, even if both were indoors.

    I’ve had the light thing happen maybe twice ever. Same with technical difficulties delaying the film. The advertising thing used to be more of a problem than it is now – most of the time now I think the ads play as part of the pre-show, and then right at the 9:00 mark (in your example), the trailers start. Now, they can still run 15-20 minutes worth of trailers, which sometimes gets to be a bit much, but I haven’t seen full-on ads for other things during the showtime for probably ten years. I guess you Brits just need to complain about it more. :p

    Wait, people leave BEFORE the credits start? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Los Angeles is unusual in that generally at least half the audience will stay all the way until the end of the credits (other places I’ve lived, I’m usually the only one staying), but everywhere I’ve lived, people at least wait until the credits start rolling, and most of the time they wait until the scrolling credits start.

    You’re going to some shady theatres, my friend. :p

    1. Perhaps American theatres are just better at fixing these problems, because all of these five things happen a lot. I guarantee you it’s not just me.

      The ads thing in particular doesn’t work that way here. There’s music playing beforehand, just radio songs or whatever, and at the start time there’s adverts followed by an equal duration of trailers. It’s ridiculous.

      1. No American cinemas haven’t fixed the problems either. I have my fair share of issues with all of these same things. Not so much the concessions/tickets thing because all of the cinemas I go to have those two things separate. But we do have the problem with all of the advertisements before the trailers too. If I wanted commercials I would stay home!!!! The light thing has happened to me a few times and people leave before the movie is over ALL THE TIME!!!! It’s ridiculous!!!!

      1. I know we’re spoiled in LA – cinemas in all other cities should just come here and learn how it’s done!

        I can remember having ads before the trailers, within the time specified as “show time,” but I literally haven’t seen that for years. We usually go to an AMC theatre, and they have a pre-show that runs for about 15-30 minutes before the show starts, showing behind the scenes clips for various upcoming TV shows and movies, then they usually have one or two ads for phones or something and concessions, then showtime hits, the lights dim, and trailers start.

        The other theater we go to often is Arclight, and it’s a premium theatre – you pay about $4 more, but there are NO ads, no pre-show, and usually only two trailers.

        1. @Jandy

          you’re spoiled in LA simply by having the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood.
          Went there on holiday to see Brave…every cinema chain in the world should learn from them – THAT is how you screen a kids film. Excellent stuff

          Back on topic, yes these things annoy me. Went with friends to see Ted the other day and three girls sat in the same row as us (we were by the aisle) wanted in and out maybe three times during the film, and then also did the “leave before the credits” thing. JEEZE!

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List: 20 Underrated & Overlooked 21st Century Horror Movies 1 1134

I love horror movies. Ever since I was probably way too young to be watching them, I have delighted in the heightened sense of fearful thrills that they deliver, whether it’s bumps in the night (The Haunting, The Others et al.) or full-on terror (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead).

Despite some of the best horrors of all time being found decades ago, I still think the last 17 years have provided some truly examples of the genre. And often this is not the highest grossing and/or most well-known but those hidden and underrated gems that sneak under the radar for all but the most ardant of the genre fans.

I’ve compiled a big list of my favourites, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Pulse (2001)

10 Alternative Halloween Movie Choices - Pulse (Kairo)

Possibly my favourite horror movie of the century thus far comes from Japan, a country that does the genre like no other. It follows a group of students who are investigating a series of mysterious and baffling suicides that appear to have been caused by a website that promises its visitors a chance to speak to the dead. It can be viewed as a shrewd social commentary on technology and the way the internet affects everyone’s lives but also enjoyed purely as a straightforward horror experience. It has a deeply unnerving atmosphere about it, avoiding cheap jump and gory scares for something far more creepily insidious.

Pontypool (2008)

10 Alternative Halloween Movie Choices - Pontypool

This Canadian horror thriller sadly flew under the radar for most people but it’s one of the most unusual and unique horrors to come out this century thus far. It centres on a group of workers at a radio station in quiet, wintery Ontario town. One particularly cold morning a mysterious virus descends upon the place, causing the victims to turn into babbling zombie-like versions of their former selves. This darkly funny, memorably surreal film presents the “zombies” in a unique way which I won’t spoil here and features amazing sound design to bring the horrific situation to life.

The House of the Devil (2009)

the house of the devil

Indie horror maestro Ti West (The Innkeepers) directs this Rosemary’s Baby-esque tale of a babysitter who accepts a late night job from a mysterious yet perfectly nice stranger (Tom Noonan). At first everything seems normal but she slowly realises something isn’t right in that big house. It’s a cool throwback to horrors of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s – including being shot in that grainy old style – eerily brooding with atmosphere and slow-building towards a nerve-shredding finale.

Visitor Q (2001)

visitor q

Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) proves why he’s one of the most striking filmmaking talents around with this tale of a disturbed and perverted family who are visited by a mysterious stranger who seems to bring some sort of harmony with him. This is not for the easily offended as there are moments that are deeply troubling, if not downright reprehensible. But it makes for a truly unforgettable experience that’s tough to shake from your mind.

Switchblade Romance (2003)

switchblade romance

A firm member of the “New French Extreme” wave of films, this follows a young woman who goes to stay with her friend at her father’s remote farmhouse. The first night they are brutally attacked by a mysterious stranger. There’s a reason the film was known as High Tension in some markets because it provides for some serious edge of your seat viewing accompanied by some wince-inducing gore. It’s unfortunately let down by a stupid, plot hole-laden ending but for the most part it’s an excellent watch.

May (2002)


From director Lucky McKee (The Woman, All Cheerleaders Must Die) comes this unnerving tale of a lonely young woman who tries her best to connect with people following a traumatic childhood. Anchored by a terrifically creepy central performance by Angela Bettis, it’s a wonderfully strange horror that keeps you on your toes and delights in providing moments of real horror shock value.

Grave Encounters (2010)

grave encounters

A bunch of good looking young people decide to stay the night in an abandoned insane asylum in the hopes of capturing some spooky footage for their Most Haunted show. Blah blah blah, we’ve seen this type of thing a million times before. But this particular found footage horror flick actually defies expectations by not only doing something interesting with the in-camera style of shooting and the “things going bump in the night” type of horror but is, most importantly, genuinely scary.

Dumplings (2004)


Raising disgust in horror a new, strange level is this Hong Kong shocker that started out as a short film in anthology Three… Extremes. Without spoiling the gag-inducing surprise, it follows an ageing TV actress who, seeking something that will return her youthful looks, visits an enigmatic chef whose dumpling recipe has a special ingredient. Don’t watch this one with a full stomach!

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

tucker and dale vs evil

What if those evil, backwards, killer hicks you see in horror movies all the time were just a victim of circumstance and unfair negative assumptions? That’s the brilliant concept behind this hilarious horror comedy, which follows a couple of friends (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) who are vacationing in their mountain cabin when they happen across a group of kids who keep being killed off around them. It’s ultimately more of a comedy than a horror – and what a hilarious one it is – but there are some awesomely gruesome moments to be found, too.

Session 9 (2001)

session 9

One of the best horror movies that few people have ever heard of, this follows an asbestos cleaning crew (including David Caruso and Peter Mullan) as they work a job at an abandoned mental institution which has a horrific backstory that seems to be coming back to haunt them. Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist), this is watch-through-your-fingers creepy, using realistic scares and palpable atmosphere to achieve its horror goals.

Rigor Mortis (2013)

rigor mortis

Who says a horror movie has to just play within that genre? This audacious Hong Kong debut from singer-turned-director Juno Mak hearkens back to the vampire flicks made in the ’80s, namely the long-running Mr. Vampire series. The meta plot follows a formerly successful star of that series, Chin Siu-ho, who becomes depressed and suicidal after his wife leaves him and goes to stay at a rundown apartment building that’s actually inhabited by supernatural creatures, ghost hunters and the souls of the undead who co-exist with the neighbours. Creepy horror, thrilling crime, dark comedy, crazy and unique CGI… it’s all in there and more.

Inside (2007)


Another of the celebrated “New French Extremity” films, this insanely gory horror follows a heavily pregnant young woman who is targeted and attacked in her own home by an scorned older woman who is clearly after her baby. Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, you’ll need a strong stomach for what is an extremely graphic but seat-clawingly tense horror experience.

Eden Lake (2008)

eden lake

Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly play a young couple who decide to have a relaxing weekend at the reclusive Eden Lake. When they confront a group of disruptive youths (one of whom played by rising star Jack O’Connell), their getaway turns nightmarish as the group start to terrorize the couple. It’s so effective because it feels scarily real throughout; there are no ghosts or demons to be found here but rather just human beings being nasty and brutal.

Them (2006)


This very scary French horror (known as “Ils” in its native language) follows a young couple who get terrorized by a group of hooded strangers at their secluded farmhouse. It works so well because the situation feels terrifyingly believable, brilliantly tapping into that basic fear of intruders trying to get into your home at night and hurt you. The jaw-dropping ending only adds to why it’s so unnerving.

Thirst (2009)


Celebrated South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker) puts his definitive mark on the vampire movie with this story of a priest (Korean superstar Song Kang-ho) who is turned into a vampire following a failed medical experiment and is forced to abandon his priestly calling in order to feed on blood. Beloved by vampire movie and international cinema aficianados, it unfortunately remains a bit lesser known in the wider field. It’s a visually striking film, dripping with brooding, atmospheric tension and never afraid to show the horrors of vampirism or the classic sensuality that goes with it.

Frozen (2010)


Definitely not to be confused with the animated Disney musical, this one has the simple premise of a group of three friends who get stuck up in ski left at a resort just as the park closes. It might seem boring just watching people stuck in one place for the whole movie but director Adam Green wrings every bit of tension out of the situation, chucking in shocks and tense “what would I do?” situations to rival the best of ’em.

Ritual (2012)


Sometimes it’s best to go into a horror film knowing as little about the plot as possible. Such is the case with Ritual, a cracking Indonesian horror from director Joko Anwar. In basic terms it’s about a man who mysteriously wakes up buried alive in the woods, with no idea who he is, how he got there or why. He then goes on a search for answers, eventually finding himself struggling to escape the clutches of a mysterious assailant. Its best to leave it there as it provides a chilling, mystery-filled ride full of twists and turns and with an absolute killer ending.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

ginger snaps

This terrific teen horror follows a couple of death-obsessed high schoolers and outcasts in their suburban neighbourhood whose morbidity becomes all too real when one of them gets bitten by a werewolf. As befits a lot of the best horrors, it uses the surface level werewolf story to examine universally relatable themes of puberty and growing up in a world that doesn’t accept being different.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

trick r treat

This wonderful love letter to the Halloween season tell its story in four segments – including a high school teacher with a secret life as a serial killer, a college virgin looking to meet “the one,” a legend about school bus tragedy and a crotchety old man who hates the holiday – each interweaving with one another on All Hallow’s Eve. Filled with chilling, blood-soaked surprises and in-jokes for horror fans, few movies exemplify that spookiest of holidays as much as this one.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

behind the mask

This hugely under-seen meta horror follows a wannabe serial killer in training who takes his inspiration from legendary horror killers like Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees. It’s chalk full of in-jokes and nods to horrors of years past – for instance, that Leslie has to do lots of cardio so he can keep up with his victims while making it look like he’s just walking – using a faux documentary style at first before turning into a scary full-on slasher.

That’s it for our list. Have you seen any of these movies? Can you think of any other underrated/lesser known gems you want people to seek out? Comment below!

List: 10 Great Documentaries to Watch on Netflix 0 773

Documentaries are one of my favourite kinds of films, whether they’re exploring a subject that I’m already drawn to or introducing me to a topic about which I know nothing. Luckily Netflix has proven a more than decent resource for docs and at this very moment have some fantastic ones available. Here’s a list of 10 such docs well worth your time.

Note: This list refers to the UK region of Netflix.



Ava DuVernay impressed mightily with her Oscar-winning Martin Luther King Jr. “biopic” Selma a couple of years back. She followed that up with this masterful documentary that looks at the U.S. prison system and its history of systemic, institutional racism. Illuminating facts such as a quarter of the world’s incarcerated criminals are imprisoned within the U.S. is just the tip of the iceberg exposed by this essential doc that looks at everything from the Civil Rights movement to D.W. Griffith’s ever-controversial 1915 film The Birth of a Nation to the state of discrimination in today’s society and beyond. It informs you with statistics and figures but never feels like a lecture, shining a spotlight on conversations that more than ever need to be had.

Cartel Land


A great non-fiction companion piece to Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, this Oscar-winning doc from director Matthew Heineman explores the murky world of Mexican drug cartels and the vigilante groups dedicated to fighting them however they can. The inherent false equivalence of the approach niggles away as an issue, particularly as you think back over it, but it’s undoubtedly harrowing and vividly showcased viewing in the moment, particularly when you see how people put themselves in such dangerous situations in order to get the footage crucial to giving us a picture of a drug war that shows no signs of ending or offering up any easy answers.

The Hard Stop


The compelling British documentary explores the case of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man and father of six who, back in 2011, was shot and killed by armed police in Tottenham after stopping him by the side of the road using the controversial eponymous police tactic. Purportedly because he was wielding a gun despite evidence to the contrary. Documentarian George Amponsah’s hard-hitting and uncompromising film explores everything from the ensuing headline controversy, the riots that it sparked and the damaged lives of Mark’s best friends, Marcus and Kurtis, who try to battle against ongoing discrimination in getting on with their own lives as well as continuing to fight for justice for what happened to their friend. Amponsah displays a keen eye for human emotion and a shrewd way of re-illuminating a story that, since the tragedy occurred, has faded from a lot of people’s memories.

The Fear of 13


There have been many documentaries about life on death row but few I’ve seen have resonated quite so powerfully on a gut-punch and profound level. David Sington’s stylishly done and piercing film explores the story of Nick Yarris, a man who spent more than two decades on Death Row on DNA evidence that, as would later show, was flimsy at best. It’s a tremendously up-close-and-personal film, with Yarris himself writ large on-screen as he tells his incredible story, full of jaw-dropping twists and turns, in fascinating detail. The eerie opening sequence is particularly potent, as Nick describes the punishing psychological effect of the enforced deafening silence on the Death Row block.

Jesus Camp


Religion is always a hot button topic and it particularly scorches in this unflinching and oftentimes shocking documentary from directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. It takes us on a journey into the “Kids on Fire” summer camp for that teaches (or indoctrinates, depending on your viewpoint) children into becoming evangelical Christians. Crucially the documentary never takes the angle that the very idea that faith itself is a bad thing but taps into how the means by which religious information disseminated particularly to young kids can be as damaging (if not more so) than the so-called immoral behaviour to which it’s trying so desperately to prevent them from succumbing.

The Queen of Versailles


This stranger than fiction documentary follows the lives of David Siegel, the billionaire owner of timeshare Westgate Resorts in Florida, and his former beauty queen wife Jackie who embark on a mission to build Versailles, a lavish house that would be the biggest privately owned, single family home in America. But it’s about more than just showcasing the extravagant life of a super rich family; it explores the effect the U.S. economic crash (David’s business was directly tied into what caused the financial crisis) has on the family – a twist of fate thrust upon director Lauren Greenfield that turns the film into a far more complex prospect – how they need to readjust their lavish lifestyle while trying to keep up appearances as they come crashing down from the heights their wealth affords them. The colourful characters that populate the film, particularly the flamboyant woman of the title, keep things entertaining as we navigate their riches-to-rags story.

Into the Inferno


This Netflix-produced documentary by the incomparable Werner Herzog would fit perfectly into a group with his other natural world docs like Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Encounters at the End of the World – it actually takes its cue from the latter as it’s where Herzog first met the volcanologist and co-director, Clive Oppenheimer, during a crucial scene. It’s an educational film but lent a purely cinematic quality, flavoured with Herzog’s signature style of fascinating insight, endearing genuine curiosity and unashamed obsession with the mystical nature of the natural world. It gives us a frighteningly up-close-and-personal look one of earth’s most ferocious natural features and the reiterates the idea that Mother Nature really doesn’t mess around.

Life Itself


Roger Ebert is probably the most famous and influential American film critic of all. He sadly passed away back in 2013 and this love letter of a documentary does an amazing job of showcasing what made him so special. It gives us a lifelong view of his time here on earth; his upbringing, him making headway into the world of film journalism at the Chicago Sun Times (where he would remain for the entirety of his career), his often tumultuous friendship with fellow At the Movies critic Gene Siskel, his marriage to loving faithful and loving Chaz and how he persevered with his writing despite his devastating throat cancer diagnosis that would ultimately claim his life. It’s a documentary that bowled me over when I first saw it, for its deep sense of empathy and sense of reverence for a man I, like many, held up as a hero. It’s essential viewing for those who felt the same about him or even those who have even a passing interest in film criticism as an art form.

The Look of Silence


Alongside its predecessor The Act of Killing, this documentary from Joshua Oppenheimer is one of the toughest and most harrowing docs I’ve ever seen as it further explores the sickening genocide that took place in Indonesia back in 1965-66 at the hands of so-called “death squads” who deemed the victims as Communists that needed be wiped out. Where the previous film took a more expansive and unusual approach – getting the killers themselves, years later, to reenact the crimes – this one zeroes in on one of the families affected by the devastating event. We see how a man named Adi plucks up tremendous courage to not only speak out about what happened to his brother, Ramli, but confront those who took his life, many of whom are still in positions of power. It’s never what you would call an easy watch but an essential one that makes sure you never forget its difficult subject matter.

Precinct Seven Five


This gripping and impressively detailed documentary from director Tiller Russell explores the murky and dangerous world of police corruption, particularly focusing on the case of Michael Dowd, a once-bright young New York City cop who in the ’80s morphed into one of the most corrupt in the department’s history, heading a ruthless criminal network that stole money and drugs while patrolling the city he swore to protect and serve. The film sidesteps cliches of cop corruption so often explored in fiction and non-fiction storytelling alike by painting an enthralling portrait of the individuals surrounding Dowd, each with their own angles to tell. It presents its fascinating documentary recounting with both panache and gritty authenticity.