9.21.2008

Movies of the Week 9/14- 9/20

I overdid it a bit this week (It's becoming addictive watching films. I finish one and want to start another. Especially since I don't have tv or the net at home.) so the details may be sparse.

1) "Indiscreet": feature film about an affair. Stars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Love the twist. It dragged a bit due to the unwieldly length but did keep me semi-interested.

2) "Home Movie" (Chris Smith): doc about different unusual homes and the people who live in them. Amusing. More characters than I ordinarily like to follow, but still engaging and not too long.

3) "Be Good, Smile Pretty" (Tracy Droz Tragos): LOVED. This was my fave movie of the week. It was about the filmmaker's journey to find out about her father who died in Vietnam when she was 4 months old. She talked to her mom, dad's family and his war buddies. Very compelling story and I was boohooing along with the characters at times.

4) "Manhattan" (Woody Allen): Pervert.

5) "Hoop Dreams" (Steve James, Fred Marx, Peter Gilbert): Depressing because these poor black kids feel like their only way out of the ghetto is with a basketball in their hands. They go to these horrid schools and read on a 4th grade level in the 9th or 10th grade. It's ridiculous.

6) "O.peration Homecoming: Writing the W.artime Experience" (R.ichard R.obbins): Compelling stories written by ve.terans of the I.raq and A.fghanistan wars and read by celebrities. The only issue is they're mostly told through the eyes of white men. An Asian soldier was the only non-white with a significant part. One woman and 2 black guys had minor parts (about 3 minutes combined in a 1hr 17m film). There were no Hispanics. I mostly noticed because I'm sensitive about how non-whites and women are portrayed in military films.

7) "Legacy" (Tod Lending): Some chilling video. Great access to the family. I didn't really like the narration. It was redundant and unnecessary at times. Sometimes slowing down the story.

8) "Heir to an Execution: A Granddaughter's Story" (Ivy Meeropol): About the (once) controversial execution of two convicted Soviet spies from their granddaughter's perspective. Very interesting. By virtue of her relationship to the subjects, she got some AMAZING pictures and artifacts. Ironically I picked this movie up less than an hour before I read about the co-conspirator's recent (in the last 2 weeks) confession.

9) "Sound and Fury" (Josh Aronson, Roger Weisberg): Immediate impact in the opening. Amazing find that brothers, one deaf, one hearing both have deaf children for whom they're considering cochlear implants. Loved the controversy surrounding it and how staunchly people fight both for and against it, in and outside the family, with the cameras rolling. More great access.

10) "Berlin: Symphony of a City" (Walther Ruttman): Title explains what it is. Looks at Berlin from dawn to dusk in the 1920s. Another in-class silent film. I liked this one okay but it was too long as it's silent.

11) "Color Adjustment" (Marlon Riggs): About the roles for black people in television from its inception to the early 1990s. It was interesting to see shows that didn't make it past one season and why but I couldn't figure out the purpose of the film since no one seemed to believe there was a good show with black people on television other than maybe Frank's Place and yes, the Cosby Show was included. The narration was leading and adversarial but I didn't know what the fillmmaker was trying to achieve which made me say at the end "Now what? And do you believe any show could possibly live up to these standards?"

12) "Freedom on My Mind" (Connie Field, Marilyn Mulfield): A look at Mississippi workers' fight for voting rights. Introduced too many characters too early in the film, but it was interesting getting an in-depth perspective on an issue I knew a little about.

13) "Negroes with Guns" (My professors): I liked this mostly because it was set in Monroe, NC which is about 15 minutes from where I grew up. It's about a black man who advocated meeting violence with violence and armed resistance during the civil rights movement and his eventual 8-year exile.

14) Wordplay" (Christine O'Malley, Patrick Creadon): I immediately thought my mom would have to like this. It's about the people behind the NYTimes crossword puzzles and competitors in the annual crossword competition. My mom LOVES crossword puzzles. They also interviewed famous people who love crossword puzzles about why.

15) "Roger and Me" (Michael Moore): He crossed just about every single ethical boundary that exists, including lying about who he was to get access in some buildings, while doing a documentary about the fall of the auto industry in his hometown in Flint, MI which really pissed me off. Who can take a filmmaker seriously when they so blatantly flout ethical mores?

16) "The Fog of War" (Errol Morris): About former Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara. He sits down with him to get intimate details of his time while serving. I love insider looks but the topics weren't terribly interesting to me, though I did like hearing conversations b/t him and JFK. That was really cool. Some of the illustrative methods used by the filmmaker were AMAZING!! I loved that. Made me take a different look at how I can make films visually compelling.

Week 1 Movies
Week 2 Movies

4 comments:

Vdizzle said...

I remember reading about Robert Williams (or was is Taylor?) in an Af-Am History class at LSU. We had this psycho militant teacher. I didn't know there was a documentary. Gotta find it near me.

LMAO@ Woody Allen: Pervert.

the joy said...

I wanna watch the one with the deaf kids. My God bro is deaf and I find it weird that people don't know someone who is missing a sense.

What's up with the black TV one? I would have hated watching that one. There's many good black shows over the years.

Ooh puzzles!

The Ink said...

I loved/Hated Hoop Dreams.


It was so frustrating, but so real.


I coached AAU ball in Pittsburgh for a year after I left FAMU.

I realized right then that what separates the kids who make it and the kids who don't revolves almost singularly on two things.

Random chance and discipline.


The sheer volume of talented kids out there is mindboggling.

The ability to channel said talent into a coherent plan, one that follows the path to success (no matter WHAT your chosen goal is) is what separates the proverbial men from the proverbial boys.


There is nothing so annoying as Black folk who hate EVERYTHING OTHER black folk have done.

So...Wise...Sista said...

Hoop Dreams is an all time fave. Color Adjustment inspired my Masters thesis topic... particularly JJ juxtaposed with the coon, I think one theme was the persistence of racial stereotypes in TV.

So in reading your reviews, I'm never sure if you not liking a piece (too long, narration, etc) means you dont think it's well done. Like, you've seen Nanook, yes? Or even Birth of a Nation, even if you dont like them theyre considered benchmarks. *scratching my head* :)