Movies of the Week 9/21- 9/28

1) "The War Room" (Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker): About the people behind Bill Clinton's winning 1992 presidential campaign. Great inside look at a political campaign's manufacturing of and reaction to crises.

2) "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus" (Andrew Douglas): British men hear a country/folk song on the radio that inspires them to make a journey film about the American south. I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it as it's about the type of people who would like to see my kind hanging from a tree should we enter their neighborhoods. I still tried to go into it with a pretty open mind. There have definitely been movies I thought I wouldn't or might not like and I did. This one? Mm hmm. I was right. Didn't like it.

3) "Word Wars" (Eric Chaiken, Julian Petrillo): About the word-crazy people who play scrabble competitively-- in parks and in national competitions. Some nice visualizations for anagrams. Nerdy movie. Since I like words, I liked this movie and really liked some of the characters.

4) "Unknown White Male" (Rupert Murray): This is one of those movies where the title turned me off. Guess what? Movie of the week! Loved it. It's about a British guy who opened his eyes on a NY subway and had no idea who he was or where he was though he had lived there for years. Awesome look at his re-discovery of himself and his life, in part using video from as early as 6 days after he lost his memory. Amazing.

5) "Unzipped" (Douglas Keeve): Great portrait of one of the most hilarious fashion designers-- Isaac Mizrahi!! Oh how I miss his show! It was amazing!! The height of hilarity! Lol. So this was a short look back as he put the finishing touches on his line and sent it down the runway. Loved because I loved him. Interesting use of black and white primarily with flashes of color. The pops of color really woke you up.

6) "The Atomic Cafe" (Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader, Pierce Rafferty): A semi-satirical look at the paranoia surrounding the creation and use of the atomic bomb and potential use by others using only archival footage. A bit on the long side. Not terribly interesting to me but the duck and cover song from that time? Hilarity.

7) "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" (Keith A. Beauchamp): As the title shows, it's an amazingly up-close look at this story. Some technical issue but the compelling nature of the film made up for that in some respects.

8) "Southern Comfort" (Kate Davis): Follows a transgender man now dying of ovarian cancer and his transgender girlfriend. Yeah. Take all that in. It was a lot. Definitely some characters. Maybe even too much attention paid to the characters beyond the two main characters. The two had plenty going on without the distraction of the side stories.

9) "Ten" (Abbas Kiarostami): Cameras placed in the taxi cab of an Iranian woman. This movie shows 10 conversations including one with a hooker... WEARING A HEADWRAP!! Girl please. Why are you covering your hair if you're debasing your body? Ridiculous. Some interesting conversations but not seemingly related which made it just a bit of a journey film and I'm not particularly fond of those.

10) "Super Size Me" (Morgan Spurlock): You've all seen this one. Somehow I missed the beginning the first time I saw it so this was my first time seeing it all the way through. As seen, inspired a post. The movie simultaneously repulsed me and made me hungry for some Mickey D's.

11) "Born into Brothels" (Ross Kauffman, Zana Briski): A filmmaker works to get children born in Indian brothels into schools. The culture makes this a difficult, bureaucratic process. She also teaches them photography. Great movie. Another top pick for the week.

12) "Best Boy" (Ira Wohl): The filmmaker is working to get his mentally handicapped cousin to the place where he can live without his parents who are elderly and may not be alive much longer. We follow "Best Boy" as he goes through the necessary steps to achieve greater independence. I liked it.

13) "Best Man" (Ira Wohl): The update 20 years later. This felt more like a home movie. For an update it was a bit lengthy. It took "Philly," as he's called, on a journey to his bar mitzvah at 70 years old.

14) "Hiding and Seeking" (Menachem Daum/Oren Rudavsby): The filmmaker, who is the son and son-in-law of Holocaust survivors, takes his Orthodox Jewish sons to Poland to see that gentiles really can do some good. Yes, I'm serious. It was interesting enough. There were some technical issues.

15) "Tying the Knot" (Jim De Seve): Annoyingly slanted toward gay marriage and benefits for gay partners. I don't care what your position is toward any issue. When I'm watching a movie I don't want to know what it is. Either prove it or don't but don't tell me how I'm supposed to feel at the end of the movie. Let me come to those conclusions on my own because guess what? When you force the issue I care less. The plot was all over the place in this one. Jumped around way too much and there were sections that were just dead.

16) "Seven Up" (Michael Apted): Innovative camera shots. It followed 20 English children in the 1960s to learn how they felt about their lives, poor people, "colored" people, love, etc. at age 7. Too many characters. Would've been more interesting with fewer children. Oddly urgent music.

17) "7 + Seven" (Michael Apted): The 7 years later update. Now following 14 children and asking essentially the same questions. Better that there are fewer children, but there are still too many. I do look forward to watching the rest of the installments. The most recent is 49 up or something like that. I like the concept. I'm big on updates as long as they don't become tiresome. He'll have to not use too much file footage from the earlier installments to keep it from getting bogged down.

18) "How to Murder Your Wife": 1965 comedy with Jack Lemmon. I liked it. Rashan didn't. It was oddly funny with sound effects and even people speaking directly into the camera. In 2008 it would be annoying. For a period piece it was amusing.

19) "Daughter from Danang" (Gail Dolgin/Vincente Franco) : Portrayal of a woman's trip to Vietnam to be reunited with her birth mother who gave her up during the Vietnam war. The cultural divide is great (meaning wide in this case) and makes for some interesting moments on film. Some nice beauty shots as well. The main character irritated me a bit because she seemed not to have a clue of what she was getting herself into and had created this utopic meeting knowing nothing about the culture. But then of course at times I felt bad for her, too. Nice job on the part of the filmmaker allowing you to feel all of that without forcing down your throat that you should feel one way or another.


magnoliapeach said...

I think I saw number 8 on HBO. Very interesting!!! What's even more interesting?! Trying to explain the documentary to someone else, lol, you did a good job though! LOL

Rashan Jamal said...

11, 16 and 17, I liked.

18 and 19 not so much.

I think you left off African American lives.. which was good, but had some really remedial things in it.

jameil1922 said...

mp... i know, right?? lol. thx.

rj... i thought of that more as a television series than a documentary.