April 12-18, 2009
I did something amazing this time for the first time since I started this quest to watch 750 movies this year, two things, 1) watched the lowest number of movies in one week-- bah humbug!!, and 2) watched only documentaries.
203. Symbiotaxiplasm: Take One. Black documentarian William Greaves' experimental film in which he experiments on the actors and his entire crew.
204. Discovering William Greaves. Documentary about the aforementioned which made me understand Symbio much more easily and made me laugh at Symbio and the cleverness and creativity of Greaves.
205. A Question of Color. Documentary about color consciousness among blacks in America. Strong beginning but the film seemed to lose its way and become really obvious about halfway through. I thought it would break new ground but for me, it didn't.
206. Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice. Documentary by William Greaves which I will give you another snippet of my paper on black documentary. Ida B. Wells is an excellent film which not only teaches, but beautifully presents a difficult story to tell as the subject was long dead and for much of her life, video cameras had not yet been invented. Greaves had to rely on creative storytelling techniques, skillful narration, illustrations, photographs and an abundant wealth of Wells' own writings to allow her voice come to life. In the final moments of the film, the narrator intones Wells' words from her autobiography Crusade for Justice, "Our youth are entitled to the facts of race history which only the participants can give." This same thought is what propels black documentarians to take the reigns of their history and allow black stories to be told and black lives forever considered.
207. Langston Hughes: The Dream Keeper. Another documentary I used as research. I expected this film to be a lot more riveting but St. Clair Bourne (the filmmaker) himself calls it a "cheerleader" film which I suppose is why it skirts most of the controversy Hughes faced in his life, which as you can imagine, included the more interesting and unknown facts.
208. Hearts and Minds. Excellent documentary about Vietnam. Some heart-wrenching and graphic footage but really brings home the futility of war and of course reminds you in some ways of Iraq. Very slanted and propagandistic which is why I ranked it 4 out of 5 but still a great job in terms of structure.
209. Methadonia. Documentary about a bunch of addicts in NYC. Addicts are annoying. The film was pretty good, though, despite the less than satisfying narration.
210. Startup.com. Documentary about a company caught in the middle of the dotcom bust. The filmmakers were there from start to finish. That is a filmmaker's dream! You don't want bad things to happen to the people you're filming, but when you're doing a cinema vérité-style film where other than the start of the company, you don't really have an end, it helps to have the end happen for you. As harsh as that sounds. It absolutely is harsh.
211. Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision. Academy Award-winning documentary about the woman who designed the Vietnam and Civil Rights Memorials. I liked it a lot. Had a very clear story trajectory and I felt I could somewhat identify with the designer.
212. When We Were Kings. Great documentary about the rumble in the jungle: 1974, Foreman v. Ali. AWESOME because I had heard about the fight and of course was amazed by hearing about Ali as a child, but didn't know the outcome of this fight. It was built up to well with appropriate music all the way up until the end of the film with the title song and false ending montage. Meaning that song was so out of keeping with the tone of the movie of a powerful, cocky man and the montage made you think it was over and here they come with more movie... really? Bizarre. But overall I really, really liked this movie and was screaming my head off throughout the fight. Lol. Rashan was getting a kick out of me liking a boxing movie so much.