October 16-22, 2011
182) Little Fockers. Awful AWFUL film. The 10th (?) in this series that started out as a good one and has since veered horribly off track. 1 star
183) Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz stars as a terrible teacher who will do anything to make the money for a boob job. Better than Little Fockers. That's something. Crude humor. Sad, predictable writing. Not worth your time. 2 stars.
184) Intolerance. D.W. Griffith's follow-up to the much-maligned "Birth of A Nation" about intolerance through the ages. Incredibly slow-moving 3 hour 17 minute silent film that intercuts four tales. I promise you I wanted this film to end before it even started. That's not fair but I felt justified by the incredibly long shots with little to no action in the first 10 minutes alone. It picked up toward the end and I even liked one of the story lines but that wasn't enough to make this film worth watching. 2 stars
October 23-29, 2011
185) Lawrence of Arabia. This epic film is based on the true story of a British soldier's conflicted loyalties during World War I as he helped Arabs unite against the Turks. Interesting but you know how I feel about long films. 3.3 stars
186) BrotherNumberOne. Foreign documentary about a NewZealander who traces the steps of his boating brother killed by Cambodia's KhmerRouge. The film follows the surviving brother as he testifies at the trial of a murderer. It was a take on one family's struggle to get justice for a murdered family member.
187) Brother's Keeper. A documentary about four reclusive brothers thrust into the spotlight when one brother is accused of killing another brother in the bed they shared. This was one of the few times I understood and even needed the inclusion of the filmmakers. You got the impression the Wards would never have spoken in more than a few words if the filmmakers hadn't spoken up to ask questions. With the ever-changing facial hair, often similar facial hair, it was very difficult for me to tell the brothers apart for much of the film. If not for bacon and burgers, the pig slaughter scene might have made me a vegetarian. The access to the brothers as well as the courtroom was magnificent! Really intriguing, well-crafted film. 4.4 stars
188) Facing Ali. A documentary about 10 men who faced Muhammad Ali, including his most famous fights. Pretty awesome weaving of the interviews and Ali footage. Great usage of fonts. There were times where the story got off track as the filmmaker looked at non-Ali moments in the boxers' lives. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. But you know what I hate? When the wrap-up has a sad portion (Ali's Parkinsons) and there's emotional music that completely changes the tone of the film. This film would've been even better without that to detract. 3.7 stars
October 30- November 5, 2011
189) Beats, Rhymes & Live: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. Michael Rapaport follows the famous group with communications issues. Though it was filmed during a 2008 reunion tour, most of the time spent in the film has no obvious connection to the journey the film's title implies. The conflicts between Phife and Tip were sloppily handled and given high credence in the film with a perplexing wrap-up. This film probably would have been better if it was not directed by a fan. Fandom got in the way of a story line. As someone unfamiliar with ATCQ music (Yes, I'm young), I enjoyed the music but that wasn't enough to propel me through the bizarrely loose "plot" points. I was frustrated and confused trying to piece together a narrative where none existed. Rashan is a HUGE Tribe fan; but through his musical excitement, he was still able to see the flaws in this movie. If you're a Tribe fan, I'm sure you'll want to see it, but if you are a student of film, you will find it lacking. 3 stars
190) Sing Your Song. A documentary film about the actor, singer & humanitarian Harry Belafonte. The access to the actor was magnificent as the film takes a look at his career and more interestingly for me, his activism in America, the Caribbean and Africa. It also explored his role as a husband and father. I have immense respect for what he and the people around him did. Amazing. 4 stars
191) A Little Help. Jenna Elfman stars as a recent widow who reaches out to an old boyfriend for support... but he's her sister's husband. It's actually quietly funnier and slightly less drama-filled than the description implies. What's that? Oh it's an indie film that's not trying too hard. Interesting. 3.8 stars
192) Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. This documentary explores the life of a civil rights organizer at times marginalized because he was an openly gay black man in the 1960s. Fascinating subject I wish I'd heard about before reading Marable's Malcolm X biography. As for the film, scattered storytelling but some amazing footage and sound that allowed Rustin to tell his own story even though he'd been dead more than a decade before the film was made. Very abrupt ending. 3.5 stars