Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Wednesday morning batch

Yesterday I saw six features, most of which were rather good, I managed to see two documenteries, thus failing in my boycott of same, although they were the ones I was thinking fo seeing's today's batch.

American Blackout

Directed by
Ian Inaba

Extreme left-wing propaganda films are stylish nowadays. For instance, this documentary that recounts the fall of Rep. Cynthia McKinney(D-Ga) from respected politician to national joke is treated as the tale of a put-upon heroine.

The filmmakers talk incessantly about the truth while lying through their teeth. They say that in 2002 white voters in McKinney's racially gerrymandered district violated the Voting rights act of 1965 by VOTING!!!! Horrors!!! This particular part of the film is by far the most hypocritical thing I have seen in ages. Especially as the film goes on interminably on how Blacks are disenfranchised and the and there's an apartheid voting system in the United States. This is so over the top that it makes one feel sorry for George W. Bush.

This is the sort of thing that's got the President reelected in the first place. This is preaching to the converted only and will do the cause NO good.


Written and Directed
by Kirby Dick

Ever wonder how a film gets that rating? Why some films that are really gross get a PG-13 and a otherwise chaste film with a little bit of pubic hair gets an NC-17? Why, for example does an ultra-violent comic book flick get an “R” while a flash of penis is given NC-17?

Well, so does Oscar-nominated Kirby Dick, a documentary filmmaker who like many an independent doesn't understand why the hell they got themselves screwed by the MPAA's film raters.

So, Dick hired private eye Becky Altringer of Ariel Investigations, to find out exactly WHO has this power and how they wield it.

This is a breakthrough investigation, as these people are secretive and powerful to the extreme. Who they are and why they do what they do is one of Hollywood's best-kept secret. Do these people actually have the children of America's interests truly at heart or are they just tools of the movie industry who want to destroy independent cinema?

This is both a very funny and very disturbing film. The idea of an unaccountable group with absolute power (there is an appeal system, but it's just as bad and the appellates almost never get satisfaction.) The reasons that a film gets the dreaded NC-17 is completely subjective. They actually count the “fucks” and “shits” and sexual positions are analyzed in a particularly prudish way.

Dick interviews some of the top independent directors and some really nasty horror stories are recounted, while the investigators actually find who's actually doing the ratings and names are named. This is going to cause a big stink, which if you think about it is really good. If they let you see it do so.


Written and Directed
By Maria Maggenti

Allegra(Elizabeth Reaser) is a lesbian. This is important as so are most of the people in the film. She has been going out with
Samantha(Julianne Nicholson) for a while and the relationship is going sour. In fact, Sam has decided to give up homosexuality and marry Jeff(Brian Letscher).

So depressed, Allegra lets her straight friend Molly(Jennifer Dundas) take her to a party and there they meet Philip(Justin Kirk) and the obvious happens. Love and good ol' hetero sex!!! Allegra is conflicted but decides to go with the flow, and smitten, Phil decides to leave his girlfriend of many years, Grace(Gretchen Mol). Now guess who Allegra is going to meet and fall in love with? That's right.

Predictability isn't necessarily a bad thing, and while the climax is something you can see a mile away, the journey there is actually an extremely witty and intelligent rompMaggenti's writing is first rate and all the characters have lots of chemistry together.

This is definitely worth the bucks, and may, in fact be the best lesbian romantic comedy ever made.


Written and Directed
By Goran Dukic

According to the Catholic Church, if you kill yourself you wind up in Hell. So when Zia(Patrick Fugit) offs himself, he goes to someplace less bad. A place much like Earth but grayer and without any stars.

So with no Heaven in sight, our hero is stuck in a dead-end job and spends his spare time getting drunk in the local bar, where he meets a Russian rock musician Eurgene(Shea Whigharn) who electrocuted himself with a guitar on stage. He still lives with his parents, who are also suicides. They're hanging out when Zia's old friend Brian(Jake Busey) informs our hero that his long lost love(Mary P. Gleeson) has also put herself to death. So, now Zia has a mission, taking Eugene's car and it's owner on a quest to find her.

On the way, he and Eugene pick up a pretty young hitchhiker named Mikal(Shannon Sossamon), who died of a drug overdose and wants to find the People In Charge, and appeal her eternal sentence as the death wasn't intentional.

So we have a longish road trip into the world of magical realism, where we meet all sorts of eccentric characters, including a guy named Kneller(Tom Waits) who runs a holiday camp where minor miracles are performed, and a cult leader(John Hawkes) tries to off himself again and find the next level…and yes, there is the expected romance.

This is actually a fun film and worth at least a mantinee.

Son of Man South Africa

Written and Directed
By Mark Dornford-May

The problem with filming the Gospel is that we already know how it ends. So what's the point? Even though screenwriters Mark Dornford-May, Andiswa Kedama, and Pauline Malefane translates
Jesus' life to modern-day South Africa, and then turn it into a musical. The whole thing seems extremely empty experience.

The music itself is okay, but this passion play is badly acted and rather boring. The penultimate scene is a waste of time.

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