Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cinematically Speaking - 2/10/13

I've seen three of the five Best Documentary nominees, and I plan to see The Invisible War before Oscar night. Watching them all close together makes me rethink each one, examine how documentaries work, what the filmmaker chooses to show and not show. Are key facts being left out to shape how I feel about what I see?

5 BROKEN CAMERAS I saw first, thought it was great.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN I saw next, also great. Completely different story. I addressed them both in the Top Ten post.

I then watched HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, and it only serves to inform me more how to think about the first two, and will do so for whatever documentary I choose to watch next.

PLAGUE is about the AIDS activists of the 1980's and 1990's who kept pressure on the government, on drug companies to find a cure.  There's no doubt the men and women who fought then for the usual molasses-pace of the FDA to change its ways saved lives. I just came away at the end wondering if anyone in the government or anyone in the drug company was a good guy. Were they all villains, even the ones who actually, you know, found the drugs that worked? It made me wonder about SMA, the genetic condition that contributed to the deaths of two of my girls. Should I have been more angry? If I'd carried a camera with me and confronted anyone I could, would that have made a difference? I don't know. But for these guys, yeah, it made a difference. And it is breathtaking sometimes to look back at how little we knew about AIDS in the 1980's and 1990's (and I would argue, still today).


The rumors we have right now is that in addition to Star Wars 7, 8, and 9 coming, is that we'll get stand-alone movies for other characters. The three identified so far are Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett. One of those might come to pass. I seriously doubt all three will, but it means we're going to get another decade of Star Wars rumors.


More movies I've seen on DVD recently:

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (★½) - This one attempts to add another layer to the story, but at this point, Paranornal Activity 5 (and there will be one) would be better off pursuing an entirely different family. Katie Featherston is back in a small role as a creepy neighbor who will factor into the climax. In the meantime it follows a teen girl whose little brother is making friends with the weird new kid next door.  The found-footage style doesn't always work here. Who holds a videocamera while running for their life?  It's the weakest in the series. Dull, illogical and anticlimactic.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (★★★) - In Bruges actor Colin Farrell and director Martin McDonagh reunite for this story about a screenwriter who gets caught in the crosshairs of a gangster who's looking for his dog that Farrell's roommate kidnapped. It has a lot of inside-baseball Hollywood humor about screenwriting and what sells, but it has a lively cast (Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, etc.) and plenty of funny moments.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (★★) - It's strictly for minors. I like the books better.

PREMIUM RUSH (★★★) - Straightforward B-movie about an NYC bike messenger being chased through town by a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon). It doesn't try to be anything more than a chase movie, and that's great.

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