Sunday, June 27, 2004

I mentioned GreenCine in my last entry, and noted that I received my first two DVDs from them at that time. Osama, which was an early 2004 release, was an extremely sad film about a girl and her family struggling to make ends meet under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It's a stark examination of group that finds religious cause to oppress women in numerous ways. The story shows one woman being stoned to death for a minor crime and teenaged girls being married off to old men. The title actually refers to the girl in the film - she must pose as a boy so that her family can actually make money (women are not allowed to work), and a boy who knows her secret dubs her Osama. The movie has literally no uplifting moments, and is best viewed as a snapshot of life from a culture that we really get little exposure to.

The other film was On the Waterfront, which was Elia Kazan's answer to a Hollywood that castigated him for turning in names of his contemporaries during Senator Joe McCarthy's communism hearings. The film has brilliant performances all around - including Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and a very young Eva Marie Saint. Highly recommended, particularly for those interested in film history.

I received an additional DVD in the interim; this time it was Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer. This film is a documentary about the final days of Aileen Wuornos, the "first female serial killer" who was recently portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster. I like documentaries as a genre quite a bit, and "Aileen" proved to be a fascinating film to watch. Clearly, director Nick Broomfield found himself much more involved in the drama that unfolded than he expected. It was apparent that he genuinely liked Wuornos despite his knowledge of her crimes, which makes the documentary a study in ambivalence.

Speaking of documentaries, I've seen four others within the past week. Lost in La Mancha, which details director Terry Gilliam's disastrous attempt to film his dream movie, Don Quixote, is something that anyone who is intrigued by the movie-making process should see. Grateful Dawg, a film I had been intending to see for some time, is a documentary about the friendship and musical collaboration between the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and his long-time compatriot David Grisman.

The other two films are more recent releases. Super Size Me, which I've mentioned here previously, did not disappoint. It's absolutely hilarious and has me off fast food. The other movie, of course, was Fahrenheit 9/11, which I thought was a gripping piece of work. Moore is certainly a master of using emotion to prove his point. More importantly, though, seeing the movie on its opening night was actually fun. It was a communal experience with a boisterous packed house. That's when going to the movies is really fun.

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