Coverage by Dan Krovich
September 19, 2002
The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia
Ostensibly a documentary about photographer Shelby Lee Adams, it ultimately takes on many issues about art and society. It seems like even in the current environment of political correctness, the one group it is still okay to make fun of is the people of rural Appalachia. Derogatory terms such as "hillbilly" are still used without a second thought. Shelby Lee Adams grew up in Kentucky and has now made a name for himself with his photographs of the people who live in the "hollers" around where he grew up. Though his relationship with these people is clearly one of respect, his critics argue that to most observers, his photos ultimately reinforce negative stereotypes. To what extent does an artist take responsibility for his audience's interpretation, even if it goes against his intent? Like any good documentary, The True Meaning of Pictures raises more questions for discussion than providing simple answers.
Warriors follows the experience of a squad of Spanish army engineers working as peacekeepers in the volatile world of Kosovo in 1999. On their way to what seems to be a routine mission to restore a town's electrical supply, they land in hostile territory and find themselves in great jeopardy. Director Daniel Calparsoro provides some good action sequences and stunning imagery, but the film falls victim to a muddled story. While it may have been somewhat intentional to illustrate the complexity and absurdity of the situation, it is difficult to follow when you can't keep clear who is fighting whom and who is on which side. The approach may successfully get across the chaos that is war, but it happens at the risk of losing the audience along the way.
Based on the popular young adult book, Jay Russell's follow-up to My Dog Skip takes on some deeper themes than are found in most family films. Winnie Foster is a young teenager who yearns to break free from her stuffy family life, full of expectations. When she comes across the Tuck family, particularly the younger son Jesse, she is introduced to broader horizons than she has seen in her sheltered life. The Tucks, however have a secret, and this secret puts them, and now Winnie, at risk. Featuring beautiful scenery and wonderful performances from its young cast and old pros, Tuck Everlasting presents its message simply in a straightforward manner. While that, along with the teen love story, are clearly aimed at the young adult audience, it's something that older adults could use a little refresher course on too.
Nada Más (Nothing More)
This delightful film plays somewhat like a Cuban version of Amelie. Carla works in a postal office in Havana. Bored, she steals letters and "fixes" them by rewriting the letters with more stylistic words to more forcefully get the original author's meaning across. Though her own life is not perfect (she is hoping to gain an exit visa to move to Miami, where her parents live), she is intent on fixing the lives of those who write the letters that pass through her desk every day. When a new, strict postmaster arrives, Carla's only joy is jeopardized. Filmed in black-and-white with splashes of color and animation, Nothing More owes a lot to the silent films it pays homage to. With over-the-top cartoonish characters and a Keystone Kops-inspired chase scene, Nothing More ably recalls the silent film comedies of years gone by.
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