The Face of Another


1966 – Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

Random thoughts. These Sunday posts are often about fighting the urge to rigidly catalogue things but not always being successful. Sorry if this just sounds like a rough taxonomy of key points.

The Face of Another is an oddly cold but sedutive allegorical piece of science fiction: presented in a harsh, graphical style that appears to constantly alert us to surfaces.

I want to start off by presenting the segment around which the movie seems to pivot:

I don’t think that there is an accident that the song has a vaguely Kurt Weill-ish feel. (Who wrote this?) The emphasis on facades and artifices in the film is similarly Brechtian. The beaded curtain in the home of Okuyama and his wife echo the Langer’s Lines in the doctor’s office. Body parts become detached and inanimate parts become part of the body. The scars on the face of the girl in the parallel story flit in and out of the field of vision for both ourselves and observers within the film.

Teshigahara is clearly telling a tale from a moral standpoint: it could be interesting to compare this to Stray Dog as far as being a critique of post war Japan and the dissolution of identity: perhaps a project for the future. It is certainly also an interesting idea to think about masks as mode of transcending identity from our own historical period, in which we seem to, from our online identities at least, have no corporeality at all. Again, for another time.

(One question: why does the soundtrack music when Okuyama is seducing his wife sound so familiar? I would love some feedback on this.)


Modern Times


1936 – Directed by Charles Chaplin

One of the things that is difficult about this project is the prospect of taking on movies that have been written about to death. I had actually never seen Modern Times before. What to say about it? The location shooting is gorgeous, the themes are timeless, the sets are awe-inspiring, Paulette Goddard is completely charming (though I didn’t believe for a minute she was a teenager, which, in itself, was a bit weird), the music is beautiful and Charlie Chaplin has no match.

My impulse is to just say, “enjoy it”. I don’t really want to analyze it: I want to just be here now and savor this perfect object.

Perhaps I’m just wanting to let myself off the hook it being Friday night: my being exhausted and having a lot going on.

It certainly was a lovely movie to end the workweek with.

Do want to mention though how eerie Chaplin’s prediction of pervasive video monitoring was, even if we stop short of our boss yelling at us in the bathroom. Isn’t that much of a stretch.

Paris, Texas


1984 – Directed by Wim Wenders

I got inspired to go back and watch Paris, Texas again. The movie struck me quite a bit when it came out, and I was obsessed with the Ry Cooder soundtrack. There are obviously a lot of parallels between this film and the 10 years earlier Alice in the Cities. Again, we see the mediation of the direct experience through photographic images. Again we see lost and disconnected people. Also again we see semi-abandoned children, which set off alarm bells to us now, and are difficult to watch without judging, or at least fretting. No seat belts? Eek.

This is another road movie, of course, and constantly presented with a contrast not just between the direct experience and the captured image but the contrast between wide-open spaces and flattened spaces. The Dean Stockwell character, interestingly, creates billboards. the Nasstasja Kinski character, Jane, also interestingly works in a very odd strip club consisting of these strange foreshortened rooms resembling familiar public spaces.

The movie, then, as now, has a slight “ick” factor to me: i’ve never cared for the romantic depiction of what was obviously an abusive and possible even statutory rape situation between the Harry Dean Stanton character, Travis, and Jane. Our gaze upon her remains problematic. The rest of the relationships are more intriguing, such as between the child, Hunter, and Travis.

The movie doesn’t hold up quite as well as it could over time, and it times it lingers a bit too long on the idea of American vastness and emptiness. Still the geography is captivating, if, at times, inaccurate. Having now lived in Houston, can assure you that the place the Jane character turns off to after getting off the Interstate is absolutely not the neighborhood where the strip club is depicted to be.


That neighborhood, were we to see it, is one of those typical Houston suburban-y areas filled with tract homes and cookie-cutter apartment complexes and little shack-like mom and pop businesses: not an urbanized back alley with murals and parking lots.

Below is the neighborhood near Shepherd off of I-10 (the Katy Freeway):

imageWhere is that damn Statue of Liberty mural? Oh, well, it has been thirty years...

Versus the movie:

It took a while to scout out an actual urban part of Houston, but we did it!

That neighborhood is apparently near US Highway 59 and State Highway 288, near downtown, which is about 12 miles southeast from where we think we are, though I cannot find the exact intersections. We are definitely looking at a hybridized, fictionalized, perhaps mythologized, city.

Alice in the Cities


1974 – Directed by Wim Wenders

Some movies just feel right. What they might lack in complex plot points, cinematographic innovation or intense studies of character, they make up with a vibe or tone that resonates with lived experience. In the case of Alice in the Cities, Wenders manages to quite simply and clearly capture pure loneliness and disconnection. Maybe I just love road movies, maybe I just miss the 70s. Not sure: it doesn’t really matter.

Wenders is obsessed with the way the mediated image changes the direct experience. This is especially evident in the pervasive display of the televisions in lonely motel rooms. The Polariod photos as well create a distance between the immediate and the mediated. The photographer, Phil, seems happier experiencing his trip though his growing stack of snapshots, and seems incapable of finding anything to say about his actual journey. He is trapped.

The child, Alice, whom is dumped on him by her distracted and heartbroken mother before they travel back to Europe from New York City, does not “free” him or “transform” him or make life more immediate. She is in a world she has even less control over than he. She’d rather watch television at the little pay booth at the airport than deal with her reluctant and disgruntled caregiver. At least she can control this image. Yet, somehow, they manage to move through this world driven by images (the quest for grandmother’s house, the early presence of the John Ford film in one of the indistinguishable seedy motels, followed later by the news of his death, the overall sense that the world flattens and dies by by our ability to caputre it) in a manner that we start to belive, ever so slightly, in the power of motion, of movement and the chance to transcend, if not change: what we ultimately hope for in a road movie.



1969 – Directed by Costa-Gavras 

The period of the late 60s – early 70s was clearly pivotal in the merging of the bleak political landscape into popular entertainment. Unlike The Battle of Algiers, which had a more art house audience in mind, Z was designed to work as a more standard suspense-thriller. Almost certainly influential on New Anerican Cinema (though perhaps the other way around as well), Z is also perhaps an early entry into political “downer” cinema. Unlike a Hitchcock film, which it shares some conventional elements with, we are not going to get a tidy, moral re-alignment of the universe.

Costa-Gavras pulls no punches that the film is meant as an indictment of the political coup in Greece in 1963, and turns the standard “any relation to persons living or dead is coincidental” on its head: he categorically declares it is not at all a coincidence. This certainly draws us in, if for no other reason than by the level of surprise.

The movie remains timeless, especially in the way it portrays how a contingent of the working class may be all too willing to act as “knights” for the cause against perceived “societal threats” (in this case, pacifists), and are equally willing to take the fall for powerful men who in fact see them only as pawns.

Some things simply never change.

Le plaisir


1952 – Directed by Max Ophüls

OK, I have to admit I did not watch the whole thing yet. If this is what is published Saturday morning, so be it.

I will say, I see where Wes Anderson likely got some inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel, with all the ersatz European decay.


Interesting fact: most every time I watch Wes Anderson’s movies, I feel literally sick to my stomach. This is not to say I dislike his work, and it may be that it all references back to my having originally seen The Royal Tennenbaums in early fits of morning sickness, but his movies are so rich and trifling and twee, that I always feel like I ate too many bonbons.

Le plaisir inspires a similar reaction. Sugary sweet, full of rather insipid tropes (hooker with the heart of gold, vain, impudent model, burly sailors in striped shirts getting into brawls, lovestruck artist breaking everything in sight… these were certainly tired old references in 1952), I found it hard to invest in it to any great extent.

As an omnibus (three short stories from Guy de Maupassant) it is an odd structure: a rather long story flanked by micro story up front and a longer short story at the end. The omnibus is one of the harder forms to pull off. This one I would rank as relatively successful, given the content.

Next up is a gritty political thriller. Let’s see how that goes.

The Battle of Algiers


1966 – Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo

In my previous post about El Norte I spoke about how my parents were big film buffs, and also how I enjoyed watching movies with my mother. My mother has always had a very thoughtful approach to watching film.

The Battle of Algiers was on television back when I was about seven, maybe eight years old. In retrospect, it must have been PBS. Of course, memory is full of gaps and modifications. I may have been older, perhaps younger. I definitely remember seeing the scene with the cafés being blown up. I also definitely remember asking my mother why they would that: why they would blow up a public space, with children eating ice cream, people enjoying a song on the jukebox or conversation with friends. I don’t really remember how she explained it to me. (Of course, the sequence of images in my mind’s eye is entirely different than the actual montage.) The sequence haunted me for years, and it took a long time to figure out what movie this was.

When I was a child I must’ve come into the movie independently of anything before or after that pivotal sequence. I hadn’t seen the part where the French authorities had blown up an entire housing complex in the Casbah, killing dozens of whole families. The comprehension of why these women would take these actions, while still nausea-producing, at least makes some kind of narrative logic. Before, it had seemed entirely random. (All of this was roughly based on real life events the Algerian uprising in the 1950s.)

For a useful article on the historical background of the real events versus the events as portrayed in the film, I recommend this:

I had no idea at the time that, 40-45 years later, this film would still hold a mirror to world events. (The U.S. Military, apparently, in recent years, still uses this as a kind of field guide to navigating current occupied zones.)

The gritty, “you are there” newsreel feel to the movie is effective, and helps blur the lines between news, documentary and fictional narrative.

One more thing: the soundtrack is fantastic, being a mix of traditional Algerian music and Ennio Morricine.

Criterion Schedule

Criterion Collection Schedule

First movie of the week, Wednesday by 6 AM.

Second movie of the week, Saturday by 6 AM.

Third movie of the week, Sunday by 6 PM.

Coming Soon (in order):

  • The Battle of Algiers
    1966 – Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
  • Le plaisir
    1952 – Directed by Max Ophüls
  • Z
    1969 – Directed by Costa-Gavras
  • Alice in the Cities
    1974 – Directed by Wim Wenders
  • Modern Times
    1936 – Directed by Charles Chaplin
  • The Face of Another
    1966 – Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
  • Zéro de Conduite
    1933 – Directed by Jean Vigo
  • Grey Gardens
    1975 – Directed by David and Albert Maysles
  • Cronos
    1993 – Directed by Guillermo del Tor
  • Master of the House
    1925 – Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • I Was a Teenage Zombie
    1987 – Directed by John Elias Michalakis
  • Tokyo Drifter
    1966 – Directed by Seijun Suzuki
  • F for Fake
    1973 – Directed by Orson Welles
  • Eraserhead
    1977 – Directed by David Lynch
  • Sweet Movie
    1974 – Directed by Dušan Makavejev
  • Diabolique
    1952 – Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
  • To Be or Not to Be
    1942  – Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

And later…

  • Woman in the Dunes – Hiroshi Teshigahara
  • Amarcord – Federico Fellini
  • Burden of Dreams – Les Blank
  • Persona – Imgmar Bergman
  • Premiers Désirs – David Hamilton
  • Devi
  • The Tin Drum
  • ¡Alambrista!
  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock – Peter Weir
  • Pickpocket – Robert Bresson
  • The X From Outer Space
  • The Spirit of the Beehive
  • Fox and His Friends – Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • The Plough and the Stars
  • The Brood
  • Mahler
  • Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  • The Home and the World
  • Close-Up
  • The Wages of Fear
  • The Cars That Ate Paris
  • Children of Paradise
  • Knife in the Water – Roman Polanski
  • Jubilee
  • Vilgot Sjöman
  • The Phantom Carriage
  • Cruel Story of Youth
  • Ratcatcher
  • Simon of the Desert – Luis Buñuel
  • L’Avventura – Antonioni
  • In the Realm of the Senses – Nagisa Oshima
  • Man Bites Dog
  • God’s Country – Louis Malle
  • The Blob (1958)
  • The Organizer – Marcello Mastroianni
  • Mikey and Nicky
  • Touki Bouki
  • Woman Under the Influence – John Cassavetes
  • Jaromil Jires
  • Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
  • Three Colors: Red – Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • Three Colors: White – Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • Three Color: Blue – Krzysztof Kieślowski
  • M
  • The League of Gentlemen
  • The 400 Blows – François Truffaut
  • Leningrad Cowboys Go America
  • Pale Flower
  • Europa – Lars von Trier
  • Overlord – Stuart Cooper
  • Hearts and Minds – Peter Davis
  • For All Mankind
  • The Most Dangerous Game
  • Richard III – Laurence Olivier
  • The Honeymoon Killers
  • General Idi Amin Dada – Barbet Schroeder
  • The Housemaid
  • La Nuit de Varennes – Ettore Scola
  • Routine Pleasures – Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Closely Watched Trains
  • Sans Soleil – Chris Market
  • Quadrophenia
  • Eating Raoul
  • Fear – Roberto Rossellini
  • Things To Come
  • The Atomic Submarine
  • House (1977) – Nobuhiko Obayashi
  • The Vanishing
  • Mon Oncle Antoine
  • Belle de Jour
  • Scanners
  • Daisies – Vera Chytilová
  • The Match Factory Girl – Aki Kaurismäki
  • A Day in the Country – Jean Renoir
  • World on a Wire
  • The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
  • Wise Blood – John Huston
  • Cure
  • La Haine – Mathieu Kassovitz
  • Breaker Morant

No Date Yet:

  • The Seventh Seal
    1957 – Directed by Ingmar Bergman
  • À nos amours
    1983 – Directed by Maurice Pialat
  • Gimme Shelter
    1970 – Directed by Albert Maysles
  • Gray’s Anatomy
    1996 – Directed by Steven Soderbergh
  • Ronin Gai
    1990 – Directed by Kazuo Kuroki
  • I Am Curious – Yellow
    1987 – Directed by Vilgot Sjöman
  • Louie Bluie
    1985 – Directed by Terry Zwigoff
  • The Stranger (1991)
    1991 – Directed by Satyajit Ray
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster
    1941 – Directed by William Dieterle
  • Come On Children
    1973 – Directed by Allan King
  • The Exterminating Angel
    1967 – Directed by Luis Buñuel
  • Eyes Without a Face
    1959 – Directed by Georges Franju
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun
    1979 – Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
    1985 – Directed by Paul Schrader
  • Permanent Vacation
    1980 – Directed by Jim Jarmusch
  • The Phantom Horse
    1955 – Directed by Koji Shima
  • Stagecoach
    1939 – Directed by John Ford
  • Equinox
    1970 – Directed by Dennis Muren
  • The American Soldier
    1970 – Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • The Naked City
    1963 – Directed by Jules Dassin
  • WR: Mysteries of the Organism
    1971 – Directed by Dušan Makavejev
  • Seven Samurai
    1954 – Directed by Akira Kurisawa
  • Wings of Desire
    1987 – Directed by Wim Wenders
  • Red Desert
    1964 – Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
  • The Ruling Class
    1972 – Directed by Peter Medak
  • Emporte-Moi
    1999 – Directed by Lea Pool
  • The River (1951)
    1951 – Directed by Jean Renoir
  • Mr. Freedom
    1969 – Directed by William Klein
  • Nine Days of One Year
    1962 – Directed by Mikhail Romm
  • The Plumber
    1979 – Directed by Peter Weir
  • Hotel Monterey
    1972 – Directed by Chantal Akerman
  • Silence
    1971 – Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
  • Judex
    1962 – Directed by Georges Franju
  • Rome Open City
    1945 – Directed by Roberto Rossellini
  • Salesman
    1968 – Directed by Albert and David Maysles
  • Vengeance Is Mine
    1979 – Directed by Shohei Imamura
  • Breaking the Waves
    1996 – Directed by Lars von Trier
  • Breathless
    1960 – Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
  • Claire’s Knee
    1971 – Directed by Eric Rohmer
  • Shock Corridor
    1963 – Directed by Samuel Fuller
  • Crazed Fruit
    1956 – Directed by Kô Nakahira
  • The Long Voyage Home
    1940 – Directed by John Ford
  • Stromboli
    1950 – Directed by Roberto Rossellini
  • And God Created Woman
    1956 – Directed by Roger Vadim
  • The Great Beauty
    2013 – Directed by Paulo Sorrentino
  • The Challenge (1938)
    1938 – Directed by Milton Rosmer and Luis Trenker
  • City Lights
    1931 – Directed by Charles Chaplin
  • Murmur of the Heart
    1971 – Directed by Louis Malle
  • Fat Girl
    2001 – Directed by Catherine Breillat
  • Boudu Saved from Drowning
    1932 – Directed by Jean Renoir
  • Scenes from a Marriage
    1973 – Directed by Ingmar Bergman
  • Watership Down
    1978 – Directed by Martin Rosen
  • Paris, Texas
    1984 – Directed by Wim Wenders
  • The Thief of Bagdad
    1940 – Directed by Alexander Korda
  • Stranger Than Paradise
    1984 – Directed by Jim Jarmusch
  • The Hidden Fortress
    1958 – Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • The Four Feathers
    1939 – Directed by Zoltan Korda
  • The White Angel
    1955 – Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo
  • Carnival of Souls
    1962 – Directed by Herk Harvey
  • Fiend Without a Face
    1958 – Directed by Arthur Crabtree
  • Shadows
    1959 – Directed by John Cassavetes
  • Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers
    1981 – Directed by Les Blank
  • My Crasy Life
    1992 – Directed by Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Before the Rain
    1994 – Directed by Milcho Manchevski
  • Hobson’s Choice
    1954 – Directed by David Lean
  • La notte
    1961 – Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Gate of Flesh
    1964 – Directed by Seijun Suzuki
  • Häxan
    1922 – Directed by Benjamin Christensen
  • Princess from the Moon
    1987 – Directed by Kon Ichikawa
  • Il sorpasso
    1962 – Directed by Dino Risi
  • Wild Strawberries
    1957 – Directed by Ingmar Bergman
  • Kwaidan
    1965 – Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
  • Viridiana
    1962 – Directed by Luis Buñuel
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
    1972 – Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • The 47 Ronin
    1941 – Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
  • 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
    1967 – Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
  • The Short Films of David Lynch
  • The Samurai Trilogy – Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
    1954 – Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
  • The Samurai Trilogy – Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
    1955 – Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
  • The Samurai Trilogy – Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island
    1956 – Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
  • The Music Room
    1958 – Directed by Satyajit Ray
  • Sada
    1998 – Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
  • The Love Goddesses
    1965 – Directed by Saul J. Turell
  • Black Moon
    1975 – Directed by Louis Malle
  • Kapò
    1959 – Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
  • Pleasures of the Flesh
    1965 – Directed by Nagisa Oshima
  • Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
    1966 – Directed by William Klein
  • Phoenix (1947)
    1947 – Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
  • La Cérémonie
    1995 – Directed by Claude Chabrol
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
    1976 – Directed by John Cassavetes
  • Ironfinger
    1965 – Directed by Jun Fukuda
  • Taste of Cherry
    1998 – Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
  • Mala Noche
    1988 – Directed by Gus Van Sant
  • Onibaba
    1964 – Directed by Kaneto Shindo
  • 21 Days
    1940 – Directed by Basil Dean
  • The Naked Island
    1960 – Directed by Kaneto Shindo
  • Lola Montès
    1955 – Directed by Max Ophüls
  • As Long as You’ve Got Your Health
    1966 – Directed by Pierre Etaix
  • Eijanaika
    1981 – Directed by Shohei Imamura
  • Secret Honor
    1984 – Directed by Robert Altman
  • Throne of Blood
    1957 – Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Danton
    1983 – Directed by Andrzej Wajda
  • The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
    1975 – Directed by Volker Schlöndorff
  • Branded to Kill
    1967 – Directed by Seijun Suzuki
  • Depress, Deprisa
    1981 – Directed by Carlos Saura
  • Gate of Hell
    1954 – Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa
  • Hollis Frampton’s Films from Magellan
  • Chinese Roulette
    1976 – Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Harakiri
    1962 – Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
  • Fishing with John (TV Series)
  • Good Morning
    1959 – Directed by Yasujirō Ozu
  • Senso
    1954 – Directed by Luchino Visconti
  • Yojimbo
    1961 – Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
    1974 – Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Empire of Passion
    1978 – Directed by Nagisa Ôshima
  • The Beales of Grey Gardens
    2006 – Directed by Albert and David Maysles
  • Intentions of Murder
    1964 – Directed by Shôhei Imamura
  • I Married a Witch
    1942 – Directed by René Clair
  • Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan
    1959 – Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
  • Cría cuervos . . .
    1976 – Directed by Carlos Saura
  • The Tattered Wings
    1955 – Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
  • Marketa Lazarová
    1967 – Directed by František Vlácil
  • Kuroneko
    1971 – Directed by Kaneto Shindo
  • Andrei Rublev
    1966 – Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Always for Pleasure
    1978 – Directed by Les Blank
  • The Flowers of St. Francis
    1950 – Directed by Roberto Rossellini
  • Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman
    1967 – Directed by Takeshi Kitano
  • Babette’s Feast
    1987 – Directed by Gabriel Axel
  • The Gold Rush
    1925 – Directed by Charles Chaplin
  • Tragedy of Japan
    1953 – Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita


El Norte

image 1983 – Directed by Gregory Nava

I grew up in what I will affectionately call the People’s Republic of Berkeley, a.k.a. – the PRB. Please know that I say this with absolute love and not derision.

One of the things this meant was there was always strong contingent of people who didn’t go to see *movies* (sneer) but did go to see “film”. Film had purpose. Film eschewed commercial values. Film was about The Struggle.

(Not my family, as it happened. My parents, whom I got my intense love for cinema from, managed to embrace Hollywood and independent work equally: they didn’t have a conflict between Singin’ in the Rain and Salt of the Earth.)

El Norte remains the perfect movie for those sensitive early 80s sensibilities

Quite fittingly, it was my mother (I recall) seeing this film with. I actually don’t remember if it was in the theater or on television. I actually retained little of this outside of the infamous and highly disturbing sewer pipe sequence. While I initially was restricting my viewings to films not seen, I realized this was a silly rule, especially if I could not reconstruct key points on something seen thirty years earlier.

El Norte  is gorgeous, depressing, harrowing, and sometimes even funny. While the brother and sister characters of Enrique and Rosa are compelling and earnest, some of the best moments come from the lovely side characters: especially the wryly effervescent Nacha, and the gregariously scheming residential manager/labor facilitator, Monty Bravo. The way the film touches on subtle points of contention between Mexicans and Guatemalans, between “mestizo” and indigenous peoples in both Guatemala and Mexico and between Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles, along with the way it explores the strange, interdependent web of illegal labor and bottom-line management, is fascinating.

I found a compelling fragment of an article on Google Books:

Apparently, the middle section of this scanned issue has been lost. From here, we find director Nava’s intentions were to use a less overtly political approach, and employ a poetic sensibility instead, such as with the butterflies filling the home after Enrique and Rosa’s mother is “disappeared”.

(I’d love to find this whole article: anyone?)

One issue: I initially found the last ten minutes of the film a bit maudlin and borderline manipulative. Upon reflection, I realized this melodramatic tone was probably strategic and not accidental.

Next Up:

The Battle of Algiers, 1966, Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo

Hoop Dreams


1994 – Directed by Steve James

I did not see Hoop Dreams when it came out, and am left wondering how it must have felt to see it in the mid 90s. I’m kind of kicking myself, due to the fact that now, it is basically an historical document of a different era.

Obviously, a generation has passed, and our way of viewing the film is entirely different. William Gates’ son, William Gates, Jr., is now off to college at Furman University. Both families from the story have dealt with unbelievable loss. Neither Gates nor Arthur Agee made it into the NBA. Perhaps their lives are better than if they had not gone through the journey of this massive documentary: we can’t know, and never will.

There’s potentially so much to cover about this movie: I became really interested in both the back story around the documentary and the continuing stories.

This is well worth reading:

Essentially, it is amazing the movie ever got made.

Documentary film is probably my most loved genre, yet it is impossible to make a documentary that is not problematic, in terms of both the observer’s paradox, and in terms the constant battle documentarians face not patronize their subjects, no matter what tactics and strategies they use. James takes on these challenges with full awareness, if not full resolution, of these problems.

The movie looks amazingly good, with the new digital restoration (made possible by the Sundance Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Academy Film Archive and Kartemquin Films), considering that it is almost entirely made from late 80s/early 90s camcorder footage.

Next up:
El Norte, 1983, Directed by Gregory Nava