Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

I saw two really great movies today. The first one was The Cloud-Capped Star, an old Bengali film from the 60’s. It’s about this young woman from a middle class family fallen on hard times and how she struggles to keep them going. Her faith in her brother and in the beaux that is courting her compels her to do all that she can to keep them in their innocence. She ends up quitting school and getting a job to support her family. But somehow they all turn on her. It’s a clash between Romantic ideals and the real world. It’s almost Madame Bovary-esque. It reminded me of my mother.

The second film was The Man Who Copied. It’s playing in select theaters now and well worth seeing. Since I saw City of God – another great film — a couple of years ago, I felt compelled to see this as it seems that a lot of great films have come out of Brazil in the last few years. It’s about a guy who operates a copy machine in a little shop, a guy that earns peanuts and spends his time spying on a girl through her window with his binoculars. He eventually falls in love and tries to pursue her. That’s where I’m leaving off…trust me, it’s a great film. And very smart.

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The only film nominated for an Oscar that I actually hoped would win indeed won for Best Documentary. If it’s playing in your area, please go see it! It’s one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen.

It’s about a photojournalist who goes into the red light distict in Calcutta to shoot photos of the lives of the prostitutes there and in so doing meets a group of curious wide-eyed kids. Giving them cameras and teaching them how to take pictures, she discovers what these children who’ve been virtually discarded by society are really capable of. So she decides to find schools that will take them and takes their photos and exhibits them to raise money to save them from a fate of crime and prostitution.

But I haven’t done it justice at all. The film is really about the kids. It lets them tell their own stories…through their own words, their own art, and their own experiences. It lets them tell us about their fears, their hopes, their aspirations. And that’s the magic of this documentary.

Check out Kids with Cameras, the organization launched by Zana Briski, who made this film, to realize her vision of uplifting marginalized children through art.

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I went to see Hotel Rwanda today. Let me just say that I’ve read many a review of this film and am somewhat dismayed by of them. Just take a look at MetaCritic. If you look real closely…although the overall critics rating is about a 79, which is pretty good one could say, the average user rating was…9.8! I think this is very telling about the natural difference between critical and audience reactions to just about anything.

I for one try to be a man of the people, and in this case I feel that I very much am. I LOVED this film. Well, “love” is a strong word. I can’t say I loved this film really because it’s not exactly a film to be loved. It’s a film to be admired. It’s a film that reaches out to you and grabs you at a gut level.

To put it in a nutshell, it’s about the atrocities that occurred in Rwanda during the Hutu-Tutsi clashes in 1994. Over a million Tutsi were killed in the massacre and the world simply looked away. But it’s really about a particular individual who experienced it: Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager thrust into an unthinkable situation and who struggled to save all the people he could. And this is precisely where many of the critics find fault…that the movie itself looks away from the atrocities and rather focuses and the lives of few interesting individuals. But I beg to differ…sure, it doesn’t give an account in graphic detail of the slaughtering of thousands…it does gives the account through the eyes of Rusesabagina. And that precisely is what makes it so moving…because we can inject ourselves in our own small way into his situation. We can — through his eyes — see what went on. He puts us there in a much more real way than an impersonal camera lens.

I for one consider it a wise choice that the movie commits itself to telling this story in this way. I also admire Don Cheadle’s commitment to the character…a performance he deserves high honors for. It’s so in keeping with the movie itself…doing whatever one can to hold on, to struggle forth when the entire world is crashing down around you. In spite of sundry lackluster reviews, this movie WILL survive.

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