Looking over our recent posts, we’ve noticed that we’ve hardly been treading an obscurist path lately. It is summer and all, but we’d like to take this moment to tear our gaze away from the gleam of Hollywood.
In the LA Times, Chris Lee claims that "Crash," despite its mixed reviews, is developing into a mini "Passion of the Christ"-type cultural phenomenon â€” in other words, it’s the type of film that leads to intense chatter around the water cooler. Though if the film is so dead on in its negative portrayal of race relations, why haven’t any of these so-called water cooler interactions escalated into needless, yet unavoidable and dramatic violence?
In the Guardian, Duncan Campbell looks at Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky‘s fantastic documentary "Paradise Lost," which, together with its sequel, are just now reaching theaters in England. Berlinger and Sinofsky examine a case in which three teenage boys in a small Arkansas town are convicted, largely on the basis of their penchant for dressing in black, listening to heavy metal, and reading Stephen King, of the horrific murder of three children. Interestingly, Campbell points out that the docs differ from the typical British "miscarriage of justice" piece in which "the style was to present an unequivocal case for someone’s innocence.
With the ‘[Capturing the] Friedmans’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘Paradise Lost,’ the audience
is very much left to make up their own minds." From what we remember, one of the main critical complaints about the films, particularly the sequel, was that they were more activist journalism than documentary.
These days, such doc distinctions have gone out the window. In the New York Times, David Halbfinger talks to Robert Greenwald, one of major figures of the new documentary-as-political-weapon. The man who directed "Outfoxed" and "Uncovered" is the poster child of the quick, relevant, cheap activist doc, and he’s planning to take on Wal-Mart next. Greenwald’s always been particularly savvy about making alliances with grassroots groups like MoveOn.org, and this time around, he’s talking to churches, trade groups and the National Education Association, as he sees the issue as less partisan (can any commentary on Wal-Mart say more than that "South Park" episode, we wonder?).