10 June 2009

screening: Man From Plains; Bigger, Faster, Stronger; Son of Rambow

Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains
This Jonathan Demme documentary focuses on Former President Carter's book tour for the controversial book on Palestine & Apartheid. Being born under the Reagan administration and due to the apparent unpopularity of Carter following his only term, I had little to no knowledge about the man. The doc reveals a candid, genuine, relentlessly active, and graciously peace-seeking man. Perhaps the most gratifying moments come when he is asked about his wife, of whom he beams with affection, or when we see his yound publicist scramble to keep up with such an old timer as he builds Habitat homes, grants endless interviews, flys around the country in coach seating, teaches bible study at his church in Americus, or attends a pig-picken. Carter must forever beheld as the gold-standard for post-term presidential activity.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster
This gem of a documentary features the rare blend of satire and sarcasm along with honesty and charity. Exploring not only the Western (mostly American, but also Ben Johnson) fascination with and dependence on steriods and their benefits. The director details he and his bookend brothers' childhoods and their divergent paths to strength and fitness (his brothers chose roids, he despises them). He remembers watching Hulk Hogan intently as he was promised all of his childhood dreams as long as he ate right, exercised, and said his prayers. The film's fulcrum is not on some sort of demonozation of anabolic steriods but rather an examination of why we do what we do and why what we say we value and what we actually do tend to play out quite differently. Quite a provocative and enjoyable watch for sports fan or social psychologist alike.

Son of Rambow
I wouldn't have initially said that I would have shed a few tears at a movie combining the brit-innocence of Millions with the playfullness of Be Kind Rewind, but I did. This charming little indie film portrays the Plymouth Brethren raised (and repressed) Will and his blood brotherhood with the mischievious Lee Carter (his full name is always said by Will). Both kid actors are engaging, subtle, and hilarious. The script is imaginative and interesting. And the final product of their "Screen Test Contest" sequal to Rambo: First Blood, is brilliant. I have such an affection for sweet, simple, creative movies like this. You walk away with great appreciation for what you actually saw and the questions raised, rather than all the distractions and cheap short-cuts taken with blockbuster actors and cookie cutter plots.

No comments: