Day Thirty-Five – Reviews: Three Docs and a Best Picture Hopeful

4 02 2010

I love documentaries. As much as I enjoy a well written film, I think there’s something to be said for a documentary that gets you thinking. Documentaries have a democratic quality to them, where the events shape the film, rather than the film-maker shaping the events.

I just wish more people would go see them. The more people go see, the more good documentaries will get funded and made.

Here’s a good start.

Today, I have three reviews for docs and one of the best written films of last year.

Up in the Air

There is not one wasted line in ‘Up in the Air’. Every single word uttered sheds light on the main character, Ryan Bingham. As he lives his seemingly happy life, the people around him bring out the true him, opposed to the one he portrays himself to be when in a room full of admirers. He puts up a hard exterior in order to do that job he does, but with each new person he meets, he loses part of his defenses. In the end, he’s still the same person, just a little more aware of himself than before.

Rating: 95 (4.5 Stars)

Cleanflix

‘Cleanflix’ is more of an examination of Mormon culture than a story about film piracy. How the customers of these video stores justify what is essentially theft is funny, but how much cutting essential scenes can completely change the context of the film is hilarious. I don’t understand why someone completely against violence, drinking and sex would want to watch a Soderbergh movie, but that’s part of its charm. The twist ending of what becomes the main character couldn’t be written this well.

Rating: 95 (4.5 Stars)

Religulous

I’m not usually a fan of Bill Maher. He has arrogance to him that I find annoying. Still, I was a big fan of ‘Religulous’. Rather than Maher just going off on religion, he goes to the people, giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. It’s almost as if he wants to be proven wrong. The thesis that faith isn’t actually proof of anything is pretty solid in that sense. Though his argument is for atheism, I think he makes a better case for agnosticism. Disproving a theory isn’t proof either.

Rating: 90 (4.5 Stars)

Bra Boys

A documentary that has a point to make can still be fair and balanced, but ‘Bra Boys’ is not that film. They openly admit to their transgressions, yet take pride in barely legal behavior. At any given time, they blame the police, the government or the locals for putting them in the corner, without acknowledging that their lewd actions are what get them there in the first place. When they talk about surfing, the doc is at its best, but they really need to leave the politics out of it. Just surf.

Rating: 55 (2.5 Stars)

If you don’t want to take my suggestions, you could always get your own Criticker account by clicking the link below.

Cleanflix is an excellent documentary I got to catch at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, but chances are you won’t be able to see so easily. I’m hoping they get a distributor. Join their Facebook page for updates.

Hopefully they can get this movie out there, it was probably my favorite of the Festival.

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