Author Archive

CSNY Déjà Vu
No Gentle Going This Time Around

The film follows the band to concerts and political rallies, and exhorts you to feel the loss of the Iraqi war—and our responsibility to do something about status quo-living here in the good ol’ USA. Love your country enough to change it, so to speak. The most interesting part of the film (and the only real conservative voice) comes from an Atlanta concert when the band breaks into “Let’s Impeach the President.” The previous appreciative crowd began to turn on CSNY, and the chorus of boos becomes obvious. Much of the fan reaction is disgust, disappointment, and—for some—rage in the likeness of Tourette’s Syndrome. If you are a CSNY fan and want to see some good new and old mixes—and can put away your political badge—then this film is for you. However, if you are a card-carrying Republican, born on the 4th of July, this film will only anger you.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Hard Issues... Rock Hard!

I played college football, and though I did not use steroids, many of those with whom I competed used them to enhance their game. In spite of that, I never felt any animosity or jealousy, or believed they cheated for gain. I had my choices, and they had theirs—they were just a bit more willing to inherit the risks for the sake of gain, and I apparently was not. In the long run, Bigger, Stronger, Faster is a film about a country that has lost its mooring, destroyed its identity, and is now looking to re-create itself through hubris, though smoke and mirrors. Image is indeed everything, and we are certainly paying the price. My thanks to Chris Bell for a balanced, honest, and controversial look at a persistent problem in America!

A Talk with Chris Bell
Blowing the Whistle on Yourself

“I think our film helps to educate kids,” says Chris Bell, director of the upcoming documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster. “I showed it to about five hundred high school kids in Toronto, and a lot of those kids came up to me and thanked me for telling them the truth and not hitting them over the head with statements like they hear in commercials—like, ‘Steroids will shrink your balls.’ Then there’s the one with the statue of David falling apart, and it says, ‘Steroids won’t make you a great athlete, they’ll destroy you.’ But then they watch Barry Bonds hit 756 home runs and they’re thinking, ‘Will it really destroy you?’”

The Counterfeiters
More Than Survival and Adaptation

The Counterfeiters is about surviving and adaptation—interestingly, two elements found in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and two elements that can make for a dastardly way of living. This movie depicts surviving as meaningful only when there is a purposed existence in the end. These men resort to their base animal nature when purpose and dignity are taken from them, and then resort back to civility when they are given dignity and a job. As Braveheart’s William Wallace reminds us, “Every man dies; not every man really lives.” Life is more than existence, and human life is more than the will to survive and adapt. But those are much needed aspects when life has meaning.

City of Men
Sins of the Fathers, With Interest

This movie is about the sins of the fathers passed on to generations of boys who can’t see life beyond the barrel of their AK47s. In City of Men, the gang war is a weird background effect for two boys trying to become men by searching for the missing fathers in their lives. It ends with a sense of redemption that City of God failed to leave us with. It gives us a softer story, not nearly as violent or as dark as City of God. Personally, I believe that everyone should see both. They are movies that remind us of the violence that lie at the heart of everyone of us pushed up against the wall of despair.

The Band’s Visit
Take the Time for Discovery

The tag line for The Band’s Visitmovie is, “Once, not long ago, a small Egyptian police band arrived in Israel. Not many remember this… it wasn’t that important.” That pretty much sums up this movie. Its humdrum pace moves a slow story along very slowly. That certainly may seem to put quite a negative spin on this witty and important movie, but that’s not my intent. Kolirin does a fantastic job of communicating a cross-cultural and political message without preaching at us or making us hold hands and sing “We Are the World.” Instead, he takes his time demonstrating the point, and allowing us to feel what it’s like for tension to be relieved through hospitality, mutual sharing, and love.

Immersed in a Different World

“The animal we fear the most is the one we can’t live without”—so the movie begins. Right away we enter into Rob Stewart’s world of sharks, and his obvious love affair with the species. It is actually hard to be critical of the film in the sense that you feel you are treading on Stewart’s very sacred ground. This project has clearly been a focused passion since he was eight years old, and his telling of this story is infused with his intensity and his obvious love for the animal. This well-done and thoughtful 90-minute film is filled with incredible footage.

Blame It On Fidel
Welcome to the Real World?

I would agree with Blame It On Fidel’s premise that you cannot control the world around you, and that all of our political and religious ideologies do not give us answers. Finally, this movie makes me think about our kids, and the way they process the world we force them into. I guess this is what we have all gone through; but is there a way to help them process these grand events in their lives in ways that are less confusing? Have we forced our children to be what we want them to be, without shaping them in a way that gives them the ability to choose well?

Finding Culture Elsewhere

Outsourced is a romantic, cross-cultural comedy about Todd Anderson, a manager at a Seattle-based customer call center until his job—and the entire office—is outsourced to Mumbai, India. When he is manipulated by his insensitive, greedy boss to go to India to train his replacement, the movie does a wonderful job of presenting the beauty of India, and the cultural faux pas of many Americans traveling to such different and exotic cultures. While it is a movie about outsourcing and its consequences, the issue is presented in a way that made me reconsider the practice, forcing me to look behind the symptom to the root of the issue: contentment.

A Hard Look at The Hip Hop Project
Taking It To The Streets—And Back

The Hip Hop Project reminds us that “the criminal mind is a creative mind. It all depends where you put your energies.” As much as this movie is about music, and the power of art in broken communities, it is also about reconciliation as former street kid Kazi Rolle travels back to the Bahamas to meet up with his foster mom, and finally with his biological mom who abandoned him at birth. This is one of those movies to think about and dialogue with—let its ethos penetrate an often lugubrious existence. And by the way—100% of the net profits from this film are being donated to organizations working with youth.

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