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while i think there are some "before you die" docs on the 50 list, i agree it is fairly dull and expected (though that, too, was expected, right?) i also don't have a problem with it being set-up with that late-80s border - that kinda makes sense to me. i'm curious about who actually watched the shows and their relationships to docs. that said, i'd love to see what you (and yours) might come up with as an alternative 50 list (preferably sticking to the late 80s starting point) (and i'm w/o cable, so didn't catch any of the shows. curious to see how it played out, what was revealed about process, etc.)
Richard, what is the great talent pool you speak of? the shortlist? other work from same directors? while i agree with you that these five are largely underwhelming regarding contribution to the form, i wonder which films you would suggest. beyond the formal considerations, i think, contrary to AJ, that WASTE LAND offers the most valuable content/cultural commentary (and really, isn't that what is typically most worthwhile?) of valuing not only the experiences and voices of poverty but, arguably, the moral superiority of poverty itself. AJ is correct in naming the conventions it plays on, but **SPOILER?** i think an interesting twist is added in knowing that this project lost Vik his marriage (arguably a continuation of the criticism AJ raises). nonetheless, clearly the most radical social statement being made in any of these films. also, i don't remember AJ self-anointing, though he is clearly a prominent "doc community" insider with a well-written, well-thought voice. i will agree with you that it is difficult to find rigorous criticism of the field online, but i certainly wouldn't expect it from an insider, and i'd suggest you take up the charge yourself. that said, i think AJ implicitly sides with you as he champions MAN ON WIRE and now EXIT as spotlighting a preferred direction for documentary. (have you seen his ABOUT A SON? i am a pretty critical viewer, like yourself it would seem, and i think it is quite excellent.) lastly, i'll point out the obvious, which should go some way in answering your question - this is The Academy we're talking about, i don't expect anyone thinks they are much other than the milquetoast organization they are.
nice write-up. i'd love some follow-up on this very thick paragraph: Cut to two years later, and a film that is, at heart, a meditation on the form of documentary itself. Who would have thought that Banksy, the provocative British artist, could point such a perceptive lens at the art of documentary filmmaking, and at the consumption of art and culture, that he would find a way to mostly destroy the debate that has consumed documentary for half a century - "is it or isn't it". similar to (though meaningfully quite different from) your critiques of writers for not detailing their suggestions of EXIT's fiction, you have above made a couple of not-so-obvious claims about the worth of EXIT: first, that it is "a meditation on the form of documentary itself", and second, that Banksy has "found a way to mostly destroy the debate that has consumed documentary for half a century 'is it or isn't it'". hopefully you'll feel these are worthy of follow-up, I'd love to read your thoughts. for now, i'll toss this thought into the mix: if, as you claim, EXIT is a meditation on documentary, doesn't it seem that the critique the film offers on the marketplace - and what you suggest is also on "consumption of art and culture" writ-large - is a more a criticism of itself, EXIT FROM THE GIFTSHOP, and its mainstream success and instead (perhaps) ought to, in some convoluded way, champion the Thierry Guetta film?
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Feb 9, 2011