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i suspect some of my disappointment with UTOPIA was that i had super-high expectations going in (and it doesn't help that it was in the worst, and least comfortable, venue at T/F). i love the ideology of the content, and i think the quasi-communal vibe enacts utopian strains of cinema. as i noted Curtis' IT FELT LIKE A KISS earlier, i'd also give Green credit for more thorough research - Curtis' history is always a problem. that said, the "four movements" seemed weird - shopping malls, the oneida, esperanto, and something else. i guess it pretty much worked, it was just weird. also in the Q&A, Green joked that his mom said someone else should have narrated, and i'd agree with his mom. or maybe it was just this presentation. i would liked him to be storytelling, or casually guiding, instead of repeating a script (does the scriptedness make it more film-like? (i don't think so)) i think the less stiltedness that might have come from something not/less-scripted might have also opened up space for the audience to interact, which it felt like was desired, but not really. at one point i appreciatively clapped (or something) and a few other reluctantly joined, but that was pretty much it. so, in more reflection, i'd probably agree with you that it was a top doc of the year, i just had higher hopes for it and was disappointed on a few fronts. thinking it against IT FELT LIKE A KISS, it was a better product in most ways, i just enjoyed being pulled along KISS' Tarantino-esque soundtrack but am reminded how messy of a thesis the visuals - and sometimes the lyrics - presented. i also loved WASTELAND, but it was a very traditional film as far as content and form go, still one of my faves for the year. not sure if these others fall into this year or last, but i also really liked WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE in the more traditional category and REMBRANDT'S J'ACCUSE in the less. 45365 was also fab :) (i had meant to catch LAPORTE INDIANA last night, wondering how that is). last, as shorts are seldom on my radar i forgot all about this one, but i caught a fabulous one at T/F (love that they dropped a few in with features) - Maria Fortiz-Morse's TRASH OUT. a densely rich, almost-experimental, and very visceral take on the mortgage crisis through folks cleaning out a couple/few foreclosed homes - 5 minutes of genius. in the ballpark of Akerman
i'd be curious to catch Utopia In Four Movements again, but i wouldn't think this is the future of nonfiction so much as a good example of a powerpoint performance - and this isn't to say i wouldn't like to see more of this, i would. but, i didn't think Green's monologue was great; i also found the choices of moments odd, especially given his work on The Weather Underground, why not include the zeitgeist of 68? anyway, all to say that the few people i talked to about the T/F performance were underwhelmed. as i commented a couple/few threads back, Sweetgrass is one of my tops from this year, as is It Felt Like a Kiss - you catch either of these?
i'm not sure i entirely follow the topic, but it feels like this is more about expanding/maintaining a mass marketplace for docs: One of Fraser's key points in Sheffield was that the search for money - and the availability of funding by agenda-driven companies and organizations - meant that lots of films were being made with no (or little) aesthetic or cinematic ambitions. In short - topic was trumping craft. What might make the discussion more interesting - and relevant – is to actually cite examples: Which funded films have aesthetic or cinematic problems? What is the universe of docs being discussed? Who is funding docs (and how much)? What kind of film is being made outside of this funding structure (and why aren’t “we” talking about it)? Some of the best films I have seen this year are at the edges of the documentary marketplace – Sweetgrass, 45365, It Felt Like a Kiss, Disorder – and I am certain I have missed dozens that are even more marginal. Does it make sense for “the doc community” to support superstar outsiders such as James Benning or Rick Prelinger over folks mired in typically milquetoast trappings of mass marketplace character-driven films like Tyson or The Fog of War. I’m not saying these are bad films, just that they are very safe films from aesthetic and formal considerations. Also, and this should be obvious, this does not mean that character-driven docs cannot be formally interesting and “good for” The Field – e.g., About a Son. While I’m Still Here has tanked in the marketplace, I think it is more interesting for documentary than anything that is likely to be awarded at the Oscars or Anti-Oscars hosted by dozens in The Community. I’d like to see more attention given to the edges of The Field, this includes re-imagining “poorly-crafted” docs as aesthetically and culturally valuable; experimental and academic fare somehow discussed alongside the expected docs of the mass marketplace; less talk of budgets, grants, and distribution; etc. It is only our limited discussion and imagination of The Field that is killing it.
that was awesome :)
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2010 on SNL: Band Reunion at Wedding at BRIANORNDORF.COM
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Feb 8, 2010