Posts Tagged ‘ documentary ’

The Look of Silence (2014)


Jesus, this film. Where to start. Well, I’d be hard pressed to say it’s an enjoyable or particularly fun film because it isn’t, in any way. It’s not even all that clear what the hell the film is actually about at times, especially the first 45 minutes or so, but, much like The Act of Killing before it, patience is rewarded, and once it gets going and the main “thrust” of the narrative is revealed, it’s one of the saddest and most disturbing documentaries ever made. And then some. Christ.

The main guy followed here who conducts the interviews, Adi Rukun, is arguably one of the bravest human beings ever captured on camera. The stuff he says and does, and ultimately doesn’t say and do, is just incredible. To summarize: Rukun’s brother was killed in the Indonesian genocide, and thanks to a fine mix of intimidation and overall powerlessness/poverty/ignorance/brainwashing of its citizens, those responsible for the killings were never prosecuted, nor, in some cases, removed from power.

The film, which takes its sweet time revealing, involves his confrontation of said characters and, in some cases, their families, about the murders, and the man holds nothing back, which makes for some of the most uncomfortable, nail-biting sit down interviews I’ve ever seen. And such vivid descriptions of murder, man. For a film that’s completely bloodless, it paints quite the vivid scene at times, particularly during the described reenactment of just how his brother was murdered. Seeing Rukun’s face as he watches footage of these killers talking about the murder, knowing those responsible lived long and prosperous lives as heroes in their respective communities, is nearly unbearable.

Overall, and man do I need to start making these reviews shorter, it’s just a bold, bold film. Not very pleasant or enjoyable to watch, and the beginning is a bit of a chore to get through, but once it gets going, it pays off in ways very few films ever can, with moments that will be burned into your mind forever. The interview with the daughter and her murderer father and her reactions to his horrific stories, and her subsequent response to Rukun once he tells her about his murdered brother as the father awkwardly tries to end the interview, was one of the saddest, most shocking things I’ve ever seen.

An important,  extremely powerful, but very, very disturbing film. I’d say a must watch, but given the slow, somewhat aimless beginning and the lack of superheroes or explosions or pop culture references, I doubt many ever will.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2007) – 4/5

Pretty good. Structurally, it’s a bit weird, and often feels like an advertisement for the band rather than a documentary, but it has some good moments, and the notion of a once popular band that just missed its shot at worldwide fame is interesting.

Though I have a feeling some scenes were staged, which is a shame, and annoying. What’s a documentary if not a narrative restructuring of reality? There’s no deceptive staging in a documentary, at least, there shouldn’t be.

Anyway, good film, makes me wish I had tried to learn an instrument and/or start a band when I was younger. Ah, wasted youth.

Kurt & Courtney (1998) – 3.5/5

Amateurishly made doc about an interesting subject that proves once and for all that anyone with half a brain can make a decent documentary if the subject is engaging enough. Also, it provides a decent summary of Kurt Cobain’s life, though the people interviewed, aside from direct family members, are questionable at best. Crackheads, thugs, and criminals the lot of them. Nice choices. Were these really even the types Cobain spent time with when he was alive? No wonder he killed himself.

Terrible interview/filmmaking style overall, though. And take off those damn headphones when you’re about to interview someone on the spot. No wonder he got such hostile reactions from people; no one likes a camera and a boom randomly shoved into their face.

And what an odd nail biter of an ending. What in god’s name was he thinking going up on stage to bash Courtney Love at her own award show. Yikes! Took guts, but was ultimately pointless and mean-spirited.