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October 06, 2010



catfish is great


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?


Great list, AJ. (By way of introduction, I'm an indie doc filmmaker from Boston and also run a monthly group for doc filmmakers called Connect the Docs.) I've seen quite a few of the docs you've mentioned that both made your list and didn't make the list, but not all of them. So many great docs this year-- you're certainly right about that.

Would like to mention Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker. Just saw this documentary at the wonderful Camden Int'l. Film Festival and it was masterful on so many levels. A stunning film.

AJ Schnack

Pizzamouth, the True/False screening of UTOPIA didn't feature The Quavers. It's hard for me to imagine that piece without the live band performing. All I can say is that the audience in Los Angeles was enraptured.

Rhonda, I should have included WASTE LAND as among the major films I haven't seen yet. I love Lucy's work and look forward to seeing it soon.


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


Well, 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.

Ferdinand Cabeza

Nice list, thanks. But, I would have to also add my voice to the "more hype than substance" crowd for Utopia. I saw it in San Francisco with the Quavers. Dubious history, George Soros as utopian? The man who made his fortune by attacking currencies and destroying whole countries standards of living?? The whole thing felt, well, a little intellectually lazy, including Sam Green's "i'll charm you by pretending that I don't think I'm charming" presentation. The Quavers were, indeed, fantastic. It definitely points to the power of music at tapping the irrational part of your brain and making less feel like more.

I'd much rather watch one of David Byrne's PowerPoint presentations again.

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