Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer Off: Movie Edition

Well, so far my summer has been pretty relaxed. One of my main goals this summer (yes, this was a real goal for me) was to watch more movies. Verily, a challenging goal. (See: comic below.)

Anywho, I am still working hard toward my goal and have seen a variety of movies, including obscure and indy films, classics that I somehow missed, and boneheaded blockbusters. Two of these movies made an impression on me and I recommend them to you all, my small band of loyal readers.

My Kid Could Paint That

A thought provoking film about a 4-year-old Marla Olmstead who quickly rockets to fame as a child prodigy of abstract expressionist art and then, just as quickly, is discredited following accusations of fraud. I liked this film because the viewer gets the rare opportunity to accompany the documentarian Amir Bar-Levas he struggles to both please and remain loyal to the family who has invited him into their lives while still creating an objective story. This film raises questions about the documentary process, the meaning of art, parenting, exploitation, and truthiness.


Based on one of Raymond Carver’s short stories (one of my top 5 all time writers), director Ray Lawrence tells the story of four men who, while fishing in the mountains, discover the body of a dead Aboriginal girl in the river. The men opt to tie the drifting body—preventing her from washing downstream—and continue their weekend fishing trip undeterred. The authorities are notified when the fishing trip concludes a few days later. The town’s horrified reaction to their callous disregard sets the stage for a baleful tale about race, the environment, mental illness, forgiveness, truth, resolution, family, marriage, and responsibility.

This movie is not going to be for everyone. The movie relies on emotion and symbolism more than dialogue and story and everything is not resolved in the end. Some might bristle at the liberal use (get it?) of symbols and metaphors to portray some uniquely Australian conflicts. Personally, I love that stuff. Also, there is a weird electrician dude that is just annoying. Pluses include phenom acting by Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne.

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