Arts This Weekend at the Movies
posted by February 2 at 14:25 PMon
In On Screen this week: Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, of Kool-Aid fame.
California Historical Society
This documentary, by the MacArthur Genius Stanley Nelson (The Murder of Emmett Till), will be broadcast on PBS in April, but I recommend seeing it now in fearsome, larger-than-life color. Making almost shocking use of archival materials (even the first moments of the Kool-Aid suicide/massacre were recorded on film), Jonestown doesn’t waste time psychoanalyzing the charisma-ridden sadist Jim Jones. It does, however, get deep inside his congregation, incorporating sympathetic interviews with those true believers (including his black adopted son) who managed to survive. I totally think this doc got robbed of an Academy Award nomination.
Less impressive is God Grew Tired of Us, an uncomfortably upbeat doc about the Lost Boys of Sudan. If you see it, go tonight at 7:30 pm at the Uptown: Santino Lual, of Pacific Northwest Magazine fame, will be answering questions about what life was like for those Lost Boys who were resettled in the Seattle area.
Anything beside docs? We also review The Italian (not good, says Charles Mudede), Half-Cocked (in which Ian Svenonius fulfills all your Chattanooga indie rock dreams)… and yet another doc: Darkon, about people who hit each other with fake swords in grassy parks in the DC metro area (Bradley Steinbacher uses the word “charming”).
Elsewhere: Noel Murray and Scott Tobias argue pointlessly about theater vs. DVDs. I find these debates far too general and vague. Iraq in Fragments was shot in DV and transferred to 35: Its powerful colors and expressive close-ups should absolutely be seen on the big screen. With the very-digital looking Caché, which did a lot to extend the possibilities of digital aesthetics, I could go either way. The rewind trick near the beginning would be more exciting and disruptive on your TV screen; the plot twist is more gripping in a packed theater. (Maybe it will eventually be seen as a movie that successfully straddled the two delivery systems.) Sadie Benning’s shorts should be seen on video, preferably in your bedroom. Tyler Perry movies should only be seen with a mostly black audience who will talk back to the screen. (Via The IFC Blog.)
Also, a must-read piece on the theme “Robert Altman was a great pothead” (an affectionate tribute from the screenwriter for The Player). Complete with a discussion of the meaning of “white jazz.” (Via Green Cine Daily.)
Film Shorts can be found at Get Out!, The Stranger’s comprehensive search widget.