Fucky Film Review!

* * Fucky Film Review Docu-fest 2010 * *

Posted by Web Manager on April 5, 2010

Screened at FFR HQ in Tel Aviv, March-April 2010:

DEAR ZACHARY – To say anything about the film kind of spoils the best and worst of it.  I think the story got away from the filmmaker, which is totally understandable given the actual events and his natural desire (need, really) to be optimistic and hopeful in light of the tragedy and evil that befell his friend.

KING OF KONG – A total crowd pleaser. I really liked the story of Walter Day, the founder of Twin Galaxies, which is the de facto governing body of competitive classic arcade video play. Reigning champion Billy Mitchell is like some Radio Shack mutant king, and it’s fascinating to observe the power he holds over the subjects of his little kingdom.

JOHNNY BERLIN – A down on his luck dude in his early fifties works on an old pullman car on the Northwest Coast and saves up for a trip to Cambodia where he plans to write a book about a guy who refuses to walk. No real filmmaking to speak of here, but Johnny lingers on you like a strange scent.

SICK – This one is pretty awesome, about Bob Flanagan, a man who defied medicine by livint with Cystic Fibrosis well into his 40’s, apparently by coming to terms with and taking ownership over his pain through sexual masochism and a long term submissive relationship. The film offers a very intimate look at Flanagan’s life and his art, which consisted of high-concept gallery and museum installations (less interesting) and Bob’s solo standup comedy acts and poetry readings, which are totally inspiring.

STEVIE – Made by the same guy who made HOOP DREAMS, which was one of my favorite documentaries going into Docu-fest. STEVIE is the filmmaker’s personal journey into his past to revisit a younger man with whom he had an “older brother” relationship while the filmmaker was in graduate school in Carbondale, Illinois.  Long story short, things haven’t gone so well for Stevie.

MR. DEATH – About a redneck engineer who built a better electric chair and then got hired to prove that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz.  Incredible footage of this shit-kicker clandestinely chipping away at the gas chamber walls (the “Holy of Holies”) in Poland in the 1970s.

GREY GARDENS – I didn’t love this as much as everyone else.  The women each started to annoy me and I didn’t feel particularly sympathetic to either of them. As a study in pathos, it is pretty good because you really see how both mother and daughter contribute equally to their dysfunctional relationship. Also it’s kind of incredible to see how beautiful each of them were when they were younger.

REVOLUTION – An accidental addition to Docu-fest 2010, this one came up on cable the other night while I was waiting for someone who ended up being so late that I watched this whole film about San Francisco in 1968. The subject is totally overplayed and I thought the film would be annoying, but it was really good, mostly because the filmmakers found some non-hippie San Franciscans to talk about the whole thing, all without any hindsight, and all of them are so fantastic and early sixties chic and smart it’s great.


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