I'm back from my travels. I missed you. I come bearing gifts of fantastic documentaries/drama-as-documentary films.
One of my very favorite films, The Shining still holds a dark place in my heart as one of those films that you just don't fuck with -- it's creepy enough, layered enough, and true enough in some respects that the older you get, the more layers and potential symbols you find in it, and it never stops being scary. The documentary Room 237 digs into the layers and symbols in the film, the dark rumors, the potential pranks and genuine mysteries that surrounded Kubrick and the making of the film itself. While the trailer is sparse and spooky (aka it doesn't say much about the doc itself), there's a great article here from The Guardian on exactly what level of scaring-ourselves we're going to get from the film. Enjoy.
The Lottery of Birth
This film is part of the incredible Creating Freedom project, which is a series of films, essays, and paintings on the subjects of power and the society we live in today. The project comes hot on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement, the increasing popularity of the Zeitgeist films, among other arenas and films that seek to look what exactly how our daily realities and life structures are created, maintained, perceived, and defended. However, the folks behind The Lottery of Birth don't go the rage-and-conspiracy route, but take the emotionally intellectual and politically aware route of asking some excellent questions about who we are as individual human beings and the human race itself. It points out the easily ignored fact that while we're born any old place at any old time, we're born into many predetermined molds and tracks that there is no such thing, they say, as being born free anymore. The films are brilliantly shot, and I can't wait until the whole series is out. For now, we'll have to make do with the beautiful trailer and accompanying website.
Non-verbal documentary about countries and cultures across the globe sounds like one of those projects that are cool in theory, but a disaster in practice. Samsara is not one of those projects -- it's a film that will likely change how nature and humanity are filmed in documentary style. A visually stunning film that makes Tarsem look like 8-bit Nintendo, Samsara "subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern." It's a visual meditation into the everything and the nothing, the "ever-turning wheel of life" that its name refers to in Sanskrit. It's a film that leaves everything up to the perception of the viewer, but that no less reminds us all that the world still is, and probably always will be, a beautiful, magical, wonderful place to live in.
Female sex tourism, often sickly called "reverse" sex tourism, is nothing new, grossly under-publicized, and in an odd way, unfortunately romanticized by much of Western culture. Where a man in his mid-50's having sex with 20-year-old girls (or far, far younger) makes him a gross pervert, a woman of the same age having sex with 20-year-old men is "cool" and "liberating." Austria's Ulrich Seidl hits us with the often painfully awkward and very creepy Paradis: Leibe (Paradise: Love), a drama-as-documentary film chronicling three European women having sex abroad, looking for "happiness" because they can't get it at home. Thanks to the good people at filmofilia.com for the clips of the film, which you can find here.