Sunday, September 23, 2012

Waste Land (2010)

Agg..what an awesome film. Our Cape Town bergies could learn a thing or 2 from watching this hehe..

This was not the kind of documentary with twists and turns but a simple film about ordinary people. What so clearly starts about an artist, Vik Muniz who decides that he is going to create portraits made from recyclable garbage transforms into an incredible tribute to the people who work and sift through the tons and tons of garbage deposited daily on the largest landfill in Brazil. I absolutely loved ALL the characters and was touched by the dignity, emotion and spirit of each and every one of them. The women were especially endearing and I found most of them quite beautiful, the irony not being lost on where they spend their days. There are 3000 “pickers” that work and live in this landfill, clearly very devout and supportive of each other. Even I was amazed at the resourcefulness of the group, with Irma, who has worked there for 30years, feeding her group the most amazing meals from the trash. She boasts of rib stews and roast beefs, being cooked right there on the dump.

It was also very interesting to see where our trash goes after it leaves our door on bin day every week. It was amazing to see what we consider trash is considered very desirable in monetary terms when it lands on the other side. Dont get me wrong, this film does not glorify the job they do, its a hard and stressful life and a means to an end. Most of the women commenting that it was this or prostitution for them.

The end result of Vik Muniz art is also amazing and incredibly beautiful even thou I know nothing about art. I would most definitely love to own a piece myself. The pickers help him with his project and their sense of pride and accomplishment after their portraits are completed is really carried forward to the viewer. I did find the first few 15 minutes hard to watch as I found the artist quite arrogant and was going to turn it off but I'm so glad I stayed with it, was really worth the watch.

You could study these for hours.

I will add that this reminded me of a few years ago, I packed a full black bag of my then baby daughters clothing to give to a friend and left it by the front door. My husband, thinking it was trash, threw the bag into the bin. Needless to say, I was furious and for years, still got pissed off everytime I thought about it. However, I can calmly say all is finally forgiven after watching this film. I can only imagine it was a joyous day for whomever found that bag when it got to our cities landfill.

If you manage to watch this film, also take note of the philosophical quotes to come from Valter, some of them are absolute gems. The movie is in Brazilian so you will need the .srt files if you grab it.

I was gone...

but now Im back. I was shocked to pop in today at my blog and realise that I hadnt posted anything in over a year. I have no clue where the time went and I always mean to blog about new docs Ive seen and then never get around to it. There is an amazing amount of docs doing the rounds of late that Im itching to get my hands on...most important being Searching for Sugar Man I absolutely cannot wait. I have a ton of films I still need to review and I have finally done all I can to get the movies from The Documentary Blog's Top 50 movies of the decade. There are a few that have proved impossible and I can only but hope that I will come across them on my internet travels. I also recently used my eBucks to buy a shit load of documentary dvd's from Takealot that I have never even heard of and Im hoping to find some gems among the lot. Will certainly let you know.

Talking of Takealot, I was most annoyed to hear recently that they are no longer supporting imported dvd's from Amazon so now trying to buy some the brilliant documentaries I watch is going to be an exercise besides being 10x more expensive. So much for trying to cut down on my  illegal downloading lending from friends and trying to support the makers of these movies.!! Moving along...

Please also let me know if anything comes your way that is an absolute must see! ;)

The Elephant in the Living Room (2010)

I decided to mention this awesome doc especially as there have been quite a few stories in the SA news lately of people keeping wild animals as pets namely, Humphrey the hippo who was a like a son to his owner before turning around and killing him and more recently, the Brakpan morons who are raising their tiger as a cat in their home (with 18 dogs nogals). I'm sure it wont be long before we will be reading the same tragic headlines that was bestowed on Humphrey's owner.

Elephant in the Living Room is a tragic tale on uneducated people who keep exotic wild animals as pets. Needless to say, it rarely ends very well. The very fact that its not illegal in some American states to own African wild animals/have permits etc is a travesty. People get these animals as small cuddly balls of fluff but unfortunately, they dont stay that way. Even more sad is that the trade in these animals is a thriving business all over the world.

The doc is based on Tim Harrison, who has made it his lifes work to curb and educate the public on owning wild animals and Terry Brumfield, who happens to own 2 lions that he has raised since cubs. His love for these lions is absolutely undeniable but their living conditions leave you wanting to weep however, you cant help but feel so sorry for the circumstances that Terry finds himself in.

I cant really give any more info on this film without spoiling it but its a MUST see, its brilliantly filmed with unexpected twists and turns that you cant possibly see coming. You also get a small glimpse into the wildlife auctions where every imaginable animal is auctioned and stories of animals being abandoned, released etc when their owners realise they have bitten off more than they can chew. I have always been against the ownership of wild animals but seeing it first hand in this film, has absolutely confirmed to me that it should be illegal in every country worldwide.

Do yourselves a favour and watch this, its brilliant and deserves every award!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

God Grew Tired Of Us (2006)

This is a remarkable story and an enduring testament to the thousands of peope who flee their homelands, leaving behind loved ones and family, in search of a better life in other countries when their own has become inhabitable be it from war, famine or just basic survival. Considering we live in a country where thousands attempt to enter every day, I will forever look at our refugees in a different light.

The story revolves around 3 men who were part of the Sudan's Lost Boys. I had never heard of them before but their story is beyond horrific and there is a very brief background in the film to give you probably just the basic idea but its enough to tell you what these boys have endured. The US government promised 3800 of these boys asylum in the states and of course, this film follows their story. These young men have never experienced things that we take for granted and you cant help but chuckle when one of them, on the plane to the states, opens a block of butter, sniffs it and pops it in his mouth!eeewww.

Anyhow, the film shows how they have to integrate into American society, their homesickness and loneliness away from the only family they have known (the young men left behind), cultural differences and most poignantly, their guilt at being one of the chosen ones to get asylum. John Bul Dau, whom I immediately took a shining to for his gentle nature, intelligence and perplexity at his new environment (shocking to be told you cannot just walk into your neighbours home LOLOL) , took on 3 jobs at one stage to send money to his family, remaining lost boys in Africa and pay his way.

John Bul Dau-My New Hero

Its a lovely film which will make you laugh, cry and after the credits have rolled, will have you googling to see what you can do to help. Its really a must see and a terrific film about overcoming the odds.

PS: And do yourelf a favour and read about the lost boys of Sudan, every human should KNOW their story.

Kurt Cobain-About A Son (2006)


This doc was a huge disappointment to me and I didnt even manage 30 mins of it. Its basically just audio interviews of Kurt Cobain talking to a slideshow of video and images of what I assume is Seattle people and the landscape. I did jump though to see if there was at least any images of the man himself but nothing...and dont expect any live footage of him either, unless I missed 10 minutes somewhere where they did show footage. A total waste of time unless you are happy to put on headphones and just listen to his voice. Personally I would prefer live footage at the very least.

Walmart-The High Cost of Low Price (2005)

I thought this would be a pretty interesting doc to watch for SA'ers since Walmart has just bought out Massmart (known to us as Makro, Game etc) and I was pretty excited when I heard Walmart might be landing on our shores. However, this doc has absolutely nothing good to say about Walmart and its focuses alot on their very bad work ethics towards their staff which I, in all honesty, found quite shocking myself. It also tells the story as to how this empire invades small American towns, putting out of business family stores that have been running for generations and it was rather heart-breaking to witness. It also focused on the shocking working conditions of people in China who make and run all the stuff Walmart sells.

I really dont see them pulling off half the shit they get up in the states with all our unions here in SA so I dont see me boycotting their stores in any kind of hurry if it will be beneficial to my consumer pocket, especially in this day and age.

This film has a very big David and Goliath feel to it and highly recommended. I would love to know if this doc will influence you into whether or not you will support this co if they do open shop here. Judging from their website, truthfully, I cant wait!! Who knows, maybe I will even start our own “S.A People shopping in Walmart” website hehehe

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father (2008)

I simply cannot go into too much detail about this film and the less you know, the better. The story revolves around Dr Andrew Bagby, who was allegedly murdered by his girlfriend. She then subsequently announces she is pregnant with his son. Andrews life-time friend then sets out to make this moving legacy for Zachary about his father with interviews and short stories from friends and family which clearly show how loved and respected Andrew was. Andrews parents, The Bagby's then try everything in their might to have the young baby near to them considering Andrew was an only child. This little boy was literally all they had left.

 This film was a Tour de Force on the emotions. It stays with you LONG after the credits have rolled and quite frankly, I don't think I will ever forget it. Its very traumatic and as the film hurtles along to its conclusion, which you don't see coming, you will be left shaken to the absolute core, heart-broken and moved beyond anything you might have seen before. It also has to be one of the worst travesties of justice I have yet to witness.

It really is a masterpiece and I HIGHLY recommend it, I have it on all my wish-lists. The film is also in real-time so we see it as it happens. I sincerely doubt the film-maker and friend of Andrew, Kurt Kuenne, could ever in his wildest dreams, imagined what the out-come would be. Just be sure to be seated through-out, should you be standing when all is revealed, its so shocking, its enough to bring you to your knees in disbelief and horror.

Steal it, download it, BUY it....its a must!!!!!