Sunday, April 19, 2009


Helvetica (**)
this documentary begins well enough with fascinating historical background to this most ubiquitous of typefaces - by the end of it, I became sick to the teeth of the soulless procession of self-important self-proclaimed 'graphic designers' each sitting smugly behind their suspiciously prominent Macs - articulate ideologues, each and every one, and not a single genuine artist amongst their number; I can now say, thanks to sitting through this film, that henceforth I officially loathe the Helvetica font

The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu (*****)

don't be fooled by the ludicrously misleading 'Comedy Of The Year' award emblazoned on the DVD cover - this tremendous film is dark like a Wiseman documentary and the stylistic similarities don't end there; it explores the loneliness of death through the tale of Mr. Lazarescu, a man who feels unwell and has to ask to be taken
from his Bucharest apartment to hospital one evening, leaving his sole company, his beloved cats, behind; his fate is always slightly in the balance as there are always at least a few gestures of promised humanity, though they're never fulfilled (not even from the lady paramedic or the pending arrival of his sister), so it's as if the loneliness of death comes not from lack of company but from the horror that people do care a bit, but really not very much; the Divine Choice symbolism is a little bit heavy-handed for my liking although its themes in general are treated with exceptional subtlety and deftness of touch

Il Divo (***)
heavily stylised study of the latter years of the notorious Italian politician Giulio Andreotti - although it predictably demands too much background historical detail of the lay viewer,
Il Divo is always compelling as the portrayed machinations of a corrupt broken political system alongside a corrupt broken judiciary, organised crime, and murky religious cabals contain a universal truth and resonance; the occasional crass use of rubbish indie music does spoil the tone, but visually the film is always a treat, at times reminiscent of Peter Greenaway's best work

Tyson (****)
Mike Tyson always was a far more complex and articulate man than he was ever given credit for; people only saw the ferocious animal in the ring, not the human being - this brilliantly edited documentary portrait comprises Tyson himself, narrating alone, with devastatingly raw yet touching candour, his remarkable story alongside some incredible archive film footage

A Place For Paedophiles (BBC TV) (***)
Louis Theroux invariably annoys the hell out of me with his quiet sanctimonious smugness - and once again he could really learn a lot from watching the incomparable Frederick Wiseman's documentaries such as
Titicut Follies and Juvenile Court; yet I do admit his choice of subject matter is exemplary - this time in the form of incredible access to California's huge controversial warehouse for sex offenders, Coalinga State Hospital; despite Theroux continually failing to ask the right questions, continually missing opportunities to give us insights into the true horrors of the facility, we still get enough atmospheric sweeps and revealing glimpses of detail to make the visit fascinating, albeit frustratingly so

1 comment:

pelao said...

just watched titicut follies with mr wiseman present yesterday at cine dore, madrid....incredible!