Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January 30th Log

2006, Heidi Ewing / Rachel Grady, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

You think you know America? You think you know your own country? I got to tell you, you don’t.” Jesus Camp is a film that takes you out your community or lifestyle and into a country that is divided in ideals. This to me is the most moving effect of the film, in that it makes you aware of ignorance (be it your own or others) by presenting a country that is completely alienated in beliefs. Jesus Camp may be the scariest film of the year! Ultimately the film examines the influences adults reflect onto children, but Jesus Camp also looks further into a divided subculture of America- the Evangelical Christians. A movement that is determined to educate it’s beliefs (which include combining religion with politics) and pass (or perhaps brainwash?) them towards the future generation. The film is open in a way that lets the viewer take it how they may. I believe the filmmakers do not exploit the subject with their own judgment, but are rather curious. Documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady give the film a strong visual presence to alongside the stirring emotions. They instill many open visual metaphors including a symbolic ending in a car wash, which is capped off by a haunting closing shot that could be interrupted in several different meanings. This final moment is a reflection of the filmmakers approach of openness and discovery, something the subjects of the film avoid. This is a film that certainly leaves a lasting mark, and even a loss for words. Jesus Camp is a chilling film that very well can have you looking or thinking of the country in a different perspective.

2006, Phillip Noyce, UK / France / South Africa / USA

1st Viewing, DVD

Catch a Fire is based on the true story of a South African man who suddenly becomes a terrorist against apartheid after he is wrongly accused and tortured for a bombing attack. The film is well made, acted, and certainly well intended. You have to wonder if the political significance would have been more effective 15 years ago, but Catch a Fire seems to have more on the agenda then just the apartheid of South Africa. Directed by capable veteran filmmaker Phillip Noyce, Catch a Fire is a solid thriller and does have some moving emotional moments of family drama. Politically Noyce and writer Shawn Slovo seem to be examining apartheid South Africa as a reflection of some of the current conditions of the world. Derek Luke (a talented young actor) gives a fine performance as Patrick Chamusso (who we later see at the end of the film), and Tim Robbins gives a terrific performance as a determined cop who realizes he is fighting a losing battle. Catch a Fire is fitting docudrama-like territory for Noyce who is at his most skilled with this type of film. I wouldn’t say this is his best work, but Catch a Fire is intelligent and well intended filmmaking.


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