Seems eons since I last posted about movies … oh my, must catch up. Here’s 3 recent films I’ve seen.
S&M: Short and Male
Directed by short
male Howard Goldberg, this documentary relates the ups and downs
(mostly downs) of short statured men and the lengths (pardon the pun)
they’ll go to be taller. Perhaps I’m biased but as a six foot two inch
male, I found S&M: Short and Male beneath me (figuratively and
literally). Essentially a series of poor jokes on the trials and
tribulations of short men, the documentary only hits a chord when it
shows the dire lengths a family will go to grow their teenaged son. The
scenes of the young teenager having leg lengthening surgery and then
talking about it with his father are both unbelievable and tragic. The
lengths some families will go to for height are sad. On the other end
of the scale, the scenes of a group of short men in New York trying to
rally folks at Times Square to an association of short men to advocate
for (presumably taller) ‘rights’ are like a wonky sketch from Saturday Night Live.
And like a bad night at a bad comedy club, I was left wondering if this
documentary would ever end. My rating, fairly noting I’m a closet
‘heightist’, 4 out of 10.
She, who can’t act, the paltry Gwyneth Paltrow,
stars in this time-shifting romantic-drama directed by Peter Howitt.
Howitt’s premise in this film is interesting: what would happen if we
just missed the sliding doors of that subway train? Enter Helen
(Paltrow) a PR guru who is unceremoniously fired from her London ad
agency. Returning home we see her catch (and not catch) an Underground
tube train and thereby start two parallel stories. In one, where she
catches the train, she arrives home to find her boyfriend, Gerry
(played by John Lynch) cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend, Lydia
(Jeanne Tripplehorn). In the other, where she misses the train, she
ends up mugged and in hospital and arrives home to find Gerry alone in
the shower. In both realities she meets James (John Hannah) who becomes
both a lover and friend, respectively. The film then bounces back and
forth and forth and back playing out these two realities to much drama
and woe, and a fair bit of sad overarching music. It’s all a little too
much I thought and surely must prove I’m no romantic. Many of my
friends who watched this film loved it (caveat: all were female). So,
Sliding Doors must be a chick-flick and I only really watched with idle
interest waiting to see how Howitt ends the adventure. My rating for
the premise, and the sturdy English acting of both Hannah and
Tripplehorn, is 5 out of 10.
The Man Who Crossed the Sahara
This thoroughly fascinating documentary, directed by Korbett Matthews, starts with clips from enigmatic Canadian filmmaker Frank Cole’s first 1979 film, A Documentary,
in which he documented his grandmother’s last days battling cancer.
Like Cole’s own work, The Man Who Crossed the Sahara is stark, brutal
and honest and follows
Cole’s life and death. Cole was the first person to walk across
the 7,300 kilometers of the Sahara Desert, making a Guinness Book World
Record in the process. Cole filmed the entire journey and spent the
next ten years working on the travelogue he would call, Life Without Death.
Cole was fascinated by both death and the mystery of the desert and,
tragically in 2000, shortly before finishing his travelogue, returned
to the Sahara to cross it again but was murdered by bandits just
outside Timbuktu. Matthews’ documentary focuses on Cole, his films, his
walk, his family and his death. The documentary works because it speaks
to something we all must face – death. The twist here is watching
someone so alive trying to understand a destination we all find
uncomfortable dealing with. In a final affront to death, Frank Cole’s
body was cryogenically frozen and awaits the day when we may be able to
live life without death. My rating 8 out of 10.