I made a conscious decision this year to avoid “issue” documentaries. No killing in Darfur, no climate change is going to kill us all, no the rants about how the government is going to hell. I know all about this stuff, I know it sucks, I’m sick of hearing about it frankly. Especially in a liberal city like Seattle, this shit is in your face constantly. So I was a little reluctant about Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary Manufactured Landscapes, which follows photographer Edward Burtynsky whose work involves the ways modern manufacturing techniques affect the world around us. Thankfully the film was great. The photos are stunnnig, gigantic otherworldly images of a world that is often barely recognizable. There was a particularly unreal section which dealt with a beach in Bangladesh where they purposely beach oil tankers after they can’t be operated anymore. The locals, many of them children, break the ships apart for scrap, in the process cleaning out the sludge and god knows what poisonous sludge is left behind.
Baichwal mostly just follows Burtynsky around and lets his images tell the story, along with some commentary by the photographer. This could have easily turned into a manifesto on the evils of a global economy, but thankfully it largely refrains from any outward accusations of good or evil. Instead it invites the viewer to think about their lives and the things they buy, about what it take to allow you to buy a $10 iron at Target. He even admits that he himself is a part of the problem, driving around in his jeep with his metal camera and the silver that enables his film to exist. I found this refreshing and I really appreciated the opportunity to let my mind wander and consider all these truly mindblowing scenes. The only bummer is that the latter third of the movie focuses a bit too much on China, but I can hardly blame it given that such an enormous percentage of the world’s manufacturing is done their these days. Great stuff, it is coming out soon.
This day had a series of incredibly tight transitions between movies, and this was the first trying to haul from Pacific Place to Harvard Exit in approximately 25 minutes. This might not sound so bad, until you ponder the problems of parking in Capitol Hill around 6:00. I was trying to talk Roya into just putting the car in a lot, when she came upon literally the perfect parking spot. You could not have a spot any closer to the theatre’s exit than this one. It was amazing.
This put is in a good spot in line for The Year Of Living Dangerously. Every SIFF you kind of have to balance whether or not to attend archival presentations, especially for things like this which are well available on DVD. I had always heard good things about it though, and I’ve liked all Peter Weir’s other films, so I decided to go. Good decision there Greg, this film is awesome. It was amazing watching a young Mel Gibson who had not yet become an anti-seimitic whackjob and could actually you know … act. Linda Hunt’s performance was something that words are hard to describe. I had no idea this was a woman being a man, to the point that when I saw Linda Hunt’s name in the credit, I thought to myself “Wow that is weird that that dude is named Linda. Must be a bummer.” I liked the photography theme flowing through from Manufactured Landscapes to this.
After that was over, we had ten minutes to get from Harvard Exit to Northwest Film Forum. We almost didn’t bother, but finally decided to run for it. The fantastic parking job helped us big time as we basically just stepped out the door and into the car. Roya hit all the lights (barely running a couple), and found yet another amazing parking spot right on our first pass. We made our seats with minutes to spare! I was dumbofunded. That is some serious parking mojo.
Sadly our third event, the shorts program I Dot The Eye was not really worthwhile. The first three shorts were pretty experimental and avant-garde, and while I “appreciate” these I don’t really enjoy them. The second set was better being more narrative and story-like, but none of them was particularly great. The best was certainly I’m Keith Hernandez, a satirical look at the life of basbeball player Keith Hernandez from the beginning of his career through his appearance on Seinfeld. While this had great energy and some laughs, it was still pretty slight, although the Q&A afterwards by director Rob Perri was pretty damn entertaining and he’s obviously a bright guy.
It was late when we finally got home, I remember being pretty trashed at work the next day.