DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER (Netflix) – This begins as a project in by a film maker to tell a kid about his murdered father. A father murdered by his ex-girlfriend, Zachary’s mother. It’s disturbing how much the Newfoundland courts and family services failed in this case; it’s almost as if they were conspiring to give preferential treatment to murderer Shirley Jane Turner rather than to help people who came from away. Wikipedia entry on the film.
Very aggressive film, using some non-conventional film-editing; at least as far as I’ve ever seen in a documentary. One of the most devastating parts is towards the end, when Kurt re-dedicates the film.
There was much life in the film, and a real sense of love and devotion, from parents and friends who contributed to the project. One line struck me as funny enough to make note of, when one subject described Newfoundland weather, one of the interview subjects says “We have 8 months of winter, and 4 months of bad weather”
UNKNOWN (Carlton) – A ‘lost identity’ film, where an accident victim wakes up after an accident with amnesia. Well, he’s lost some of his memory, but maybe he has memories that aren’t his either? There’s a couple ways that I could see this script developing by the end of the first act; science fiction, espionage thriller, grand conspiracy plot. I enjoyed that the end wasn’t spelled out from the outset, though I did think that the car chases were a bit overdone. Film trailers before this one were for THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and THE SOURCE CODE; nicely picked for theme.
There had been a couple pairs of people whispering back and forth through the entire first act. They kept getting louder and louder, and finally I just couldn’t deal with it any longer. I’m not a “shusher” like some people who turn around and yell “SSSSSSH!” like they were in school. I got up from my seat and went back to the back row where a man was apparently translating the dialogue of the movie for his date.
I walked all the way down the aisle, and stood beside him. I bent down and asked him “Would you like us to stop the film so you can finish your conversation?”
I think he thought that I was going to hit him. Whatever works; he was SILENT for the rest of the film.
The other pair of talkers was a couple of older ladies that had been chatting back and forth during the previews, and while that bugs me, I’m not going to bother someone there – they’re previews. They continued nearly without stopping through the first act. I don’t know how they did it, but I could hear the whispering like a constant drone, occasionally getting louder and louder, before fading back into a buzz.
Conveniently they were sitting two rows ahead of the first couple, and they were on the aisle. I walked up behind them, and put my hands on the back of their seats. “How about you ladies? Did you need to finish up your chat?” They froze. I feel a little bit bad if I scared them, but seriously, this isn’t your living room, and “going to the talkies” doesn’t mean what they appear to think it means.
Blessed silence for the rest of the film out of these four.
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (Netflix) – This is a documentary film in three parts. The voiceover narration, paired with the developing stories are an interesting technique. It’s as much about the characters as it is about the impression. This isn’t a linear story, with character development and a progression of story. It imparts more of an impression of an unchanging character in a still life than anything. It’s beautifully shot and heartbreaking in so many ways. Having just returned from Israel, some of the shots on the streets are shockingly familiar, reminding me of architecture in Old City Jerusalem. Everything sand-coloured, surrounded by palm trees, and on the streets, amazingly fluid traffic “laws.”
NORA’S WILL (Carlton) – Another film tangentially related to our Israel trip, NORA’S WILL (apparently the direct translation of the Spanish name is FIVE DAYS WITHOUT NORA) is about a Jewish Mexican family on Passover. Okay, all this really did was give me a bit of a desire to order a double ham and sausage pizza like the one that features briefly in the film.
Nora has been planning her suicide for a long time, and finally she makes good on the threat. She’s prepared nearly everything, including most of the advance preparation for the Passover dinner that she’s effectively forcing her family to attend. There’s a fair bit of religious tension between atheist, Christian, and Jew, but it seems to be a long standing tradition to prod each other in this family.