Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 10

Last Saturday, after the two Berlin and Beyond films I caught 3 Docfest films. It's been a while since I've done 5-a-days...feels good.

First up, THE VANISHING OF THE BEES. I've heard reports on the news and stories here and there about mysterious bee disappearances. I think I've probably heard the term "colony collapse disorder" before, too. But this movie tackles it in a comprehensive and entertaining way. There's plenty of alarmist doom and gloom--without bees pollinating we'd lose the majority of our fruits and vegetables. Bees dying (or just disappearing, the odd thing is there aren't piles of dead bees near the collapsed colonies) is a sign of an environment badly out of balance, etc. But it's also a personal story of the beekeeper who first sounded the alarm, it's a political thriller as he attempts to get action, it's even an engaging narrative about the science around it--the breeding of bees, the systemic pesticides used on modern crops, etc. All in all, a well told story. Oh, and it's narrated by Ellen Page. I like her, although I didn't recognize it was her voice until the end credits. She just did a good job, the narration was helpful and not intrusive.

Next up was TRAMPOLINE, a shockingly intimate look at a family falling apart over the course of the year. Osla and Nathaniel are the parents--or rather Osla is the mother and Nathaniel is the stepfather. And Nathaniel is apparently diagnosed as psychotic, although I don't see it. The kids are a freakin' mess--mostly drug use but also other forms of teenage rebellion (make that super-rebellion). Family friend Mark Wojahn filmed it all. And it looks like a home movie, and obviously jumps around in time (particularly Nathaniel's haircut is a giveaway), but it's still pretty compelling. They're interesting people, and the film gets into their lives pretty deeply.

And finally, the night ended with AMERICAN MYSTIC. A parade of deeply religious, non-Christians (or even non-Abrahamic). We meet several, mostly living in secluded, rural landscapes (desert retreats are popular). Most swirl around nature worship of some sort--call it Wicca or Paganism or whatever. What we don't get is much explanation of the beliefs and practices themselves. I suppose that gives us a view of several people who live happy, spiritually fulfilling lives with religions other than the dominant ones in America. But without the hook of 'they believe/practice this' I was left with little reason to care about them. I know it's way more of a task than this movie set out, but I really could've used some brief explanation of the religions.

Total Running Time: 267 minutes
My Total Minutes: 212,638
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