Saturday, June 10, 2017

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 8

Two great features last Wednesday.

First up was CHARGED, a story of survival and recovery that is beyond inspirational. Eduardo Garcia was hiking though the Montana wilderness when he found a metal box with a dead bear inside it. He didn't realize it was a poorly maintained, still live electrical junction box. And he got zapped with 2400 volts. He nearly died. But he survived, made it to the road, and was medivac'ed to a specialist burn center in Salt Lake City. He lost a hand, a few ribs, and a lot of muscle mass. And his recovery was long and difficult, but he survived. Not just that, he re-learned his proffession and passion--being a chef (that requires a lot of hand work, so relearning that with a hook was quite a trick.) But I said it's beyond inspirational, because it's not just about that. Sure, he has his triumphant TV tour where he's the toast of all these talk shows. Oooh, wait, "toast" is probably a bad choice of words. But I think Eduardo would be fine with it, because one thing that came across strong in the film--and even stronger in the Q&A--is his sense of humor. And I'm 100% certain that his sense of humor saved his life. The ability to laugh at yourself keeps you from giving up. I know this, I've felt it. But here's the thing I learned about that--humor works right up until the moment it stops working. And this movie gets into that, too. It's not just about triumph and the joy of being alive. It's about the toll it takes on yourself and your loved ones. It's about the days when things get so overwhelming that humor isn't enough anymore, and what you do then. And for that, I think Eduardo had an interesting source of strength--having a shady past of drug and alcohol abuse, hurting people he cared about, cheating on his girlfriend (who later became his best friend and business partner, and was making most of his medical decisions in recovery. So when it came time that they had to amputate a testicle...it was the girlfriend who he cheated on who got to make that decision.) But also realizing (multiple times in the past) that his behavior was hurting not just himself but the people he loved, and having the strength of character to get help and pull himself out of that...twice (okay, so maybe the first time didn't stick 100%, but he never quit.) An inspiring man, and inspiring (and beautifully shot) film that shows the warts-and-all reality behind the inspiring story.

And then I caught an interesting experimental documentary, THE ROAD MOVIE. Made entirely of Russian dashboard camera footage, it could play like an extended Youtube playlist, but a very, very well made one. It's the art of content curation and editing. as we alternate between pants-shitting terror and surreal hilarity. In fact, it reminds me of a term from the Grand Guignol--the "Scottish Shower." That is, to alternate hot and cold. In the Grand Guignol it was alternating between gore and sex comedies. Here it's alternating between crashes, break-ins, floods, a horse-drawn sleigh, a crazy guy jumping on the windshield, a drive through a forest fire, etc. There's no narrative arc (which is great if you're sleep deprive, you can doze through a few without missing the zeitgeist) and it's brilliant, hilarious, and terrifying. I want to come out with the conclusion that Russian drivers are just insane. But I wonder what would happen if dashcams were as ubiquitous in America as they are in Russia. Oh yeah, this isn't in the movie but a friend of mine was telling me how practically every car there is equipped with one. In fact, (according to my friend) insurance companies typically won't pay out if you don't have the dashcam footage proving you weren't at fault.

Total Running Time: 158 minutes
My Total Minutes: 429,920
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