First up, a hero-worship doc that has a very worship-worthy hero, AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY. A fairly straightforward narrative of the life of the outspoken stand up comic, told by the people who knew him best--friends and family. It was clear from a very young age (like 13, when he first broke into the stand-up clubs in Houston, TX) that he was a born comic. The movie recounts his early squeaky-clean days, his dabbling in psychedelic mushrooms (one of his oft-repeated jokes is about how the news never does a positive drug story), and his drinking--leading to his anger and bitterness coming out in his act. Eventually his "act" just became people in the audience buying him drinks and him getting royally wasted on stage. But he cleaned up, stopped the booze, and came back as a seriously funny angry comic with political messages about the drug war, free speech, and flag burning. Although he had the the respect, admiration, even worship of fellow comedians, he was ahead of his time and never really caught on the way he should've in America. So he went to England, where he played giant sold out theaters, and then returned to America and played small clubs. In fact, this movie titled AMERICAN was actually made in the UK. I have to believe, especially seeing the success of angry political comics today, that had he not died young (of cancer) that fame would've come to him. As it was, I remembered several of his bits when I saw them again in the move, but didn't know him as a household name. More's the pity.
And then I followed that up with an odd, traumatic story of pedophilia and incest, FAMILY AFFAIR. Filmmaker Chico Colvard's father molested and abused his daughters and went to jail for a long, long time. And now he's done his time and he's out, and somewhat inexplicably the daughters still see him, even have him over for Thanksgiving dinner. Colvard sets out to document this, and try to understand why they still let their abusive father (to be fair, they refer to past abuses but you never see him acting abusive nowadays) into their life.
So I have to confess, I was exhausted and dozed off a couple of times during this film (it happens). So if he answered the question of "why?" I didn't see it. Instead, what I saw was a close examination of a family, that raised an interesting and powerful question without answering it--possibly because it's unanswerable.
Total Running Time: 187 minutes
My Total Minutes: 211,253