True Films

Short Cut to Nirvana


This film lacks a compelling narrative, but it’s worth watching because it gives you a nice comfy seat to view the world’s largest gathering of humans. The parade is totally wild. Every 12 years pilgrims in India congregate on the beach at the confluence of two holy rivers. This meeting is called the Kumbh Mela. Officials estimate up to 70 million people came to bathe at the last Kumbh Mela in 2001. 70 million is larger than 95% of the countries of the world. Among those millions of pilgrims are tens of thousands Sadhus, holy hobos, wandering saints, faith healers and naked misfits. Every guru in India and beyond sets up a camp and side-show tent. There’s too much of everything. The event gets an instant infrastructure to accommodate the largest city on earth for only several weeks. There’s dust, constant loudspeaker noise, weirdness everywhere, It’s sort of like Burning Man, but enlarged 100,000 times. I attended the Kumbh Mela in 1977, before it was “popular,” when a mere 14 million souls turned up. It’s pretty gritty (imagine the sanitation problem) but also the cheapest way to visit another planet. This film captures a tiny bit of that alien weirdness. Hopefully this is not the last film to grapple with this incredible spectacle, but right now it’s the only one I know of.

– KK

(more…)

Short Cut to Nirvana
Directed by Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day
2004, 85 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted February 23, 2007 at 5:00 am | comments


49 Up


In 1963 the BBC filmed a set of 7-year school children and asked them what they thought their future would be. Because some of the kids were rich and some were poor, their aspirations revealed the traditional British class divide. But every 7 years since, the director has gone back and re-interviewed them, and their story has gotten far more interesting. The twists and turns of each life have been surprisingly unpredictable. With its longitudinal reach of 50 years (!), this is one of the coolest and deepest reality shows ever made. Now the kids are 49. In their latest episode the director tries to balance an inherent tension. The film can’t assume anyone has seen the earlier versions (see my review here), and so it must recap the previous films, but now that the subjects’ lives are so long, a recap won’t leave much time for the new years. 49Up tackles this dilemma by re-interpreting each life in view of their latest 7 years, and so if you have been following along, it feels completely fresh. If you have not been part of the journey so far, this quick life-long portrait will pull you in, and you may want to see the earlier films. If you have been watching, these will be old friends. The subjects are now into their 50s and I found myself dying to know what happens next – in 56 Up.

– KK

(more…)

49 Up
Directed by Michael Apted
2005, 134 min.
$22, DVD

PBS site

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted February 16, 2007 at 5:00 am | comments


Who Killed the Electric Car?


who-killed-the-electric-car_cover

Since GM has just introduced a new electric car, the odd circumstances of their coordinated destruction of all their older electric car seems less sinister. However, take the murder mystery metaphor of this fun film as simply a good narrative device to communicate the peculiar and disheartening politics surrounding alternative energy. There’s a lot broken. This film does a good job in outlining all the forces conspiring against electric cars (many, powerful, and desperate), and the unceasing technological forces converging to make it happen. Now that the reactionary forces have been exposed in full video daylight, the inevitable electric car may happen sooner. This film makes the virtues of an electric car seem so utterly sane and desirable, you’ll want one immediately. I’ve ridden in two different independent luxury electric cars being developed by eager Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and boy, electric cars are powerful, fast, and amazing. This movie finally explained to me why I can’t buy one yet.

– KK

Electric Car1

Electric Car2

Electric Car3

Electric Car4

Electric Car5

Who Killed the Electric Car?
Directed by Chris Paine
2006, 91 min.
$9, DVD

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted February 9, 2007 at 5:00 am | comments
| in category Explaining


Sketches of Frank Gehry


sketches_frank_gehry

A famous movie director (Sydney Pollack) documents how a famous architect works. As Pollack struggles with his first documentary, Gehry struggles to be amazing again as he plays with paper models. Gehry is the renowned architect who designs the swoopy, crumpled, and absolutely non-rectilinear buildings such as the Bilbao Guggenheim museum. But he is almost an accidental architect, and certainly an accidental superstar. He started out driving trucks and wanted to be a pilot. The theme of this documentary is the fragile nature of creativity – how difficult it is to sustain for anyone, but especially for the already successful. Gehry is unexpectedly candid about his fear of failure and even lets his therapist profile him. Best of all is his openness to let us watch him as he comes up with lame ideas and stupid suggestions, on the way to finding something that works.

– KK

 

SketchesGehry4

SketchesGehry3

SketchesGehry2

SketchesGehry1

Sketches of Frank Gehry
Directed by Sydney Pollack
2005, 84 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted February 2, 2007 at 12:22 am | comments