Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kiss a journalist!

In the theaters...

Unless you live in a big city or a particularly hip and sophisticated place, chances you won't get many documentaries in your local theaters. Two or three exceptions would be Buck, Page One and Project Nim.
I saw the first two and I'm waiting on Project Nim.

If you read this blog regularly, you know about Buck. I must confess that after seeing Buck, I did fall a teensy bit in love with the horse whisperer in the title role, Buck Brannaman. No. That happened with the trailer. This cowboy travels the country from March to mid-November teaching horsemanship, colt starting, cow working and roping. His class descriptions use words like calmness, gentleness and stress-free more often than a yoga class for beginners. 

Surprisingly, the theater was 1/3 filled on a hot weekday afternoon, and I think it had as many horse lovers in the audience as doc lovers. See it if you are crazy for docs and/or horses. See it if you work with children who have been developmentally or emotionally impaired. There are lessons in here for you as well. Otherwise, wait for Netflix.

You wouldn't know it from the poster, but Page One is getting mixed reviews.
 Magnolia, the film’s distributor says Page One by Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack is a film, “In the tradition of great fly-on-the-wall documentaries…”


News Flash Doc Lovers: This is not in the tradition of great fly-on-the wall documentaries. Fly-on-the-wall aka cinema verite does NOT include interview after interview after interview with the subjects of the film. If you don’t believe me ask the great cinema verite directors, Frederick Wiseman, D.A.Pennebaker or the Maysles brothers. 

With that settled, I can assure you that Page One is not really about hard news at the New York Times either.  It’s about the media desk and the future of newspapers in our twitterized culture. With newspaper ad revenues way down, newspapers across the country are cutting staffs, shifting to an online model, or simply shuttering their doors. See for the dreary details. It’s an important subject for those who believe that we are far better off politically and socially, thanks to the “Fourth Estate."

While I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I did find it sloppily organized. It’s not easy, folks! I know. I also found it repetitious, frenetic and not always audibly clean.  Never-the-less, for all its faults, it is a good film and worth seeing.  
Especially if:
a) you love her ladyship, the New York Times (And I do)
b) You actually think twitter can convey all the news you need (You really need this film)
c) You believe that twitter is the demon seed of Rupert Murdock (the audience booed when he appeared on the screen) and Vice’s Editor-in-Chief, Rocco Castoro.  (Really? They actually edit that rag?)

The “star” of the film is David Carr. Not since Ed Asner’s portrayal as the crusty but lovable newsman, Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, have I liked a journalist as much.  This guy is the real deal. He should have his own late night show.  

 In what was probably the best scene in the movie, David Carr is interviewing some snarky guys at Vice Magazine when Vice co-founder, Shane Smith brags that they have partnered with CNN because they deliver news the way young people want it. He proceeds to tell Carr that he went to Liberia and filmed defecation on the beach and interviewed cannibals and that is something the NYT would never do. The Times was there doing a story on Liberia as a surf destination.  
 “And the New York Times, meanwhile, is writing about surfing, and I'm sitting there going like, "You know what? I'm not going to
talk about surfing, I'm going to talk about cannibalism, because that f**ks me up."

David Carr shuts off his tape recorder and squarely looks at this journalistic imposter and says, “Just a sec, time out. Before you ever went there, we've had reporters there reporting on genocide after genocide. Just because you put on a f**king safari helmet and looked at some poop doesn't give you the right to insult what we do. So continue.”


To read more about the film and view a trailer, go to:

One more thing. remember to Kiss a Journalist! This virtual kiss goes out to Bill Thompson at the Post and Courier.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow. Welcome new followers, Stephanie and the guy who looks like Che.  If after reading, you have a bone to pick with me, please post a comment. Thank you and let me know what you have watched that's extraordinary.