Saturday 26 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Features · What’s up? Docs

What’s up? Docs

You’re in for a mostly gripping marathon of global challenges with this year’s Oscar nominees for documentary shorts.

Rod Lott February 16th, 2011

Some suggestions before 7:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Oklahoma City Museum of Art screens this year’s five Oscar-nominated documentary short films, each roughly 40 minutes in length. Visit the restroom first. Get comfy. Have some Kleenex handy. And perhaps a handful of St. John’s wort.

“Strangers No More” looks at a K-12 public school in Tel Aviv, where students from 48 countries unite as one. “Children is children. In education, there’s no strangers,” says the principal. “And everyone has a special story. A real complicated story.” She’s not joking. Many of the kids have never set foot in a classroom before, for whatever reason, some tragic. Expect some tears on the academic year’s final day.

“Poster Girl” refers to Robynn Murray, a middle-American girl — and she is indeed still a girl — who went from high school cheerleading to manning tanks as an Army sergeant in Iraq. Sexual harassment was the least of her problems, as she now suffers from a crippling case of post-traumatic stress disorder that, on occasion, makes her want to cease living. It doesn’t help that the federal system to aid veterans seems so wrought with red tape that one wonders if it wasn’t intentionally designed to hinder rather than help; either way, it only adds to her immense level of stress.

A different kind of war is the focus of “Killing in the Name,” centering on a terrorist incident in 2005 in Jordan, where a suicide bomber took out 27 members of a wedding party. The film follows the groom in his crusade for answers (“They don’t have the right to kill people in the name of God”), confronting the bomber’s father, attempting to speak to the al-Qaida recruiter, and denouncing the Islamic extremists (not, please note, the entire religion).

The other two films, “Sun Come Up” and “The Warriors of Qiugang,” look at threatened communities, in entirely different ways. In the former, the Carteret islanders face rising waters that may not only wipe out their crops and land, but their entire culture; in the latter, Chinese villagers fall ill to factory-polluted wall. In the former, they don’t want to leave the place they were born; in the latter, they wish they were born elsewhere.


Oscar-contest victories often are ensured by correctly predicting the obscure categories, of which documentary short subjects is one. I’d say your guess is as good as mine, except I’ve seen all five. Then again, consider the subject matter — education, war, terrorism, climate change and environmental hazards — and each seems readymade to curry the Academy members’ guilt vote.

But “Sun” and “Warriors” cancel one another out by similarity. For me, “Poster Girl” is the most interesting; “Killing,” the most shocking; “Strangers,” the sweetest ... but sweetest won’t make it to the podium.

Based solely on the one that moved me the most, I’ll be rooting for “Poster Girl” on Oscar night — both the film and its “star.”

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