October 21, 2004 § Leave a Comment
As conspiracy theories go, the documentary “The Corporation” presents a pretty compelling one — if you can even qualify this examination of corporate history as a conspiracy theory. Filmmakers Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan propose that a good portion of major woes in the world can be directly traced to unscrupulous activity on the part of big business. The filmmakers say that this effort to put profits before humanity dates back to the Civil War in its current form and has lead us to a world that is the precursor to a commercially-based form of fascism.
Eschewing humanity seems hypocritical for a corporation when you take into account one niggling detail — legally, a corporation is considered an individual person. Prior to the Civil War, corporations were limited business alignments that served the public trust. As reconstruction offered many big bucks, corporate lawyers used the 14th Amendment to justify decisions by the Supreme Court involving property and ownership. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 21, 2004 § Leave a Comment
A new documentary film that will make its Berkshire premiere at the Williamstown Film Festival guides viewers into the hidden world of competitive Scrabble. Filmmakers Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo followed four “quasi professional” Scrabble players around for a year to craft a narrative documentary about these unusual gentleman and their pursuit.
“A lot of journalists that write about it,” said Chaikin. “They start with the assumption that we’re looking down on these oddball freaks, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re trying to humanize them.” « Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2004 § Leave a Comment
Sad to say, but to many in the non-Muslim world, some of the practices of Islam seem derogatory to women. In their portrayal of Muslim females, two short documentary films showing at Mass MoCA — “Covered Girls” and “Our Times” — give dignity to the women, though do little to change the outsider’s perspective on the culture of Islam in regard to its female practitioners. “Covered Girls,” a film by Janet McIntyre and Amy Wendel, is a portrait of teenage followers of Islam in New York City and how they function within and react to the society around them. It isn’t hard to admire these girls — indeed, they are going against the grain of urban teenage life and that takes guts. These are girls with spirit, feisty, and sometimes you wonder how such creatures of pluck can function within the confines of Islam.
Within context, however, there is a flip side. Consider the practice of covering their bodies and heads.
“Women’s hair releases pheromones that attract men. It’s scientifically proven!” claims one girl. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 7, 2004 § Leave a Comment
British author Evelyn Waugh devoted many of his satiric novels to the skewering of the upper class of his country. Stephen Fry’s new film “Bright Young Things,” which is adapted from Waugh’s novel “Vile Bodies,” takes Waugh’s themes and suggests that his criticism is more universal than ever. Fry offers a sweeping peek at the fabulous young, wealthy ne’er-do-wells who traipse from party to party in London of the 1930s, and whose exploits fascinate the nation thanks to sensational newspaper coverage via the Mr. Chatterbox gossip column.
Adam Fenwick-Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) is a promising young writer whose book chronicling the adventures of his social set is confiscated as smut at the English border. Penniless, Symes must devise a way to make some quick cash to pay for his impending marriage to the fabulous Nina Blount (Emily Mortimer).
What follows is a series of dizzying incidents involving either the movements of Symes’ fabulous young social scene or Symes’ pathetic attempts to get money for nothing. In this way, the film resembles “24 Hour Party People,” which chronicled the rise of dance music in England in the 1980s as seen through the eyes of one huckster. Really, what is the difference here? The decades change the particulars, but the root of youth is always the same and Fry really drives this home. « Read the rest of this entry »