Sunday, January 28, 2007

2006: The year that sucked review.. #8

Let's move on, shall we?

Okay, this one doesn't quite count as a movie, but this is my damn list, and frankly a ton of movies sucked this year. So as far as I'm concerned, this one counts.

You already know by reading my first two reviews that I've been on a documentary kick; and I make no lie to you, this one indeed follows the documentary trend. And despite being a supermassive 4 hour documentary conveniently broken down into four one-hour viewing dissections, this is more than deserving to be on the list.

Ignoring all the factors that make it worthy of being considered a film, such as the fact that it was made by a filmmaker as opposed to a television director, being infinitely important as a social documentary, and bringing a humanistic element to possibly the biggest natural disaster in American history (have you guessed what it is yet?), it's simply just well shot, well told, and a fantastic 'film'.

If you haven't figured out what I'm talking about by now, or heard of what I'm about to say, I don't blame you. Spike Lee's When the Levees broke: A Requiem in four acts was simply put, one of the strongest documentaries put together in the history of filmmaking. Undoubtedly, it ranks up there with Hearts and Minds, Bowling for Columbine, and other extremely influential documentaries.

I'm not going to get into my personal feelings about the New Orleans/Hurricane Katrina fiasco that happened in August 2005. What happened more or less speaks for itself, and the time to be socially opinionated has long passed. And of course, Spike Lee's activism towards the African-American struggle in USA is well-known, if nothing else. But what really struck me about this film was the fact that he took multiple narratives, and made a tragedy into a story of hope. There's no question about Lee's ability to make quality films; the vast majority of cinephiles and film passionates have seen Bamboozled and Do the Right Thing, along with other more mainstream films like He Got Game that carries a message masked in an intriguing narrative. But Levees offers a perspective on a massive human disaster that most of us couldn't even imagine.

Along with the unimaginability of Hurricane Katrina, Lee offers up to the audience a chance to identify with real people - in a real situation - and make a comment that is simply irrefutable: there was a failure, and it cost lives. The vast majority of North Americans saw new media regain it's integrity (briefly) during the disaster, but Levees, released a year after, really drives home what the reporters didn't have enough time to say. People died; people struggled; and the cost of ineptitude was human loss. Subtly, Lee makes his point, metaphorically bringing it to the forefront by underlining the struggles that the average New Orleans citizen faced.

I have no qualms that saying that as recently as last year, a 'film' such as this would have flown under even my radar. But undoubtedly, the aftermath, including what's happened to the American government (no doubt helped by the NO situation) is no more clearly brought forward by When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

I'm really not doing it justice with such a writeup; and it's honestly a tough thing to take in all at once (like I did). For those that doubted the government but had faith in the people, it's a must-see film. I say this with no irony: It's four hours of film that will change how you think about the situation, and really make you care for the individuals that faced a disaster, and are trying to find a way to move past it - something most of us will never experience.

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