Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The weakest nominee for best documentary

Balseros really doesn't come close to My architect, The Weather Underground, Capturing the Friedmans, or the winner The Fog of War. Even documentaries must have a narrative to be a good film. My architect: A Son's Journey was just that - a son's search for his illegitimate father through Kahn's architecture. The weather underground provided an examination of the 60's through a radical group. Capturing the Friedmans was an examination of the guilt of the 2 Friedmans imprisoned for sexual molestation specifically & in general an indictment of the legal system. The Fog of War was an examination of the Vietnam War, which of course resonated in our current time of war.

Balseros had a compelling subject - Cuban refugees in the 90's - but little focus. The most interesting parts are the rickety rafts & inner tubes used to paddle incredibly over the 90 miles to Florida - just incredible that more refugees did not perish in the journey, but the weakness of the film was its the lack of context & compelling narrative. The stories of the refugees mostly blended together and all were repeats at some level - difficulties leaving Cuba followed by difficulties re-settling in America including difficulties keeping ties to remaining family.

Happy that I've finally seen all 5 nominees - believe overall the best batch ever - but sorry to end with the weakest of the nominated films.

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