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These Amazing Shadows: The Movies that Make America

19 Oct


These Amazing Shadows is a straight forward documentary that demonstrates the importance of the National Film Registry and its impact on film preservation. There were several enlightening interviews from some of America’s greatest filmmakers, as well as clips from America’s most memorable films, as well as a list of some not so popular choices that shows off the diversity of the selection committee. Directors Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton guide audience into the vault and reveal some important contributors to film history, especially the often ignored women directors from Old Hollywood. The documentary shares the old and the new, but more importantly the film inspires audiences to revisit  and watch our countries favorite films again.


Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B

This Film Is Not Yet Rated because THEY said so

11 Jan


In 1966, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) replaced the out-of-date Hays code with a new rating system that has evolved into our current understanding of the familiar letter grades.  Most artists understand the rating system’s purpose, but many disagree with the committee’s subjective censorship policies in regards to sex and nudity.

One of the ways to protect the MPAA’s rating board from outside influence is to keep their names anonymous from the public. Filmmaker Kirby Dick wants to know who these people are and their qualifications for such a powerful position. Dick hires a private investigator to track down these people’s identities while he inserts interviews with several prominent directors and clips from their films. His research reveals a prejudice against homosexuality and the female gender in particular, but a high tolerance for violence. The documentary is one-sided, but reveals some interesting facts about the movie business that have been kept in the “closet” for too long.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B

This is Spinal Tap goes to an 11

13 Dec


Hello Cleveland!

Director Rob Reiner, and actors Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer collaborate to make a monumental satire that is one of the funniest films ever. The matter of fact humor is throughout the film keeps the film moving consistently into one laugh after another, and by doing so, it allows the story to unfold and only adds to the characters becoming “rock stars” of the comedy world.  Most of the film was improvised, which has become Guest and co. trademark comedy style: Best in Show and The Mighty Wind.

The movie is filmed in documentary-style aka rockumentary aka mockumentary. It follows a 1982 U.S. concert tour of the fictitious Metal band Spinal Tap. It reveals all of the ups and downs the “music life” in a way that cements its’ scenes and dialogue in your head like lyrics to your favorite song.  This is Spinal Tap is a cult classic and it goes to an 11.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+


31 Aug

The title Koyaanisqatsi means “unbalanced life” or “life out of balance” in the Hopi Native tongue, but the film demonstrates an intriguing balance between imagery and music. Director Godfrey Reggio collaborates with classical composer, Philip Glass and cinematographer Ron Fricke to create the most memorable and successful installment of the Qatsi Trilogy. Ironically, the film’s score is probably the most memorable aspect of the experience because Glass finds a way to communicate ideas through repetitive music.

I am not going to presume that I have figured out every metaphor operating in this masterpiece, but I love this film because of the multiple meanings that can be tied to the film’s visual choices. I have watch the film at least thirty times and find something new every time to think about. Is the film about the environment, humanity, over-population, creation, destruction, industry, technology, poverty, history, etc… The possibilities are endless depending on an audience’s political, social, cultural, and economic background.


Chuck’s Grade: A+

Adam’s Grade: B


23 Aug

In 2007, filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were assigned to go to the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan nicknamed “the deadliest place on earth” for Vanity Fair. During their year visit they chronicled a U.S. Platoon from their deployment to their group’s return home. The main goal of the troop’s deployment is to gain complete control of Korengal Valley and to earn the trust with the locals. This documentary works for me because of its not an overtly political film, instead the film displays is the weekly negotiations that they have with the locals, the construction of their base and the firefights that they face daily. The name ‘Restrepo’ comes from PFC Juan Sebastian Restrepo, a platoon medic killed earlier in the campaign.

This documentary will make audiences display every emotion because of its raw and powerful intensity. It’s a character study of each soldier involved and is a tribute to those who fight for us each and everyday.


Adam’s Grade: B+
Chuck’s Grade: N/A