Why you should care
Because we’re indecisive, too.
If you haven’t seen Boyhood already, the Richard Linklater flick everyone is talking about, get on it. OZY’s movie man, Jonathan Kiefer, dug in on it back in May. Linklater started making Boyhood in 2002. That it took a dozen years to finish might imply some familiar horror story about the difficulty of modern filmmaking — but actually, it was the point all along. Boyhood isn’t a documentary, but it is a long, deep slice of life. Linklater chose to hang out with his characters, particularly one Texas schoolboy (Ellar Coltrane), for 12 years on purpose, because he knew those years would be formative. And sure enough, now, in just a couple of hours, the kid grows up — from age 7 to 18 — right before our eyes.
…fictional films might hold the broader power of simple human curiosity…
If you have already seen it, Kiefer recommends a few other films that follow the life-onscreen motif — nonfiction films border on social research, but the fictional films might hold the broader power of simple human curiosity. Director François Truffaut tracked a fictive alter ego played by Jean-Pierre Léaud over five films and 20-plus years, starting with Truffaut’s 1959 feature debut, The 400 Blows, when Léaud was 12. Ingmar Bergman closed out a long and magnificent moviemaking career by appending his great 1973 TV miniseries, Scenes from a Marriage, with a riveting epilogue, Saraband, 30 years later.
Check out some teasers for Boyhood and more here.
If you’re a sports junkie, you probably already know about ESPN’s documentary series, 30 for 30. Started as a celebration of ESPN’s 30th anniversary five years ago, the series has turned into dashing documentary hits — at a time when documentaries are no longer just for geeks. But even if you’re not a sports fan, the documentaries are full of the insights you’d want from a great Malcolm Gladwell article.
There are a lot of great choices. OZY CEO Carlos Watson’s favorites? The Best That Never Was, about Marcus DuPree, a high school and college football superstar in the early 1980s who fell off the map and became a rural Mississippi garbageman. Then there’s Unguarded, the compelling story of a college basketball phenom named Chris Herren who could have become a white superstar in the NBA — despite being only 6 feet tall. Instead, he succumbed to heroin addiction. Both are sweeping, unexpected, novelesque stories told with incredible verve — run and go see them today.
…sweeping, unexpected, novelesque stories told with incredible verve…
For more recs about our favorite 30 for 30 docs, click here.
For something historical, check out a German television show that’s changing the way the nation talks about its war memory. From Nazi chants at soccer matches to stolen museum relics, World War II is a dark specter that still haunts modern Germany. In fact, the subject is so taboo that German films and TV shows about World War II have been few and far between — and uncompromisingly brutal. Some have gone there before; the 1981 classic Das Boot is a testament to the utter futility and horror of warfare; 2004’s Der Untergang (Downfall) captured the hopelessness and violence of Hitler’s final days.
…each of these characters’ lives is systematically destroyed…
But a new German TV show has wandered into the moral minefield of Germany’s war experience — and caused an uproar. Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Our Mothers, Our Fathers) is a four-and-a-half-hour World War II miniseries that took German television by storm this past year, when nearly 10 percent of the population tuned in to watch the show. It tells the story of five friends from Berlin: Viktor, a Jewish tailor; Greta, his singer girlfriend; Charly, a trainee nurse; and Wilhelm and Friedhelm, brothers who leave to fight on the eastern front. We watch as each of these characters’ lives is systematically destroyed by different, disillusioning and unnervingly real war experiences.
Check out a clip and a fuller review here.
You might have missed it in its heyday, but The Golden Girls wasn’t all beloved old ladies. It actually took on some tough, sensitive topics — like AIDS. In one episode, “72 Hours,” Rose receives a letter alerting her that she may have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during gallbladder surgery six years earlier, and she is advised to get a test. As she waits for the results, worry and a deep-rooted panic take hold, and a pivotal scene takes place between the delightfully dim-witted Rose and saucy Southern belle, Blanche. (Today’s rapid HIV antibody tests can deliver results in 20 minutes.)
It was a scary time, and despite efforts to educate the public, myths and misinformation ran rampant.
Rose’s dialogue embodies several misconceptions about HIV infection, pervasive at the time: that “people like her” — an older, middle-class, heterosexual, “innocent” woman — shouldn’t get such a disease; that none of her friends will want to associate with her with now; and that she is being punished for some kind of bad behavior. To which Blanche thoughtfully replies, “AIDS is not a bad person’s disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins.”
In 1990 when the episode first aired, AIDS testing was still relatively new; just five years prior, the FDA licensed the first commercial blood test. And since 1981, over 100,000 deaths from AIDS had been reported to the CDC — almost one-third of them during 1990. It was a scary time, and despite efforts to educate the public, myths and misinformation ran rampant. Way before Samantha was getting tested for HIV on Sex and the City, the Golden Girls were educatin’ us.
Read more about it here.