Reviews written by theaaronlib
Arm Wrestling as a pursuit of certaintyJul 1st, 2010
Pulling John is an exiting exhilarating professional arm-wrestling film. So before I review this film I first have to address the questions that I am sure many indie film viewers are asking: Why should I care about this sport? What is all this working out? what is all this competition? why can't people just wear gigantic glasses and ginormous headphones and try there best to have quixotic conversations ?
The answer to all of this is that sports are a specific test of who is the greater man or woman in the specific sport. People spend their entire lives in pursuit of this so that they can have some finite way to measure who they are and some sort of finite way to improve themselves. There is a black and white of winning or losing in sports, that does not exist any where else in life. Sports more than anything else is a search for certainty. In this world where certainty is so hard find anyone can see the value in the pursuit of it.
If you accept the above explanation for the value of sports, Arm-wrestling is the greatest of sports. It's so certain, so black and white, either you pull the other man down or he pulls you down. In addition, this sport of competitive arm wrestling has not yet been defiled by commercialism. It has retain the athletes quest for the simple knowledge of how they rank up against others, rather than as in other more popular sports a quest for that almighty dollar bill.
This pure and sharply defined sport, begets pure and sharply defined athletes and these sharply defined individuals are so interesting. All this purity and certainty is what truly engages you on this documentary. It's an escapist film with pure athletes, a purity of pursuit and a certainty of who the winner is. So this film is such change in pace to travails of modern life where self worth and how to improve yourself is so ambiguous. and therefore it is a very enjoyable and exhilarating film watch. Not to twist your arm, but I heavily recommend this film to all you indie film watchers.
jazz as a pursuit of truthJun 29th, 2010
Icons Among Us is a film that examines how the jazz scene has survived the splintering fractions of sub-genres and low record sales brought on by present times. This film examines what happens when a music genre lives past it's original cohesive values and sound. As the film progresses, we begin to understand what has held jazz together as a style in modern times is it's ability to adapt and to improvise. While other genres feast on certain ideals and are associated with certain political and social movements, for example punk rock, modern day jazz has moved passed such earthly bonds, rather it has only stayed true to its founding principle of improvisation, of change. In the film there is one quote from Terance Blanchard that reverberated in my head throughout the movie, it was: "the only truth is the truth that constantly changes". Time has simplified jazz, as we see the mosaic of different present day artists playing their own type of jazz we see that jazz has simplified into a basic pursuit of truth. It has become an eternal genre, because while other music genres die once their social establishment falls, jazz does not owe its existence to any sort of outside establishment.
In an era where music is dealing with everything but a depiction of truth, this film reminds us of the value of the pursuit of the elusive and ever changing truth. The ideal of music does not include the use of music as a tool for social change, nor does it define music as devotion towards it's own tradition and nor is it a tool for self identification. Rather music at it's best is a way to search for truth, a way to explain the world. So in the end this film does more than just illuminate todays jazz scene, it illuminates what is lacking in the entire modern music scene.
Entre NosJun 28th, 2010
The archetypal story of the American immigrant family is based in the cliché of a movement towards a better life, towards an American dream. As the movie Entre Nos begins it is assumed that their movement through our border into our country is a travel initiated by strife tragedy. As the film develops though, Entre Nos, tells a different story. The family’s movement to America in this story is not necessitated by hardship but by a husband’s restlessness. He moves too and from different countries searching for his own personal gratification; unwilling to submit to his children’s need for a sense of security and belonging. His two children are left friendless and untrusting through this constant movement. In one memorable scene we see the children sitting dejectedly on a weathered curb as they stare, wantonly, at a group of kids playing dodge-ball. Andrea the baby of the family, in her relative innocence, suddenly surges form and asks in pityingly broken English if she could play, Gabriel, her brother catches her and drags her back to the curb, trying to protect his sister for what seems to him to be a hostile foreign world. Throughout the movie the children, Andrea and Gabriel ask their mother why they have moved from place to place, the mother, Mariana, doesn’t know, her only answer is that they were following there father. The father, Antonio, shrinking his paternal duties, once again leaves for a new city, Miami, not telling his family that he will never returned. What follows after the abandonment is a crumbling of the last vestige of security and home that the family had. Mariana the mother is forced to find some sort of security in a foreign land that speaks a foreign language. At first she turns to what had sustained her and her children’s sense of home and security for so long her empanadas. In her faith in her empanadas she valiantly tries to support her family by hawking them in the street. Heartbreakingly this last vestige of security fails and she is forced to the last resort of many of the city’s inhabitants, shifting through trash and picking out cans. The family continues to fall until they land on the cracked pavement, the graffiti and the defunct stairways of the elevated subway stations of the Bronx. Mariana heroically brings the family together and strikes back until they achieve their dream of belonging, their dream of home. In the end they are finally secure and they finally belong.
In time of feverish debate in America on this issue of immigration. This film rather than arguing, for or against the issue in the terms defined in our dichotomous national debate, re-understands the nature of immigration in this country. This movie through simple truth breaks thought the two generalities, positive and negative, that have defined the immigrant in our national debate. It provides a window into the elusive reality of life. Very few films can lay claim to illuminating life as it is truly lived, but this film, Entre Nos, does.