Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waiting for 'Superman'

Waiting for 'Superman' is the latest from Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) and tells about the state of our public schools. The documentary is presented through visual stats and interviews with school administrators. Also, to add a human element, we meet five affable young students who are in danger of being sent to a school with a poor graduation rate and must be entered into a lottery to attend a more successful charter school.

When writing reviews, I try to avoid words like 'boring' or 'tedious' but I couldn't help but notice the number of times I checked my watch during this movie. Granted the material is worth examining, that doesn't necessarily make it cinematic (I felt the same way about An Inconvenient Truth), and I feel this material would be better suited to a PBS prime time special. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The title of this film refers to an outpost in the most dangerous sector of Afghanistan and is named after PFC Juan Restrepo, who opens the film with a gung-ho attitude about his 2007 deployment and is soon and sadly a fallen comrade in arms.  Restrepo is a fascinating first-person account of soldiers in the Korangal Valley and is told with one-on-one interviews with the soldiers as well as with a camera that is seemingly on the front lines. The result is a depiction of war which has been rarely captured before on film.

The beauty of the region is also evident, and given the contrast to the constant fighting in the area, it makes the film all the more engaging. The soldiers we get to know appear as intelligent and tireless in what may be a futile endeavor. The film captures minute details such as the daily cleaning of gear interspersed with harsh moments where the soldiers face deadly threats.  The War on Terror has been going on for 10 plus years and it would be hard to find someone who did not have an opinion on the conflict. While noting that films about the war have not done well with American audiences, watching Restrepo can only enhance and enlighten our perspective.