Monday, April 7, 2008

The King of Kong/My Kid Could Paint That/12:08 East of Bucharest

Since Wednesday I've watched the three movies mentioned in this blog's title, but I didn't feel like any of them warranted their own blog. I probably would've left them all untouched, but I'm watching the Memphis/Kansas championship game, so I might as well multi-task (that way I won't feel too bad about watching the game instead of reading nineteenth-century circus songsters).

The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters: This is not a boring or overly-political documentary (about 75% of documentaries seem to fall in those two categories); this movie is just plain fun. The story here is that there was a world record set for Donkey Kong back in the early '80s (held by the guy on the left with the long hair and the beard), and the guy on the left (the clean-cut family man) is trying to break that record. The filmmakers don't have to work hard to set up the record-holder as the prideful jerk that you want to see fall; all they do is turn on the camera (and later edit) and the guy talks about how awesome he is and how he's always been a winner at everything he has done. On the other hand, the challenger is a family man that has never really succeeded at anything, and was recently let go from his job at Boeing (which is what allows him to pursue the record). Being an engineer, the challenger diagrams and figures out the game like the character from the movie Beautiful Mind. I'm not going to play the spoiler, but I will say that when the movie was over, I felt like the challenger was a winner--because he's a better person--no matter if he broke the record or not.
Final Grade: B

Blurb: This documentary manages to examine its subjects without mocking them. The way the story is set up could have been more subtle, but you definitely get a sense of who the characters are. If you're in the mood to watch a documentary, this movie is worth 89 minutes.

My Kid Could Paint That:
This is a documentary about Marla Olmstead, a young girl (four years old at the film's beginning) whose abstract paintings created an international buzz in the art world. The movie touches on the whole is-this-art[?] business, but it's main focus is on Marla's family. About 6 months into the film's shooting 60 Minutes aired a piece that called into question the girl's ability to do all the paintings herself (believing that her father helped or "coached" her). The film, which began under the assumption that the paintings were wholly Marla's, began to examine her paintings, as well as the behavior of her parents. I won't play spoiler here, but the filmmaker lets you sort of form your own opinion (although he definitely believes one way). Sidenote: I wanted more anti-art-establishment, but that's just my own negative thoughts regarding the art establishment. Sidenote II: I liked some of her works.
Final Grade: C+/B-
Blurb: This film is interesting and you want to figure out the mystery of the paintings' creator/origins, but it's not necessarily compelling (and it's not as fun as The King of Kong).

12:08 East of Bucharest: (This is not a documentary.) I probably never would have heard of this film if it wasn't for Paste Magazine. It's hard to describe the plot of this movie, and even the trailer wasn't that helpful in explaining what the movie was about (the trailer was really hard to find by the way). Basically, the movie looks at three characters in a small Romanian town over the course of about eight hours or so. That sounds really boring, but it's all about the production of a television show which is going to investigate if the revolution occurred in the town before or after the communist officials left (at 12:08 p.m. on 22 December 1989). It's not a long film--about 90 minutes--and almost 30 of those minutes are of the actual show airing live. I know I just made it sound even more boring, but it is an intriguing movie, and the last five minutes are especially arresting (once again, not going to spoil anything here).
Final Grade: B-
Blurb: This is an intriguing movie despite the fact that it only covers less than half of a day, and a subject that has been largely untouched by films, but some of the humor--which may have been a hit with Eastern European audiences--doesn't always hit home, and some of the parody is lost on audiences that have not seen Eastern European television shows (which I'm guessing is about 95% of the world).

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