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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Two Sentence Reviews of the Movies I Saw at Silverdocs

Taking part in Silverdocs for the first time was a lot of fun. It's very well-curated and well-run, and totally lacking the pretensions and silliness of some other festivals.

As is the tradition here, I’m serving up two-sentence reviews of the movies I saw at the festival. No duds among them.

    ‘Kicking It’ is the most involving and inspiring sports documentary I’ve seen since ‘Hoop Dreams,’ bringing viewers to the annual Homeless Football World Cup tournament. But the on-camera presence of Colin Farrell at the beginning and end felt unnecessary, giving those parts of the film the preachy tone of an ABC After School Special.

    It’s tough to imagine a better travel companion than Werner Herzog for an end-of-history visit to Antarctica, where he meets the motley crew of scientists and technicians who populate the continent. But I found myself wishing that Herzog had spent the entire winter there, rather than flitting from outpost to outpost during the sunny summertime, so that he’d have had a better shot at capturing the place’s desolation and brutal weather – and ideally, more drama - in 'Encounters at the End of the World.'

    Lightning and Thunder, a husband-and-wife musical act who mainly cover Neil Diamond and Patsy Cline, are true entertainers – always striving for the bigger gig, the more adulatory audience. 'Song Sung Blue' takes you into their applause-hungry (and threadbare) home, but ultimately, I wanted to know a little more about what was going on with Michael Sardina, the elusive Lightning, especially as he seems to edge into some sort of alcohol- or drug-induced stupor in his later years.

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