Saturday 19 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Features · What’s up? Docs

What’s up? Docs

You’re in for a mostly gripping marathon of global challenges with this year’s Oscar nominees for documentary shorts.

Rod Lott February 16th, 2011

Some suggestions before 7:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Oklahoma City Museum of Art screens this year’s five Oscar-nominated documentary short films, each roughly 40 minutes in length. Visit the restroom first. Get comfy. Have some Kleenex handy. And perhaps a handful of St. John’s wort.

“Strangers No More” looks at a K-12 public school in Tel Aviv, where students from 48 countries unite as one. “Children is children. In education, there’s no strangers,” says the principal. “And everyone has a special story. A real complicated story.” She’s not joking. Many of the kids have never set foot in a classroom before, for whatever reason, some tragic. Expect some tears on the academic year’s final day.

“Poster Girl” refers to Robynn Murray, a middle-American girl — and she is indeed still a girl — who went from high school cheerleading to manning tanks as an Army sergeant in Iraq. Sexual harassment was the least of her problems, as she now suffers from a crippling case of post-traumatic stress disorder that, on occasion, makes her want to cease living. It doesn’t help that the federal system to aid veterans seems so wrought with red tape that one wonders if it wasn’t intentionally designed to hinder rather than help; either way, it only adds to her immense level of stress.

A different kind of war is the focus of “Killing in the Name,” centering on a terrorist incident in 2005 in Jordan, where a suicide bomber took out 27 members of a wedding party. The film follows the groom in his crusade for answers (“They don’t have the right to kill people in the name of God”), confronting the bomber’s father, attempting to speak to the al-Qaida recruiter, and denouncing the Islamic extremists (not, please note, the entire religion).

The other two films, “Sun Come Up” and “The Warriors of Qiugang,” look at threatened communities, in entirely different ways. In the former, the Carteret islanders face rising waters that may not only wipe out their crops and land, but their entire culture; in the latter, Chinese villagers fall ill to factory-polluted wall. In the former, they don’t want to leave the place they were born; in the latter, they wish they were born elsewhere.


Oscar-contest victories often are ensured by correctly predicting the obscure categories, of which documentary short subjects is one. I’d say your guess is as good as mine, except I’ve seen all five. Then again, consider the subject matter — education, war, terrorism, climate change and environmental hazards — and each seems readymade to curry the Academy members’ guilt vote.

But “Sun” and “Warriors” cancel one another out by similarity. For me, “Poster Girl” is the most interesting; “Killing,” the most shocking; “Strangers,” the sweetest ... but sweetest won’t make it to the podium.

Based solely on the one that moved me the most, I’ll be rooting for “Poster Girl” on Oscar night — both the film and its “star.”

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