Monday, June 28, 2010

The Ouvre of Joe Berlinger

Joe Berlinger is a tier 2 American documentary filmmaker. Errol Morris and the Maysles brothers can be considered the only tier 1 American documentary filmmakers, though the Maysles brothers, who are nearing 90 years, have not produced a memorable work since 1976.

Joe Berlinger's work has straddled the line between television and theatrical documentaries. I was unaware there was a difference, or any need to differentiate, until I read interviews with Jason Cohn, director of "Manda Bala", who said something to the extent of "most theatrical documentaries recently have seemed like television documentaries with stretched runtimes" and something about him choosing to use a very wide aspect ratio in an effort to be prove he was making a theatrical documentary and not a television documentary.

Joe Berlinger's approach is more nuts and bolts, more essential.

Paradise Lost, and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations follow the same trial
My Brother's Keeper follows a trial
Crude follows a trial

The paradise lost films are the most memorable, to me; this is likely due to variables that could not have been controlled by Joe Berlinger or his crew: specifically the menace and vanity exuded by the father of one of the victims, Mark Byers.

One thing I like about this film, and this television style, is that it seems to take me back to this time in a way a theatrical style documentary could not - when people were considering and debating the corrupting influences of mass media and MTV.

I also like the milieu. These people are southern and poor, but they're not freaks, used to destabilize you, or scare you like in a Harmony Korinne movie. They're just real people.

I really like the music, the songs, but moreso maybe what the songs mean in the context of the film (something I can't quite pin down).

I like how Damien is sensitive and artistic and how people rally around him based on this "high school outsider status" thing they to relate to. Do people still do that? In the 1980's and 1990's were there real outsiders who didn't fit in and did they have champions, people who loved them just because they were outsiders.

Goths are sweet. In this film their whole dilemma is based on being misunderstood by society, and it is a life or death matter.

I like Mark Byers and feel like a character like that could not exist in 2010. His performance is so over the top but at the time he seems 100 percent convinced that he is fooling everyone. Some of the scenes, like where he enacts his grief over his son's tombstone in the first one, and then comes back to his wife's tombstone (who has mysteriously perished between PL1 and PL2)...

He reminds me of a pro wrestler.

Watching the whole film forces you to picture him, maybe 6 foot 7 and 300 pounds, with that face and with that bellowing voice and that crooked mouth, murdering children: cutting off one of their penises.

I also like how the film concluded. I won't spoil it.

If I were in a band, currently, I would want to appear on stage with this shirt.

Some Kind of Monster is that film about Metallica. That was pretty goood.

Paradise Lost 3, I have learned, is in post production. I will be looking forward to that.