Catfish

Catfish

While it’s an all real life documentary, Catfish is also a disturbing, creepy, almost thriller of a documentary. From the first moment Nev makes friends with a little girl on the internet who is a painting prodigy you just know it’s all downhill from there. Even if you already know what Catfish is about, it’s 5 years old and there’s a TV show based on this experience, it’s still really stressful as you wait for that oh so obvious penny to drop for Nev and his mates.

Meeting this little girl online who sends him presents and emails him but refuses to talk on the phone is weird and, I think now, any of us experiencing it would think so too but Nev is a little naive and trusting and maybe we were all a little less likely to jump to the ‘scam’ scenario before this doco was made.

It is so awful when a ‘sexual’ relationship starts with the little girl’s adult big sister – sexting and late night phone calls and all – we all know it’s not real but at the same time , who is she? Why is she doing this? Is she real, is the little girl real? What’s freakin’ real?!?

There are some real cringe moments in this doco and the makers (especially Nev) were really brave to put them in as they are horribly embarrassing. As it all comes tumbling in on itself and Nev starts to realise how far the subterfuge has gone it’s impossible to take your eyes from the screen. I had to know!

When you do finally meet the culprit/s the intrigue doesn’t let up as you wonder how far the film makers will go to dig up the truth. Somehow they manage to find out all the facts but never attack or degrade the culprit. You can watch this and kind of understand the imperative this person felt to behave this way. It’s sad really and the film makers know it, so they don’t push too hard – it’s really well done.

The layers of intrigue here are really well developed and then stripped away. It’s a clever doco on an important subject. It’s just so easy now for people to create fake lives on the internet and envelop innocent others in a web of deceit. We hear stories about it all the time but watching this documentary makes you realise that just about anyone can fall for this when the deceit is so intricately woven.

All parents should make their kids watch Catfish – they will be completely weirded out but they might learn a little bit about not trusting everyone you meet on the internet (and not just because their parents told them).

Darwin’s Nightmare

Darwin's Nightmare

I’ve been finding it so hard to keep on top of this blog stuff and watching all the movies on my list. It’s quite overwhelming. But I’ve decided to give it all a red hot go (without causing myself a whole lot of stress… hopefully). Maybe I can also drop the quality of my writing (no comments on that one please…) so I can write faster. Anyway if this is the quick and dirty version of me blogging I may just click out a few low word blogs. For example – new blog on Dredd would be “Nope” and for Darwin’s Nightmare it would be “good but needs to be shorter” but I’ll add more shall I?

This is one of those documentaries that create life conundrums. Do I keep doing something or do I stop? Who benefits and who loses?  Basically it comes down to “is it better to keep buying a type of fish which is destroying an environment or do you stop buying and take away the only livelihood of an entire country”? Yes, that kind of life choice conundrum. There are so many – Do I stop buying clothes made in Bangladesh (one of many countries I could choose) where people work 7 day weeks in terrible conditions or do I keep buying clothes made in Bangladesh so those people working in terrible conditions at least have jobs? I could go on but I won’t because this is supposed to be about Darwin’s Nightmare.

Back to the doco – the Nile Perch which we all buy (in just about every country apparently, except Tanzania where the locals can’t afford it!), has destroyed the waters of Lake Victoria. It’s an introduced species which has eaten all the local fishes and is now cannibalising its own littlies for food. Ewwww, right? So it’s completely destroyed the water quality because all the small fish that ate the algae are gone and the water is becoming polluted with algae and Nile Perch poop.

At the same time these fish are the only source of income for Tanzania (except for prostitution it seems). There are some people who have profited from Nile Perch fishing but they didn’t look like locals.

This is an interesting doco, in parts, it could have been really good but it’s just too long and the director keeps himself completely out of the picture which can work but I thought here there was explanation needed. At one point a woman was talking about how lucky she was to have a job (and not have to be a prostitute for the fishermen) while she was hanging out fish carcasses covered in maggots and walking through maggoty entrails (sorry, and yes, it was really that gross) but because the director wasn’t making an appearance I have absolutely no idea what job she was doing or what was going on with the super gross fish carcasses.

Darwin’s Nightmare really will make you think about the effects of worldwide consumption on third world countries but it also leaves you in a conundrum with regard to the actions you take in spending. Unfortunately though it would have been a whole lot better to watch this over an hour on a tv show like 60 Minutes than to go movie length and I really hope someone told this director to explain themselves in future.

Dolls

Dolls

Dolls is no doubt a cult classic of Japanese cinema and if it’s not, it should be (well IMHO anyway).

Everything about Dolls is beautiful. From cinematography to story. There are dolls to begin with and admittedly the first sequence is a bit if a trial unless you like Kabuki  (?) theatre acted out by puppets (yes, read dolls). The dolls, of course, are beautiful and the sequence does set up the stunning quiet/cold aesthetic of the film.

There are three separate stories, one being the bound beggars, the other two tell of lost love, loneliness and obsession. The stories twine in and out of each other which is cleverly done by the director. He’s not out to make you catch all the strings but they are there.

The themes are those of selfishness and its outcomes, as well as love lost, and the extreme paths we find ourselves on in our lives because of decisions that seem small at the time. I am sure there is much more to be found if you are Japanese or have an understanding of Japanese culture or history. I don’t, but in the end I still thought this was a great film.

The dolls play a symbolic role throughout as we watch these stories unfold. Through the still beauty of the bound beggars, through the picture perfect backdrops to the characters lives (Japan’s countryside at its most amazing). I’m pretty sure the director made Dolls as a love letter to Japan.

There is one ongoing storyline of the bound beggars which “ties” together the film (“bind” “tie” , oh, the poetic symbolism!!). Our beggars wander through the film, through years, through seasons and throughout Japan I should imagine  (they do a lot of walking). They are beautiful even though past acts were not and their red cord is even beautiful. By the end of the film there is genuine affection for these two even though they barely say a word. Other characters are less likeable but you get that.

This is a very slow film that takes a long time to unfold but it really is worth it. There are subtitles so don’t watch when you are sleepy! Just be warned that once you finish watching Dolls you will probably be immediately overcome by the need to book a holiday to Japan in the spring, then one for the summer, then another for the autumn but probably not for winter that snow looks cold… beautiful but cold.

Brrr...pretty...brrr...cold.

Brrr…pretty…brrr…cold.