DVD Review: The Interrupters

Brendan here. The Interrupters is the latest documentary from Steve James, director of 1994’s Hoop Dreams – the first documentary I remember having an emotional impact on me. The Interrupters is similarly affecting. The film follows CeaseFire Chicago, a group of social workers, activists, and educators fighting against the tide of gang violence in Chicago.

As shown in The Interrupters, CeaseFire Chicago has been effective in reducing gun violence. One of the interactions in the film which demonstrates this features “Flamo” – an angry young man who is ready to retaliate against those who wronged him, but who is persuaded by CeaseFire worker Kobe Williams to take a step back and think of the impact his actions would have on his family. The resolution of his story is a welcome reprieve from the bleakness of the overall film and of the lives documented therein.

Another noteworthy voice in the film is that of Spencer Leak, a funeral director who once drove for Martin Luther King Jr., who says regarding the election of President Obama: “I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime. But while I’m seeing the president on television and the images of him leading the free world, I’m still burying black kids. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Interrupters is a film that deserves attention, and its absence in the Oscar nominations is a shame.

You can watch clips from the film at PBS.

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DVD Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I went into Cave of Forgotten Dreams without knowing anything about it and enjoyed it so much I hesitate to say anything here aside from it’s one of the most extraordinary and beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Werner Herzog’s documentary literally explores the Chauvet Cave in Southern France, which holds the most ancient cave paintings by humans found to date.

The images themselves are breathtaking, especially considered when and by whom they were painted, but it’s Herzog’s organically artistic direction and the lovely score that bring the pictures to life. Apparently this was released as a 3D IMAX film, but it still looked wonderful on my mediocre 2D TV screen. If you have any interest in history, art, the earth, humans or simply talented filmmaking, this is a must-see.

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DVD Review: Of Time And The City

Of Time And The City is a unique film directed by Terence Davies that impressed occasional Muruch writer Brendan (Vic’s Irish husband) so much that he was finally inspired to write another review…

Brendan says:

Terence Davies directs and narrates this eulogy to his hometown of Liverpool. It’s a deeply personal film with universal themes, a montage of music, images, and archival film footage, and snippets from literature and poetry.

Davies won me over within the first ten minutes by featuring Franz Lizst’s glorious “Consolation no. 3 in D Flat Major,” and quoting from James Joyce and Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” The passion the director holds for classical music and classic film is evident, as is his derision for the Catholic Church and Britain’s Royal Family, but this is a film about people.

There is something profound about the human moments captured here – the companionship of an elderly couple, the roar of the crowd at a football game, people washing windows and doorsteps, warming their hands at coal-burning stoves, wiping sleep from their eyes.

The music is also wonderful. For more about the film’s music, see the post at Caught by the River.

If I had to choose one film to represent the twentieth century for future generations, Of Time And The City would be it.

“And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

– T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

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Of Time And The City Official Site