Fragmented Films May13

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So who deserves to die?

“People who hi five, people who dress their babies in band t-shirts,“ offers the precocious teenage wannabe mass killer, “middle aged women who call their tits the girls. “

Welcome to the gospel according to God Bless America (Eagle), a strangely moralistic film that takes a sledgehammer to America’s pursuit of the lowest common denominator.

Drowning in a misery of obnoxious reality TV, evil right wing political commentators, white trash neighbours and a kid that doesn’t want to know him; Frank (Joel Murray) has it all. And it’s hurting the hell out of him. Surrounded by celebrity-obsessed zombies he can’t relate to, a series of tragic circumstances finds him on the couch with a gun in his mouth when suddenly his social conscious awakens. Perhaps there are others more needy of the bullet than him. It’s Falling Down meets Heathers, Natural Born Killers meets Juno, about as subtle as napalm, but at least 17 times funnier.

Bobcat Goldthwait. You remember him right? That annoying guy from the Police Academy films? No not Steve Guttenberg, the other one, the guy with the grating voice, whose main weapon of choice was screaming at people inches from their face. Post Police Academy he reinvented himself as a bitter burnt out stand up comedian, the humour coming from his black as pitch observations. He’s now channelled his weary sarcasm into cinema, and his fourth film God Bless America is pitch perfect. With caustic monologues about reality TV, the vacancy of celebrity obsession and a body count that includes babies, celebrities, random cinemagoers, reality TV contestants, and religious fundamentalists, it’s a film with a solution that is actually part of the problem. It’s lowest common denominator solutions to lowest common denominator problems, but then it’s hard to disagree that an AK-47 wouldn’t improve American Idol exponentially.

Graham Dorrington is on a quest to fly a new kind of airship balloon over the rainforest canopies in Guyana on the North coast of South America.  Beset with problems, he’s haunted by the death of a friend on a similar expedition years earlier, making him the perfect driven yet conflicted subject for German auteur Werner Herzog.

On the initial flight, they want to test it alone, but Herzog forbids it, and it’s remarkable watching Herzog bully his way onto the airship. White Diamond is one of Herzog’s best, in the way his films can be great, obsessive, beautiful, meditative, self indulgent, tangential, and mystifying, It’s part of a double blue ray box set Werner Herzog: Documentary Collection (Shock), which also includes the Flying Doctors of East Africa, La Soufriere, about the desertion of the island of Guadeloupe in the wake of an impending volcano eruption, and 2009’s Encounters at the End of the World.  “Who were the people I was going to meet at Antarctica at the end of the world and what were their dreams?” Herzog asks. The beauty of Herzog is that he’s comfortable with multiple ideas and tangential narratives. His own madness the perfect tool for eliciting highly personal information from the fellow eccentrics he uncovers along the way.

 

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