The besties review
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F for Fake
I love these kinds of meta movies about fakes and forgery— fits in well with a few movies I watched last year like Close-Up and The Amazing Johnathan Documentary. Definitely seems like a film that will be benefit from numerous rewatches, but from the first watch I can already tell I loved it. The editing and camerawork are sometimes confusing and disjointed, but always mesmerizing. I have yet to see some of Welles’ most famous work, but I am certainly looking forward to it even more after watching this.
Harlan County U.S.A.
Harlan County U.S.A. is a movie that lured me in with its simplicity. For the first thirty minutes, Barbara Kopple seems to be simply documenting the mine workers’ actions as they strike for higher wages. But the more I watched, the more I noticed the beautiful nuances of the film— namely, Kopple’s keen eye for interesting people, both in how they look and what they have to say. Harlan County builds moment to moment until its brilliant climax— a ten-minute stand-off that takes place on a road blocked by protestors.
As a group of (mostly) female protestors form a blockade, the main antagonist of the film (Basil Collins, a man with a true movie villain name) sits at the head of a long line of cars that are waiting to get through. The protestors accuse Collins of open firing on a group of protestors just days earlier and demand he be arrested to the county sheriff, who is physically caught in the middle of the conflicting parties. It’s a truly intense and rewarding scene that shows just how far an issue like a wage dispute can escalate. Kopple directs it perfectly. Suffice to say, I can tell why this film is taught as an “essential doc.”
Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil is a visionary, essayistic doc that feels like it would play better in a screening room at The Whitney than on my 13-inch computer screen. Regardless, I found it fascinating. It’s a dense film that can’t be fully appreciated or understood after just one viewing, so I won’t make the mistake of trying to solidify my feelings on it just yet. A lot of the descriptions of Eastern culture and political machinations went way over my head, so I will certainly be revisiting this at some point.
The Thin Blue Line
This movie invented your dad’s favorite true crime Netflix series.
I don’t feel like getting political about this one, but this viewing reminded me yet again why I hate certain professions, institutions, and kinds of people. If you’ve seen the movie, I think it will be very clear which professions, institutions, and kinds of people I am referring to.
I don't mean this in a demeaning way, but I think this is a great film to show in high schools or to your kids as they get older (one of the film’s key figures is, after all, a sixteen year-old boy). It’s not as gritty, flashy, or bizarre as some of the more recent true crime narratives, but it is competently made and dramatically compelling. As a high schooler, movies (especially documentaries) played a huge role in shaping my opinion on the death penalty. Had I seen this as a teen, I’m sure that it would have only strengthened my feelings on the matter.
The War Room
This is a great behind-the-scenes look at the ubiquitous American political machine and yet it feels like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Watching Carville and Stephanopoulos work is a true delight, as you really feel like you are watching a moment unfold in real time. Knowing the outcome doesn’t hamper this at all— it’s all about the process.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!