Movie Diary 10/10/2021

Still on that documentary committee. So, a few to list.

Ascension (Jessica Kingdon, 2021), and Faya Dayi (Jessica Bashir, 2021). Two impressionistic documentaries, sans narration or storyline, both superbly photographed and rhythmically complex. Both, in somewhat different ways, are about systems of production; the former looks at various modes (mostly exploitative) of economy in China, from factories creating sex dolls to schools for prospective butlers, and the latter tracks the use of khat – the chewable leaf that provides sedative drugginess – in Ethiopia.

The Rescue (Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2021). Do we have the documentary Oscar winner here? The movie ticks all the boxes (although the extensive use of re-created footage makes it a little suspect, purity-wise) as it depicts the efforts to save that boys’ soccer team that got trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018. You may know the outcome, but damned if the movie isn’t supremely suspenseful.

Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953). We had a nice session of Scarecrow Academy last week with this one; among other things, we talked about how “people gotta eat” is a deeper form of the criminal code than the usual “honor among thieves,” a quality that makes this hard-boiled movie oddly empathetic.