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last update 26.Aug.07
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
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Crazy Love   4/5
crazy love You couldn't make it up. This film chronicles one of the most outrageous romances imaginable to tell a thoroughly entertaining story that just gets stranger by the moment.

Burt grew up in poverty, beaten badly by his mother and scarred by his family's pain, but he went on to make a fortune as what we'd now call an ambulance-chasing lawyer. At age 30 he meets Linda, a beautiful 20-year-old, and he won't take no for an answer. But their drawn-out romance is deeply troubled; her refusal to sleep with him drives him even further into desperation until an unspeakable act that lands them both on national cover pages in 1959. But the story doesn't end there, and they'll be back in the headlines in 1996.

Writer-director Klores mixes vintage footage, stills and present-day interviews to fill in the astonishing details. With frequent clever touches, he tells the story in a linear style, letting each wrinkle appear in its time--and there are so many that we're left slack-jawed with disbelief. From Burt's sexual hyperactivity and faked divorce papers to Linda's trip to a doctor to prove her virginity, it soon becomes clear that where these two people are concerned, absolutely anything can happen.

Along the way there are several remarkable sections that discover a present-day relevance, including the overwhelming media attention and Burt's constant manipulation of the legal system. This pattern repeats itself over and over again, and yet Burt and Linda stand strangely together through it all. Movie characters don't get much more vivid than this; both are larger-than-life, with hilariously bone dry senses of humour as they articulately recount their story.

This is one of the most deranged true love stories ever told, and it's not over yet. Glamour and romance, jealous rages, disfigurement, celebrity, lies and betrayal, prison time--it's all here, plus a kind of psychotic depravity that somehow manages to be almost endearing. We actually get into the hearts and minds of both Burt and Linda, feeling the overpowering loneliness that propels them into their engrossing and strangely moving story. And the final sequence is priceless both as an unhinged sitcom or perhaps the ultimate revenge.

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

Steve Fryer, California: 4.5/5 "This story will make you laugh when you should be crying. It's shockingly beautiful. This is reality TV and it will be a long time before something is made that can stand next to it. What I can't understand is how uplifting it was. It's like walking out of a terrible plane crash without a scratch then finding your bags intact as well." (19.Nov.07)
dir-scr Dan Klores
with Burt Pugach, Linda Riss, Jimmy Breslin, Bob Janoff, Sylvia Hoffman, Berry Stainback, Janet Pomerantz, Marvin Scott, Norman Ackerman, Rusty Goldberg, Rita Kessler, Margaret Powers
riss and pugach release US 1.Jun.07,
UK 18.Jul.08
07/US 1h32

edinburgh film fest
15 themes, language, innuendo
17.Aug.07 eiff
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In the Shadow of the Moon   3.5/5
in the shadow of the moon This fascinating collection of unseen footage and reminiscences tells the story of the moon landings from a personal perspective. It's thoroughly crowd-pleasing, although it's weakened by a relentlessly earnest tone.

Between 1968 and 1972, nine Apollo spacecraft travelled to the moon, and 12 men walked on its surface. The eight survivors, except the reclusive Neil Armstrong, are all here to share their experiences, along with other members of their crews. These present-day interviews are accompanied by a wealth of film footage that's been locked up in Nasa archives for the past three decades. These clips are utterly fantastic on the big screen, all completely unretouched.

The material here is so strong that the director's indulgent style can't weaken it. This film is almost as po-faced as the 1960s docs it pokes fun at. The soaring orchestral score reminds us at every moment how terribly inspiring this all is, and everything feels sanitised and Nasa-approved. Only a few moments feel lively and raw, such as Aldrin's explanation of the first thing he did on the surface and the closing-credit clips in which the interviewees hilariously debunk the conspiracy theorists who say the moon landings were staged in an Arizona warehouse.

There's a lot to love about this film, including its tracing of the space race, starting with JFK's challenge in 1961 to reach the moon before the end of the decade. We meet the bright-spark test pilots who became America's first astronauts and see the flash-fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew as Vietnam and civil rights protests filled America's streets. Plus the expectant crowds around the world watching the first steps on 20 July 1969.

In the interviews we also get telling details about the astronauts themselves, such as Aldrin's obsession with rendezvous coordinates and how cool Armstrong was even to his colleagues. Then there's the emotional and spiritual introspection, a strong sense of earth's fragility--how it's a tiny oasis in the vast emptiness, which we must take care of. But above all the reverence and awe, this is an invaluable record of the Apollo missions, and of the first men to walk on another celestial body.

dir David Sington
with Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Charlie Duke Alan Bean, Mike Collins, Harrison Schmitt, John Young, Edgar Mitchell, Dave Scott
moonshadow
release US 7.Sep.07,
UK 2.Nov.07
07/UK 1h40

Audience award:
SUNDANCE
edinburgh film fest
London Film Fest
U mild language
5.Jul.07
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Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore 4/5
Manufacturing Dissent This hugely entertaining documentary turns Michael Moore's filmmaking style back on himself to separate the facts from the rumours. It's not a hatchet job, but Moore doesn't emerge unscathed.

Narrated by Melnyk, who often appears asking Moore-style faux naive questions, the film tenaciously traces Moore's life and career, following reports of lies he has told, scenes he faked and people he betrayed. But the filmmakers are careful never to undermine Moore's achievements, both as the guy who made documentary films sexy and as the obstinate champion of worker's rights, small town America, gun-control sense and political accountability.

The quantity and range of interviews is impressive, from friends and loyalists to people who feel deceived or used. The film cleverly opens by contrasting the first bombs that fell on Baghdad in 2003 with Moore's Oscar-winning night four days later, and how he has emerged as the best-known person from Michigan since Henry Ford and Madonna. The contrasts continue as some people describe him as deeply caring and compassionate, while others see him as a paranoid megalomaniac and a ruthless showman.

Moore certainly bends the rules of the documentary form, but Caine and Melnyk never deny that his expertly assembled films convey an underlying, truthful message. Throughout this film, they maintain a skilfully even-handed approach, using comedy and the global, Roger & Me-style pursuit of an interview that's continually rebuffed by Moore, who continually says he loves Canadians but is just too busy to talk. Although there's clearly more to it that that.

Along the way, the filmmakers examine specific sequences from Moore's films that have been criticised for bending facts, altering chronology or cruelly exploiting his interviewees. What Moore shows is true, although it's sometimes slanted and suggestive--more editorial than journalistic, and perhaps more about his own celebrity filmmaker character than the subject at hand. And by refusing to talk to Melnyk, he's clearly not willing to face the music. Even so, Caine and Melnyk never tar and feather Moore with his own brush. They maintain journalistic credibility and fairness even while entertaining us from start to finish. Moore would do well to take note.

dir-scr Rick Caine, Debbie Melnyk
with Michael Moore, Ralph Nader, Errol Morris, Janeane Garofalo, Roger Ebert, Jack Matthews, David Gilmour, Guy Saperstein, James Musselman, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, Moby
moore and melnyk release US 12.Jul.07,
UK 5.Oct.07
07/Canada 1h37

edinburgh film fest
15 themes, language, some violence
20.Aug.07 eiff
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This Filthy World   4/5
this filthy world This may just be a film of one of Waters' university appearances, but it's thoroughly entertaining as he takes a trip through his own filmography, hilariously revealing all kinds of truths about society along the way.

Emerging from an on-stage confessional booth, Waters proclaims himself as America's "filth elder", pointing out that the world infinitely more disgusting--and fascinating--than anything he's ever put on film. He begins by talking about his three most influential childhood heroes: the Wicked Witch of the West, Patty McCormack (who played the evil 8-year-old in 1956's The Bad Seed) and Captain Hook. As a youngster, Waters simply couldn't understand why Dorothy would want to return to the drab, monochrome Kansas once she discovered the glorious Technicolor of Oz with its "winged monkeys, magic shoes and gay lions".

He talks through all of his films, recounting vividly detailed stories from both on and off set, including an extended discussion of how even he has limits. Fans of his films will love the tales of Waters' repertory group, including several raucous anecdotes about his childhood friend Harris Glen Milstead, forever known as Divine. Plus a discussion of how the crazy residents of his hometown, Baltimore, will never stop inspiring his notorious film characters, who look tame by comparison.

Along the way he makes lacerating comments about how culture keeps dumbing down. Colleges don't show provocative films with subtitles anymore; they screen Star Wars on a loop. People think that watching a DVD counts for reading the book. And his most outrageous film (Female Trouble, about a woman who aspires to capital punishment for the fame) could actually be true today. He also bemoans the loss of the instant movie, where he'd read a story in the morning paper, and by evening he and his friends would premiere the film based on it.

Through it all, Waters is confident and audacious, pushing the punchlines perfectly, and just beyond what we expect. There is no way you can watch this film without laughing out loud all the way through it--everything he says is pointed, observant and astutely comical. Right down to his dream acting role: to star in The Don Knotts Story. "But I'll probably have to fight Steve Buscemi for the part."

dir Jeff Garlin
scr John Waters
with John Waters
waters release US 24.Nov.06,
UK 28.Sep.07
06/US 1h26

TORONTO FILM FEST
BERLIN FILM FEST
edinburgh film fest
15 strong themes and language
18.Aug.07 eiff
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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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