3 Movies – The Lives of Others, Fast Food Nation, Factotum

The Lives of Others - A german film made in 2006 with some excellent acting, story, and score. It is always refreshing to come across something that is just not stupid in it design and aspirations. This is a complex movie that highlights some complicated emotional situations that can take place as a result of crazy external circumstances. It takes place 4 years before the unification of Germany (1985) which already seems like ancient times. I had not explored the meaning of what it must have been like living in West Germany during what I consider 'modern' times...anyway, it is basically a suspenseful drama so watch it if you are in a thoughtful mood. And did I mention I really liked the score?

Fast Food Nation - a really good, if depressing movie. I hesitated for a long while because I didn't want to be confronted with a lot of animal gore. There is some, but it really is minimal and necessary. I really like Richard Linklater's movies so I had to see it eventually. Another complex movie that can take you out of your own little world and give pause for thought about how other people live.

Factotum - I wouldn't say it is a great movie, though I did watch it in all its depressing glory. I had a fascination with Charles Bukowski in the late seventies and early 80's. He seems a little less interesting to me now...but the score to this movie is just great (and they are his lyrics actually).  I had never heard of her but Kristin Asbjørnsen wrote it:

Why We Fight

Watched the 2005 documentary movie, ‘Why We Fight’ the other day. Below is link to the home page which has a video playing of Eisenhower’s farewell speech, which I find fascinating. The speech really takes you back to what seems like ancient times, though it was less than 50 years ago. The weird thing is how relevant it is today. The movie is worth watching to get a view into how our Defense Department actually works.

Why We Fight 

The wikipedia ‘review’ here…the title comes from a series of propaganda films that Frank Capra did for the US government during WW II to tell American Soldiers the ‘reasons’ for them being in the war. All very interesting stuff…

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Ok, this has to be one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. Only for people who are seriously interested in understanding pop culture and derangement and mental illness at the same time. It is very hard to watch, yet compels you until the end. Watch it if you really like off-kilter movies and documentaries. If you get far enough to see it, I highly suggest the viewing the extras for more context. Much better and more moving and educational than any of those intelligence erasing reality shows that everyone seems to smoke like crack. Here is an excerpt from the official site:

“As an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, Daniel Johnston’s wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites are exposed in this deeply moving documentary.

As a reclusive teenager growing up in New Cumberland, VA, Johnston began showing signs of unusual artistic ability at an early age. He religiously recorded his thoughts and stories onto cassette tapes, directed intuitive Super- 8 films starring himself in multiple roles ala Peter Sellers, and created expressive comic book-style drawings and animation in the basement of his family’s home. However, in the eyes of his fundamentalist Christian family, Daniel simply wasn’t contributing to society in a useful or productive way. After running off on a moped and joining a carnival, he landed in Austin, Texas, broke and alone. It was there he began to hone his musical career, recording folk songs on a series of homemade, lo-fi cassettes, which Daniel handed out free to fans, friends and journalists in the early 80s. With the help of a timely break and the thriving Austin music scene, Daniel managed to secure a brief spotlight on MTV making him a minor celebrity. But just as he was beginning to make a name for himself, his inner demons began to surface and Daniel’s ongoing struggle with manic depression became more and more evident in his songs and drawings.”