Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I just watched this on hulu today (who has a really awesome movie selection by the way). Anyway, I'm kinda kicking myself that i didn't check this out at the ifc center when i had the chance. This documentary does more than simply cover the cases of missing Staten island children. It also delves in to mental illness, care (and sometimes lack of care) for the mentally ill and urban legends. Filmmakers; Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman go back to their Staten island neighborhood, to document the case of Jennifer Schweiger who went missing over 20 years ago. As kids the two filmmakers and the other kids from their neighborhood feared the legend of "Cropsey". An urban legend about an escaped mental patient who kidnapped and murdered children (this was often told to them by their parents as a way to keep them from going off in to the woods or to make sure they came home before the sun went down). In the 1970's, their Staten island neighborhood gained a bit of unwanted attention when it became the subject of one of Geraldo Rivera's most famous news stories (before he became a piece a' shit talk show host). Apparently the local mental hospital ("willowbrook") turned out to be one of the worst facilities for the mentally ill. The patients were either neglected or abused, the building itself wasn't taken care of at all, and it was eventually shut down thanks to Rivera's news story. Later on, when filmmakers; Brancaccio and Zeman were kids, the urban legend of "cropsey" became a reality when 13 year old Jennifer Schweiger went missing (and eventually found murdered). As it turns out, the main suspect (Andre Rand), who eventually ended up serving time for the kidnapping (but not the murder) of Schweiger was a former employee at the willbrook mental hospital. Upon Rand's Release, he became the main suspect in the case of ANOTHER missing local child (we eventually learn that there are a few missing children cases linked to Andre Rand), which brings the case of Jennifer Schweiger back in to question. For first time filmmakers, they really go out of their way to get facts and interviews (from people who sometimes don't want to be interviewed), yet they go about it in a way that doesn't makes them annoying (like Michael Moore can be sometimes). I guess the one thing that started to get on my nerves about the film was the music. If the music was used more sparingly throughout the doc instead of (what seemed) like every 5 minutes, it would've worked better. The subject matter of this documentary alone is serious enough. I don't need music telling me how i should feel while I'm watching something about missing/murdered children and mistreated mental health patients. I get it. And now that i think about it, the voice-over got quite irritating at certain points too. But whatever, the subject matter in this documentary is so good, that i was able to kinda block out the little things i didn't like. Normally I'm not a fan of documentaries turned in to movies, but i honestly wouldn't mind a movie made about this. Watching "Cropsey" is almost like watching a real life version of nightmare on elm street or the blair with project (i don't mean to sound so corny, but its true). This documentary has corruption, cover-ups and even touches on cults and devil worshiping. Even if the music and narration kinda gives Cropsey an amateur-ish feel, it still rings of great investigative documentaries like Errol Morris's Thin Blue Line or the more recent Zoo.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I know I haven't been very good with updating this blog, and i know that my next entry was supposed to be on John Carpenter, but somewhere between Escape from LA and Ghosts of Mars I couldn't take anymore. I wanted to write about something great I saw last night while its still fresh in my head. The first movie I saw at this years 2010 New York Film Festival was Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives. I've been on the fence as to weather or not I'm a fan of Thai director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The only two movies of his I've seen so far are: Tropical Malady (which i loved) and Syndromes in a Century (which i pretty much hated). Similar to what The Wrestler was for Darren Aronofsky, I needed to see one more movie to determine if I liked Weerasethakul's work. The fact that it won best picture at Cannes was pretty much the determining factor as weather or not I would check it out. The last 7 out of 10 best picture winners have been some of the best movies to come out in the last decade (especially; The White Ribbon, Elephant and Dancer in the Dark).
Now, you have to understand that less than 24 hours before I saw this, id seen Enter the Void. As far as I'm concerned, it lived up to its expectation and my 8 year wait for another Gaspar Noe feature was satisfied. And although i did enjoy Enter The Void very much, it was pretty intense. The last thing i needed was to watch another intense movie right after (which Uncle Uoonmee ended up being). Since watching Enter the Void and Uncle Boonmee back to back, all I've been watching are episodes of Mr. Show to take my mind off of the trippie, stylized, incest under-toned, seizure inducing movie that was Enter The Void and the deeply moving and spiritual Uncle Boonmee... I mean seriously, just look at the opening credits of enter the void...

And just think, after the opening credits there's still about 2 hours and 20 minutes to go.
Anyway, back to the movie at hand (enter the void and many other movies will be reviewed on the flud watches site very soon. I'm writing about this particular movie on my personal blogspot because i imagine most people wouldn't have interest in it).
The basic plot of the movie deals with a man (Boonmee) dying of kidney disease who goes off to live his last few days secluded on his farm with his family members. During his last days, he contemplates his illness, discusses the past lives he believes he had, and is visited by 2 ghosts: his dead wife (who's come back to take of him before he dies) and his dead son (who returns in the form of a 1/2 human, 1/2 monkey-ghost with bright red eyes). I myself have had a kidney transplant (as well as my father), so needless to say that part of the movie really touched a nerve. The movie also touched another nerve, because it reminded me of so many of my favorite movies and directors, without copying or ripping any of them off. The scene where the two ghosts appear is very similar to the scene at the end of spirit of the beehive (one of my all time favorite movies) when Ana sees the ghost of Frankenstein. I'm sure a lot people will compare this to Tarkovsky (like they do with any recent movie that's slow and spiritual). And although the narration in the movie is very similar to the narration in Tarkovsky's The Mirror, I'd compare this to the works of Terrance Mallick (specifically; the thin red line & the new world), Miguel Gomes (the face you deserve & beloved month of august) or Victor Erice (spirit of the beehive & El Sur). The movie is a lot to take in (outside of the obvious themes of; family, mortality, spirituality, etc), and I'm still trying to wrap my head around certain things. Besides the main plot about a man waiting to die, the movie gets pretty surreal, and leaves you scratching your head (but in a good way). I doubt this movie will get bumped off of my top 10 list for 2010. Hopefully this will makes its way to theaters before the year is over (most movies that win best picture at Cannes usually do). I really need to see this again. I highly recommend this (as long as you don't get bored easily).


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