Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Oath

This is one of the better documentaries I've seen in the past year. I almost didn't give it a chance because I've been so busy recently that I've had a difficult time committing to watching anything that requires too much attention. I'm glad I decided to give it a few minutes because I was immediately hooked.

It's about two men - only one of whom agreed to be interviewed for the film. The story is about Abu Jandal, Osama Bin Laden's former bodyguard, and Salim Hamdan (Bin Laden's driver). I have followed some of Hamdan's case over the years including the Supreme Court decision a few years ago bearing his name but I didn't know that many details. It is a fascinating story and told quite well.

Jandal is now a cab driver in Yemen and still a sworn enemy of the U.S. Hamdan was released from U.S. custody and has been free for over a year but refused to be interviewed. Jandal is glad to espouse his theories on jihad and explain to his young son why the U.S. is evil. But he's not too proud to eat American junk food because he sheepishly admits it tastes so good.

Years from now, I think this captivating documentary will be one of a few that clearly stand out as one of the best about the post 9/11 landscape.

Directed by Laura Poitras
2010
PBS

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

High and Low

Could there be anything better than a Kurosawa - Mifune film noir? Possibly not. I can't believe I had never seen this before. I loved it and wanted it to continue for another two hours. This was one of the last movies I watched over the summer while I was still Mr. Mom. I miss those days.

But I digress.

The film is about a wealthy industrialist played by Mifune who faces a moral dilemma. A kidnapper calls and informs him that his son has been kidnapped. A ransom is demanded. A ransom that will bankrupt him. But he's willing to pay it, of course. But then he finds out that his son is safe and sound at home - the kidnappers had mistakenly stolen his chauffeur's son.

So what does he do?

I don't want to give anymore away. But I will say that the entire film is perfect. And the train scene easily has become one of my favorite movie sequences ever. Any fan of Kurosawa, Mifune, or noir must see this film.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
1962
TCM