The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)Director: Judith Ehrlich & Rick Goldsmith
I can't believe I had never heard of Daniel Ellsberg.
Maybe in the mid-1970s, his story was as huge as this film made it out to be. I'm not sure since I was hardly a twinkle in my pop's eye at the time. Whatever the case, this documentary lays out a fascinating tale of personal, internal conflict that has ramifications that reach the highest magnitude.
|The original TIME magazine cover that|
contained one of the biggest stories
of the 1970s.
Ellsberg's personal struggles are engaging enough on their own. When they are told within the context of a United States in some serious turmoil, they take on much grander significance. This documentary, though now six years old, has timeless themes. By looking at exactly when a person should start to take personal responsibility for wrongdoing, even if it may be a small part of a wrong, this documentary is just what the genre is all about.
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Original French Title: Les triplettes de Belleville
Director: Sylvain Chomait
It's weird and I loved it.
All you have to do is look a still frame from the movie to realize that this is not your typical animated film. The visual style is very quirky, and even jarring at times. Once you start watching, you realize that the film itself is just as idiosyncratic and skewed. The oddity that runs the course of the film is certainly amusing enough, but I'm not one who enjoys oddity for its own sake.
|The grandmother and the dog, hot on the trail of their|
beloved cyclist grandson. Two of the most endearing
characters you're likely to ever see in a film.
The best thing? There is no real dialogue to speak of for the length of the 89-minute film. Sure, there are sound effects, music, and some grumbles and gutteral noises made by the characters. But mostly, it is all visual storytelling and humor, from start to finish. This is something that is difficult enough to do for five or ten minutes. To do it for a full, feature-length movie is the very reason the medium exists.
For an animated movie, I doubt that very young children would like all of it, though many would enjoy some of the sillier moments, especially with the dog. Anyone else who has an appreciation for the slightly peculiar and isn't too proud to watch a cartoon as an adult should give this one a watch. It's undoubtedly one of the most unique animated movies you will ever see.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
I'm not exactly a del Toro "fan," but I've certainly enjoyed several of his movies. I really enjoyed the Hellboy films, and I thought Pan's Labyrinth was captivating. Pacific Rim was fun, even if I didn't geek out over it like many people did. I even thought that his earlier film, The Devil's Backbone, was a really novel story that showed some excellent technical skill and narrative creativity.
|The kindly Jesus Gris inspects the cronos device, sending|
him down a dark and tragic path along which his
granddaughter is courageous enough to follow him.
As with several of his films, del Toro inserts a young child into a place of prominence, which adds an atypical perspective on a horrific set of circumstances. In this case, it is Jesus Gris's granddaughter, whose love for her transforming grandfather becomes his only link to his mortal life. This is the real novelty of the film. Also impressive is the prowess of the cinematography, given that the budget of the film was clearly limited.
Cronos is not a great movie, but it's a decent enough one that gave several strong indications that its creator would be capable of far more when given more resources.