With a documentary titled Where to Invade Next, and directed by Michael Moore, you might think you would know the kind of film you were going to get, and you’d be wrong. At least, I was. I expected this to be a critique of what Moore would view as America’s ham-fisted foreign policy, and that he was worried that America was ready to intervene militarily in yet another far-flung place.
Instead, the award-winning director, at his sanctimonious best, takes a junket around Europe, finding what he believes to be superior social policies and claiming them for the United States. His tour includes stops in Italy, France, Finland, Norway, Germany, Slovenia, Iceland, Portugal, and a side trip to Tunisia. He paints an idyllic picture of life in these countries, staking claims to, among other things, mandatory paid vacation, superior school lunches, a no-homework education system, a humane penal system, free university, drug addiction treated as a public health issue, and constitutionally entrenched women’s rights. Continue reading
Executive produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), and directed by Matt Ogens, Meet the Hitlers is a documentary that examines the relationship between names and identity, by exploring the lives of people linked by the name “Hitler”, a name that still has power and influence over people’s lives, 70 years after the Nazi leader’s death.
This is seven stories in one: a socially awkward man in Germany who is determined that he is the only living relative of Adolf Hitler; an utterly normal teen-aged girl with a variant spelling of the name (Hittler), who is proud of her name and not at all defensive about it; an immigrant carpenter from Ecuador whose father gave him the first name of “Hitler” because he wanted his son to be unique; an older man who seems to carry the name lightly, but whose daughters had to endure taunting and bullying because of it; a neo-Nazi in New Jersey whose naming of his son “Adolf Hitler” led to a child welfare investigation and ultimately the seizure of all his children, all of whom had names honoring Nazi leaders; a photographer who has decided to devote the remainder of his life to mocking Adolf Hitler through his photographs; and finally, three brothers in New York State who are nephews of the Nazi leader through their father, Adolf’s half-brother William Patrick Hitler, and who are bound together by a heartbreaking pact.
I am a big ol’ music nerd which makes me – as it should – a huge Beach Boys fan. The hits are fun and the Beach Boys (largely through leader Brian Wilson) wrote much of the modern pop rulebook. The late 60s pop excellence arms race between the Beach Boys (in America) and the Beatles (in the U.K) produced some of the very best popular music we’ll ever have.
I just love that Rubber Soul inspired / terrified Wilson so much that he had to up his game with Pet Sounds. Of course Pet Sounds then compelled Lennon / McCartney to respond with Sgt. Peppers Lonely House Club Band …which meant Wilson recorded what should have been Smile …but I’m spoiling the story at little now.