Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer is an HBO documentary about the Russian group. It's quite good. It is a Russian film with American subtitles in most scenes, although a couple of people speak English. It is a very well edited and structured film.

Pussy Riot is of course the Russian performance art group (not really a band) who staged guerrilla performances to protest Putin's government. Unfortunately, they crossed the line when they chose to perform in an Orthodox church and were arrested. The film picks up after their arrest and follows them through the end of their trial. They do a nice job in the film discussing the backgrounds of the three who were arrested.

One thing that is not approached in the film is the rest of the group. There were four at the performance where they were arrested, and eight at the previous performance, and others who helped them write the songs and plan the performances. None of that is touched on in the film, probably because some are in hiding and apparently have fled Russia for fear of arrest.

Nonetheless, if you have even a passing interest in the subject, I would highly recommend watching the film. Although there is no original footage of the three arrested group members, the film includes plenty of interviews with relatives and a good amount of historical perspective, along with footage from the trial. If for nothing else, the closing statements of the three group members are worth listening to. It will remind you of the real definition of freedom.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


ETHEL is a documentary about one of the least popular members of the Kennedy family, directed by her daughter Rory. I have to admit I did not want to watch the film because I thought it would be too one-sided a view of her.

I was wrong, this is quite a good film. However, it is good mostly because the title is inaccurate, it is not really about Ethel as a central character. Although she is an interview subject, she is not very open, so her daughter is forced  to focus the movie on other things, and ultimately the film is much more about Bobby than anyone else. Which is a very good thing.

Although some of the interviews of other family members are good, the thing that really saves the film is a wealth of home movies and other historical footage. It seems like the Kennedy family somehow always had the best photographers in the world following them around 24/7. And the footage of Bobby is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I  honestly think we will never see a politician like him again; one who is really in politics for all the right reasons, and who really cares about all his fellow people.

This movie is definitely worth viewing.