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The Laughing Club of India - I feel that this documentary comes off shallow (in the sense that it doesn't probe as deeply as I would have liked) due to the script and subject matter. The film covered origins of the club, testimonials of members, expansion and events. The film is based upon personal anecdotes and recollections. It felt more like a super long marketing video than a documentary. The problem is that there's not much to dig into with this topic. What else are they supposed to talk about in regards to laughing clubs? The only thing I could think of adding is scientific data supporting the proposed theories that laughter helps mentally, physically and emotionally. I became bored because of all the repetitious scenes of people laughing and interview after interview without any new real information. It felt so pointless after a while - laughing makes you feel good, let me tell you how I feel now. I guess I'm used to a different kind of documentary that has more material to explore. This documentary was more focused on documenting a phenomenon rather than educating or persuading the viewer about something.

Accelerated Under-Development
- Dear Travis Wilkerson, I'm really, really sorry that your footage got screwed up and you lost hours of interviews with Santiago Alvaraz. I really am. But that doesn't give you an excuse to make a "documentary" that almost solely consists of clips from someone else's films with you sticking subtitled transcripts from interviews on the bottom and then be all like OMG I'M SO EXPERIMENTAL. Sure, it's fine if a documentary on a filmmaker includes clips from his films. But when that's the only thing in there, I question the right of the filmmaker to call it a documentary.  I saw this merely as a clip compilation of Alvarez's films with a bit of commentary. If I want to watch Alvarez's films, I'll do it without Wilkerson's help. Maybe he should have just written a book about Santiago from the transcripts instead of subjecting viewers to garish, sometimes obnoxiously commercial and hard to read fonts. Didactic my ass, I don't feel informed. This was by far the worst documentary I have ever seen and I'd venture to say incredibly self-indulgent, but Michael Moore takes the cake in the self-indulgent category so I'll let that one slide. I do not feel I learned anything from it and I'm not sure as to its relevance to our lives today other than the scenes of battle and war that we are shielded from through our media and the fact that our current wars take place in other countries, not on home soil, but I could've gotten that by watching Alvarez's stuff straight.

Germany in Autumn - As you have probably noticed by now, I am extremely anti graphic nudity and sex in film and tv (please note the emphasis on graphic. I don't have nearly as much as an issue with the fact that sex is part of a storyline or there are two people having sex but you don't see much and they cut out pretty early on or you see someone's bare back and are meant to understand that they're naked - I mean boobs and softcore porn a la Californication). Some things offend me (offend isn't the right word, it's more like I've been desensitized to these things) more than others, which does not mean that I am okay with them being there, but they don't make me run screaming for the door. For instance, if you had said that there were breasts, I would have stayed. I would have stayed through a heterosexual couple sex scene as well as long as it wasn't too graphic. You mention male genitalia and I am so out of there. I have been desensitized to breasts due to the fact that I'm a woman and thus I've seen breasts (my own), and the fact that female nudity and sex pops up so often in movies that if you're not super careful, you end up seeing it. After several viewings, it doesn't bother you as much anymore. I have not had the dubious pleasure of seeing penises in real life or in film due to American standards, just all those ancient statues. So I guess if I were used to seeing them, I would be somewhat desensitized as well. And there's totally the issue that at least in modern days penises are not seen as aesthetically pleasing as much as breasts are.

I'm not proud of my desensitization. I wish I had the same visceral reaction to seeing female nudity as I do for male nudity. Not from a fear of sexuality but a respect for it, and the fact that it should not be in the public arena. One may say, well sex IS exploited frequently for money. The entertainment and advertising industries are whoring themselves out. MY film is artistic! My film is doing this for a really good reason!! For what, mainly emotional impact? Sex and nudity are taboo for a reason, and I don't believe in breaking taboos just for the sake of "emotional impact" or because it pisses you off. Some taboos should be broken - like child abuse. We should talk about it and make films about it - it's obvious why. But nudity, we should break a huge taboo like this for what, to demonstrate that we are so comfortable with our sexuality that everyone should see it? I'm not saying ignore sex and nudity and pretend they don't exist - these are serious topics of discussion and I don't even object to sex because it is sex, but how it is USED. Society has been desensitized to sexuality. An example: seeing women in tank tops and short shorts isn't that notable anymore, especially to a nonreligious person. But take a religious Jewish man who lives in a society where the women are asked to cover their arms above the elbow, legs below the knee and chest below the collarbone. Stick them in a room with a religious woman wearing a tank and really, that's all it takes because that is pretty sexy to someone sensitive. And it's really sad some people have to resort to more extreme sexual practices to get their kicks because hey, that's boring I'm used to it all the regular stuff. So I don't really care what the reason is to show the graphic nudity. In my eyes there is never a justifiable excuse for graphic nudity and sex. Anything can be accomplished with a more tasteful shot, a more tasteful cut, a fade to black, careful placing of cameras, metaphors, etc. So boohoo you lost out a bit of emotional intensity and your shock value for the sake of the greater good. Make up for it through script and acting and camera. And I don't think a lot of people will even understand the point I am making about desensitization. I mean, Kyle, in class you're all like, I don't remember if there's any nudity in it, because it means so little, you've seen so much of it. Trust me, I remember every single bit. And for me to watch a film in order to be more "informed" about the use of sex and nudity kind of defeats the entire point I have just made.
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tamar the great

December 2009

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