Judges 2:16

Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.

This is practically self-crucifixion, what I’m about to write about. But then again, I wasn’t initially expecting the movie we watched last nite to cause such a stir.
Because I thought it was the worst Morris film we’ve had the chance to see, & I’ll tell you why.


Starting with the general, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control felt like a neverending trailer for a film that never actually presented itself. It’s like sitting in a theater watching an ad that hints at central themes, characters, & actions, hints that are meant to catch you as a viewer so that you want to go & see that film because “I want to see what it’s all about!” The problem is, this trailer is 80 minutes long, & all those themes & characters that are alluded to? They never fully come out of the woodwork. I was a big fan of Morris’ idea of filming his subjects in natural environments (their homes, a park bench, on a boat), so watching this movie seemed like a huge step backward for the filmmaker. The settings are vague & staged, & the four men thus just don’t feel real, & I can’t concentrate on their stories if I don’t care who they are.
& the music. I thought it was a brilliant soundtrack, but it was just too much. It’s the trailer that plays music all the way through, serving as a backdrop to push the quick action along, not the film. Continuous soundtracks are not necessary for film, & when the music is playing the whole time there’s no room to breathe & think about what’s being said. This is what made Morris’ earlier films so much more brilliant: the idea of letting the people speak for themselves, without distractions or cheap camera tricks.
Cos there were too many of those, too, those cheap little skewed camera angles & slow-mo edits. I felt cheated, having to watch an Errol Morris film that didn’t feel fully there. It felt too edited, perhaps is what it was, whereas Vernon, Florida‘s intrinsic beauty as a film was all in its seemingly shoddy editing (not the case, of course, but still it was wonderful because it seemed more pure).
Do you see what I’m saying? These men were robbed of their interesting nature because it felt to me like Errol Morris tried too hard to make them interesting for the sake of fleshing out some larger themes. Show me something that isn’t trying to impress me & I’m far more likely to be impressed. The style was too big for the movie, the characters too small for the style, & the whole thing way too Hollywood.

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