Tag Archives: documentary film


Speaking of The Way We Live Now, here’s an interesting essay from Chris Hedges — author of the indispensible War is a Force that Gives us Meaning.

He quotes the documentary The Corporation:

A corporation that attempts to engage in social responsibility, that tries to pay workers a decent wage with benefits, that invests its profits to protect the environment and limit pollution, that gives consumers fair deals, can be sued by shareholders. Robert Monks, the investment manager, says in the film: “The corporation is an externalizing machine, in the same way that a shark is a killing machine. There isn’t any question of malevolence or of will. The enterprise has within it, and the shark has within it, those characteristics that enable it to do that for which it was designed.” Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface Corp., the world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer, calls the corporation a “present day instrument of destruction” because of its compulsion to “externalize any cost that an unwary or uncaring public will allow it to externalize.”

“The notion that we can take and take and take and take, waste and waste, without consequences, is driving the biosphere to destruction,” Anderson says.

The ease of externalizing of costs worries me. And the difficulty of opposing that externalization — recently seen in the debates over energy, the killing of coral reefs, the debate over universal health care. I don’t see how we get past this impasse. If Obama can do that, his will truly be a transformational presidency.




Good and evil don’t exist in heaven or hell, they exist between people. The cinema exists for showing that, too. – Pedro Costa

Last night I saw Pedro Costa’s film Bones (Ossos) at the wonderful Amherst Cinema. If you live in the Five College area, please support this magnificent resource. They show an array of popular and “art house” films, as well as films you rarely have an opportunity to see in the theater.

We were lucky to have the filmmaker himself there to introduce the film and take questions afterwards.

This is a mysterious, exquisitely shot movie — fictional, but with the feel of a documentary. The setting is a slum on the outskirts of Lisbon. The pace is slow, but a meaning-filled slow that invites the observer to question and ponder the ambiguous significance of the elliptical plot and the equally ambiguous relationships between people.

Shot at night with little light, in crowded slum streets, or in interiors where the viewer is conscious of looking into a room, through a doorway or window, the visually the film is dark, color soaked, rich, and luminous.

Costa spoke at length —

  • About his definition of realism — being true, he said if I remember correctly, to something you knew as a child.
  • About the sexuality and tensions in the film — some of the female characters have a masculine aspect, the male characters feminine. The actor who played the father, in life a junky, told him that he felt more fragile than the baby he held.
  • About the significance of the baby: a metaphor for life and rebirth.

The film is full of near deaths and re-awakenings, of waiting.

The visuals reminded me of paintings by Vermeer — seeing through doors and windows to a private world that remains in some ways unknowable, intimate, forbidden. The colors looming out of darkness are reminiscent of Rembrandt or Goya’s late “black” paintings.

Costa on the cinema as an art of absence:

Griffith saw that the cinema could show things that everybody knows, that everybody wants to recognise, and at the same time, not show certain things which are very violent, which must be hidden. Continue reading