first, we had to get up at the most un-godly hour of 7. for some that may not be early but for me that is. second, today was the day of emotionally draining films that liked to suck out your soul, rub it in the dirt and then stomp on it a little bit more.
the most draining film of the day of course happened to be the first one screening at 830 in the morning. it was called Dryland. it followed the life of James who was in the Army and has just returned from Afghanistan and realizes that he is dealing with a serious case of post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. at night he becomes unknowingly violent while sleeping towards his wife, choking her until he wakes up, major mood swings, deals with severe anxiety and he doesnt remember what happened at "the hit" [the event that sent him home on an honorable discharge]. it goes through his humiliation of going to the doctor and admitting he needs help and has issues, his wife separating from him till he "gets his shit straight," finding a job and then ultimately whether or not he was going to commit suicide.
this film was super intense and really hit home on many levels for me. at parts i couldnt even look at the screen. in the beginning James finds a job at his father-in-laws slaughterhouse and they show a live slaughtering of a cow. as many know im a vegetarian and so of course it disturbed me quite a bit but even without that fact, the film showed the entire process from knocking the cow un-conscience [where they showed blood gushing from the nose] to the actual slitting of the throat [and the cow isnt actually un-conscience] which is shown with no discretion. the other part that i couldnt watch was at the end when James is under so much distress that he is in his house deciding if he should take his life. he is a mess and he takes out his gun and sits on his bed. his dog is next to him and he is crying while he puts the barrel in his mouth. i couldnt watch it felt so real.
Dryland hit home with other points as well. James' mother dies and for some reason it reminded me of my gma. the character and my gma are nothing alike in personality but his mother's death resinated so powerfully i instantly connected it to my grandmother.
James was a medic in the Army and thats the same with a good friend of mine [i consider him more as a brother then just a friend] and the entire time i was thinking, "what if he came back and had PTSD?" my heart would just break. James also reminded me of my cousin's husband Roger. he was in a humvee accident and had some brain damage but thankfully is doing alot better and is almost fully recovered. but the similarity between James' hit [his truck/vehicle was hit by a RPG] and Roger's and then how James couldnt remember what happened and Roger's brain damage were too similar to look over it.
and then the other thing that hit me hard was how James was going to commit suicide. over the years i have become sensitive to the issue of suicide and dont like watching people go through it in films since it reminds me of a few close friends who dealt with and attempted suicide. just seeing James with the gun in his mouth was overbearing to think that some of my closest friends were going to do the same thing as him but just in different ways. it hurt.
i would recommend this film but not to the faint of heart. the director is hoping to release it in August of 2010 so be on the look out.
Dryland ended at around 1030ish and i was still thinking and processing it by the second film of the day 12th and Delaware that showed at noon. this film was about the goings ons of the corner of S. 12th and Delaware in Florida. whats so interesting about this particular corner is that on one side is an abortion clinic and then right across the street is a pregnancy help center. the documentary shows what i thought to be quite a balanced view on both sides of the debate. it interviewed the two owners and some of the patients of each following their journey
through the decision. the two co-directors and one cinematographer spent a year on the corner filming a variety of protesters, patients and this was the first time that anyone has filmed inside one of the pregnancy centers and abortion clinics.
one story that shocked me was the one of fifteen year old Widline. she accidentally went to the pregnancy care center instead of the abortion clinic and started talking to Anne the owner. thankfully she ended up keeping the baby but didnt actually want it. she said she drank vinegar and lifted heavy objects to try and miscarry because she didnt want to have the child. she gave birth last October and is now in the ninth grade.
the directors' objective they said was to be a "fly on the wall" and i think they did a pretty good job. both the owners of the centers saw the movie and said that they gave an accurate portrayal of the centers.
i would recommend this film but with a warning that it is somewhat slow but the thing that kept me interested was the topic and people in the story.
after a quick run to grab some food at a nearby starbucks we headed to see our third film of the day Restrepo. the directors of this documentary took ten trips over the span of fifteen months with a platoon who was sent to the Korengal Valley. this outpost is considered the most dangerous postings in the US military where they would have action multiple times a day.
this film i cannot describe really with words at how powerful and moving it was. you saw the action as if it was right next to you - no CG, no stunt doubles and no fake blood. it was real. there were scenes of the troops being fired at and intense retaliation, you saw a fallen soldier and the reactions of his comrades which was a heart breaking and sickening sight to see. these men wept aloud in the field and you could hear the agony in their voices.
there were quotes in the film that just astonished me and here are some of them just to get the feel of this film and what these men went through:
"Holy shit, we're not ready for this." ~Hijar [said after their helicopter turned a sharp corner to reveal the Korengal Valley]
"My mindset was that i was going to die here." ~Cortez
"Felt like a fish in a barrel." ~Aron [describing what it felt like to be in the outpost in the valley]
"The only hope i have is that one day i'll be able to process it differently." ~Joshua McD. [talking about how he might deal with the affects of war after he came back home]
and the most jaw dropping, crazy quotes were these, i couldnt believe my ears:
"Can't get a better high, its like crack." ~Steiner [describing the feeling of shooting a gun and being shot at]
"I wish they [the Taliban] were closer so i could see them when i killed them." ~Pemble
the film was named Restrepo after one of the soldiers in the platoon who was one of the first to fall. and near the end of the film it showed an emotional memorial evening on the anniversary of Juan "Doc" Restrepo's death [July 22, 2007] where the platoon shot up flares at the place where he fell to honor and remember not only Restrepo but also the other comrades that had fallen along side him through out the fifteen month deployment [the first to fall Kim Vimoto, on June 5, 2007, was another soldier that was remembered especially to that platoon].
again - a highly recommended film but with caution to those of faint heart. this documentary shows the most real and true depiction of war i have seen. the soundtrack is beautiful and the filming and editing is superb.
the fourth and final film thankfully was not such a downer as the last three. Obselidia was not a winner by hardly anyone in our group with the exception of me and John. i honestly cant really explain what this film is about other then it is obscure, somewhat slow but has such great characters and dialogue that it enraptured me and captivated my entire being. the dialogue kind of reminded me of Catcher in the Rye for some reason. very thought provoking and i guess therefore only interesting and intriguing to a few. alot of deep, life conversations. the two main characters George and Sophie were so different in their mind set that it was brilliant their banter between the two of them. i dont want to put things or opinions in your mind for this film so i will just say that i found a connection with these characters and their conversations just hypnotized me. i cant explain it. i loved it.
we ended the night at Flippin' Burgers to eat some grub since many of us hadnt eaten a decent meal since breakfast. back at the condo chilling out and doing nothing involving emotions since they have all been sucked out.