Monday, June 30, 2008

Ganja Queen

Tonight I saw the documentary Ganja Queen about the gross injustice that's happened to Australian Schappelle Corby.

In 2004, 27-year-old Schappelle had begun caring for her father who was ill with cancer and was preparing for some upcoming rough treatments that he would endure. Because the family realized how difficult this was for her, they helped her pay for a short vacation to take in the weeks prior.

The destination was Bali, Indonesia and she would travel with a few friends to take advantage of the beautiful beaches and natural amenities of the area. In her luggage was a boogie board, which was packed by her and her friend. The only thing in the bag when they arrived at the Brisbane airport was the boogie board.

Upon their arrival in Bali, her bag was searched and 4.2 kilos of hydroponic marijuana was discovered. Schappelle was stunned and immediately claimed she had no idea where it came from.

She was then arrested and interrogated in the Bali customs unit, with her friends by her side also claiming her (and their) innocence.

There was no DNA testing of the plastic bag containing the drugs, or the drugs themselves, and there was evidence of a drug sting back in the Australian airport that same day (traffickers were paying baggage handlers to set up mules). But that didn't matter—they still held Schappele for seven months before putting her on trial.

I won't reveal the outcome of the verdict, but I will say it's not good news and documentaries like this make me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

But for people like her, we have to continue having hope.

After you see the film, be sure to visit Schappelle's Web site and learn how you can help. The link is here.

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The Third Man

About a week ago, I saw the classic 1949 film The Third Man.

It is the topic of Cinebanter #54, which is available here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Tonight I saw Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, a documentary by Marina Zenovich.

Thank goodness someone finally created a coherent timeline that is the mess of Polanski's life, because in all of my years I've never quite grasped what happened to him.

After seeing this, three things I suspected were confirmed:

1) Roman should be celebrated for the artistic genius that he is.
2) Roman should've been punished for the crime he clearly committed.
3) There was no way in hell Roman was going to get a fair sentence in the California courts with the corrupt judge that was assigned to his case.

If I'm correct in my assumption, Roman was just a typical party-scene Hollywood filmmaker in the 60s that loved his life and loved his wife until she was brutally murdered by a crazy man's cult.

Once Sharon was gone, his life seemed to tailspin, as often happens in times of desperate grief, and to endure the pain of the press crucifying him for having a hand in her murder (when really he was out of the country at the time and had nothing to do with it), he sought refuge in women, drugs and distractions.

One of the casualties of this distraction was Samantha, a California girl wanting to break into the business at the age of 13. They were alone, he was photographing her, clothes came off, drugs were ingested, sex resulted.

I'm not saying it was right or that the circumstances make his actions any more excusable, but the way the system handled his case was unfair and when the attorneys on both sides cry foul, you know something's wrong.

By all accounts Polanski made the right decision deporting himself to France before his final sentencing. He's certainly done more for the world as a cinematic genius than he ever could have done for America eating up taxpayers' money, rotting behind bars (which for the record wasn't even what his accuser wanted).

I can't help but wonder what would've happened if he'd taken the offer to come back to the US and have the case heard by a new judge.

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Saving Luna

Yesterday I screened the documentary Saving Luna.

To read my review, visit Cinebanter.com.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Rocker

Tonight I screened The Rocker, starring Rainn Wilson and Christina Applegate.

Robert "Fish" Fishman (Wilson) is a washed-up ex-drummer from an 80s rock band living a mundane life when he snaps one day at work (over the-band-who-dumped-him's new album), gets fired, and breaks up with his girlfriend. As a result, he's forced to move in with his sister's family in Cleveland (in a house that magically overlooks the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum).

Coincidentally, his nerdy nephew is in a high school band and their drummer gets grounded at the last minute, leaving them without a drummer to play the upcoming prom (you see where this is going?)...so naturally, they take the 40-something uncle over all of the kids their own age who audition.

Fish gets his groove back after an invigorating (or excruciating) rendition of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" and convinces the band to let him stay on full-time. They begin remote practicing via webcams and soon enough a YouTube leak leads them to astronomical manufactured fame.

Kind of silly? Sure. But hilarious too.

Christina Applegate plays the leads singer's hot mom who warms up to Fish after joining the band on tour and a tender side story stays less-than-cheesy enough to remain pleasant.

I actually had a really good time at this film—and the supporting characters of familiar faces (Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, etc.) were a welcome icing on the comedic cake.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Savage Grace

Today I saw Savage Grace, starring Julianne Moore.

I will discuss it on a future episode of Cinebanter, so stay tuned.