Saturday, December 10

Docu-Days Part I

I look forward to a good night in like most people look forward to a round of drinks at the end of the week.  In case you do too, I’ll let you in on some of my all-time favorite documentaries (in no particular order) for the next couple of days. 

This documentary chronicles the life of legendary film producer Robert Evans, who serves as narrator.  You see his rise from film star to production chief of Paramount Pictures to independent producer, as well as his tumultuous relationship with Ali McGraw, his 1980 cocaine bust, and his implication in the "The Cotton Club Murder”.  Evans’ life would be fascinating enough if it were recounted through still photographs and third-party narration, but Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen’s stylish direction and Evans’ wildly vivid narration really push this film over the edge. 

This follows a group of students, ages 4 through 11, in a school in rural France.  Their teacher, Georges Lopez, is unbelievably dedicated and patient, and his commitment to his students’ personal and academic growth is so inspiring.  However, the true standout star is  young JoJo, who is equally adorable and mischievous. Note: My parents tried renting this through Netflix and ended up with one without subtitles, so beware.  However, they watched it in its entirety,  even though neither speak French, and my mom cried. It’s that good. 

Pressure Cooker (2008)
The film revolves around Wilma Stephenson, a culinary arts teacher in working-class Northeast Philadelphia. She prepares her students, many of whom have financial issues, broken homes, and abusive pasts, for an annual citywide cooking competition.   In the classroom she is demanding and brutally honest, but outside of the classroom she puts her meager teaching salary towards paying for students’ prom dresses and throwing celebratory pool parties.  Note: It’s hard to watch the cooking competition section… So many college scholarships riding on the shape of a potato!

Photo Credit: IMDB

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