EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|FREAKONOMICS (directed in part by ; “Pure Corruption” written by Peter Bull and , directed by Alex Gibney; “A Roshanda by Any Other Name” written by Jeremy Chilnick and , directed by Morgan Spurlock; “Can a Ninth Grader Be Bribed to Succeed?” written and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady; “It’s Not Always a Wonderful Life” written and directed by Eugene Jarecki. Based on the book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner; cinematographer: Bradford Whitaker; editor: Tova Goodman; Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Chad Troutwine/Chris Romano/Dan O’Meara; Magnolia; 2010)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It's based on the best-selling book by economist
Steven D. Levitt
and author Stephen J. Dubner. The moderately interesting documentary
features a group of top-notch documentary
filmmakers each creating a segment that has a different theme.
Morgan Spurlock ("Super
Size Me") uses some talking heads to tell about the significance of
choosing a baby's name, as the filmmaker tries to decide if a name
really matters for later success. It goes into a riff about white names
mostly differing from black names, as it emphasizes the wide cultural
those popular names chosen among whites and blacks.
Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the
Side") does an investigative journalist piece on the surprising
discovery that there's rigged matches in the world of sumo wrestling,
which in Japan is supposed to be a pure sport, tied to traditional
religion, that is above suspicion. Somehow it connects the sumo
corruption with the recent financial corruption scandal in America.
Jarecki ("Why We Fight") has the most controversial
chapter and the film's best, as he explores all the likely reasons for
the surprising drop in crime
rates in the 1990s and offers the unlikely explanation, which goes
against what all the experts are saying, that it's because America has
legalized abortions. This response might not be right, but it might be
just as good as any of the other responses mentioned.
Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing
("Jesus Camp") tell about the University of Chicago offering in its
experimental program financial
incentives to certain failing ninth grade students in a Chicago high
school as a means of getting the selected students to see if they can
at least rate a C in every subject. If so, they receive $50 and a limo
ride home at the end of the month. The filmmakers follow two young
failing loudmouth students, who take up the challenge with confident
talk. The report concludes that the results for the entire group was
discouraging, as there was only a seven percent success rate with the
incentives. This was the thinnest segment, as it didn't dig deep enough
to tell why money incentives couldn't change the behavior of the
Though somewhat stimulating
and certainly entertaining in its lighthearted joker approach, the film
is too slight as a feature film to really matter. Its best venue would
probably be on some news magazine TV show, like Anderson Cooper.
REVIEWED ON 12/9/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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