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Archive for February 6th, 2008

Gorman, Uninteresting

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America, Unchained

“Written and originated” by Gorman, normally inventive and fun, this documentary is ill conceived and only teaches us that Dave is a man who is both boring without a script and without subtlety – activism through repetition.

The premise is to cross from the West Coast to East Coast by car, paying nothing to ‘The Man’, using Mom & Pop restaurants, motels and gasoline. Gorman wanted to avoid the normal travel genre cliches and not meet interesting people researched in advance. So he and his director, (first the whiny Stephanie who leaves with a bad back, then the cheerier Adam), drive from town to town called Independence looking for independent businesses to prove they still exist.

Excited? You’ll be even less thrilled 10 minutes in when Gorman is on his unchanging rant about the chain hotels, petrol etc they’re avoiding. I’m sorry but this just isn’t a new idea – we know big business is global, homogenous and all-consuming. Yes, the state of affairs is crap – but this documentary doesn’t paint a picture of a dying breed – it haphazardly encounters few interesting stories – Taylors the Ice cream bar is one history of a family business that’s truly touching but a zany German woman with two Great Danes behind a motel counter doesn’t compare and doesn’t make a movie, let alone a point “They wouldn’t let her run a Best Western” – No shit, those dogs would scare the life out of people.

Gorman buys a beautiful 1974 Ford Cortina, which breaks down a lot – this is meant to provide dramatic tension – it doesn’t. Two days from the end of their trip the car breaks badly and a heartbeat effect is on the soundtrack as it’s repaired! Gorman is wincing and screwing his face up in frustration yet again, “this is like taking your kid to get open heart surgery”.


Infact this is my major gripe – Gorman isn’t charismatic enough to pull this off. Pissed off at the lack of independent gas stations he says to the director, “You want a metaphor for how I feel?” opens the car door and there is a dead cat which has been run over – that morning by the look of it. He apologises, laughing, saying he didn’t realise how bad the animal looked – my question is, the road kill shot made it into the movie? Why doesn’t Gorman interview any fellow customers who have also chosen to shun the chains? He has none of Louis Theroux’s curiosity or charm and this pales in comparison to Theroux’s Behind Bars documentary last month.

I really didn’t care if Dave made it to the next Independence, or to the end of his journey. When he reaches the coast – the profound statement to end the film? “I’ve touched the sea”. Finally, his journey is just a self-indulgent diary with amazing scenery and a few genuinely small town America moments. Despite the haters, it somehow won Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Austin Film Festival and wasn’t hated by the Times.

Life in Cold Blood

Who knew reptiles could be cute? I’m watching this Attenborough series for the cool thermal camerawork alone.

Written by Victoria

February 6, 2008 at 2:12 am

Posted in TV