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Overstreet

Waste Land

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This documentary is well worth seeing.

It would work well in a film festival alongside Born into Brothels - a film about the poor, about social justice, and about the power of creativity and art to change the world.

I have mixed feelings about it; the film spend a little too much screen time celebrating Vik Muniz and his philanthropic efforts here. And I had to wince when some of the poor "garbage pickers" who participate in Muniz's projects respond to the outcome by praising God, and Muniz quickly corrects them: "No, no, you did this! You were the strong one!" Shut up, Vik.

But I can't deny that it packs an emotional wallop. And its routine "Where are they now?" text blasts at the end are quite surprising. Very inspiring stuff.

Edited by Overstreet

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Tyler   

For the search: Ferdando Meirelles (producer), Moby (music), Lucy Walker (director--she also directed Devil's Playground and Blind Sight), Vik Muniz (the artist in the film).

Meirelles's involvement is particularly interesting, since his movies City of God and City of Men (which was also a Brazilian TV show) are both set among Brazilian poverty, as well.

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vjmorton   

Does the movie do anything with the title T.S. Eliot allusion?

I would hope it didn't, simply because Eliot is practically the opposite, the kind of wasteland associated with prosperity.

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Link to our thread on The Devil's Playground (2002), the movie about Amish teens that shares a director with this film. (Apparently she also directed some episodes of Blue's Clues; my kids love that show, and I think it's because of that show that my kids have taken to walking around with shoes on their head.)

Just wanted to say thanks, Jeff, for highlighting this film; I don't see all that many films these days unless they make it out to the suburbs, but I made a point of catching this on Saturday during a somewhat complicated trip into the city, largely on your recommendation here. Liked it.

Overstreet wrote:

: I have mixed feelings about it; the film spend a little too much screen time celebrating Vik Muniz and his philanthropic efforts here.

Yeah, there's the one scene where Muniz and his associates are discussing the possible harm he might do to his subjects by thrusting them out of their world and into the London art scene, etc., but Muniz breezes right past such concerns pretty quickly.

Incidentally, I love the way the film begins and ends with footage of Muniz etc. being interviewed on that cheesy Brazilian talk show. Talk about picking something worthwhile out of the (pop culture) garbage ...

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Who really made the Oscar-nominated "Waste Land"?

But from the beginning, the compelling human and artistic drama of "Waste Land" has been subtly and slightly undermined by a stream of whispers and rumors regarding the participation of its principal credited director, Lucy Walker. Four days before the big prize is to be awarded, it appears that the creators of the film don't agree about who should get credit for what. They also don't seem to agree about what the ambiguous term "director" really means. Must the director of a film be present when all or most of the footage was shot? Is the director the person who supervises final cut in the editing room? Or is the word little more than a term of art, to be applied to the most media-friendly spokesperson for the whole enterprise?

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, February 24

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Persona   

Beautiful film. Really made me miss doing the arts instead of watching the arts. It also made me miss visits to other lands, places I went years ago, places no one ever goes for vacation.

Love what Muniz has done here, and if he gets a little bit of screen time in the process, I'm OK with that.

Thought it was interesting watching the artists trying to look at something akin to Star Trek's "Prime Directive" in regard to what's happening and how it's going to affect the lives of the pickers. End credits showed that it made their lives better, it seemed, in all cases but one. But it's kind of like the other Brazilian favela doc I saw last year, Only When I Dance. If you don't take the risk and fly to another country, you never know anything more, and you never receive the chance to aim for something better.

I'm glad there are people out there still presented with risks and still willing to take them.

I've seen all five of the Oscar nominated docs, and I hope this one wins, but I think it will be Inside Job.

Edited by Persona

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Persona   

Filmsweep Reaction.

Incidentally, I love the way the film begins and ends with footage of Muniz etc. being interviewed on that cheesy Brazilian talk show. Talk about picking something worthwhile out of the (pop culture) garbage ...

The host is Jo Soares, the show is "Jo's Show."

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Crow   

I saw this on Netflix's Watch Instantly, and loved it. I enjoyed watching the art being made, and it's wonderful how the process made a positive impact on the people involved.

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Persona   

I saw this on Netflix's Watch Instantly, and loved it. I enjoyed watching the art being made, and it's wonderful how the process made a positive impact on the people involved.

Oh, that's great. I didn't even know it was out. Also, I got home from Chicago and found a copy on the kitchen table. Apparently my buddy, the one I've talked about here before who is a huge fan of docs, bought it, watched it, and loaned it to the wife in church this morning. How cool is that!

Now that it's out, see this one, folks. It is good for any occasion.

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I saw this on Netflix's Watch Instantly, and loved it. I enjoyed watching the art being made, and it's wonderful how the process made a positive impact on the people involved.

Woo hoo!

I second stef's recommendation: Don't miss it!

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Brett Potter -

... Portraits were, in ages past, reserved for royalty – so to have someone take the time to create such an image of an individual is perhaps inherently ennobling. When one young woman looks down on her giant portrait, a kind of (post)modern Madonna and Child made from trash, she is overcome by emotion. Muniz allows her to see what he sees in her countenance, radiant beauty and strength in the face of adversity. Yet the redemptive beauty at play here is not simply a matter of the rich artist turning ‘worthless’ people into works of art – as if the people who work in the dump are also garbage waiting to be redeemed/recycled. Rather, the people of Jardim Gramacho are already fascinating, storied, often brilliant examples of humanity. Perhaps the most striking character is Tiao, leader of the workers’ association, who reads all the books discarded in the trash (especially Machiavelli!). Muniz’ trash-collage portrait of Tiao is a re-creation of J.-L. David’s Death of Marat, the startling image of the martyr-hero of the French Revolution transposed onto a different (but no less urgent) struggle.

What is at work here in these portraits of the working poor can perhaps be described as what Hans Urs von Balthasar called “seeing the form.” As Roberto Goizueta reminds us in his Christ Our Companion: Toward a Theological Aesthetics of Liberation, “seeing the form” of Christ (the “form of forms”) is inextricably bound up with “seeing the form” of the poor – their beauty, radiance, and truth as human beings. Without “idealizing or romanticizing the poor,” we must recognize in those who suffer economic and political injustice the image and likeness of God. Liberation theology takes as axiomatic the belief that the face of Christ (the perfect “image of the invisible God”) shines through wherever the innocent suffer. To see an individual human “form” in its particular splendor, even in the de-humanizing environment of the garbage dump – this is an act of vision with not just aesthetic but deep ethical and theological implications ...

Edited by Persiflage

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