Friday, August 12, 2016
'The Other Side' DVD: Revealing Portrait of Disenfranchised America
New York-based international film god Film Movement takes a staycation regarding the awesome 2015 documentary "The Other Side" by Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini. "Side" being a pure study of the poverty-line inhabitants of a small Louisiana community makes t a perfect follow-up to the "Texas Trilogy" of documentaries by Minervini.
The scads of accolades for "Side" extends beyond it being a New York Times Critics' Pick and an official selection "un Certain Regard" at Cannes to winning numerous international film festival awards. Anyone who watches it will wonder why this candid look at textbook "have nots" is not an even more prominent festival darling.
The style of Minervini demonstrates high regard for the late and genuinely great Belgian documentarian Chantal Akerman. The opening narration-free extended sequences of a man dressed in camouflage and carrying a rifle walking in the woods then moving onto a completely naked man walking down a country road are pure Akerman. Minervini maintains the Akerman vibe throughout by purely letting each character speak for himself or herself.
Much of the film focuses on repentant (and thoroughly immodest) drug addict/ex-con Mark Kelley. Minervini simply lets the audience eavesdrop on Kelley and his equally feral addicted girlfriend do drugs, discuss their lives, and have sex. We further meet the mother and grandmother of Kelley and hear his defeatist conclusion that confessing to a crime for which he is wanted is the only way to get clean. The naive belief of Kelley that prison is free of drugs is laughable to even novice cynics.
We further see Kelley at his menial job where his elderly boss has many very unkind things to say about Obama; that is not to say that this employer is any fonder of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Seeing Kelley receive his wages in cash contributes additional social commentary in the form of illustrating the underground economy.
The middle segment is even more disturbing than the study of Kelley. We see a reveling group drunkenly frolicking in a pond that seems to be more mud than water. The anti-Obama sentiment is amped up (and more scary) in the form of a someone wearing a mask of our current president committing an incredibly lewd act.
Minervini shows good instincts in having the earlier segments lead to what truly is a climax. We see a militia lead by combat veterans treat their heavily armed recruits see themselves as a true private Army that is training for an invasion by folks who do not share their views or values. These guys have both drunk the Kool-Aid and have no qualms about using their at least semi-automatic weapons to shoot anyone who has not done the same.
The bonus feature is an almost as-scary segment on a rally to support a law to allow people to openly carry firearms. One participant truly believing his assertion that he may not need to use his gun every day but feels the need to always have it with him particularly brings home the point of Minervini.
As the title of "Side" communicates, the true nature of the world that Minervini presents to society at large is a now-revealed secret. Those of us who know better now understand the thinking of hard-core (rather than "not Hillary") Trump supporters and other folks who lack the benefits of a decent education and informed upbringing.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Side" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.