7 April 2008 | mediadave
Layers of self-absorption
I've been on a documentary jag recently and I've seen a lot of them, across a wide range of production value and personal interest.
I ran across REEL PARADISE and found it REEL HARD TO WATCH. Like sitting next to a really annoying family at a restaurant, I found myself listening in on the conversation and being oddly fascinated with the inanity but ultimately wondering why I wasted my time.
You know the gist of the story--indie film guy takes his family to Fiji to show free movies at the local theater. You might think there'd be much to discuss about whether it's a good idea to bring American film into rural Fijian culture in this way, but the way they went about it is so obviously wrong-headed that it isn't discussable at all.
OK, it's one thing for the Pierson family (including two of the most poorly parented teens you can imagine) to be self-absorbed while immersed in a meaningless project in Fiji. It's another thing to shoot a documentary on it. Perhaps that's where it should have ended. But to have edited the footage and released this to the world is the height of self-absorption on the part of the filmmakers.
I see no redeeming qualities in the people, the project, nor the film.