Paragraph Pictures – 09.05.17

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I AM BIG BIRD: THE CARROLL SPINNEY STORY (2014)

A short documentary about the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street, I Am Big Bird offers an emotionally satisfying and charming account of Carroll Spinney from childhood to present day. At times saccharine and overlooking some of the darker times in Spinney’s lifetime, it nevertheless captures a humble, reclusive man who brings joy to many children around the world. Definitely worth watching as a counterpoint to Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey from 2011, and a far more compelling and intriguing subject to explore as well.

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THE ROAD TO MOTHER (2016)

Coming from Kazakhstan and unabashedly proud of being so, The Road to Mother is an independent epic about the first 50 years of Kazakh history in the 20th century. Essentially trying to create The Best of Youth (2003) but in the brief constraints of two hours, a lot of the sociopolitical exposition bogs the film’s simplistic plot of a boy trying to return home into an incomprehensible mess. Plot and story simply do not mesh, as the protagonist is continually foiled in his attempts to return to his mother and childhood sweetheart for the sole purpose of carrying through to the next decade of Kazakh history. While it certainly has enjoyable moments and gorgeous cinematography, its best qualities are spread far too thinly across a redundant plot.

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TABLE 19 (2017)

Wasn’t Little Miss Sunshine great? Can we stop making those kind of films? Please? These Woody Allen-inspired dramedies are increasingly losing their intrigue and their sense of purpose. The pseudo-’80s tone is weakly utilized with no inventiveness for subversion or homage, and all the performers are drifting through each scene. Highlights include Craig Robinson getting an opportunity to perform dramatically but other than that, utterly forgettable.

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