Sunday, April 29, 2007

More live blogging from SFMOMA: Protagonist

Protagonist There's nothing like a good weave-it-all-together documentary. This more down-to-earth version of Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (its subjects have distinctly normal properties, unlike Morris's film) doesn't achieve the same formal beauty as that, yet Protagonist has much more to say, I think, than that one did. Director Jessica Yu tries to tie together the stories of four men with the Greek tragedies of Euripides, yet this central theme is the only weak spot of the endeavor: the men's stories speak so strongly that the artifice seems unnecessary. These are stories of growing up with troubled father figures, and then going through much of early adult life under the shadow of those experiences: a German terrorist, whose policeman father beat him and spoke of how "Hitler was a good man"; a preacher from a deeply religious family whose confusion over homosexuality twisted back and forth over the years; a bank robber who points, again, to his father's childhood beatings of he and his brother as where this all started. And for comic relief, one story of how an adolescent's quest for kung-fu shaped his high school years. In this context, even the last story manages to take on significance. Highly recommended, if you can ignore the pretension of the connecting segments, narrated in Ancient Greek by Marina Sirtis (!).

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