Archive for January 25, 2008

Four Movies in Two Hours

Last night for English club I showed four little vignettes, mostly about dysfunctional families.  Some were sad and one was absolutely silly.  Damah Film Festival puts these out annually and some can be viewed on  They always provide great discussion afterwards and though they are short, they have the added surprise ending or provide a punch-in-the-gut type of feeling.  The students just HAVE to talk to reveal their thoughts and feelings after watching them. About 15 students showed up last night and despite the usual problems with the projector cooperating with the laptop, we were able to watch “17 Down,” “Longbranch” “Bybee” and “The Machine.”


“17 Down” is an all black cast except for ONE white guy who is the bearer of bad news.  An older gentleman is working on a crossword puzzle on a lonely, old train and has flashbacks to his earlier life with his family.  Afterwards with the light turned back on, when all aspects of the movie were discussed out, it helped when I told the story my husband tells when his mother died in Colorado 14 years ago.  He was in Almaty at the time and he had a vision of her passing at the exact hour which was 12 time zones away.  Photograph memories of her in a wheelchair, then a walker, a younger woman to young girl gave him the assurance that she had gone home to be with the Lord.  This movie dealt with life and death but it’s not clear if this old man had figured out life’s biggest puzzle, besides answering 17 Down.


“Longbranch” dealt with life and death too but in a suburb and in a very silly way.  The scene starts out with a cowboy wannabe in his living room watching a talk show host telling how to make a burger on the grill.  The cowboy is a very intense, unsmiling young man, serious about tying ropes and lassoing his ketchup or other objects in his house.  Meanwhile, an elderly, blind gentleman at the curb wants to cross a busy street while a younger man in the backyard tries to hang himself from the tallest tree.  You have to see it yourself to find out how there could possibly be a moral to this strange story.  The students laughed all the way through it even when we watched it a second time.  Both of these movies were only 13 minutes long.


I was trying to find “The Machine” to show another dysfunction in our society but remember I was having computer problems, things would show up in Russian and I could not tell what the titles were, it was a haphazard guessing.  So we landed on “Bybee” about a girlfriend and boyfriend in their illicit sexual relationship and the collateral damage that happened especially with the girl.  That movie lasted 11 minutes and was so intense nobody wanted to watch it again.  Lots of discussion about guilt, sin, abortion, lust, you name it.  The girls had been squeamish but “The Machine” made the boys equally so because it showed a man who had found a briefcase on the street and the contents eventually enveloped him and destroyed his life as it had of the former owner.  It alluded to pornography but it could have been any addiction that makes the user a slave. No one had the stomach to watch this 18 minute movie again but we had a good discussion about pornography which wreck men’s lives and those around them.

  At the end of our two hours, I promised these 15 students that next week I’d provide a comedy.  They were grateful to hear that even though these short clips gave them much to think about and talk about with their friends.  I anticipate we will have many more students who will show up next week. 

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