Two Titles from Film Movement
Let The Church Say Amen (June 5/07)
Directed by David Petersen, Let The Church Say Amen is an uneven yet sporadically compelling documentary revolving around a small church in Washington D.C. and its impact on the community. The movie gets off to an admittedly rickety start, as Petersen initially places the emphasis on the church's modus operandi; it's not until the filmmaker starts exploring the stories of some of the individual congregants that things really start to get interesting. There are a number of fascinating figures that crop up over the film's running time, with the most obvious example of this a woman with eight kids who's trying diligently to become a nurse. It's clear that Let The Church Say Amen is most effective when dealing with the problems of its various subjects, and there's little doubt that the inclusion of several distinctly heartfelt moments - ie the story of a passionate music minister who loses his son to gang violence - ultimately lends the proceedings a feeling of poignancy that's exceedingly difficult to resist.
Madeinusa (June 25/07)
Well directed yet almost unbearably dull, Madeinusa revolves around the quirky happenings in a small Peruvian town - with a specific emphasis on the title character (Magaly Solier) and her dogged efforts to escape the clutches of her abusive father. Filmmaker Claudia LLosa disastrously emphasizes the minutia of the town's various activities - including a bizarre religious ceremony and an inexplicable tie-cutting ritual - but never gives the viewer even a hint of a reason to care about any of it (that Solier's Madeinusa remains a maddeningly undeveloped figure throughout the film's running time certainly doesn't help matters). The egregiously deliberate pace only exacerbates the film's many problems, and one can't help but wonder just what Llosa was trying to accomplish here. The performances are fine, admittedly, and Llosa does offer up a few sporadic bits of style, but there's ultimately just no overlooking the pointlessness with which the director has infused the proceedings.