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Gleanings Monday:"Borat" "Birch Street" "Explorers"

Posted at 3:12 PM on November 6, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Borat takes the top box office crown despite opening on less than 1000 screens nationwide? The last time that happened was for "Fahrenheit 911." I wasn't among the throngs, although I'll probably see it sometime.Sacha Baron Cohen's schtick has always made me feel a little uncomfortable, and I thought he'd beaten the fake interviewer thing to death. Apparently not. What seems amazing to me is that, decades after Candid Camera, people are still falling for this stuff. I mean, if a journalist from Kazakhstan turned up on your doorstep, would you invite him in?

Actually on reflection I probably would.

(But I wouldn't let him turn on the camera.)

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"51 Birch Street" Just in case you missed it, check out the response from film maker Doug Block about the Movie Natters posting on his film. I think it's a fascinating debate.


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"Urban Explorers:" Melody Gilbert continually displays a knack for taking a tiny nugget of information and creating a full-fledged documentary. There was her interest in why anyone would choose to get hitched at the Chapel of love at the Mall of America, which became "Married at the Mall." Then there was she stumbled across the fact that there are whole-bodied people who feel they should really be amputees, a feeling which can drive them to take drastic action. That became the movie "Whole." And finally there was the little snippet in the paper about a Minnesota girl who had been born with a rare condition which meant she does not feel pain. While it might initially seem like a great gift, in reality it creates huge challenges as pain is one of the body's warning systems, and without it a child can easily hurt herself badly without knowing. That film was called "A Life Without Pain."

Gilbert's new adventure is a lot less grim. "Urban Explorers:Into the Darkness" examines the clandestine lives of people who enjoy trying to get into parts of the city where usually they're not invited. They use climbing and spelunking techniques to visit abandoned buildings, sewer systems, or anything else that takes their fancy. Melody went on several such expeditions both in the US and in Europe, camera in hand all the while to catch the action.

She is still working on finishing the film, but will show an "in-progress" version this Friday at the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. There will also be a panel discussion with some of the people featured in the film, and an exhibition of their photographs.
These events tend to be interesting. I attended one in downtown St Paul during the early stages of editing which also featured some of the participants. A few eagle-eyed folk noticed that they soon disappeared however. It turned out they had been exploring the building, and having ended up on the roof, decided it was more to their liking.

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