***/**** Image A- Sound A Extras C
directed by Linda Ellman
by Alex Jackson I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I think the documentary too often gets a pass as cinema. All of the focus is on the subject matter and next to no interest is paid to technique. The core audience for documentaries might be the same one Pauline Kael described in her infamous essay "Fear of Movies", i.e., the people who refused to see Carrie, Taxi Driver, or even Jaws because they "don't like violence" (read: they don't like anything that is going to take them out of their comfort zone). The larger problem isn't simply that films, on a visceral level, ought to be pleasurable or, at minimum, interesting, but that the lack of filmmaking excitement in most documentaries is intended to approximate objectivity, which is poisonous to art. "Objectivity," almost by definition, eliminates values and any perceivable human element, and once art eliminates values and any perceivable human element, it ceases to have any utility.