East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Duma: A well-made movie with a good story? Who the fuck wants to see that? [DVD note]

Starring Alex Michaeletos, Eamonn Walker
Written by Karen Janszen and Mark St. Germain, from a story by Karen Janszen and Carol Flint, from the picture book by Xan and Carol Cawthra Hopcraft
Directed by Carroll Ballard

Afrikaaner boy Xan (Michaeletos) and his pet cheetah Duma drive off into the desert in search of a home for the animal. Xan has to learn that something you have to live without those whom you love; Duma has to learn that sometimes you have to kill shit to get a decent meal. Throw in the oooh he seems shifty drifter Ripkuna (Walker) and you can precis the story. What you might not anticipate is that it never talks down; it elegant moves from one point to another. Yeah, the classically well-made film isn't dead yet, so enjoy this while you can.

Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home) has an eye for the wide angle: his night shots are especially fine. He also know to give the cheetah his due: show lots of decent-length, full-body shots of it running (think this is mindnumbingly obvious? Then watch any dance number in a Hollywood movie from the last twenty years). And the performances are excellent, Walker's in particular: you love him even though you can't dismiss the suspicion he wants to turn Duma into a pot roast.

[After months of waiting, I gave up on a commercial release and found the DVD. Of course when I came back here it was playing. Berkeleyites, you can see this at the Elmwood, two blocks from my house. Take your kids: they'll probably hate it, but then you'll have a reason to disown them.]

[[I made it through without making any Putin jokes. Commend my restraint.]]


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