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Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middleclass Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
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Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this "family." A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they've built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice. Written by
The soundtrack for the film was provided by DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis), who is a critically-acclaimed producer and DJ. He is notorious, however, for being very protective of licensing his music for other venues or projects, having declined many other scoring offers in the past. When a friend of Singer's saw the footage assembled to a rough cut, he suggested Shadow for the soundtrack. Singer got hold of a couple of Shadow's albums, and loved the music so much, he began to cut the music into his film without any contact with the DJ. When fellow producer Ben Freedman told him he would need the rights to the music, the duo concocted a scheme whereby they would write a note to him and give it to an attractive female friend who would go backstage after a show and personally hand-deliver it. It worked. Weeks later, the two scheduled a flight to LA to coincide with a last-minute meeting with Shadow and his agent. According to Shadow, he was prepared to turn down the men's offer to use his music. But when they showed him a rough edit of the film with his music that Singer had already cut-in, Shadow was taken aback and completely impressed. He not only let them use existing titles, but even remixed some older tracks intercut with new audio samples recorded by Singer in the tunnels as a special score done for the film. See more »
Beautiful Story of Determination, Self-Exhile, Self-Forgiveness and Encouragement
To actually get the full effect of the documentary, one must watch the special features on the DVD. From there one will learn that the crew for the movie was composed of the same homeless people who were the subject of the film. These folks knew nothing of film-making, but with the encouragement of one, yes ONE, person, they became a team and had a purpose and something to look forward to.
The point of their teamwork wasn't to gain a home via the welfare system. Their point was to make a film and use any profits toward getting their own home. They knew day in and day out that everything they had worked on up to that point could be useless if the money ran out, but they did it anyway. They went through everything we throw away and made something of it and themselves. Never once did any of the people who were homeless show self-pity. Some even explained how they got where they were and why they stayed there. Watching their story puts a human face and the people we don't even recognize as human when we see them on the street. It is a beautiful story of self-exhile, self-determination and giving back.
If you are bitter, jaded, depressed or full of self-pity, then run to the video store to get this movie. Then be thankful you have a warm dry place to live, money to rent movies and a TV and DVD player.
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