North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Bright Leaves describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North ...
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Filmmaker Ross McElwee (Sherman's March, Bright Leaves) finds himself in frequent conflict with his son, a young adult who seems addicted to and distracted by the virtual worlds of the ... See full summary »
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »
Ross McElwee Jr.
Forty year old documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee has a penchant for filming everything around him. Following the announcement of his impending marriage to his film-making partner Marilyn ... See full summary »
In 1986, Ross McElwee and Marilyn Levine were making a film about the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, when the imposing structure was still very much intact as the world's most visible symbol of hardline Communism.
It is the defining cultural tale of modern America - a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. And two decades after its unforgettable climax, it continues to fascinate, polarize, and develop new chapters.
When Brandy decides to reclaim her life as an actor, the domestic world she's carefully created crumbles around her. Actress is both a present tense portrait of a dying relationship and an ... See full summary »
50 men live for 12 months in a madhouse, they passing their days in a single plane and having little contact with the medical team. Every one of the inmates is not there for mental health ... See full summary »
North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Bright Leaves describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North Carolina by a native Carolinian, Ross McElwee, whose great-grandfather created the famous brand of tobacco known as Bull Durham. The comedic chronicle is a subjective, autobiographical meditation on the allure of cigarettes and their troubling legacy for the state of North Carolina. It's also a film about family history, addiction, denial, and filmmaking--as McElwee, noted director of Sherman's March, grapples with the legacy of an obscure Hollywood melodrama that is purportedly based on this curious man that was his great-grandfather. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Forbes Magazine and other national periodicals name this state as the great place to move, and I swear the day after the magazine comes out, you can see a difference in traffic patterns. For me, as somebody who grew up connected to a piece of property, albeit one that's now transformed into a trailer park, the idea that you would move to a place because a magazine that you bought for $3.95 *told* you to, is a symptom of such sadness in the culture, I cannot tell you. And it's also gumming up ...
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Too many beauty queens to be named here See more »
It was about 15 years ago that I first saw Ross McElwee's quasi-autobiographical documentary about his quest to trace General Sherman's unsuccessful campaign through the South during the Civil War. "Sherman's March" was a film which showed the delightful disconnect between McElwee's memories of vestigial Southern culture, with the man he had become. Just as the American South exemplifies the Sublime to the Ridiculous, McElwee's ostensible journey to follow the trail of Sherman's March was really an excuse to visit old girlfriends and childhood memories along the way.
"Bright Leaves" is so good a follow up to McElwee's earlier film about his search to understand his Southern roots that, rather than inviting a comparison with "Sherman's March," it simply picks up his story with a new quest. This time it's his search to understand the history of North Carolina tobacco farming, which was also a part of his family's history three generations before.
The film is at least two hours long, but not one extraneous frame is included. In McElwee's typical style, he presents us with a meandering, quiet, thoughtful and extremely funny unfolding of the tobacco story, and his signature pacing perfectly highlights the layers and layers of meaning he wants to get across.
As a Northerner and unashamed Yankee who has lived in the South for 13 years (which is 12 years too long), I can vouch that McElwee's films have just as much value for those of us who lack the DNA required to understand the South. His films are not just for born and bred Southerners who see themselves as special members of a unique and proudly eccentric group.
On a practical level, "Bright Leaves" may be the best anti-smoking film ever made, just as "Supersize Me" was the most convincing argument about the dangers of fast food. I highly recommend you take your kids to see it, too.
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