The Hole Story (2005)
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This is one such film.
The story concerns the film's director, Alex, going to Minnesota to do an episode of his show "Provincial Puzzlers", which takes on a small town mystery each week. The episode in question is going to focus on a mysterious hole in the otherwise frozen North Long Lake that appeared one winter. He shows up in town and heads to the lake. That's where things get complicated, and it's only about 2 or 3 minutes into the film.
That's all I'd like to say. I can think of relatively few films where the enjoyment stems from a complete lack of knowledge at what you are about to see. In fact, they are all horror movies or thrillers (Memento and Blair Witch are some examples where the less you know the better, IMO). Not the case here. This is a comedic drama in documentary form, and just as entertaining, perhaps more so, than any other comedy and/or drama you'll see for quite some time.
Highly recommended, and not just to documentary fans. In fact, I feel that this is one of those documentaries that could help to elevate the genre above the stereotypical documentary trappings unfairly associated with them (small indie theaters with bad popcorn, pretentious audiences, etc.) to a place where you can find them playing at the local multiplex throughout the year alongside all the other genres.
The way the filmmaker, Alex, interviews the Brainerd people is not as funny as he probably intended it to be. Rather, I found myself cringing and embarrassed too often. "Borat" got away with something related to this, but he was absurdly funny, physically and verbally, which enriched the interactions with various everyday people. If these MN people felt duped, I hope they found solace in the "Pilot" where they are portrayed more appropriately for the information they provided the filmmaker and his crew.
Interestingly enough, the "Pilot" episode (DVD special features) was much more energized, interesting, funny, and edited well. Alex was very likable. I appreciated its approach - somewhat like "Mythbusters" - to the lake's "black hole" puzzle. I'd actually watch that show for entertainment. Perhaps, Alex should stick to fun documentaries (no more mock, please). Seriously, I think he's got something there.
"Don't get chumpatized"! -The King of Kong (2007)
In this age of "blockbusters" that turn out to be duds, comic book features that should have stayed comic books and humans injecting their foreheads with deadly poisons so they can continue to be considered "actors", modern movies are suffocating us with garbage.
What we need are more breaths of fresh air, more peaceful and serene imagery and less artificiality. "The Hole Story" delivers this, and more.
One of the delightful things about this movie is that it neatly avoids being stereotyped. Let's see: no overblown scenes between male and female leads = not a drama. No guns or ten gallon hats so it can't be a western. If there were action movie special effects I missed them. Yet the story is compelling.
Maybe it is a 'who dunnit'? If you've seen the movie you probably smiled at the idea. So then it must be a comedy! But it is mixed with tragedy, so that would make it a farce.
Nope, it is "just a documentary". That will actually engage instead of repulse you.
Great rental for those with functioning synapses.
It's an Indie film so it's not superficial cr*p. No, it's heavy and serious and meaningful and fresh and vibrant and significant.
And it's really a mocumentary. Wow. So many layers.
What really really happens is New Journalism || New Film-making: It's not about the subject - the hole in the ice - it's about the director's feelings about himself as he confronts the not-hole.
Wow. You know, like Maureen Dowd's articles are not about the subject but about how she feels about the subject.
Since this is about Karpovsky we see that he's got some problems with his woman at home, with his camera crew, with friends. He talks to the camera from a bathroom; he talks on his mobile. He begins to question his existence; the meaning of life; god. Wow. It's really heavy.
Then he checks into a mental hospital and we go through that with him.
So it could have been an interesting story. But Karpovsky's real and/ or imagined problems aren't interesting.
Wow. You just don't know what's real and what's not. Wow.
There is nothing in this film: no creativity, no humor, no insight, nothing nada. See it if you want to hear a whining & uninteresting guy crying and talking about himself.
But, hey, it's an Indie. Wow.
Still not enough lines for submission?! I give up. What does one have to do to have one's opinions heard? Beat a pithy insight to death with a redundancy of words? Redundant? Now that's this film in a word.
That latter fact explains the number of festival awards and stellar reviews it has received from the Boston Globe, Minneapolis/St Paul City Pages, Filmmaker Magazine and others.
Matt Zoller Seitz of the New York Press had this to say about the film:
I fell in love with it and have not been able to get it out of my head It was one of my favorite unreleased films of last year and one of the saddest and funniest debuts I've ever seen." Michael Tully of IndieWIRE refers to "The Hole Story" as "Equal parts Woody Allen and Werner Herzog " Though the film is a work of fiction, it is based on an actual phenomenon that occurred at North Long Lake in Minnesota. A crevice suddenly appeared for two years running, unexplained warm water in the Lake in the middle of frigid winters, that was so unusual as get international coverage and make the cover of the Wall Street Journal. From this unprecedented event, Karpovsky spins a whimsical tapestry of a tale about an obsessed, aspiring cable television producer who wants to make a pilot to sell about provincial mysteries in American small towns.
When he arrives in Minnesota, the hole is gone, and therein begins the story of this film and the downward spiral of the main character which Karpovsky names after himself. Before the journey of this film is completed, the protagonist loses his girlfriend and his film crew, and then things go from horrible to horrific before a light appears at the end of a very long tunnel.
The calm inventiveness of this film is a joy to observe. It's well worth your time and attention.
By Rod Amis a CinemActivist