Sunday, January 08, 2017

Auteur Watch - Leslie D. Farrell

Students of filmmaking, take note.  Our next auteur, Leslie Farrell, is an example of the evolving of an artist.  When you're young and idealistic and just starting out, you try things like his 1995 effort, "America's War on Poverty." (spoiler alert: poverty makes out okay after the ceasefire was negotiated)  Well, 1995 was indeed a different time.  People were trying to care about social issues, Windows 95 was just hitting, and even the manliest of men were, um... experimenting.  Well, hey, if there's one thing men and women can agree on, it's mascara.
Anyway, after conquering poverty, it was time to climb a little higher up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs... love that thing.  So let's say, with poverty conquered, that's mastering the "Safety" and "Physiological" rungs of the pyramid, so to speak.  Now it's time to move on to self-actualization.  Personally, I think it's out of order.  I think it should be self-actualization, then esteem, then love/belonging.  But who knows?  People can spend their whole lives trying to figure out the love/belonging part, as many of Hollywood's finest rom-coms can attest.  Seems like the best of douchebags and a-holes figure out the esteem and self-actualization just fine, and quite early on.
And so, after poverty, we get a celebration of the physical form, and the perfection of it through the building of muscles.  And so it was time to explore the journey of the African-American athlete... incidentally, that's the title of the result.  "The Journey of the African-American Athlete."  Coincidence?  The hasty follow-up was the more general "Sports on the Silver Screen."  I mean, hey, why waste perfectly good research?  I mean, why do it?
After a small mini-vacation to help take care of the kids, and it's back to work.  Blatantly riding the very long and epic coattails of Michael Bay's 2001 effort, Pearl Harbor, we get Farrell's "History Undercover: Road Map to Pearl Harbor."  And if that title doesn't grab you, well... nothing will.  I mean, look at that sh... stuff.  You got road map, you got undercover... what could be more provocative?
And then, Dubya's second term came along.  Something about it put us all in the mind of slavery, but Farrell actually did something about it, giving us "The Challenge of Freedom" and "Slavery and the Making of America."  The dude's nothing if not prolific!  But before Tyler Perry became the Grand Master of all things dramatic and funny, Farrell tried his hand at drama with something called "Miracle's Boys."  I don't want to say that Leslie had a bad time making that, but... it was six years before his next project, so the bitter aftertaste must've been there a little bit.  Li'l bit.  Li'l tiny bit.
2012 brought us "Electoral Dysfunction," about four years too early, in my estimation.  But let's face it: when you get into the Mo Rocca business... it must be a pretty bumpy ride, because he doesn't seem to go for high-profile collaborators.  He clawed his way to the top of "The Daily Show," and he ain't going back down to the bottom.  Not like Demetri Martin, no sir.  While I have no idea what conclusions or takeaways or Teachable Moments (TM) all involved came away with from 2012's "Electoral Dysfunction," I'm sure it must've been funny, maybe mildly amusing.  Not so much these days, where it's now referred to as "electile dysfunction."  I mean, for God's sake!  Chuck Woollery had to speak his mind about it on Fox and Friends!  That's how desperate the times have gotten now!  While we feel the need for greed, Woolery feels the need for exposure.  We'll be back in two and two.
But producing's the thing.  Producing is the new directing.  The director manages all the resources and what not: cast, crew, caterers, has to make all the decisions, staying up all hours of the night until principal photography is complete, then editing begins.  The producer's job is to tell the director to go faster, and don't make it suck.  Simplicity itself.  So what doesn't suck these days?  Well, back in 1995, fighting poverty didn't suck.  These days, it's apparently still time to revel in who's already got money.  Hence, we get Farrell's production called "Millionaire Matchmaker."  I guess there always was the bubble of the rich, but now more than ever it's fun.  And sure, matchmaking can work for the rich as well as the poor.  Take Otto During trying to woo Carrie Mathieson at the end of Season 5 of... sorry, spoiler alert.  Now, some might find dating a covert CIA operative to be too much of a bad thrill ride: the irregular hours, the faking of deaths and what not, but Otto During?  A guy like that could use a little excitement.  He's seen too much bad stuff in the world, and could always use a better grade of intelligence, even if it's just ad hoc, like the average bits of intelligence gathered by the mainstream media.  Anyway, sorry, poor people.  You're either just going to have to stay poor, or maybe try to get yourself into that category of "extreme" poverty that the charitable organizations only care about now.  Maybe try ranting and raving and walking into heavy traffic, stuff like that.  But I gotta warn you!  Maslow's not going to help you out, you see.  As his Wikipedia page says, "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."  Basically, what he's saying is, when you play with cripples, you start to limp... forgive me, "if" you play with cripples.


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