Screening Room: ‘Elian’

In 1999, a five-year-old Cuban boy was plucked from the waters off Florida. The story that followed was part international incident, part domestic political soap opera, and all spectacle.

CNN’s ‘Elian’ documentary is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

[The 1990s] saw the 24/7 news cycle roar to life in spectacularly messy fashion through round-the-clock coverage of everything from the O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey cases to the siege in Waco, Texas. Like those other media tsunami, the Elián Gonzalez case stormed in from nowhere, tore everything to pieces, and was gone before anybody knew what had happened. It started with a five-year-old boy found clinging to an innertube off the coast of Florida and ended with federal agents storming into a Little Havana house, assault rifles at the ready. Tim Golden and Ross McDonnell’s Elián tells the stranger-than-fiction story of what happened not just in between but afterward…

Here’s the trailer:

Department of Weekend Reading: February 27, 2015


New in Theaters: ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’

'Anchorman 2'! Is back!
‘Anchorman 2’! Is back!

Anchorman2_PosterThe rule of comedy sequels is not a strong one; witness everything from Ghostbusters 2 to The Hangover 3. Nevertheless, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell dared the fates by going back to their 2004 cult oddity Anchorman, the single most surreal comedy to hit American theaters since Monty Python, and seeing if they could resuscitate the magic. This time, instead of 1970s local-news, they’re doing an extended riff on early CNN.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opens everywhere tomorrow. My review is at Film Journal International:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is so busy resting on its laurels it never gives the audience a solid reason for having shown up. The original was anarchic parody on a near-operatic scale, with the feel of several comedy greats throwing it all out there as though they would never get another shot. But the second film is clearly a franchise, it reeks of work

You can see the trailer here; just part of the film’s Super Bowl-like marketing campaign that’s been swamping the nation for weeks now: