Sunday, September 10, 2006

Troublesome Creek: Grade C

C

Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern

Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher, filmmakers.

This documentary of Iowa farmers trying to hold on to their land in difficult economic times is an oft-told story and there is nothing new here. I have probably seen three other documentaries just like it on Nightline, Dateline, Whateverline, on TV. This won at Sundance, and has rave reviews from newspapers quoted on the box. Maybe you have to be from the Midwest to appreciate it. I did five years in the Midwest and was never so glad to get away from a place. The subtitle of the movie is accurate: this film captures the simple, dull, plodding, sentimental, unself-aware life of a Midwest farm community. The scenery and photography are notably good. The gritty, kitschy, unaesthetic settings are absolutely real. Food, clothing, furniture, language – every detail of the ghastly culture is captured. It is a well-made documentary about a tired topic.

2 comments:

  1. "Troublesome Creek"

    I've read your essay about
    a documentary film of the
    Iowa farmers in "Troublesome
    Creek" and found it curious,
    that you put a "C" on the
    movie-scale.

    You write in your essay, that
    "you were so glad to get away
    from a place like the Midwest",
    so I think, if you haven't been
    so bored when spending these
    five years in the Midwest,
    maybe your essay had been more
    positive.

    Anyway, you write that the subtitle of the movie is accurate,
    as it captures what is simple,
    dull, plodding, sentimental and
    unself-aware life of a Midwest
    farm community. When reading,
    I see it as you despite of all
    reagard it as a realistic
    description of the life of a
    Midwest farm community. I've
    never been in the Midwest and see it as positive getting a picture
    of the life in the Midwest farm
    community.

    Furthermore, you write that you are very satisfied with "the
    scenery and photography, which
    are notably good". You are even satisfied with "the gritty kitschy, unaesthetic settings,
    which you consider "are abso-
    lutely real". Every detail of the
    ghastly culture is captured and
    that is how the real life is in
    a Midwest farm community, which
    makes the documentary real to me.

    You are concluding the essay by finding, that "it's a well-made
    documentary about a tired topic".
    I understand the essay as you've
    despite of spending five years in
    the Midwest liked the documentary.
    That's why, I ask you: "Why have
    you put a "C" on the movie-scale?"
    September 16, 2006
    Gunilla Jornert

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment, Gunilla. Maybe I did have an autobiographical reaction to the movie. I was not really bored in graduate school there, just appalled at the unthinking acceptance of ordinary everydayness. I gave the move a "C" mainly because it adds nothing to other documentaries on the same topic.
    Bill

    ReplyDelete