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3.06.2008

American Meth, American Gangster and 10,000 B.C.


We took a look at American Meth last Saturday. I was drawn to this documentary because it said it would take a look at the impact the drug has had on my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I was more than a little disappointed when writer/director Justin Hunt featured a ten-second rolling clip of the homeless in downtown Portland and nothing more. This type of coverage really represents the lost opportunity that is American Meth. The short documentary provides very little historic context in the discussion. It briefly touches on Mexico's impact on the distribution of the product, undoubtedly the largest issue in the changing face of this epidemic. The final interview is fairly compelling, but the rest of it feels...well, amateurish. In one scene (a montage of interviews set against music with background noise) the audio is so low the comments are incomprehensible. And the fonts used in the graphical information are minuscule and difficult to read. All in all, I'd rate this film at a 'C' as a piece that just never delivers on the promise of engaging its audience in a true learning opportunity on this issue.
American Gangster was decent (B-) but certainly not in the class of last year's top films. The second act seems to drag along beneath the police procedural of building a case and we never get a real look at Crowe's Richie Roberts. Because the back story on Roberts is so tissue paper-thin, we never develop a sense of pathos for his plight and can't really share in his obsession to topple Lucas' operation. It never develops the edge of an epic film like Casino, Scarface or Goodfellas, though it's clear that Ridley Scott aspired to such heights in the scope of the film.
This week brings attractive, English-speaking cavemen to the screen in Roland Emmerich's 10,000 B.C. Who knew they had such great dental care in those primitive years. What can I say? The dude did Eight Legged Freaks! Will I see it? Likely...

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