Manufactured Landscapes (2006, Jennifer Baichwal)

Incredible movie that I feel terrible for not having seen in theaters. So many wide shots with super-fine detail of masses of people or rock or industrial waste, and that detail is wasted on my ridiculously outdated 480-line interlaced TV screen. Affordable hi-def can not arrive quickly enough.

Watched this right after Derrida, and it seems they had some of the same intentions with the music in the two films (Derrida had music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who scored Tony Takitani and various De Palma films, and won an oscar for The Last Emperor), but I loved the music far better in this one (music by first-timer Dan Driscoll, so that shows what I know). As for the image, well it’s unquestionably great, and fascinating. The filmmakers follow photographer Edward Burtynsky, who shoots monumental landscapes that have been formed by human interaction – factories, strip mines, the Three Gorges dam. Unlike 99% of documentaries about artists, the rest of the film is just as nice as the photographs, as the filmmakers have an eye for composition and are more interested in learning about the subject matter of the photographs than asking the photographer dumb questions about his art. Political and conservation issues are obviously brought up, given the scale of manmade environmental change visible in the film, but we don’t spend too much time debating those with talking-head experts – movie is mostly content to show us the landscapes (in places that most people never see – not exactly hot tourist spots) and let us see for ourselves. The result is a constantly surprising and gorgeous work, which I will gladly watch again when we can get a higher-res copy.

Katy was disappointed because she thought this was the movie about the guy who shoots whole bunches of naked people (that would be Naked States and Naked World, both about photographer Spencer Tunick). But she liked it anyway, just not as much as I did.