Monday, March 21, 2011
Waste Land (2010)
The most wonderful thing about this Oscar-nominated documentary is its unapologetic simplicity. Without a word of narration, a single fancy graphic, or any flashy editing techniques, Lucy Walker's "Waste Land" allows its fascinating subject (artist Vik Muniz's project to create recyclable materials into art in the world's largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho) to speak for itself, which it does with remarkable intensity and integrity. The "pickers" that are interviewed are all so unique and interesting, each one with a different personality and story. The editing is subtle but marvelous, giving just enough spotlight to the stark images of the landfill, but also juxtaposing the beauty of the people and of Muniz's art. Sure, most of why this film succeeds is Muniz's project itself, but the film's simplicity allows the amazing story to truly shine. It may not be as wildly engrossing as "Exit Through the Gift Shop" or as factually important as "Inside Job", but "Waste Land" is still a beautiful and moving piece of documentary filmmaking that is certainly worth seeing.