It is now several hours later, and I am typing one-handed while my little Kung Fu Panda relaxes on my lap. I'm hoping he falls asleep. This after a day running errands in preparation for Otakon.
So now, a super quick summary of the movie!
If you don't already know, "Life in a Day" is a documentary crafted from the videos submitted by thousands of people from all over the world, primarily through YouTube. I was one of the people who submitted video clips, but due to my own life circumstances at the time -- taking care of a newborn and heading Press Relations for Otakon -- I didn't get a chance to upload my best clips before the deadline, so I wasn't surprised that the ones I did submit weren't included.
The movie was both what I expected and much more than I expected. Knowing how many submissions the project received, I figured that the movie might include montages of similar material, such as, for example, a montage of babies (in which, I figured, my one or two submitted clips might have fit). Instead, the film is organized almost like a narrative, telling the story of the world that day, from morning until evening, with segments devoted to waking and getting ready for the day, to lunchtime, to naptime, and the like.
To be sure, there are a few montages, such as one of feet walking on various surfaces (they had so many such shots submitted, the filmmakers say they could put have together a 10-hour art installation). Instead of a montage of babies, per se, there is a section about families, tracing newborns to babies and children, highlighting the relationship with parents. Another thematic montage looks at relationships, from the first blush of romantic love to one couple's 50-year anniversary.
Because they gleaned clips from so much raw material, they could afford to take only the very best, and it was clear what sorts of things motivated their choices. There were, of course, the awe-inspiring beautiful nature shots, such as a time-elapsed film of the Northern Lights. There was beautiful camera work of everyday scenes, such as a videographer who captures a fly on an indoor window screen, walks outside with it, lets it fly and follows the fly as it swoops away.
But even more amazing are the shots that tell stories. Sometimes the stories come from the narrators themselves, such as a man who's living with a hoarder who helped him get sober. But the hoarder had just lost his property, forcing both of them to soon go their separate ways. As the long-haired guy with a southern drawl, wearing a beat-up baseball hat, talks about his friend, he walks around the property and shows, for example, a collection of six or seven pianos, collected on a forklift by an auction house. When we finally meet his friend, he is sipping on a cup of coffee, making self-deprecating remarks, resigned to his fate.
Also striking is a young man who announces his intention to tell his female friend how much he really feels about her. He chronicles his night out with her, as the viewers wonder what her response will be.
Another man comes out to his grandmother on the phone. We only hear his side of the conversation, since he's talking on a cell phone, but it's clear from his reaction that, while she might be a little surprised, she's supportive. (I happen to have interviewed him for an article that should appear soon on Yahoo! Movies. I'll share the link when it does.)
After we saw the movie, The Gryphon and I ate ice cream while we talked about our favorite scenes. Among them was a couple that had clearly been together for a while. The man urges the woman to feed a flock of seagulls, because it will be good video. She hangs back because she's afraid of them. "Feed the ducks!" he urges her. "Ducks don't bite." This has become a new in-joke between The Gryphon and I, symbolizing the sort of behavior that couples sometimes slip into when they've been together a long time.
I could go on and on, but it's time to eat dinner before I start my evening assignments. Suffice it to say that I was blown away by the overall impact of the movie. Director Kevin McDonald ("The Last King of Scotland") and editor Joe Walker have created a magical movie that looks at the beauty, the humor, and the transcendence of ordinary life.
Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)
Gene Shallit must have started writing capsule reviews when he had a baby.