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A celebration of the bizarre, live from Los Angeles.

Two nights ago I caught the last 20 minutes of one of my favorite Bond movies, *Moonraker*. Roger Moore has always been my least favorite martini drinking British agent, but I think he may be growing on me. I've always liked *Moonraker* though, because it takes place in space and because of gigantic, metal-mouthed Jaws, who ultimately saves Bond when he realizes there's no place for him in the master race being created by his boss, an evil titan of industry.

What a stark contrast between this flick and the last sci-fi picture I saw, Robert Heinlein's *Destination Moon*, which won the Oscar for special effects some year during the '50s. Here, titans of industry pool their duckets to fund a trip to the moon, purely in the spirit of discovery (and to save the world from the Russians!). Worth seeing just for the 5 minute animated sequence. Woody Woodpecker teaches the investors how the rocket will make it to the moon.

Briefly back to *Moonraker*. Last night I was reading *Soul on Ice*, and lo and behold, Eldridge Cleaver actually mentions the movie. He calls James Bond movies the last ditch attempt of white men to convince themselves that they remain dominant, both at home and out in the world as the U.S. empire. Cleaver doesn't mention it, but the parallel could be continued to dominance over their women. Naturally, Bond controls the opposite sex through charm, good looks, and virility, not force. That's the ultimate male fantasy, imho. Actually, strike that. That's everyone's fantasy.

posted by Sara 8:46:00 AM
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Here's a review of one of the films I saw at the San Francisco Doc Fest.

Sister Wife
2001, Un-rated, 60min, Timna Goldstein and Hadar Kleinman

I can’t help it: When I think of polygamists, I almost inevitably imagine backwater Utah towns where hoary old men take on multiple 16-year-old wives and create large, welfare-fed broods. Well, welcome to another community of men, wives, and sister-wives: The Hebrew Israelites, inner-city black Americans who emigrated to southern Israel in the 1960s to pioneer their own religious community, in which a man can marry up to seven wives.

Say what?!

First-time directors Timna Goldstein and Hadar Kleinman introduce us to this unique world in Sister Wife, their 60 minute documentary focusing on two women: Zipora, who’s been married for two decades, and the much younger woman who’s about to become her husband’s second wife. The directors have achieved the near-impossible: They’ve produced a movie about an institution reprehensible to most in the Western world that manages to engage, not to alienate, that same audience, to disturbing effect.

That credit may be in large part due to Zipora, whose charisma, joy, and depth of character are apparent even at her most difficult moments. Among these is the wedding itself: Zipora sits by, mostly ignored, and watches as the blushing bride and husband marry, kiss, celebrate, and dance to a love song—one that she herself has dedicated to her husband. The situation is awkwardness (not to mention absurdity) incarnate. Yet still Zipora carries herself with grace and dignity.

It’s ultimately she who makes the film so poignantly tragic. She’s an outstanding woman who has convinced herself that her discomfort at her husband’s second marriage is a character flaw, one that, with the grace of God, she might leave behind. Fortunately, we get a few sane words from her mother, who still lives in the states: "Honey, if my husband had another woman, I’d burn them both, and burn the house down too."

Sister Wife is a gentle, contemplative documentary that—and this is another key to its effectiveness—respects its subjects and their choices. That’s not to say you’ll leave the theatre feeling any better about polygamy. The experience is not unlike having a very good friend who’s committed to a very bad relationship. Sometimes, you can’t do anything except sit back and suffer along with her.

posted by Sara 12:54:00 PM
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I returned late last night from the San Francisco Documentary Fest, where the Golf Project played. Had a blast, and contrary to expectations, did not have to sleep on the floor above a bar in the Tenderloin (one of SF's grimiest quarters). The director of The Backyard, a movie about backyard wrestling and WWF hopefuls, had to jet at the last minute. So the festival's king and queen (director and programmer) gave me his lovely hotel room at the Hotel Bijou. Sweet! Saturday was a beautiful day. Sunday was a very wet morning/early afternoon, which would have been fine except for holes in both of my shoes and a raging hangover headache which only felt worse in the chilly downpour.

Anyway, I saw some great docs, and met some great people at the Saturday night party at Jezebel's Joint, the cool Goth watering hole run by the festival director, Jeff (need to look up his last name). I'll be posting a couple of reviews here as soon as I have time to write them. I also have many new observations about the SF vibe, both the good and the gag-me pretensious. We'll see whether I have time to get them down...

posted by Sara 9:23:00 AM
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