Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Same River Twice (2003)

Two things:

A) One of the saddest things I've seen is in the liner notes to the Eels album Electro-Shock Blues. It's a simple drawing of a tombstone with the epitaph "Everything Is Changing." Given the content of the album, that melancholy statement can't help but be enormously affecting.

B) The other day, I noticed that the gray hair on my temples is starting to become disconcertingly prominent.

These two facts probably informed my opinion of this documentary that contrasts footage of a group of hippies on a naked rafting trip with twenty-years-later footage of a handful of involved parties. It took me a while to warm up to it, maybe due to my aversion towards baby-boomer what-happened-to-my-life? whining. That it does eventually grow into a successful film is that it sidesteps the whiny aspects of said genre and becomes a sneaky treatise on the death of idealism in the modern world. There's much talk about maturity and what's "adult"; for instance, one interviewee mentions her reluctance to share her sex-n-drugs past with her children, then basically comes right out and says that entrance into the adult world means learning to lie and not feel bad about it. Meanwhile, the one participant who has held onto his hardcore ideals is also shown to be the one doing the least with his life, which is either the cheapest of shots (he does appear to be content, at least) or so harshly true that I would prefer not to think about it. Director Robb Moss, in essence, shows us the horrifying certainty of conformity (idealism is only possible as a long-term goal if you opt out of the system altogether). The rafting trip is shot on film while the modern-day segments are shot in flat digital video, which I think says everything.

Grade: B


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