May 17, 2010

Reel Life #7

Don't ask me why it's been nearly a year since my last installment of Reel Life. Suffice to say I've marked dozens of news articles over the months and the process of separating the wheat from the chaff was fairly tedious. So I'm simplifying these descriptions a bit - herewith is Reel Life #7, and my usual disclaimer: "This feature gets to the heart of my blogging and general film philosophy: bringing that which I see on screen into real world applications for my daily  life. With these examples, the flow just happens to be in the opposite direction. Please feel free to share your comments on these stories and suggest or email me others that you find. All rights reserved if any Reel Life stories ever make their way to the big screen...just kidding...but not really..."


"China's Cyberposse"

I had never heard the term "human-flesh search engine" before reading this fascinating article, and I'm still not entirely sure I understand how it works, but my take-away was that you can't get away with much in China if the public decides to point their collective finger at you. All it takes it for someone to call a renrou sousuo yinqing on you, and then: "The goal is to get the targets of a search fired from their jobs, shamed in front of their neighbors, run out of town. It’s crowd-sourced detective work, pursued online — with offline results. " Online vigilante justice, completely legal and shockingly effective at tracking down "one person in a nation of more than a billion".

Project Possibilities: Feature length film series, feature length documentary

"The Jihadist Next Door" or "Profile: 'Jihad Jane' on Main Street" or "Imam's Path from Confronting Terror to Teaching Jihad" or "For Times Sq. Suspect, Long Roots of Discontent"

Laura Poitras, I have found your next film. The Oscar-nominated director of My Country, My Country and this year's The Oath is reportedly planning to finish her trilogy of documentaries about Iraq War/War on Terror by focusing on a domestic subject. You can't do much better than recent profiles on Omar Hammami, Colleen LaRose (aka "Jihad Jane"), Anwar al-Awlaki, or Faisal Shahzad. How and why did these Americans turn on their own country?

Project Possibilities: Feature length film, feature length documentary 

"Fearing Drug Cartels, Reporters in Mexico Retreat"

Considering how many horrific stories have come out of the Texas-Mexico border area over the last year (and that I've profiled in previous Reel Life installments), it's disturbing to learn that what has been reported may represent only a fraction of the violence occurring on an almost daily basis. Reporters are being killed for simply doing their jobs, and many have now begun to censor themselves for fear of their lives. What it means, according to one resident, is that "You begin to wonder what the truth is. Is it what you saw, or what the media and the officials say? You even wonder if you were imagining it."

Project Possibilities: Feature length film, feature length documentary

"The Trafficker" and "Model, allegedly drug queen, on the lam"

Smooth-talking, worldly arms dealers are always depicted in the same way in films: they live decadently, they clean the blood from their hands behind closed doors, and they never seem to have an 'out' planned when justice inevitably knocks at their door. Turns out this is a pretty accurate picture, actually, at least based on Patrick Radden Keefe's arresting (literally) profile of Monzer al-Kassar, a Syrian arms dealer who was an internationally wanted man for more than 30 years until his arrest in Spain in June 2008. Quite a rich story to be told here, but if it's not original enough then it could be combined with a profile on the Colombian model Angie Sanclemente, a former pin-up star now believed to be in Argentina after helping to recruit fellow models as cocaine mules. In other words, a glossier version of Maria Full of Grace

Project Possibilities: Feature length film, feature length documentary

"Art of the Steal: On the Trail of the World's Most Ingenious Thief"

There's no doubt about it - this will be made into a feature length film, and while it would essentially be an updated version of Catch Me If You Can, let's just say it could still be a lot of fun. Gerald Blanchard, a Canadian, was older than Frank Abagnale and had to commit his crimes against much greater obstacles than Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). The biggest question about this film is: who should be cast as Blanchard?

Project Possibilities: Feature length film, feature length documentary

And some additionals
- Feature length film about Colton-Harris Moore (already in development at 20th Century Fox)
- Horror/mystery based on "Teen who cries blood gets help from experts"
- Documentary based on "The story of the abandoned 'rainbow baby'"
- War drama a la Miracle at St. Anna based on "The Africans who fought in WWII"
- Action thriller or investigative documentary based on "Sahara cocaine plane crash probed"
- Comedy inspired by an already existing documentary based on "Living in a time warp"
- Suspense thriller or documentary profile based on "'Lipstick Killer' behind bars since 1946"
- Mystery/drama based on "Norwegians sentenced to death in Congo"

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