Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rob Recommends the Movie "Waste Land"

I have to admit that I was not overly anxious to see the film. My wife heard that it was good and insisted we try it. But somehow a movie about garbage pickers in a Brazilian dump didn't seem like the most uplifting film in the world. Wrong on both counts: It was a great film and it was definitely not depressing. Director Lucy Walker films artist Vik Muniz as he engages the catadores of the vast Jardim Gramacho dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, in an art project. The pickers are actually recyclers, a distinction they are quick to point out. They are paid by recycling wholesalers to reclaim specific materials from mountains of garbage. During the course of the film we get to know about five of the pickers. What makes the film so absorbing is the attitude of Muniz and Walker, both avoiding the twin traps of romanticizing their subjects or viewing them as specimens through some laboratory instrument. The artist's goal of transformation is accomplished mostly by the group's participation in the project, but also more materially in raising money for the pickers' own Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho. A wonderful movie.

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