Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting freaky

Last night, I attended a free screening of Freakonomics, a new documentary (based on the bestselling book) produced by Yale SOM alumnus Chad Troutwine ('02). He opened the screening with about half an hour of Q&A and was a dynamic and interesting speaker. The movie has had an unconventional release, first being available on iTunes for $11, and just recently being available in theaters. Turns out that, according to Chad anyway, it's the second highest-grossing documentary of the year if you include all revenue streams, although the box office figures in and of themselves have been disappointing.

The movie presents vignettes from the book, each with a different director. This approach immediately reminded me of a documentary I enjoyed called "Paris, je t'aime," where every story takes place in Paris. I just realized this morning that Chad also produced that film. I thought the multi-director approach worked a bit better in "Paris," where each vignette was shorter and totally self-contained. In "Freakonomics," there were common threads -- including interviews with the book's authors -- so having different directors seemed sort of extraneous and distracting. And, like "Paris," the quality level really varied. The bits about paying kids to get good grades and whether Roe v. Wade has caused a reduction in crime rate were more interesting than the segment about cheating in sumo wrestling, which felt like it was never going to end.

Another school-related screening tonight, of "Waiting for Superman," to which I look forward.

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