The Best Movie Critic + shorts

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SDFF34 - Jean Lewis

Justin here with our continuing look at SDFF. Here’s my short review of the short documentary Jean Lewis.

Jean Lewis is a short biographical documentary about the woman of the same name. The director, Pascui Rivas, explains that Jean was his neighbor and when she was moved into a hospital, Rivas was asked to help with her estate.

Lewis was a journalist in the late 60’s on. She narrates the movie from a hospital bed. Most of the movie is short Ken Burns style with narration over pictures of Jean’s life. There was some rather novel and beautiful painted-style animation accompanying some parts that was reminiscent of Emily Hubley’s work from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. These were my favorite parts. The final third deals with the estate sale of Lewis as her neighbors sort her trash from her treasure… and about 500 teddy bears.

The documentary was well put together. Rivas seized an opportunity to create a bite sized tribute to an interesting person. Unfortunately, because the director’s time with Lewis was rather brief, the subject matter seems a little superficial. An anecdote about her introducing Michael Jackson to Donnie Osmond was cute. The best compliment I have about Jean Lewis is that I wanted more, unfortunately though, that is also my biggest critique.

Jean Lewis is playing as part of Shorts 2 on Tuesday, November 8th at 6:30 pm and the following day at 9:30 pm.

Addendum: In the rush to cover as much as possible for the fest, I ended up doing a sloppy job in places. There are a couple of factual errors with this review that I'd like to amend. First off, while I asssumed that the director, Pascui Rivas, conducted the interviews that make up the narration from the subject's hospital bed, they were actually conducted at an assisted living home. I am also obliged to point out that while I wanted more from this documentary, that is somewhat at odds to the medium of a short subject documentary. Jean Lewis does work quite well as a documentary short. - Justin Couch 11/14/11

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