Friday, June 4, 2010
Hopkins' LIVING IN EMERGENCY opens: DWBs/MSFs at work and (not much) play
award-winning documentary LIVING IN EMERGENCY will be the use of the acronym MSF (Médecins sans Frontières) that is tossed about throughout the film. We know the name of this organization of doctors who supply medical help of every kind in many of the world's worst places -- violent, genocidal, destruction-ridden -- as Doctors Without Borders. Either way, you'll soon get used to the MSF name. Harder to get used to, I'd say near-impossible (for viewers and the participating docs), is what they must observe and then work through and around in their quest to save lives.
Mark N. Hopkins, shown at left, in a put-you-in-the-middle-of-it-all manner, the documentary slams you into the daily grind (this phrase has rarely taken on such heavy-
duty meaning) of a quartet of doctors, one woman and three men, who respond to their situations and envi-
ronment in very diffe-
rent ways. The success rate of the operations these doctors perform is probably much lower than literally anywhere else they could practice. "This is low-grade medicine," notes one of the docs, "but what can you do? As a young bourgeoisie, you find it very difficult." Really. And yet they do it.
By the end of the movie, you'll understand better why and how this can be, without really learning too much more about the inner lives and background of the four. This was probably the best, or at least the default, approach to follow: Interspersing interviews regarding the past of our protagonists would only interrupt their present, and god knows there is enough to be done -- right now -- before someone else dies.
Hopkins' camera is often in-your-face, but with faces this full of sorrow, energy, despair, and determination, the view is usually riveting. Occasionally, and mercifully, the camera moves back to view some beautiful scenery or a dinner table, in a few of the rare, relaxed times.
Bursynski certainly bears this out.) And that's fine. This leaves us looking for the downside, the negatives, elsewhere (surfing the web, reading an article or two) and then judging what we've seen and forming our own conclusions. Meanwhile, we've "lived," as best as a movie can take us, through some very difficult stuff.
ful!), I will hope to give once more.
The documentary begins its run today, Friday, June 4, in New York City at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, and in Los Angeles, Boston, Berkeley, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Click here for further playdates and cities.