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Day 354: Avoiding The Requiem Rodeo

Last night, Loki, the lovely Alexis and I ventured downtown in my trusty grey steed to attend the premiere of Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.  All yesterday long, Loki and I tossed around the idea of attending only two hours of the event to not going altogether.  Out of some sense of duty to New Orleans, reporting and abject curiosity, drive to the center of the action we did.

We got our first inkling of This Is A Bad Idea when we arrived at the corner of Loyola & Girod to find NOPD directing traffic and signs everywhere blaring “Event Parking $10.”  It was 7:25pm, the movie was to start in five minutes and hundreds on foot were just descending on the New Orleans Arena.  That’s when Loki and I looked at one another, decided that we were not in the mood to be herded and promptly donated my (free) tickets to a group of college students standing outside the parking area and broke free from premiere orbit.  Wow, I’ve never seen a crowd like this at a Saints game.

The three of us had approached the movie with a feeling of dread, trepidation and responsibility.  Did we really want to spend one-sixth of a day watching a documentary on the destruction of New Orleans with ~5000 other people suffering from the same post-traumatic stress?  Did we want to watch a child, a hapless flood victim, get buried?  Were we in the mood to watch a very intense Spike Lee documentary with a legion of people just itching to blame Katrina on one set of people or the other?  Did we want to entertain more theories?  No.  We are angry enough.

Molly’s In The Market it was, and off we went.  Talking about Scottish tartan, MOM’s ball, Under Odysseus and Midsummer Mardi Gras (and watching Siren Mae, Charlotte’s chihuahua-dachshund-terrier diva-dog, slurping down frozen coffees) was a lot more fun.

WDSU‘s News At 10 showed footage from the red carpet and interviews with Al Sharpton and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.  HBO will show the movie in two parts on Monday and Tuesday nights; those of us who don’t get HBO can watch it online at a later date.

No offense to Spike or his documentary, but four hours of Katrina and event-logistics misery was just something in which I wasn’t willing to invest.

Update: A short yet more upbeat review of the movie by Spasticrobot

6 comments… add one
  • Sophmom August 17, 2006, 10:05 AM

    Any word on the street about it? I think the thing that would have been kind of weird about going last night would have been only seeing the first half.

  • rachel August 17, 2006, 11:31 AM

    Mmmmm – iced coffed from Molly’s. Miss that so.
    Sounds like that was/would be a lot more fun than the movie.

  • Dave August 17, 2006, 11:50 AM

    Molly’s: Always a good call.

    There’s a Newsweek article on Lee’s movie: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14322933/site/newsweek/

  • Brooks August 17, 2006, 12:23 PM

    you should have gone. I had a completely different experience than you. I parked on the street near palatial City Hall and walked over. I thought, during the entire trip to, into, and out of, the arena, that it was remarkably uncrowded.

    As for the movie, I can’t say anything (was covering it for an out of town paper) other than that I thought that it was remarkably evenhanded and that Spike Lee did a really fair job of letting New Orleanians report their stories in their own voices. He never appears on camera in the film (though you do hear his voice from behind the camera asking questions, occasionally)

    Probably the most interesting thing about the evening was listening to the crowd reactions as various things occurred on the screen. There was as much laughter (as there should have been-fatalistic humor is something that we seem to excel at here) as there was stunned silence and there was also a good bit of cathartic booing and cat calling when various national leaders and insurance company lackies occupied the screen. People in New Orleans, even when they are watching themselves in horrible situations, are damned funny and good to be around. Or at least I think so. It’s ultimately why I live here, I guess.

    The musical score is wonderful and varies from somber to completely upbeat (not unlike most of the moods of the citizens here, I think) and, in fact, Terence Blanchard is not only the person who scored the movie, but he is also a participant in one of it’s most moving segments-his mother’s first visit to her home since the storm (late October, I believe). Wendell Pierce (Pontchatrain Park native, actor (The Wire)) is also very moving and darkly funny and fatalistic in the retelling of the story of his experience with his 80 year old father’s dealings with the storm and the aftermath.

    I’ll have more, but can’t really until the other piece is either published in the morning or left to die on some editors desk (as always, it’s a 50/50 thing-such is the life of freelance newspaper stringers).


  • Maitri August 17, 2006, 2:08 PM

    Thanks, Brooks! I think four hours was just too daunting for some of us chicken-livers. Also discouraging was being yelled at by a cute but dimwitted NOPD officer who accused me of blocking traffic when I clearly wasn’t and just had no place to go.

  • Sophmom August 18, 2006, 10:06 AM

    At least he was cute.

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