Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 4: 24 Hrs. on Craigslist

I didn't feel like watching a long movie today, so I settled down with the short (80 min.) documentary, 24 Hours on Craigslist. It was released in 2005 and directed by Michael Ferris Gibson, who was an executive producer on the highly boring horror film, The Hamiltons.

24 Hours is a pretty basic documentary. People who used Craigslist in San Francisco (where CL started) had the option to be part of the film, allowing a crew to come out and interview them about their posting, what CL is all about, etc. For the most part, it's a lot of talking heads, but it keeps moving quick enough to not get boring.

The main focus of the doc seems to be the diverse range of people who use the site. You have the drag queen who wants to front a 70's rock-style band as Ethel Merman. You have the masseuse who also stars in gay porn. You have a Vietnam Vet with redneck sensibilities looking for a 270 lb woman to love. Some of the people are interesting, such as the "Metal Chef" who names all of his dishes after Slayer songs, and some of them are highly annoying, such as the female Chinese painter whose idea of high art is painting sexual innuendos into copies of religious Renaissance works. (Yawn.)

Thankfully, Gibson doesn't make the whole film into a sideshow attraction. I think that he's mainly interested in showing how technology has made it easier for people to connect and get things done or help each other out. Thanks to a service such as CL, people find work, trade consumer goods (instead of filling landfills), form bands, find housing, find love, etc. At one point, a new age spiritualist talks about how the internet and something like CL is a modern miracle that we just think of as an everyday life thing. (He likened it to a modern day Tower of Babel.)

My only real critique of the film is that it presents us with some good themes, but never delves deeply into any of them. Of course, over the span of 80 minutes, you can't delve much time into a lot of subjects, but I think if the film had been a little less "Hey, Look at these oddballs!" we could've had a better documentary that actually said something poignant.

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