A portrait of contemporary life in Hale County, Alabama. A series of fleeting, quotidian moments–church services, basketball practice and family gatherings– that trumpet the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously existing as a testament to dreaming.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening is not available at this time. Instead, check out Steve James's Hoop Dreams, which is currently showing on MUBI.
The film’s signature images are indelibly American: a town’s empty Main Street awaiting a parade as we look into the distance at the point where the road disappears, then young men—not cowboys—riding horses through this town.
Through class difference and intellectual distance, Ross treats the down-home folk like creatures. He intersperses Terrence Malick–style images of natural phenomena to extol the lower class with existential portent. This propagandistic use of cinematic apparatus is sanctioned by film culture’s elites.
Ross creates a profound visual poem that weaves together images of the everyday. The immersive sound design coupled with the intimate camerawork makes for a very special experience. So much is understood without being said.
Q&A with Ross following the screening helped me understand this is a photographer's film that can't be reduced to language, which explains why I was so impressed with the editing. An excellent first film, courageous for rejecting most of the genre's usual forms and expectations.
SFIFF 2018. Symphonic sound design that overlays the soundtrack from one scene onto others, stealthy shifts from particular-->universal with organic elements of the scene (cuts from drops of sweat to drops of rain, an infant's burial to a doomed bumblebee), and a multitude of oblique manners of framing, working toward and sustaining a tension between intimacy and distance, pathos and beauty. (Like, stealth Malick.)
Filled with moments of ecstasy, the everyday, the trivial and the tragic, all lensed through an intimate and seemingly effortless awareness that comes together in a very unique and profound manner. Highly evocative and original.
Ramell Ross delivers a highly immersive, poetic, sensory and profoundly touching film. It is also a beautiful homage to south american black communities and a powerful depiction of human growth from child life's innocence to old age. It is a great example of a documentary film made by an artist who really has a caring and respectful presence with his subjects. The editing is brilliant too. Absolutely amazing film.
Like recent example "Fire at the Sea", Hale County is a superb fly on wall achievement in social documentary, creating a powerful mix of bliss and melancholia with some incredible highs. Those highs aren't always there though and sometimes the film just flails, but given how mercifully short it is and how good the camera work, sound, editing and subject are, it more than makes up for its few shortcomings.
a beautiful and transcendent portrait of time and place and those who fill it. there is imagery in this that I still think of months after seeing it. editing is excellent as well, perfectly paced. was surprised and ecstatic this actually scored a well deserved academy nomination... didn't win of course.
Not just a landmark documentary, but a true American epic, Hoop Dreams caused a sensation on its release in 1994, and today ranks as one of the greatest works of non-fiction cinema ever made. One of the most acclaimed films to ever play Sundance.