Sunday, May 9, 2021

Our Towns’ Review: Across America, Signs of Life

Documentary film “Our city” Acts as a partner 2018 book of the same titleIn which the authors, James and Deborah Followers, turned their travels around the country into single-engined airplanes, as they spent time in places they thought the national news media had missed. A ground rule, James says, “was never asked about national politics in the film, because that conversation takes place nowhere.”

The film, directed by Steven Escher and Jean Jordan, makes an easy distinction between urban and rural settings and red and blue states. Even what counts as progress is not straightforward. (In this statement, Sioux Falls, SD, owes some of its revival to the state’s abolition of sealing at credit card interest rates.) The film leaves the followers behind as they return to some cities from their book, which Citizens look at health. Dissemination of libraries, local newspapers, growing art scene and breweries.

There are regional variations. Students in Columbus, Miss., Grapple with the legacy of slavery around them, while adults look to the future, suffering less from racism. Members of the Flandreau Santi Sioux tribe discuss their efforts to keep the Dakota language alive. A teenager in Eastport, Maine, who works as a lobsterman in the summer, plans ahead for a time when climate change will take the lobster business away.

Deborah states that the pair include James (former Jimmy Carter speechwriter and Longtime journalist for the atlantic) Is the historian, and he pays attention to what is happening in the moment. They complement each other. Still, as enjoyable as his writings may be, the filmmaking around him – aerial shots, time-lapse photography, cut-out-looking couple – is less inspired by his project.

Our town
Not rated. Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes. View on HBO platforms.

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