Earlier tonight, I mentioned that I was going to put on “The Overnighters,” one of the films I still hadn't seen from the stack of screeners that's been sent to me, and while I'm not sure I'm ready to write a full review of it right this minute, I wanted to tell you to try to see it the way I did.
It's a documentary by Jesse Moss, and it's a sledgehammer. The thing is, I had no idea what I was putting into the player. All I knew was “It's a documentary,” and so as I was sitting here, watching the movie unfold, the surprise impact of it came from the fact that the film doesn't really tell you upfront what it is. The story is not immediately apparent. And by the time you realize what film you're watching, you're almost at the end.
That's such an interesting and particular feeling, because most of the movies we see have been pre-digested for us, with trailers and marketing and reviews to put everything into a tiny tidy box before we even get to see it. And I'm part of that, certainly. I see things on a very different time-table than you guys, and I frequently am publishing thoughts on films months before you guys get to see them. Sometimes longer, depending on how a film makes its way from festival to festival to theater to home video.
It reminds me a great early “SNL” sketch for a restaurant called Pre-Chewed Charlie's, where all the food is literally chewed up and spit into the mouths of the customers. That's how we digest media in this country, and often. But with “The Overnighters,” I got to have a very raw and pure experience, even though this has been kicking around all year. And when and if you get a chance to see the film, do everything you can to walk in cold. It's a pretty special experience, and a great, great movie.