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October 2007

October Movie Openings

Monks: The Trans-Atlantic Feedback

German release: October 4

Germany, Americans, music and the 1960s … just a few things of interest to Munich Found readers. A band called The Monks was founded in the 1960s by five American GIs stationed in Germany. Contrary to the melodic hits of Motown, the uplifting pleas of folk groups and the new sounds of the Beatles, The Monks tapped audio feedback, electrical banjos and what would someday be called punk, metal and techno. In other words, they were way ahead of their time. First released last year, the film features the original members of the band and coincided with the release of a tribute album, Silver Monk Time. Dozens of popular musicians today cite The Monks as an influence. The movie looks back to the Cold War period and the group’s hard-line anti-Vietnam lyrics, which reveal parallels with some of the rap, war-anthems and antiwar lyrics coming out of the Iraq War. The film, which premiered last year at the Munich Film Festival, and a CD release this year of the group’s 1965 demo tapes, ensure that The Monks will inspire further generations of musicians.


German release: October 11

Political views and fact-checking challenges aside, Michael Moore movies are worth seeing if for no other reason than his ability to steer the dialogue of popular culture. In Sicko, he tackles the problem-ridden American health-care system in his full-frontal manner. If Fahrenheit 9/11 dealt with a topic that is important to America, Sicko gets attention because it impacts an even wider audience: anyone who may sometime in life be infirm or the old. The film, which had the second-highest box-office opening for a documentary, after Fahrenheit, contrasts the profit-based US system—examining the influence of the money-making pharmaceutical business—with socialized medicine in several countries. Despite Moore’s snide tone and over-the-top antics (he leads a group of 9/11 rescuers to the Guantanamo military base to seek the same care that combatant detainees receive there), he focuses on real human suffering with shocking stories told by some of the 50 million Americans without insurance who have been denied proper medical care. If all of this seems a little far-fetched, consider this: A publication of AARP, the largest 50+ association in the United States with more than 35 million members, just ran a story about Americans traveling to places like India and Thailand for surgery in order to save thousands of dollars. Moore isn’t targeting a marginal problem here: John and Mary America are already living this nightmare. Moore just makes the masses able to laugh and cry about it together. Meanwhile, the film has triggered heated debate and much follow-up media coverage across the country, from The New Yorker to radio talk shows. In this way, Moore has brought the issue into the limelight. Bravo.

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