First up was American Gun. It reminded me of "Crash" in that it interwove the stories of a big ensemble cast. What a fantastic cast, too. In this film, all of the stories are not connected, however. There are three major plotlines - the best in Oregon involving the three-year anniversary of a Columbine-type school shooting. Marcia Gay Harden plays the mother of one of the shooters. There's also some characters in Chicago, including Forest Whitaker as a principal in a tough inner-city school. The final set of characters live in Charlottesville, VA, including Donald Sutherland as a gun store owner and Linda Cardellini as his granddaughter who reluctantly works in the store. As is implied by the title, it's about the effect of guns and gun violence on American people. I found it really effective. There's just a constant sense of impending danger and with most of characters you are caught up in what they're going through and want to know what's going to happen to them. The acting was just unbelievable - such a great cast.
You know you can't keep me away from the documentaries for long! The second film I saw was a documentary called "Beethoven's Hair." It was fascinating. In 1994 two men bought a lock of Beethoven's Hair at auction. One of them is a urologist who wanted to have some of the hair tested to try to determine why Beethoven died and why he was so sick all of his life and went deaf. The film combines standard documentary interviews with some re-enactments and clips from old films about Beethoven. It interweaves the story of the two men who bought the lock of hair and the testing with the history of the lock itself - from being clipped off Beethoven as a momento the day after he died to its "escape" from Germany during WWII to the auction house. The people interviewed are interesting, the journey of the lock of hair was interesting and Beethoven was really brought alive. The whole film is accompanied by a gorgeous soundtrack of Beethoven's music, of course. It's really an interesting and fun film. If you're interested in finding out more about the hair, there's a cool interactive website here.