I have a few minutes while I wait for a co-worker to get online so I can get the information I need from him to do my next task, so I thought I’d write a quick note about a movie I saw last week. I understand most people don’t flock to theaters to see documentaries, but I quite like them. So when my high school classmate Mary Mazzio announced that her new documentary, Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon would be opening in Boston this past weekend, I made plans to go.
Here’s the thing: The Boston Globe gave it what I would call a somewhat nasty review. It’s not that they panned it; they simply gave it unfathomable criticism—the critique scarcely matched the film. This annoys me. It’s difficult enough to get people to see a documentary, and the film Mary made is about something very noble that deserves to be seen. She follows innercity and disadvantaged youths as they make their way through the cycles of an entrepreneurial contest. But even though it is noble, it is still very interesting—not even slightly preachy.
Yet the Globe review called it an informercial. They also compared it unfavorably to Spellbound, a popular documentary out a few years back that followed contestants as they prepared for and competed in a national spelling bee. Truth be told, I would have gone to this movie whatever the review said, because I wanted to support my classmate. But I went in thinking the review was going to be correct.
The movie was, in my opinion, as entertaining as Spellbound, if in a different way. The audience gets to know each of the “characters” as they make their way through the process, and our heart sinks as, one by one, they fail to make the next step, except for the fortunate three who end up as finalists. (How did Mary get so lucky to have extensive footage of the three finalists? Did she actually cover all of the contestants??) I have read that other people were moved to tears, but in terms of emotional engagement, I found myself laughing more than anything. The kids were clever and funny. Some of them had been through more than you and I could imagine and were, unbelievably, still standing…and then some.
In short, it was a very good movie, one worth seeing. The Globe seems to think that every documentary has to be Oscar-worthy to earn its praise—or not earn its derision. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. I hardly ever agree with their reviews anyhow. (Although I must confess, they were spot-on in their review of The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was a big mess.) I think it’s monumentally unfair and mean-spirited to put out an inaccurate review of a movie such as Ten9Eight. Fortunately, most of the reviews have been positive, but considering this is Mary’s hometown, the Boston Globe review really counts. They should have done better.
If you’re inclined to see a documentary, I do recommend this one. It’s not only entertaining, it makes you believe that today’s youth will take good care of us when the world is theirs.
P.S. It’s a very limited run, for the moment, at AMC theaters in big cities. It is playing in Boston just this week (ending 11/19, I believe), so hurry up and see it.