The Special Need

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The best film I saw this year at SXSW was not a documentary, but it was made in the style of one. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious mockumentary about a foursome of vampires living together as flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand. I mention it not only because I think most doc fans appreciate a good mockumentary but to note the irony since the best documentary I saw this year at SXSW was made in the style of a narrative. Actually, I’m trying to not make that claim these days. I should instead say that it was not made in the conventional documentary style. In general it felt like a weak year for the doc program. I didn’t love any of the jury award winners (some at least make my honorable mentions spotlight below), was disappointed in not only the quality of many premieres (especially the absolutely worthless Wicker Kittens) but also the lack of many bigger buzz titles from Sundance in the festival favorites section (it baffles me that Simon Chinn was in town but without The Green Prince). I didn’t hear a lot of talk of docs I missed, though I left still curious about Yakona, The Immortalists, Print the Legend and definitely PULP, which is pretty much the only music doc I heard any positive chatter for. Due to a few reasons, including the fact that I was covering other stuff for Film School Rejects and because there wasn’t a good vibe anyway, I didn’t see a whole ton of […]

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the special need

If only we had doc options for all the common Hollywood comedy situations. The Special Need fills this hole for the virginity-loss premise, which has been tackled by teen movies for decades and, taking it to the extreme, with sexless 40-year-olds, as well. Here we meet a 29-year-old virgin named Enea and follow him on an intercontinental mission to have him deflowered. His reason for being a late bloomer stems from his autism and, as we see when he’s hitting on women in the street, his overcompensating courage matched with underwhelming game. He also doesn’t have a sense of what league he’s in, nor does he have a basis for what to look for other than fashion magazine-quality beauties. Fortunately, Enea has a friend in filmmaker Carlo Zoratti, who decided to document the adventure of the disabled man’s quest for sex. Starting out in Italy, where they can’t find a prostitute willing, let alone a prospective partner who doesn’t charge for it, Carlo, Enea and their other friend, Alex, drive north through Europe in the attempt to find a way to get the job done legally, safely and respectfully. Zoratti doesn’t film the plan and journey in the way you’d expect. There’s no introductory narration telling us of the objective, no breaking of the fourth wall to acknowledge that a film is even being made. Instead he let’s the story unfold seemingly naturally, albeit with clear indication that this is more docudrama than documentary, and scenes, if not the entire picture, are for […]

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