To watch Jessica Yu's Protagonist is to open up a large trunk and find a collection of old and new mementos and stories -- ones that seem disparate, yet come together into an intriguing whole -- puppets, pictures, videos, news footage, doodles and more. It's the kind of movie that you can watch a bunch of times, and still find new bits and connections to talk about. (Check out James Rocchi's review here.) The documentary, which was picked up by IFC at Sundance, is now getting a limited national release on September 28 -- just after it opens in New York on the 26th.

Yu, who won an Oscar for her short film Breathing Lessons, took an interesting approach to the film. She was originally asked to create a documentary about Euripides, the Greek playwright, but it then turned into a doc about people whose lives mimic Euripidean tragedy. While it sounds heavy and unapproachable, she actually brought together 4 seemingly opposite lives, and showed how they were similar with both heart-tugging emotion and laugh-worthy levity.

The lives are those of Mark Pierpont -- a Christian man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality (to the point that he even tried evangelism), Hans-Joachim Klein -- a German radical who found himself immersed in terrorism, Joe Loya -- a man whose troubling youth led him to rob banks and Mark Salzman -- a teen who becomes obsessed with martial arts. Yu uses Greek thematic chapters to tell their stories, and puppets to reenact some of the subject's memories. What I particularly loved was how much Salzman's story gave levity to the film (along with some more serious subject matter), but still fit right in with the progression of the story. It's definitely worth the time, so you should go and check it out next month.
categories Movies, Cinematical