In the spirit of the season and goodwill and whatnot, I thought I'd forgo griping about the sorry state of things this week and instead send out some love to the downtrodden, the small films of 2007 that were somehow overlooked, underrated or outright ignored in some way. Let's start with the Russian film The Italian, released in January, which caused critics to dredge up the word "Dickensian" for the first time in a while. But for all that it was a surprising, deeply-felt story of an orphan who escapes the orphanage to find his birth-parents.
Kino released the documentary Romantico in January as well, and they're apparently counting it as a 2007 release. I wrote a few weeks back about the documentary format; there's certainly a place for journalism and reporting, but the very best documentaries, the ones that stand the test of time, are the ones that capture the details of life, like Crumb, Hoop Dreams and To Be and to Have. Romantico is one of those. It tells the story of a mariachi illegally based in San Francisco who decides to go back to Mexico to see his family, even though he risks never being able to return (of course, his income in the States is much higher than in Mexico). Romantico will most certainly be overlooked in any discussion of 2007's documentaries, but it's worth seeking out on DVD.