Michael John Dunaway Lifestream

January 30, 2009

Ma Bar (review for Paste)

Filed under: Entertainment,Magazine articles by MJD,Paste articles by MJD,Uncategorized — michaeljohndunaway @ 10:15 am

mabar_filmstill11It’s hard enough to leave a film audience wanting more when you’ve got 90-120 minutes to get their attention in a feature film, much less in the more limited span of a short. But if, in just three minutes, you can show enough of a story that the viewer can’t stop thinking about the “befores,” “afters,” and “concurrentlys,” you’ve really accomplished something. Such is the case with Ma Bar, a documentary short by a pair of Scots — rising star Adrian McDowell (nominated, among other things, for XFM Music Video of the Year) and hot newcomer Finlay Pretsell (shortlisted for the Grierson Best Newcomer award). In profiling 73 year old Scottish weightlifter Bill McFadyen, they make the audacious choice to jump straight in medias res, with no directorial narration or subtitling and no backstory. And there’s no “whatever happened to” at the end of the film either. All we get is the voice of McFadyen himself, speaking about his philosophy of competition, including the stunningly matter-of-fact “Losing I don’t tolerate,” which appears on the film’s poster. Beautifully shot black-and-white footage of the powerlifter in his home and at competition complete the piece. A week later, I’m still thinking about it. An impressive feat, indeed.

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