This is the fourteenth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 7th annual challenge, and my third time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", and last year's at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21"). Week 14 is called "'I've Been Meaning to Get to it...' Week":
Listen, we all let some films fall through the cracks; there's just too many movies! Here's your chance to see one that passed you by from 2020.
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film released in 2020.
One of the larger lists of films to choose from: anything from last year that I haven't seen. (From the list they provided, I haven't seen more than 29,000.) It's my first encounter with Garrett Bradley, an interesting director who doesn't limit herself to narrow genre exercises. She won the Best Documentary Director at Sundance for Time (the first black woman to do so). Time was nominated for a Best Feature Documentary Oscar, losing to My Octopus Teacher, not a bad choice but it would have been nice to reward the more adventurous Time.
It's not easy to pin down the central theme of Time. The basic "plot" (if a documentary can be said to have a plot) is about Sibil Fox Richardson (aka Fox Rich), who is trying to get her husband released from prison. The two of them committed an armed bank robbery during a time of financial desperation. She did 3 1/2 years ... he got a 60-year sentence. Bradley intended to make a short about Rich, but was surprised when Rich gave her 100 hours of home videos she had shot over the years. Bradley used that footage to extend her short into a feature.
Rich is a fascinating woman, charismatic and seemingly capable of an endless combination of hope and calmness. Both are tenuous ... at one point, after an extremely polite phone call to someone in the legal system, she explodes after hanging up. But she lives by the concept of never giving up, and the film ends happily with her husband finally coming home to his wife and their six kids.
Bradley's techniques are impressive, and Rich is an ideal central character. But I wanted to know more specifics about the case. We see the family grow over the years, and the kids are turning out great, but based on Time, their successes are rooted in a strong mother and a belief in God and family. I accepted that explanation, because that's what Bradley and Rich give us, but I wasn't convinced, which is why I wanted more. Nonetheless, Rich is easy to root for, and it's hard to deny the pleasure that comes from the happy ending. #362 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.