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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Bell’

Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Back in 2003, a whole voting-age-person ago, I wrote about the 1984 documentary STREETWISE, along with a fictional movie somewhat inspired by it, and by the same director, called AMERICAN HEART. The latter is interesting, the first is a straight up masterpiece. You can read that review (though I’m embarrassed of a few lines – nothing too bad, but I was stupid back then) but the gist is that STREETWISE is an incredible movie about a group of teenage runaways who used to hang out on the block between 1st and 2nd and Pike in Seattle. Kind of the main character was a 14 year old girl nicknamed Tiny. She lived in an abandoned hotel with her boyfriend Rat, had a badass red jacket and mullet, also the poor girl was a prostitute and they actually had footage of her getting picked up by the world’s worst grandpas. She said she hated doing but she liked the money and kinda laughed about it. The movie vividly illustrates that some of these people you walk past on the street every day maybe have it even harder than you would’ve guessed, and also are just really interesting people worthy of love and compassion that they don’t get much of.

Of course I live in Seattle, and back when I first saw it I walked near there every day on my way to work, so the movie haunted me for a long time. As I wrote in the review, “It kind of feels like spying on ghosts or something. After watching the movie you find yourself trying to calculate how old these people would be now and guess if they’re still alive. Would you recognize them if you saw them walking around somewhere?”

Well, there are three pieces of news here. One, this great movie that was only available on VHS in the U.S. is finally easy to see because Criterion released it on blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday. Two, it comes complete with the 2016 followup film, TINY: THE LIFE OF ERIN BLACKWELL. Three, that’s a great movie too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Streetwise and American Heart

Wednesday, May 14th, 2003

both directed by Martin Bell

Well this is an incredible, classic documentary and a pretty good narrative type companion piece, and both were filmed in Seattle and now that I saw them I wonder why in fuck’s name I took so long getting to them. The real winner of the two is STREETWISE, academy award nominated documentary about runaway kids on the streets of Seattle in 1984. The story behind this is that the photographer Mary Ellen Mark (web site) was doing a photo essay for LIFE magazine. At the time Seattle was considered one of the country’s “most livable cities” (imagine that) so she thought it would be the perfect place to photograph homeless kids. If it can happen in seattle then shit, it can happen anywhere. Well the photo essay turned out good so she decided to get her husband Martin Bell to direct a documentary about the same kids she took pictures of. (read the rest of this shit…)