In today's Recon we've got two fictionalizations of real people from the past, and a documentary that captures both the past and the present of a mroup of students and their teacher. I will report on whether its status has me Locked on Target (highly interested), if is On the Radar (mildly interested), or if is is still Under Surveillance (not yet interested).
Oranges and Sunshine
The Story: For over 100 years some 100,000 childen were sent to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa from the United Kingdom. Most of them were orphans, but many were sent without their parents knowledge or consent, and they were often told that their parents were dead, though they were very much alive. Most were treated fairly, and were loved by foster parents, but many were systematically abused. In 1987 Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham uncovered the scandal and brought it to the attention of the British government and the people of the world. She then worked to bring the children and their parents together. Oranges and Sunshine is a fictionalize account of her story.
The Filmmakers: Directed by Jim Loach (son of famed director Ken Loach), written by Rona Munro, and starring Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, and David Wenham.
Status: On the Radar with a possible upgrade to Locking on Target as more information and reviews come in. I've not seen any films by Ken Loach, but he's got a great reputation, so there's hope some of that talent dropped to the son. Jim's only done TV shows to this point so I'm a little leary about his ability to shine on the big screen. The story sounds interesting and I'm a big fan of Emily Watson so I'm hopeful, but not yet ready to throw down the hard cash to see it in the theatre.
The Links: Official Site
The Story: A highly fictionalized account of Edgar Allan Poe's life. In this version Poe plays detective on the hunt for a serial killer who mirrors crimes in the author's stories.
The Filmakers: Directed by James McTeigue, written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, and starring John Cusack as Poe.
Status: Locked on Target. I've only read a handful of Poe's writings ("The Raven," of course and a few of his classic short stories) but his reputation as one of the original scare-masters keeps me intrigued. Though Cusack has a long list of clunkers in his resume he's also got a knack for finding really original projects. The director has a bunch of credits as assistant director, but only five listed as the actual director (and I've only seen one of those - V For Vendetta) but he's worked a lot for the Wachowski brothers so I'm hoping he's learned a lot. The writers are the real question mark here as McTeigue has never written anything before, and Shakespeare's only got a handful of TV shows to her name, but I'm intrigued enough in the story, and a sucker enough for Cusack that I'll lay my money down and take my chances.
The Links: Official Facebook Page
The Story: In the 1970s Conrad "Prof" Johnson turned an inner-city Houston high-school band into a funk power-house. In this documentary the band honors its director 35 years after the fact.
The Filmmakers: Directed by Mark Landsman and produced by Jamie Foxx.
Status: Under Surveillance. I like Jamie Foxx, and the music sounds good, but I'm not a huge documentary guy, and this doesn't look much more than a big reunion of people I don't know.
Editor's Note: Thanks to Nils Florman for his brainstorming assistance.