Over the past week or so, there’s been a lot of Watching going on. Will’s good friend is a doctoral student in film studies and makes some extra cash as a DVD reviewer for the Washington Post. As a result, he has stacks and piles and drifts of DVDs all over his apartment. A lot of these are random seasons of television shows. Neither Will nor I have cable, so we get our TV fix by raiding Greg’s stash. Last time we were over, we walked off with King of the Hill, South Park, Police Squad, and the first season of Desperate Housewives. I think I may be the only female in America who had never seen this show, save one episode of the second that Will and I watched with his mother. That episode made little sense, as there is so much backstory that even Patty’s running commentary (and repeated apologies for the show’s trashiness) couldn’t clear things up for us. So I’ve been running through the episodes and am not at all ashamed to admit I’ve been riveted. Okay, I’m a little ashamed, because the show is beyond tacky and stupid, but it’s tacky and stupid in such a well-done way, and they dress Teri “they’re real and they’re spectacular” Hatcher in such cute sweaters. Plus, Felicity Huffman is truly a great actress.

As an antidote to all that processed sugar, I also watched Wordplay and Born into Brothels recently. The former examines the nerdfest that is the annual crossword puzzle tournament that’s held in the random town of Stamford, CT, every year and includes interviews with New York Times puzzle editor and tournament organizer Wil Shortz; filmmaker Ken Burn; the Indigo Girls; Jon Stewart; Bill Clinton; and some guy from the Yankees. The film was just okay; the best parts were about the process of composing the puzzles themselves. That task might actually make my brain explode.

Born into Brothels documents a photographer’s project of teaching photography to the children of Calcutta’s sex workers. The filmmaking style of this was kind of annoying, but the content was fascinating. They wisely turned most of the film over to the children and showcased their vivid photos of life in the brothels as well as unusually articulate and thoughtful interviews that showed the strongly individual and self-aware artistic personalities. The teacher, Zana Briski, manages to get a few of the children out of the red-light district and into boarding schools, but sadly only two of them have remained in school. The others ran away or were removed by their parents, and several of the girls (none of them yet in their teens) were forced into prostitution by their families. It was depressing, but I admire the filmmakers for not sugarcoating the story or turning it into a Save the Children commercial.

Advertisements