Nothing like what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. I saw some promotional stuff about this movie on one of the news stations months ago and this was why I decided to watch. It seemed at the time as a collection of adventure videos from a spoiled rich kid trying to play Army.
Instead, this is a movie that is deep on multiple levels. It is more an introspective on how that "spoiled rich kid" ended up in Libya as a revolutionary and it is very much about the intellectual and emotional changes along the way- using the videos as merely a backdrop.
Many deeper issues are touched on in the context of, "A Crash Course in Manhood": - The challenges of being OCD presented in a very personal, self-aware way. - The addictiveness of adrenaline and the unpleasant, unintended path one can find themselves on as a result. - How one can hold a Master's degree, thus be "educated", and know nothing of the subject matter. - What it means to be a "man" and how you have to find this on your own, in the absence of a male figure in your life for guidance. - As a former soldier, it was interesting to see him not understand deeply ingrained taboos with discussing killing another person and personalizing/trivializing war. - The fascination with not just "doing", but making sure everyone sees you "doing" for the Facebook generation.
The social commentary is subtle, as it should be. I found myself thinking that this could very well have been made by/about an inner-city, poor youth from Baltimore tracking his ascent into Gangland- until the climactic of killing his first rival gang member- vice the path of a "spoiled " rich kid...
I found this doco interesting, if ultimately just a half-told story. Funny thing was, despite his commentary, I never got the impression Matt learned much or changed much from the person he was before he started on his travels. He left the US as a spoiled brat, by his own admission, yet he comes off, after the journeys are done and he's being interviewed on his experiences, as really the same person as before he left. He never imparts any wisdom from his travels, nor any epiphanies, or anything transformative. I don't think he's a jerk or overtly cocky or anything like that, he just seems, in this doco, to be a distant, almost disinterested observer of events in which he was a direct participant.
Even on his Libyan trip, he fires his weapons from afar, and never gets into the real war up close (as he also notes in his comments) - except in one instance. Yet, even in the one instance in which he apparently takes a shot at the enemy, his single most potentially profound experience is barely conveyed to us. Rather, he just sits in a contemplative position and looks off into the distance, and makes a vague comment (and a dubious claim that he missed by accident) from which we are expected to draw some significance.
I think that incident encapsulates this documentary very well. He's essentially just a tourist in all of it, as are we as the audience, and the documentary is, as one reviewer noted, just one big "selfie." Not in a narcissistic way, rather, in a simply one-dimensional travelogue that imparts nothing of value from a human interest perspective. The wrapping on this package (the DVD picture a perfect example) essentially tells the story - a guy who is along for a ride that he doesn't understand and never seems to evolve from.
Good footage, but the narrative really fell short.
One of the most interesting movies I've ever seen (a documentary). A couch-potato type guy from Baltimore, in his late 20s, decides he needs a "crash course in manhood". So he buys a dirt-bike and drives it from Spain, around the Mediterranean to Morocco, then to Iraq, Afghanistan (during the US wars) and Iran. He became good friends with a guy from Libya, and joined the revolutionaries fighting Gaddafi, during which time he spent 5 months in Gaddafi's prisons. He's kind-of a modern Lawrence of Arabia. He filmed his travels, himself. A very down-to-earth guy, who wrestles with his own goals and personal problems during the trip, e.g., OCD.
Point & Shoot is an interesting story with some great imagery. Unfortunately, Marshall Curry, the director, failed to craft Matthew VanDyke's movie-length selfie into a worthwhile documentary. Maybe he did the best with what he had. I appreciate Mr. VanDyke's courage to step outside his comfort zone (and away from his video games) to take his "crash course in manhood". Hopefully it made him a better man. It just didn't make for a great film.
I should spend more time on this review but I don't have it. This is one of the best docs of 2015. I paid the $5 to rent it and it was more than worth it. I will definitely be purchasing this Blu-Ray. This felt like a coming of age, travel, war doc all rolled in to one. I loved it.