We've been watching the recent PBS documentary Country Boys in my sophomore class the last two days, and my general impression is that most people appreciate it. They like it for different reasons, sure; some people see humor, some are feeling the pathos as they watch Chris's floundering attempts to flee his splintering family and Cody's identity issues. It just kills me every time--I think in a way that Chris's mother is a worse parent than his father is. The dad has an illness, alcoholism; what's the mother's excuse for leaving Chris and his sister behind? She's heartless and selfish.
I can't help but read any movie or book without being affected by what I read last, which in this case is Gatsby, so it got me thinking about the "dreams" these characters carry. In Gatsby, it's all big stuff: houses, women, cars that make up the dream. In Country Boys, their environment has pounded them down so much that their dreams are heart-breakingly small: get out of the trailer, score high enough on the ACT to get into a cinder-block community college. The modesty of these dreams makes me so much more sympathetic to what they're going through.
I wish I could teach a course in documentary film. That would be pretty awesome.
If you dig this film, PBS has a great web site devoted to it. Updates on Chris and his life since the movie, plus lots of other background material.