Thursday, June 29, 2006

THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL - Bina007 admires hippie, enters downward spiral of self-doubt

THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL is a documentary by environmental film-maker Judy Irving. It features a middle-aged guy called Mark Bittner who lives in San Francisco. Mark looks like a cliched ageing hippie - the faded denim and straggly pony-tale - and certainly lives an unconventional life. Instead of holding down a regular job he spends his time taking care of a flock of beautiful parrots that live on Telegraph Hill. Mark comes across as an articulate and intelligent man. He has a healthy awareness that what he is doing might be perceived as crazy. Judy Irving asks him: "What's the difference between you and the pigeon lady?" And he laughs back, "Nothing!" But he seems to have stumbled across an enviable work-life balance. He may not be paid, but he really does do something of value that requires skill and patience. He also has more freedom than the conventional desk-monkey and has been able to live out his philosophy in his daily life.

Indeed, I found Mark - and his ability to pull-off his lifestyle - far more fascinating that the parrots themselves - never having been one for the nature docs. Frankly, if I can't eat it or sell it, then I'm not interested. And while this doc. has not changed my life, or moved me to tears, it did sustain my interest. Moreover, on a purely technical level, the doc is full of great nature photography and the 16mil transfer is very good. So, if you have some time to spare, you should give this flick a go. Seriously, I am the last person who should like a nature doc., and this movie had me hooked.

THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL went on limited release in the US, Australia and UK last year and was released on DVD this week.

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