August 04, 2011

Project Nim (Brooklyn Heights Cinema)

Erica: Saturday July 23rd, we went to the Brooklyn Heights Cinema and caught Project Nim. Brooklyn Heights Cinema has a more mature crowd. They don't have a wide variety of movies - only 2 screens and generally no 'kid-friendly' movies. Already some pluses. Another plus: mostly older people who don't know how to operate smartphones.

I found Nim to be a sweet, charming documentary with haunting imagery. We start the story from Nim's birth and see him living with a family, being raised like a human child, even wearing clothes, playing with the human children and hugging the family cat.

When we first meet Nim, he is a sweet, adorable chimpanzee you just can't help but fall in love with. As he gets older, his true primate-animal instinct comes through and he turns meaner. The ultimate goal is to teach Nim sign language, which they are successful with but growing up around humans does not teach him how to interact with other primates outside of a human world.

Truth is: chimps are the closest descendant to humans, except for the fact that they can rip your face off at the drop of a hat if you anger them.

Mike: It's a heartbreaking story, told very well thanks through amazing home movie and research film clips. Some of the talking heads in the doc - people who took care of Nim - even have character arcs, either getting their just desserts or redeeming themselves. I thought it was remarkable.

One minor thing I could have done without is a gimmick that the filmmakers resort to a number of times in the film. Whenever someone disappears from Nim's life - which is a variety of reasons - and they're out of the picture, the camera pans away from the interviewee, literally bringing them out of the picture. Not very subtle.

But aside from that, Project Nim is a terrific documentary - an emotional story that you won't forget.

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