TALES of people who pick up an item for a few bucks at a garage sale that turns out to be not only of huge significance but also worth a fortune are compelling because they could happen to any of us. Take Teri Horton, the 73- year- old caravan parkdwelling truck driver who purchased a large painting at an op shop for $ US5. A local art teacher said it looked like a Jackson Pollock ( the title comes from her reaction) and a quest was born. The art world reacted to her with hostile disbelief, so a forensic expert was brought in to authenticate it. It’s a great story and it’s well told here, clearly mapping out the heroes ( Horton) and the villains ( art experts). The snobbery of the art world is hardly endearing. Thomas Hoving may be right that it isn’t a Pollock, but he could have put forth a more convincing argument than ‘‘ because I am a ( smug, self- satisfied) expert’’. Maybe that’s a deliberate choice by the makers to fit the story- line. Other experts featured less prominently make more reasoned points. Watching these moments, you can’t help but wish there was slightly more rigour to this documentary’s methodology. How much does Horton’s story influence various experts and should the experts on both sides have gone in blind? It also clear we’re supposed to admire Horton’s earthy stubbornness, but it’s like invoking the argument that no one believed Galileo when he said the Earth revolved around the sun. But even with a healthy sense of scepticism for both sides of the debate, it’s a tale worth watching, raising questions about how we validate art.
Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? ( M) Roadshow ( 74 minutes) $ 39.95
Kerrie Murphy WHEN Faces in the Mob was first released in 1992, it was immediately recognised as a landmark piece of natural history documentary- making and no end of people queued up to deluge it with awards, not least an Emmy. It has taken 15 years for it to emerge on DVD on ABC shop shelves after a long incarnation on tape, but it has cellared well and this glimpse into the lives of a mob of eastern grey kangaroos looks as ravishing as it did back then. Filmmakers Jan Aldenhoven and Glen Carruthers spent two years around the roos in a valley ( prudently left unnamed) somewhere in eastern Australia, following them through their cycles of birth, education, courtship, breeding and death. The result is a revelation for the vast bulk of us who had no idea how powerful mother- joey bonds are or how complex mob life can be, especially for the dominant male who not only has to keep seeing off rivals but also has to keep tabs on his harem, routinely tasting their urine to see if they’re in heat. All the roos are given names ( Sunshade, Jaffa, Ursid and so on). This may seem a touch anthropomorphic but it’s just a practical way of keeping tabs on the individuals as they pass through their trials by fire, gale and dingo. There’s no music to cloy Aldenhoven’s crisply measured narration and the soundtrack is provided by the roos — mainly ritual coughing and grunting among the males — and the birds.
Kangaroos: Faces in the Mob ( G) Green Cape Wildlife Films ( 59 minutes) $ 29.95
HOW much enjoyment can you reasonably expect from the third part in a movie franchise? All of the good ideas get used up in the first two films so, unless the makers are atoning for a particularly abominable part two ( cough, Ocean’s Twelve ), the best you can really expect is for it not to suck. By that measure, Shrek the Third delivers, but it entertains sporadically and drags in between as too many underdone storylines compete to become a plot. Shrek’s father- in- law dies, leaving Shrek ( Mike Myers) a reluctant heir to the throne unless he can persuade distant relative Arthur ( Justin Timberlake) to accept the crown. Impending fatherhood also daunts Shrek. And Prince Charming ( Rupert Everett) harnesses the might of fairytale villains such as Captain Hook to usurp the throne. Shrek’s wife, Fiona ( Cameron Diaz), meanwhile, has to teach Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella empowerment. The last two stories particularly feel under- explored. The other problem is Shrek. He’s cranky, selfish and stubborn, which are excellent qualities in an ogre, but after three films, each undoing the character development of the previous one, you can’t help but wish he’d stop being such a sook. There are some good belly laughs, and things such as the medieval takes on modern life and the sidekicks are fun, as always, especially the hilarious Puss in Boots ( Antonio Banderas). Still, you can’t help but wish the makers had spent less time on that merchandising blitz and creating convincing computergenerated hair, and more on the story.
EXTRAS: Featurettes; games
Shrek the Third ( PG) Paramount ( feature runs 89 minutes) $ 39.95