Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cynthia Y. Johnson, Douglas White, Demia Bruce, Eric Morgan, Davelo Lujuan, Carl Connelly, Barbara Johnson, Liz Lynch, Matthew Rehrer, Amandeep Singh, Aaron Harries, Jocelyn Garrick, Ricka White-Soso
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Peter Nicks
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 81
Date: 06/19/2012

The Waiting Room (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Healthy and Wise

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's always a headache to navigate the year's slew of depressing documentaries. Thanks to some interest from my friend Joe, I attended an Academy screening of The Waiting Room, a movie I was not looking forward to seeing, since I'm going to lose my health care in one month.

But the movie quickly won me over. When you're sitting in a waiting room, panic can set in because you're sick and you have no idea how many hours you're going to be sitting there. You can begin to feel like the hospital staff has forgotten about you or does not care. Peter Nicks' film lets us know that they do -- Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson is the movie's unsung heroine -- and what actually happens that makes things take so long. Even people without insurance get the care that they need in this film (or most of them, anyway).

Nicks goes for the observational, fly-on-the-wall style employed by the great Frederick Wiseman (Boxing Gym). There are no talking heads, and the subjects don't even seem to be aware of the camera. Nicks explained how he shot for several weeks and edited to make it seem as if the film takes place over the course of a day. This could seem manipulative, but the film's flow makes it all seem totally natural. It had no resistance from me.

Docurama Films released this terrific film on DVD. Extras include a director's commentary track, outtakes and extended scenes, and eight stories from the digital storytelling project from people in the hospital. In the fall of 2013, with ObamaCare at the forefront of people's concerns, this movie has become even more essential.

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