Rats and Vision Man | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rats and Vision Man 

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These two 1999 nature documentaries show a respect for their subjects rare in the genre. Rats documents the power that the rodents wield in New York City, where we see a family abandon its home to them. Director Mark Lewis (Cane Toads) incorporates quirky, telling details--New Yorkers bite each other more frequently than they are bitten by rats--and makes startling use of rat's-eye-view shots to give the other side's perspective on the ongoing interspecies war. In Vision Man, an 87-year-old Greenland Inuit looks back on his life as a hunter. It can take days or months to stalk and kill a polar bear, and director William Long uses long takes and a nonintrusive style to capture the hunter's relationship to nature. The old man admires the bears' "oneness with the world around them," lamenting that children "lose their vision" to television, which "offers them everything...and nothing." In Inuit with subtitles. 95 min. Northwestern Univ. Block Museum of Art.

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