The Next Best Place: Short Films By Bill Brown (2004) – By Brian Morton

 First, let me just say, I’m a big fan of documentaries, I’ll sit and watch a doc about almost anything! So, when I noticed The Next Best Thing in my inbox, I was pretty excited, after all this is four short documentaries about one man’s trip across North America.

The first is called Roswell and is about…you guessed it…Roswell, New Mexico. It follows the small town made famous by a somewhat dubious U.F.O. crash in the 40s and the documentarian, Bill Brown, offers his theory of why an advanced alien race would come anywhere near such a rural place. The next is Confederation Park, which is the story of Quebec’s fight for independence from Canada proper, a fight that turned violent, but only mildly so. The third is Buffalo Common, which is about the ICBM silos in North Dakota and how they affected the farm economy of the state. The buffalo comes from a crackpot idea from the 80s that offered to make the state a giant game preserve for buffalo, an idea that the state didn’t take to. The final doc is Mountain State and offers some history of West Virginia, it’s pretty interesting, in that I never knew that the Hare Krishna’s have a large settlement in that state.

Each one is really a travelogue from Mr. Brown telling different tales from each place in his own way. I have to say, the film is really superfluous to the content, these would play equally well as just audio. But, the camerawork is very good and it’s interesting to see some of the people and places he’s talking about. Overall, I’m giving The Next Best Place: Short Films By Bill Brown three and a half out of four cigars, and it only lost the half because back to back to back to back these are a little much, but if you watched them individually they would probably go down better. You can find out more about getting these four short docs (on one disc) for yourself by heading over to the Microcosm Publishing web site. So, until next time, when I’ll be traveling too…from my chair to the mailbox and back…remember that the best movies are bad movies.