Release Date: September 12th and 13th, 2006, 11:00 AM (Quad Cinema) by The Institute for Cinema Studies.
Directed by Haskell Wexler.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about sleep deprivation and long working hours in the film industry.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Who Needs Sleep? examines an underrated topic which has a huge impact on one’s life: sleep, or the lack of it for that matter. In 1997, Brent Hershman, an assistant cameraman for Pleasantville, worked 19 hours straight through and had a fatal accident while driving on the highway later that night. It should come as no surprise that the cause of the crash was that he actually fell asleep while driving. His family believes that if he had worked fewer hours and gotten more sleep, he wouldn’t have crashed that night. Director Haskell Wexler goes on a quest to find out who has the power to reduce working hours for cast and crew members in the film industry. Each time he asks an important figure in the industry if he/she has that control. The Occupational Safety and Health Association claims that they don’t consider sleep deprivation a safety hazard. Unfortunately, Wexler doesn’t get enough compelling or surprising answers. Perhaps he should ask more compelling, focused questions. Even a brief cameo with Julia Roberts doesn’t add much. The “12 on/12 off” campaign to limit working hours to 12 hours with 6 hours between each meal doesn’t get explored enough. On a positive note, Wexler, unlike Michael Moore, does a great job of being respectful and courteous to everyone he interviews. However, this could have been a much more powerful and engaging documentary if it focused more on the science or psychology of why one needs sleep and if it didn’t meander so much on who should get the blame for Hershman’s accident.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Unfocused and meandering.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: Initially provocative, but ultimately unfocused, meandering and unsurprising.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV
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