Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Documentary Review: Falling Up: A Story From The Streets

Currently Available For Streaming
On Amazon Prime As of 8/19/14
Falling Up is a short little one hour documentary that tells the story of a man whose real name is Johnny Popp. He is a Vietnam Vet who came back from the war traumatized. But he managed to find a wife and began attending church. I believe he had a son from that marriage. But shortly into his new life his wife was killed in a car accident. This turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Johnny gave up material things, traveled around homeless, and ended up on notorious "Skid Row" where he was soon introduced to crack cocaine. And that where he stayed. He stopped getting haircuts or shaving. He slept in a shopping cart where he kept all of his material items.
The camera follows him on the streets through a typical day, and even as he smokes crack daily.
Then they lose him for about a month or two and find him again after he turns up in a hospital after being beaten quite severely by a group of either gang members or other homeless people. And he ends up needing a hip reconstruction. Then they release him to a nursing home for recovery. And this is where things make a sudden turn.
You'll want to watch the film to see if Johnny's transformation is genuine or short-lived.
The story is very compelling, and at times is well shot, capturing some genuine street life as it happens. The documentarian's point about how social services can serve a massively needed purpose is made in a few small commentaries. He makes a good point and shows one graphic that is compelling which shows that it costs more to keep these folks on the street than it does to get them into a home where they can receive medical care and get more independent as normal home dwellers. That was something I hadn't known before.
However...
There is more to a documentary than the subject. And in this case the use of stock footage, the really lackluster narration, and the shallow musical score, kind of gave this film the feel of a undergrad's art school project. The narrator seems to be trying kind of a monotone approach since this is kind of a dark subject, but it comes off as seeming like his heart just wasn't in it, which I bet it actually was. So I think it may have been better if he had left those duties to someone else.
I don't want to be too harsh because I really stayed tuned because I wanted to see if Johnny stayed clean. Especially after he met and started a relationship with a recovering alcoholic lady that was with him in the nursing home. And my suspicion is that the budget was pretty small. So for what it was, it was a pretty good Doc.

I give this documentary....2 stars

6 comments:

Unknown said...

I'm Johnny Popp, the star in the film, "Falling Up!"
Thank you for such a glowing review and to give the readers and Viewers an update, Helen Lorraine passed away from Advanced Liver Cancer on June 9th 2013 in the very Nursing Home where she and I met.
I have maintained complete abstinence from any substances since 2005 and I lived in the same apartment building since Helen Lorraine & I moved in here, way back in 2005!
feel free to email me at: johnnypopp@sbcglobal.net

Krissy Ross said...

Hi, Mr Johnny Popp! I am so sorry to here about Helen Lorraine passing. My hubby and I just watched your documentary, I say yours because you are the star. I decided to get online and see how you were doing. I hope this message finds you doing well. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,
Krissy Ross

LISA said...

Hi Mr Popp, i have also just watched your documentary and hope you are continuing to do well. So sad to hear about Lorraine and i hope some day you will find happiness again maybe sometime in the future. I hope you continue to live your new life to the fullest, you so deserve it. Take care and all the best.
Lisa Healy
England

Unknown said...

Hi johnny popp i enjoyed your documentary. Sorry to hear helen passed away. I hope all is well and u stayed clean i also home you found ur son.

Claudette Eversley said...

Hi johnny popp i enjoyed your documentary. Sorry to hear helen passed away. I hope all is well and u stayed clean i also home you found ur son.

Tahtgite said...

Your documentary was so touching. I work with people with disabilities. We clean parks that many unfortunate homeless people hang out. I tell my clients don't judge everyone had a story as to why they became addicted, I too was homeless and addicted but thankfully have been clean for 15 years. We all have reasons to why we became homeless. Good luck.