xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
They drive for for hours through mountains and forests and line up days in advance, in the parking lot of Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. They're not here to see a band or a race. They're here to see doctors and dentists who have volunteered for Remote Area Medical, a roving volunteer medical service that was founded by Stan Brock in 1985 to help residents of the Amazon jungle. Things are as bad in the rural US as they were in thje rain forests of Brazil, where Brock once broke his leg and was informed that the nearest doctor was a 26-day journey on foot.
The would-be patients camped out in their cars on the outskirts of the speedway are in bad shape. They have sprains, broken bones, arthritis, skin problems. Many of them have such severe tooth decay that they can barely chew food anymore, and their significant others can no longer muster the nerve to kiss them. They haven't been to a doctor in months, years, ever. "Have you been told before that you have a spot on your x-ray?" a doctor asks a woman who's had her lungs photographed for the first time. "I never had an x-ray," she replies.
Directed by Farihah Zaman and Jeff Reichert—a critic who writes for ReverseShot, where I've occasionally published articles—"Remote Area Medical" is a rare contemporary documentary that is determined to tell by showing. There are no experts weighing in on the medical care crisis that's making the lives of working class and poor people measurably worse, nor are there any charts and graphs explaining how job with benefits that don't require college degrees have been drying up for decades, even as real wages fall in relation to inflation, and the cost of medical care continues to rise.
The filmmakers get all this across by talking to people in the parking lot and inside the medical tents. A few of their subjects (including Brock) are affiliated with the organization, but most are patents, or friends and family of people who've come along to supper the patients as they wait and wait for treatment. And from these subjects, you find out all you need to know to appreciate the magnitude of what RAM is doing, and the scope of the crisis affecting the rural poor.