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Movie Review: Keep the River on Your Right

Story: Think your life is interesting and filled with charming anecdotes? You've got nothin' on 78 year old Tobias Schneebaum. Brother and sister film making team David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro give us a captivating look at an extraordinary life. In the 1950s, Schneebaum received a Fulbright to study Peruvian art. One thing led to another and he ended up living with a warrior-like, cannibalistic tribe. Upon returning to the 'safe' streets of New York City he became a minor celebrity replete with a book, lectures and the TV talk show circuit (some wonderful archival footage of Charlie Rose and The Mike Douglas Show). The filming Shapiros also take us back to New Guinea where Schneebaum also lived with the native population. Tobias ekes out a part time living these days as an anthropology lecturer on cruise ships discussing the art and customs of these people. This film is charming, often funny and what documentaries should be all about. The next time you are sitting next to a senior citizen on a bus, don't dismiss them so easily - you might consider that they have quite a story to tell. You clearly cannot judge a book by its cover!

Personal Bias Note: I have long been intrigued by the Michael Rockefeller disappearance in New Guinea. If you go to the Metropolitan Museum there is a huge collection of native art in the Michael Rockefeller wing. Schneebaum is seen in the film giving a lecture in the Met at this site. Cannabalism, jungles and all things Tarzan-like are also high on my list of obsessions - so this film really could not go wrong for me. But, as a bonus, Schnnebaum spends time in Coney Island and at Nathan's (another LOBO favorite) and to top it off there is a short piece in the film that takes place in the Tropic Zone at the Central Park Zoo. I was looking for my namesake, LOBO, the paradise Tanager, but was unable to see him in the film.

Acting: There is no acting. It is a documentary.

Critters: Lots of dogs, birds and jungle wildlife.

Food: There is talk of human flesh as food (Schneebaum did not want to discuss it but said we taste like pork).

Visual Art: Wonderful Indian art and illustrations by Schneebaum.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Can't remember.

Opening Titles: Simple

Theater Audience: Very crowded - I was shocked. Almost everyone was eating popcorn.

Quirky Meter: 8

Squirm Scale: 2 - There is a scene with a group circumcision of young boys. I guess this would count high on the squirm scale for some.

Oscar Worthy: Indie worthy

Nit Picking: Some of the film was like a home movie. Very grainy and jiggly.

Big Screen or Rental: I guess this is not going to get much of a wide play in the multiplexes. So it might pop up on the Travel Channel or History Channel.

Length: 110 minutes.