2 Movies Like American Pie: Revealed (2004)

Staff & contributors

You don’t have to be a tea drinker to enjoy this warm film from documentary legend Les Blank. The passion and eloquence with which the tea connoisseurs interviewed here talk about the beverage is a delight in itself, a soul-nourishing reminder of what worlds of meaning and experience open up when you really love something. Though a few of these enthusiasts are featured — among them, filmmaker Werner Herzog —  it’s mainly centered around David Lee Hoffman, an American importer who swims against the tide of capitalism, mass production, and environmental damage to champion the hand-crafted teas he’s so passionate about. As the film chronicles, however, his insistence on buying directly from the boutique farmers — sometimes traveling hours into the remote Chinese countryside to do so — often puts him at odds with the economic interests of the big-time exporters he must work with.

Hoffman isn’t persistent in the face of all these hurdles for the sake of a buck, though: the film follows his linked efforts to encourage organic farming practices and a direct-from-the-source marketplace that will give the farmers a fair price for their hard work. That his love for the drink also encompasses the artisans who make it and the ground that grows it makes this an inspiring watch.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Werner Herzog

Director: Gina Leibrecht, Les Blank

There is a version of Moon Students that solely focuses on the students of color themselves, victims of racial profiling and injustice, instead of their white teacher and his overbearing white guilt. That would’ve been a slightly better movie to watch, but even then, Moon Students seems broken beyond repair. The film is riddled with technical blunders. The timeframe is confusing, the pacing is off, and the dialogue is unrealistic (and unintentionally funny, because what young person actually says, with full sincerity, “You know what time is it? Party time!”). The actors deserve credit for breathing a bit of life into a limp script, and the cinematography can be nice at times—fuzzy and hazy like an LA dream. But the film’s misguided sense of justice ultimately brings it down.

Genre: Drama

Actor: B.A. Tobin, Cedrick Terrell, Eddie Navarro, Nicholas Heard, Nicholas Thurkettle, Sydney Carvill

Director: Daniel Holland