Echo In The Canyon

August 4th, 2020 — 12:13am

Echo In The Canyon (nf)
****

Being relative newcomers to Los Angeles and not having grown up here, we had no idea how the lovely mountain and valley area northwest of downtown Los Angeles is actually the birth place of the “California Sound.” The musicians who were drawn to this area in the early 1960s included well known groups such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas & the Papas as well as many other groups. They transformed folk music into the all familiar electric guitar sound that still resonates today. The film was directed by Andrew Slater and features Jakob Dylan, a very talented musician himself who also happens to be the son of Bob Dylan. He interviewed several of the featured musicians who were now in their senior years including Stephen Stills, Michelle Phillips, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and even Ringo Starr. Jakob Dylan is also shown performing a good deal of the time. Many of these interviews appeared to be made just for this film and there were also many archival clips. Many parts of this film were made in the famous Los Angeles recording studios.

What was it about Laurel Canyon that attracted these musicians and allowed it to be the birthplace of this beloved sound? In part, it was the presence of recording companies including the iconic MGM building that resembles a stack of records. Also, most likely, the proximity to the movie studios and the lifestyle of the rich and famous. While not highlighted in the film, this also was the time of psychedelic drugs such as LSD that were often associated with rock and roll. Whatever the attraction, it was a magical time that gave birth to the unforgettable music and the musicians that created it. This movie, whether it is a trip down memory lane or an introductory education about the music of the 60s, is a worthwhile cinematic and music experience. (2020)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Musical

I Am Not Your Negro

July 25th, 2020 — 7:00am

****
I Am Not Your Negro

The well-known author James Baldwin was planning a book, in which he would discuss the lives and the assassinations of three prominent black Americans: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He only completed 30 pages of the manuscript before he died in 1987. Raoul Peck was able to take his manuscript and extended it into a full documentary film narrated by Samuel Jackson. It not only showed the reflections, thinking, and writing of Baldwin, but was able to piece together with videos and still pictures not only the 60s when these three men were in the prime of their lives and were assassinated within five years of each other, but was also able to trace and reflect the history of black people in the United States. He particularly examined the interaction and the subjugation of blacks throughout the history of this country. Although Baldwin died in 1987 and this film was released in 2016, it resonated loud and clear with today’s contemporary society in the United States, particularly with the recent death of George Floyd at the knee of a white policeman and other similar tragic events. This movie is painful and timely. Baldwin wanted people to understand the terrible subjugation of black Americans, but also the systemic oppression of them even in today’s American society (2016).

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Politics

Mindwalk

July 8th, 2020 — 6:46am

***
Mindwalk

A poet, a physicist and politician wander around together on a small island (Mont.St Michel) off the coast of France and discuss the meaning of life. That’s it! Nothing more and nothing less. We weren’t quite expecting this and it took a little while for us to orient ourselves and to try to immerse ourselves into the conversation. The movie was made 30 years ago and was directed by Bernt Amadeus Capra based on his own short story based on a book by his brother. Sam Waterson plays what seems to be a rather young US Senator who has just lost his bid to run for President, John Heard is his friend the poet and former speech writer whom he is visiting and Liv Ullman plays a physicist whom they meet on the Island. She apparently has discovered some breakthroughs in lasers and is contemplating the long-term effects on climate change, potential weapons and the survival of the planet. She carries the film with her description of atomic theory of matter, electrons and her painful awareness of the implications of her work. The politician clings to ideas of not giving up on the possibility of incremental changes. The poet quotes his predecessors and some of the wisdoms of their ancient writings. You have to come to this film prepared to ponder the secrets and meaning of the universe which we were not. Perhaps if you have the right mindset you will get more out of the film than we did. (1990)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Da Five Bloods

July 8th, 2020 — 6:27am

*****
Da Five Bloods Continue reading »

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama, History, War

NOMINATE YOUR 5 FAVORITE QUARANTINE FILMS

June 15th, 2020 — 7:39am

NOMINATE YOUR 5 FAVORITE QUARATINE FILMS
Now that so many of us are quarantined because of the pandemic, many of us are finding our all time favorite films to revisit as well as recommending to our friends and relatives. We thought it might be interesting to ask the readers of this blog to list their all time favorite five movies and if you wish add a a few sentences about why it made your all time list. Please do so in the comments section immediately below and we will be sure they are posted here in a short time. Thank you and stay safe !

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - 1 comment » | Uncategorized

A Secret Love

June 9th, 2020 — 9:39pm

***
A Secret Love-nf

We came to this documentary film believing it was about a pioneering case that challenged the law about same-sex couples and helped to make ground breaking precedent. We were obviously mistaken in our expectation. Who we did meet were two amazing women, Pat Henschel and Terry Donahue, the latter of whom had been an established professional women’s baseball player in her younger years. They did find romance in a time when love between women was usually not openly expressed. The film was directed by Chris Bolan who is the great nephew of Ms. Donahue. The movie followed these women into their senior years and we see how their families came to accept them and how they transitioned into a senior living facility. This is a touching movie about a love affair between two women, which will inspire future generations of women who might now be more able to openly express such feelings.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - 1 comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Romance

A Fortunate Man

May 22nd, 2020 — 4:35am

A Fortunate Man ****

This is a very engrossing and complicated story about a man who was anything but fortunate. The main character, Sidenius (Jens Albinus), is brought up in a religious Christian family, in which his father was the church pastor. The son does not get the blessing of the father as they have a bitter departure, as Sidenius goes off to seek his own life and fortune, which to him would mean selling his dream of giving the world his idea of a new form of energy and power through windmills and canals which could remake turn of the century Denmark. He encounters a wealthy Jewish family and is drawn to the oldest beautiful daughter (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) who would also connect him with great wealth and the potential to make his engineering dream come true. However, the story becomes more complicated as we come to appreciate Sidenius’ rebellion from his father as he unwittingly also identifies with him. The movie allows the viewer to understand how for most of this man’s life, his self-centered personality made him insensitive to the feelings of the women in his life and even to his own children except for a final moment of insight. The story is adopted from a novel by the Danish author, Henrik Pontoppidan.

Aside from showing us the insight into the psychodynamics of a man, as we see the impact of his childhood on his subsequent life, the film also highlights several other interesting issues:

It shows the impact on a person raised in one culture (in this case a poor religious Christian culture) who suddenly finds himself surrounded by a wealthy family (in this case a Jewish culture).

It also spotlights a well-known dilemma when a creative genius with a new idea is confronted with the established society that is not quite ready to embrace his revolutionary concepts.

There is also a familiar subplot of a woman who believes she is in a committed relationship and finds herself pregnant and realizes that her partner, who does not know she is pregnant, is actually ready to move on and break up the relationship.

Finally, there is also the well known story of an estranged grown child finding out that a parent has died and now is drawn back to be a loyal child when it is really too late.

So, you can see this very well done film directed by Bille August will hold your attention and stir your emotions. It is certainly worth seeing (2020).

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance

Crip Camp

March 28th, 2020 — 11:00pm

****

Crip Camp-nf

This film was recommended to us by someone who knew that we spent the summer after our wedding working in a camp for orthopedically handicapped adults and children. It is produced by  the production company formed by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama in association with Netflix. The opening scene of this documentary film, although taking place several years later showed Camp Jened very much resembling our own unforgettable summer experience. The focus was mostly on teenagers, many in wheelchairs, some with severe speech impediments and others limping around, but all with the energy and joy as they clearly felt liberated and were having the time of their lives. Many spoke of how for the first time they did not feel different. Others spoke of the joy of swimming and playing baseball even if it was from a wheelchair. There was the first teenage sexual attraction and overall a most meaningful summer.

However, this documentary film was much more than the story of a wonderful great summer camp experience. The producers and editors put together the story of the historic civil rights movement of people with disabilities. It also became obvious that some of the participants in this and leaders of this movement had met each other during their glorious summer camp experiences. Now many of them were young adults and were emerging as the leader of this most important movement.

A group of them had landed in San Francisco where they began to demonstrate against Joseph Califano who was the Secretary of Health Education and Welfare and was not carrying out Federal Law section 504 and therefore not supporting equal opportunities for the handicapped. Curb cuts, so wheelchairs and their occupants could travel freely, elevators in all structures as well as other architectural accommodations to allow people with disabilities to lead a more normal life were their demands and expectations. The Black Panthers who originated in nearby Oakland, California, supported and joined them in their protests. This movement then reached a crescendo when the growing group of protesters arrived in Washington, D.C. and held sit-down demonstrations in front of Secretary Califano’s office outside the building and inside. This went on for a couple of weeks before finally Califano recognized the rights of the handicapped.

To think that much of this movement started in the early relationships of many young people who met at the remarkable summer camp a decade earlier. The filmmaker obviously dug up early footage from Camp Jened and focused on several people who became leaders in this most important movement. The viewers of the film were able to follow them as they emerged into adulthood and made the remarkable contributions to the civil rights of the disabled in this country. (2020)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, History, Politics

Greed

February 29th, 2020 — 3:28am

***

Greed

The title says it all. Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) is a billionaire businessman who knows how to take advantage and squeeze every dollar (or pound) out of any business negotiation. He certainly has the upper hand when he is bargaining with women clothing makers in the third world countries who were making clothes for well-known (and often expensive) brands selling in the United States and throughout the world. The contrast between the opulent lifestyle of this rich businessman and especially the poor women who sometimes work for just a few dollars a day becomes highlighted during the plans for a birthday celebration for Sir Richard on a Greek Island. Writer, director Michael Winterbottom clearly knew the point that he wanted to make in this film and the dramatic conclusion certainly made it in spades.(2020)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Burden

February 19th, 2020 — 1:40am

****

Burden

This story, set in the 1990s, is based on real events and real people. It takes us into the Deep South where a group of Ku Klux Klansmen are converting an old movie theater into a KKK Museum. As we meet our main character, Mike Burden (Garrett Hedlund), he is one of the Klansmen. We see his life is about to change as he meets a poor, lovely white young woman (Andrea Riseborough) with a small son who has a different background and values than he does as she and her son are friends with black families and her kid is best friends with a black child. They fall in love and she says that he will have to choose between her and the Klan as she could not tolerate the brutality of the KKK. This unlikely threesome shortly finds that they have no place to live and they are befriended by a black congregation led by Rev. Kennedy (Forest Whitaker).

The film clearly captures the hate and brutality towards black people by the white people who identify with the prejudices and hate symbolized and characterized by the KKK. It also reminds us of the potential for change when human beings fall in love and feel very close to each other, allowing them to open up and become more empathic. Self worth can rise and insecure anger can be reduced. There is also a wonderful depiction of a black church group whose faith sustains them through a very difficult time and how important was their beliefs and the leadership of them by their spiritual leader, were in their lives.

It is easy to see how one might view this story as just a fairytale but the characters and story ring true. This belief was further reinforced when during the closing credits we were able to view the real people about whom this story was based. (2020)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

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