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

Standing Up, Falling Down

February 12th, 2020 — 5:42am

*****

Standing Up, Falling Down-sp

Although Ben Schwartz plays a wannabe comedian and Billy Crystal plays his dermatologist buddy who was twice his age, don’t come to this movie with a mindset  to see a hilarious comedy. To the contrary, it is a very thoughtful story about the big regrets that people might have in life. A romance that breaks apart so a career can be pursued, a parent who is sorry that he wasn’t there for hs child and now the grown child is not there for him, are two such examples. Director/Producer, Matt Ratner, became attached to the screenplay by Peter Hoare and not only pulled together the two stars, but also brought in a very solid supporting cast which included Grace Gummer, Eloise Mumford, Nate Corddry, Kevin Dunn, Debra Monk and a few others. Although the film was on an independent budget, the settings were realistic and the story will touch your emotions. You will laugh out loud, shed some tears and end up with a lot to think about. We highly recommend that you see this movie. (2020)

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

And Then We Danced

February 7th, 2020 — 2:02am

***

AND THEN WE DANCED-sp

This was the Swedish Oscar entry for best film. It is the brainchild of writer-director, Levan Akin, who is telling a story about dancers in Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, which is his native country. The film introduces the viewer to a very particular style of dancing, which we learned is practically a national sport in Georgia. We meet our main character, Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani), as he is auditioning for a professional Georgia Dance Company. He meets Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), who is also trying out for a position in the dance company. They ultimately are attracted to each other and have a forbidden sexual affair. The storyline gives us a glimpse into Georgian culture and particularly, the struggle of the main characters. The dancing although unique to our eye is nevertheless quite powerful. Although, we could appreciate the tensions between the various protagonists and their families, the film was unnecessarily long in trying to depict the societal pressures again gay individuals. We watched several characters as they grapple with and ultimately come to terms with who they really are, which while enlightening and poignant was just overly drawn-out.(2020)

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

Corpus Christi

January 30th, 2020 — 4:33am

****

Corpus Christi-sp

This is Poland’s entry in the Oscar race for best foreign film and it could be a winner. A young man escapes from his violent detention in prison where he has to work in a sawmill and gets into gritty fights. While he already knew that his desire to go to seminary and become a priest could not be possible because of his prison record, he finds a way to act out his fantasy. After he escapes from his detention, he finds refuge in a church in a small town. He convinces the vicar there that he is actually a recent graduate priest who is passing through and then accepts the role to temporarily be the Church’s spiritual leader when the older man has to leave for a period of time. Not surprisingly, interesting things happen and issues of spirituality, morality and fairness are all put on the table for the viewer to contemplate along with the characters in the film. The core of the story is based on a true incident of priest impersonation, but much of the story comes from the imagination and creativity of the screenwriter, Mateusz Pacewicz, director, Jan Komasa, cinematographer, Piotr Sobociński, Jr. as well as the great acting performance by Bartosz Bielenia, along with an excellent supporting cast.(2020)

 

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

Jojo Rabbit

January 30th, 2020 — 3:34am

****

Jojo Rabbit-rm

On one hand, this is an outlandish, fanciful story about Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) a 10-year old German boy who has an imaginary friend who happens to be Adolf Hitler (played by the director, Taika Waititi). It is also a story about a young girl (Thomasin McKenzie) who is being hidden in the attic by Jojo’s mother (Scarlett Johanson) because she is Jewish and is being sought out in order to be murdered by the Nazis. Sam Rockwell has a somewhat slapstick role as the German captain who is training our little hero.

On one hand, this film is a comedy, but it is hard to laugh when we are being reminded of Anne Frank and the horrendous story of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

The film is extremely creative and very well done. It will hold your interest and make you chuckle just as it will allow you to reflect on this time in history. It is clearly worth seeing this satire, which emphasizes the cruelty, stupidity and unmitigated arrogance of the Nazi cause. It is another reminder of how important it is that no one is allowed to forget this horrific time in the history of the world. (2020)

 

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

1917

January 30th, 2020 — 1:16am

***

1917- rm

One of us was especially looking forward to what we hoped to be a classic war movie about World War I. Two British soldiers (Dean-Charles Chapman and George McKay) are chosen to make a dangerous journey through the trenches and battlefields to reach some other troops who are planning to advance on German troops but unknowingly will be led into an ambush which will destroy 1,500 troops, including the brother of one of the two chosen messengers. There was no radio communication available because it had been disrupted and we are not sure why additional teams of messengers were not chosen for this important mission. As you would expect, there is running, crawling through smoldering battlefields, occasional enemy encountering enemy soldiers, and even an air attack. One of the main features of this film is that director Sam Mendes gives the impression that the entire movie was done in one continuous take. Unfortunately, it is repetitious and predictable with few surprises, but we certainly do not believe it will go down as a classic war film despite the Oscar hype. However, battlefield and war aficionados might want to see it, but others may choose to skip it. (2020)

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

Incitement

January 29th, 2020 — 7:47am

 

****

Incitement- sp

This award-winning Israeli film is based on the real-life events which led to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It is a well-done docudrama, which seemlessly interfaces actual video and movie clips with the excellently-constructed, very well-acted movie. It was put together by Yaron Zilberman who directed the film and co-wrote the screen play as well as leading the team of producers who researched all details of this movie for over a year prior to production. The preparation that they did included interviewing the actual assassin Yigal Amir (played by Yehuda Nahari Halevi) who is serving a life sentence in prison. Special recognition also should be given to the cast who played Amir’s family (Amitay Ousilio, Anat Ravnizky, Yoav Levi) and other important people in his life (Sivan Mast, Daniella Kertesz).

The seminal event which this film focused is upon was a pivotal moment in Israeli history. Rabin was assassinated in 1995, at which time, Yassir Arafat, was negotiating with him and planning the previously evasive possibility of agreed-upon boundaries and peace in the Middle East.

This film highlights the controversies within Israel among various groups. The viewer gets to understand the point of view of the young law student would-be assassin as he evolves his thinking into his deadly plan. How he rationalizes and justified his plan and finds support from the Bible and various religious leaders is quite fascinating and makes this movie well worth seeing. (2020)

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

Truth and Justice

January 17th, 2020 — 9:21pm

***

Truth and Justice-sp

This film is Estonia’s entry for best foreign picture. It is based on a classic Estonian novel, apparently well known to everyone who grows up in Estonia. It takes place in the 1870s in the rural area as Andres (Priit Loog) and his wife Kroot (Maiken Schmidt) settle down on a rural farm, which they have gone into debt to purchase. Their goal is to be successful and bring up a family with a male heir who can carry on what they hope will be a successful endeavor. Things became complicated and difficult as the neighbor, Pearu (Priit Võigemast) is somewhat devious and there are personal and legal conflicts that soon develop. The young couple finds it not so easy to make everything the way you want to it. The story line allows the viewers to see the growth of children and how relationships and aspirations of the entire family young and old play out. While the setting beautifully captured by magnificent cinematography, and the time period may be unfamiliar to most of us, director and writer Tanel Toom has taken a classic Estonian novel by Anton Tammsaare and portrayed its humanity and universality, which will nevertheless touch some of the audience (2020).

 

 

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

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