Belfast

November 18th, 2021 — 8:27am

Belfast. sp
***

This film has received much publicity before its opening and the opportunity we had to see it in preview. One of the major underlying themes is the conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants, and Catholic factions. We do not fully appreciate the fine points of the deep-seated antagonism between these two groups nor the many variations of thought within them. However, we could identify with the 9-year-old boy Buddy (Jude Hill) who is part of an Irish family living in Northern Ireland. His dad (Jamie Dornan) would go to London for work for periods of time while the family was feeling increasing tension in Belfast in Northern Ireland where they lived. This is obviously the story of writer-director Kenneth Branagh who grew up in Northern Ireland. We do not get much insight into the political underpinnings of this conflict, but we do see how it totally preoccupied this family. We see deadly violence all around them and are touched by the loving care in this family, which includes Judi Dench as the grandmother. The appropriate musical background was provided by Van Morrison. This is a well done movie, which brings the overwhelming tragic political situation down to its impact upon the members of one family living through it.

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

Speer Goes to Hollywood

November 6th, 2021 — 6:04am

SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD-sp
***

The title of this film suggests that somehow the story of this major nasty figure has been jazzed up or perhaps has been fabricated to make it a Hollywood production. However, the director and producer, Vanessa Lapa and Tomer Eliav, producer and sound designer whom we met after seeing the film at Stephen Farber’s “Reel Talk” film series, claim the story is factual and true to life. They report how they had meticulously have gone through the archives of film about World War II including recordings of the Nuremberg Trials in which Albert Speer was one of the defendants. Interestingly, they did not use the voice of Speer but rather they hired a voice actor to speak the words of the real-life players mostly German with subtitles. The rationale was that the audio quality of these old tapes was too poor to use.

We mostly follow Speer during World War II as a designer and builder of prison camps as well as confidante to Hitler and his inner circle. The prisoners (obviously mostly Jews) are seen and there was indication of forced labor and exhausted emaciated prisoners. The actual crematoriums were not shown in much detail as they deserved to be shown. The fact that we were seeing actual pictures of the inhuman treatment of the Jews makes the film riveting even if we don’t fully appreciate Speer’s role in carrying out Hitler’s extermination plan.

Speer was apparently the only major figure not to be sentenced to execution at the Nuremberg Trials, but rather served 20 years in prison. He even subsequently wrote a successful book once he was released. The film does not clearly address why he was spared execution. There was some mention how he provided some valuable information for the allies and not to the Russians.

It is also interesting that in response to a question to the film makers they stated that the initial funding for the film was provided by the Israeli Government. Any new insight into the Holocaust even years later is still riveting. Although the film did not go as deeply as it might have done and did leave many unanswered questions, it still is a major contribution, so we will “never forget.”

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

SHRINKTALK- A new book by Michael Blumenfield

September 14th, 2021 — 7:26am

I am very pleased to bring to the attention of the loyal viewers of this blog, that I have just published a new book titled SHRINKTALK. It is based on my experience over many years in the field of psychiatry. It covers a wide variety of subjects such as ethical dilemmas that psychiatrists can face, dealing with anxiety, panic, depression, suicidal thoughts, sexuality, autism, post traumatic stress, psychological issues in regard to the Coronavirus epidemic as well as various medical conditions, my interactions with two U.S. Presidents and many other subjects. Also included in the book are answers to questions that I have provided for a popular website. I should add that I also discuss various movies that illustrate different psychological areas. For example I mention several movies that deal with the subject of finding one’s biological idenity

You can order the book in printed or Kindle version on Amazon. ( Click here )
YOUr comments about the book are welcome here and any are especially welcome on Amazon

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

Audrey

August 25th, 2021 — 5:25am

Audrey
***

A good biographical film provides an insight into the character of the main subject, shows their life trajectory and highlights their accomplishments. Certainly, this film about Audrey Hepburn does these tasks in spades. We see her childhood brush with World War Two, her early years of dance and then her unsurpassed career in film. We get a great insight into how she approached her acting career by some of her co-stars, directors and producers. We briefly meet her various husbands and get glimpses of her children and one of her sons does provide some of the background narration of her later years. It is in the twilight of her life that we see her character emerge as an empathic humanitarian as she tirelessly traveled and raised funds as a spokesperson for UNICEF

However, what was missing in our opinion, was an insight into her childhood and meaningful relationships. We see how in her later years she sought out the father who had abandoned her when she was a child which was a big disappointment. We learn about her marriage to film icon Mel Ferrer which lasted. 14 years and produced one child, a son. She was then married to an Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti for 13 years and she had a second son. She was quoted as saying something to the effect that doctors pay more attention to their patients than their families. She never met her grandchildren who were born after she died in 1993 at the age of 63.

Watching this documentary one can’t help but be reminded of the luminous presence that she was. In the end, her outstanding memorable acting career as an icon during the Golden Years of Hollywood and her dedicated humanitarian work will leave an unforgettable, enduring legacy.

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

Confetti

August 20th, 2021 — 7:43pm

Confetti

****

We would not have expected this film to grab and hold our attention as it did throughout the entire cinematic experience. It is the story of a young school age Chinese girl who was diagnosed by a visiting American teacher as having dyslexia, which means difficulty in reading. Her mother is determined to get help for her child so she can learn to read. When there appears to be no place in China where she can get the assistance that she needs, she learns that there is a specialized school in the United States. The girl and her mother, both of whom only speak a few words of English, take the assistance of the American teacher to stay with his wheelchair-bound mother in New York while they seek a specialized school in order for her to learn how to read. This very cute little girl and her attractive mother capture the screen as they encounter various roadblocks and rejections along the way. This is the essence of this movie and there were no big surprises. As we recount the plot, it does not seem to be particularly intriguing, but yet it held us spellbound as one of the best films we have seen this season. The movie was filmed in both China and in United States (New York). The filmmaker put together a cross-cultural team that carried off this remarkable accomplishment.

One of us (MB) has worked with Tierra del Sol, which is an organization for developmentally disabled and helps youngsters and young adults with variations of this handicap succeed in school, work, and in artistic endeavors. We know that it requires a dedicated team of professionals, supportive family and persistent fund raising to help these handicapped people have meaningful lives. So perhaps the story of this film is misleading or oversimplified or maybe it is a metaphor for what can be done for youngsters who come to the world at a disadvantage, which they can overcome. Kudos to the director and screen writer, Ann Hu and the America/Chinese team that made this film and, of course, the outstanding actors Zhu Zhu, Yanan Li, and American veteran actress, Amy Irving as well as the entire outstanding Chinese and American cast and the film team that brought this to life.

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

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

August 15th, 2021 — 8:18pm

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
***

First of all, the title has very little to do with the theme of the movie. The film is clearly a story about the 1950s. One of the old fashioned themes is that when it comes down to it, the woman is “owned” by the man, although the woman may very well negotiate the sale. Premarital sex is for sale especially among the wealthy as we see through the main characters and it is the woman once again who actually arranges the deal.

The setting is New York City, specifically Manhattan, during the 1950s. The glimpses of the automobiles and the streets and the people seem quite real to those of us who lived in New York during this time period. Most of the action takes place in and out of these Manhattan apartments but this is not what you think of when you think of an apartment house but rather what is called a Brownstone. (Buildings which were once large homes, now divided into several apartments on each of 3 or 4 floors.)

The main character, Holly Golightly, is a “free spirit”, hard to pin down, always a step ahead of the “sugar daddies” she aims to attract. She ultimately falls in love with another tenant in her apartment house played by George Pepard. Audrey Hepburn who is 31 years old at the time of the film is sweet, charming, and very complicated as well as being quite beautiful.

We came away from this cinematic experience with an appreciation of a great actress of her time and an enjoyable look at delightful classic movie

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

Swan Song

August 8th, 2021 — 9:00pm

Swan Song

****

We initially meet Pat Pitsenbarger in a senior living facility where he appears to be in the final stages of his life. It appears that this is going to be a character study of this elderly man, but we soon realize that the journey we are about to undertake with the main character is going to be a much more complicated. It provides insight into the struggle of a gay man and the vibrant life of this man in the gay community that existed in the small mid-western town of Sandusky, Ohio. Pat Pitsenbarger was a real person who was a hairdresser in this town and he also performed at the gay night club that existed here. We soon begin to realize how his life touched so many others through his skill as a hairdresser as well as his sensitivity and caring for others. He did not realize it, but he was a role model for many other people.

In a discussion with the filmmaker, Todd Stephens, we are told that the story is based on a real person who lived in the town where the filmmaker grew up. This film is a moving, insightful examination of this character and his lifestyle. It is done extremely well. It will touch your emotions and provide an understanding of this man and his lifestyle, as well as being quite entertaining and enlightening. Many universal themes are on display and explored including love, loyalty, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness. It feels genuine and draws you in. This also adds up to an excellent cinematic experience and a highly recommended film.

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

Enemies of the State

August 8th, 2021 — 8:52pm

***

This is an unusual documentary film, which not only recounted the story from actual film clips but was interspersed with some reenactments based on actual events. The main character is a young man by the name of Matt DeHart who is a known hacker with ties to WikiLeaks, which is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified documents provided by anonymous sources. The question that is raised is whether this young man is antagonizing the US government by publishing secret documents and is the US government spreading false information that Mr. DeHart is involved in child pornography? We meet this young man and his family who support him and believe he is being set up by the government. The viewer is torn between these two possibilities as we ponder what is the truth. Sonia Kennebeck is the director and producer and has masterfully weaved this story together. We have our own opinion who is telling the truth and as realistic as the film may have been, we did not think it was worth the hour and 45 minutes.

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

The Comeback Trail

July 23rd, 2021 — 7:37pm

The Comeback Trail
****

This is a comedy based on a film that was made in 1982 by the same name that was made by the late Harry Hurwitz. This remake is written and directed by George Gallo. One of the producers of this film is the wife of the late Harry Hurwitz. She and Mr. Gallo were at the preview we attended run by Steven Farber in his series titled Reel Films.

The storyline and this well executed film really gives the viewer a sense of involvement and role of the producers in making a movie come into being, albeit this one being quite exaggerated and comedic. In this case, it is a story about an old country movie star who is brought out retirement from a retirement home for people in the film industry, to star in an exciting Cowboy and Indian film. Mixed into the storyline is a subplot about possibly murdering the comeback movie star so the producers can collect on a large insurance policy on the aging star. we did not mention that this movie stars Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Zach Braff. How can a film miss with such a cast?

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

Road Runner- Documentary Film About Anthony Bourdain

July 15th, 2021 — 5:52am

ROADRUNNER-Documentary Film About Anthony Bourdain
***

Morgan Neville, veteran documentary filmmaker, has just come out with a new documentary about author, TV host, food expert, and documentary filmmaker Anthony Bourdain who has been featured on CNN with his very popular series about food around the world. He has interviewed and interacted with people from all four corners of the earth. We had the opportunity to preview this film and see an interview with the filmmaker by Steve Farber as part of his series Reel Talk. Bourdain had a way with connecting with people from numerous countries and cultures, albeit frequently around food. He had two marriages and one daughter, but we are told that he was away from home 270 days of the year, which says a lot about his family relationships. The film also suggests that a troubled relationship with a girlfriend actress, may have contributed to his final spiral out of control which led to his suicide at age 61. Although the film leaves many unanswered questions about this brilliant and enigmatic man, it is interesting and worth seeing.

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

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