Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Homesman

Mary Bee Cuddy is a 31-year-old spinster from New York, a former teacher who journeyed to the Midwest for more opportunity. She is an active member of the small farming community she now calls home in Loup City, Nebraska Territory, and has significant financial prospects and sizable land ownership. Though seemingly strong and independent, inside she is suffering from depression from isolation, and after being rejected by potential husbands for being too "plain". She proposes to a man named Bob Giffen and sings to him on her makeshift piano, and he turns her down.
After a harsh winter, three young women—Arabella Sours, Theoline Belknapp, and Gro Svendsen—begin to show signs of insanity due to the hardships they faced. One lost her children to diphtheria, one killed her own child, and one was raped and suffers a breakdown after her mother dies. Reverend Dowd calls upon one of their husbands to escort the women eastward to a church in Hebron, Iowa that cares for the mentally ill. Unsatisfied with any of the men's potential, Mary Bee volunteers for the task alone, and Dowd reluctantly agrees. -Wikipedia

Hilary Swank once again demonstrates her ability to bring honesty and believably to a roll. Her solid delivery and brevity draw you into the plight of women who suffered the elements and men of the untamed and sparse plains territories. The locations, the wide expanse of the plains are not forgiving and actively work against the characters. All of the actors display a quality that only well studied professionals can bring to the screen. The movie has a slow rhythm giving the viewer time to take in all that is happening. If you are looking for a good drama with a touch of madness this is the movie. This can be considered a "classic" western with its human drama but Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank and the rest provide a rarely considered reality of life on the plains.~Mike

Directed by Tommy Lee Jones
Produced by Tommy Lee Jones, Luc Besson, Peter . Brant, Brian Kennedy
Written by Tommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald, Wesley Oliver
Based on The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Jo Harvey Allen, Barry Corbin, David Dencik, William Fichtner, Evan Jones, Caroline Lagerfelt, John Lithgow, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep 

Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
Edited by Roberto Silvi

Released in 2014
Run time 122 minutes

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Life of Emile Zola

Set in the mid through late 19th century, it depicts Zola's friendship with Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, and his rise to fame through his prolific writing, with particular focus on his involvement late in life in the Dreyfus affair.
Struggling writer Émile Zola (Paul Muni) shares a drafty Paris attic with his friend, painter Paul Cézanne (Vladimir Sokoloff). A chance encounter with a street prostitute (Erin O'Brien-Moore) hiding from a police raid inspires his first bestseller, Nana, an exposé of the steamy underside of Parisian life. -Wikipedia

Directed by William Dieterie
Written by Matthew Josephson (source material), Heinz Herald (story and screenplay), Geza Herczeg (story and screenplay), Norman Reilly Raine (screenplay)
Starring Paul Muni, Gloria Holden, gale Sondergaard, Jpseph Schildkraut
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by Warren Low

Released in 1937
Run time 116 minutes

Freedom's Fury: One Team. One Country. One Chance for Revenge.

Freedom's Fury is a documentary film about the Melbourne, Australia 1956 Summer Olympics semifinal water polo match between Hungary and the USSR, and the events that led up to the violent battle, the match that what would later be known as the "Blood in the Water match." -Wikipeadia

Released in 2006
Run time 90 minutes

Television Under the Swastika

Legend has it that the triumphal march of television began in the United States in the 1950s but in reality its origins hark back much further. Nazi leaders, determined to beat Great Britain and the U.S. to be the world’s first television broadcaster, began Greater German Television in March 1935. German viewers enjoyed their TV broadcasts until September 1944, as Allied troops closed in. -Website

Released in 1999
Run time 54 minutes

The Restless Conscience

The Restless Conscience is a film documenting the resistance to Hitler inside Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. It is a powerful and provocative documentary feature that explores the motivations of the anti-Nazi resisters whose actions also included numerous attempts on Hitler's life. Website

Written and Directed by Hava Kohave Beller
Narrated by John Dildine
Cinematography Gabor, bagyoni, Volker Rodde, Martin Schaer

Released in 1992
Run time 113 minutes

Sisters in Resistance

"Indignation can move mountains. It's the strongest emotion," says Germaine Tillion, an anthropology student and active leader in the resistance movement in France, "Face with crime and cruelty, something wells up within you. I call it indignation. It's twofold: Anger and revolution, but also a feeling that justice is on your side and the person before you represents evil." -Wikipedia

Directed by Maia Wechsler
Narrated by Kate Mulgrew
Released in 2000
Run time 60 minutes

Blood in the Face

Blood in the Face was inspired by a nonfiction book by author James Ridgeway, who is also credited as one of the film's directors. This documentary was largely shot in Cohoctah Township, Michigan. It focuses on a gathering of neo-Nazis, racists, and conspiracy theorists who expect people of color to ignite a Racial Holy War in the U.S. -Wikipedia

One of the scariest documentaries I have seen. Hate and ignorance must be confronted at every opportunity ~Mike

Released in 1991
Run time 78 minutes

The Power of the Powerless

Inspiring story of the Velvet Revolution 

The topic of how best to resist a totalitarian system occupied Havel's mind after the launch of Charter 77. This became the crux of his essay, which was one of the most "original and compelling pieces of political writing" to come out of the Eastern Bloc.Dedicated to the memory of Jan Patočka, the opening section of the essay sought to explain what Charter 77 signified to those living within Czechoslovakia, and "to give courage" to fellow opponents of the Soviet block elsewhere.
Havel coined the term "post-totalitarian" for this essay, writing, "I do not wish to imply by the prefix "post-" that the system is no longer totalitarian; on the contrary, I mean that it is totalitarian in a way fundamentally different from classical dictatorships..." -Wikipedia

Levitated Mass

While watching the documentary I could not help but notice the amount of "No's" the artist faced. Just about everyone said no. But Michael Heizer persevered and succeeded with his vision. The frustration of city councils, commissioners, along with the hard work and creative problem solving of Michael's assistants, the company of men and women who moved the rock and the LACMA this turns out to be a fascinating look into modern technology and modern art. If it's your passion or your dream you must push through the negative.  ~ Mike

The work comprises a 21.5-foot tall boulder mounted on the walls of a 456-foot long concrete trench, surrounded by 2.5 acres of compressed decomposed granite. The boulder is bolted to two shelves affixed to the inner walls of the trench, which descends from ground level to 15 feet below the stone at its center, allowing visitors to stand directly below the megalith.
Initial plans for the work described the boulder as being affixed to the trench walls themselves, giving the boulder the appearance of 'floating' when viewed from within the trench via optical illusion, hence the work's title. With the addition of the support shelves, this illusion does not occur. A 1982 Heizer work in Manhattan, also called Levitated Mass, consists of a much smaller, carved rock set on hidden supports, and does preserve this 'floating' effect.
Heizer rarely explains or comments on his work and has never offered a public explanation of Levitated Mass's meaning or significance. He has, however, described the piece as being 'static art' and has emphasized the importance of the boulder's size and of the work's longevity, saying that the work is meant to last 3,500 years. LACMA has published a preliminary sketch of the work by Heizer that contains a handwritten notation saying that the work "destroys 'gestalt' concepts". -Wikipedia

Levitated Mass Website

Artist Michael Heizer 
Director Doug Pray
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin'


This is an outstanding documentary. His music has changed the world. ~ Mike

Johnny Allen Hendrix 
November 27, 1942
September 18, 1970

This presentation is part of PBS American Masters series. Here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Night at the Museum(s)

Night at the Museum
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is divorced, unable to keep a stable job, and has failed at many business ventures (especially his invention, "The Snapper", a switch that turns the lights off by snapping your fingers). His ex-wife (Kim Raver) believes that he is a bad example to their ten-year-old son Nicky (Jake Cherry), and Larry fears that Nick respects his future stepfather, bond trader Don (Paul Rudd), more than him.
Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), an elderly night security guard about to retire from the American Museum of Natural History, hires Larry despite his unpromising résumé. The museum plans to replace Cecil and two colleagues Gus (Mickey Rooney) and Reginald (Bill Cobbs) with one guard. They advise Larry to leave some of the lights on and warn him not to let anything "in... or out".  -Wikipedia

Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
Screenplay by Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant
Based on The Night at the Museum by Milan Trecn
Starring Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Don Zimmerman
Released in 2006
Run time 108 minutes
Night at the Museum 2 Battle of the Smithsonian
Two years after the events of the previous film, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now CEO of Daley Devices, a direct response television company that sells inventions inspired by his experiences as a night security guard at the American Museum of Natural History. While wealthy and successful, he has not had the time to see his museum exhibit friends in several months.
One day when Larry returns to the museum, he finds out that it is closed for renovations and upgrades. He asks his former boss Dr. McPhee about it. McPhee tells him that because not many people have come to the museum in a long time, he has been asked to replace 90% of the museum exhibits which are moving to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; and fill the museum with new holographic exhibits that automatically answer questions on historical subjects. Later that night, Larry goes into the museum to visit his friends one last time and he is told that while Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Rexy the Tyrannosaurus skeleton, the Easter Island Head (Brad Garrett), and Akhmenrah (Rami Malek) will remain at the museum, Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), their fellow minifigures, Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck), Dexter the Capuchin Monkey, and the Neanderthals will no longer come to life since the Golden Tablet of Akhmenrah that animated the exhibits each night will also remain. -Wikipedia

Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan
Written by Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Based on Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc
Starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Alain Chabat, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Edited by Don Zimmerman

Released in 2009
Run time 104 minutes
Night at the Museum 3 Secret of the Tomb
In 1938, in Egypt a team of archaeologists are digging into a tomb to look for a very valuable artifact. A young boy falls through a hole, leading his father and the others to what they came for - the tablet of Ahkmenrah. Several local men see the tablet and say that if the archaeologists remove it, then "the end will come".
In present day New York City, Larry Daley is overseeing a nighttime event at the Museum of Natural History with Dr. McPhee in attendance. Larry gathers the favorite exhibits, including Teddy Roosevelt, Attila the Hun, Sacagawea, Dexter the Monkey, and Rexy the T-Rex skeleton. Larry meets a new wax figure Neanderthal modeled after himself named Laaa. Ahkmenrah had earlier warned of the tablet's corrosion, causing the exhibits to act abnormally. The corrosion causes chaos, with the attendees having to flee from dangers caused by the affected exhibits. When Larry returns home, he catches his son Nicky throwing a party as the DJ. Nicky explains he doesn't intend to apply to college, wanting to take time to pursue being a DJ and to figure out what he wants to do with his life. -Wikipedia

Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe
Screenplay by David Guion, Michael Handelman
Based on Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc
Starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Ricky Gervais
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Dean Zimmerman

Released in 2014
Run time 97 minutes

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry (Stepin Fetchit)

It's almost impossible to watch Lincoln play the stereotype. He carved out a life for himself where black Americans were not necessarily allowed. He demonstrated a true genius with his acting and showmanship. I find myself in awe. He takes control of every scene. I wish he had the opportunity to play more serious roles. 
Please excuse some of the language in the descriptions below.

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry (May 30, 1902 – November 19, 1985), better known by the stage name Stepin Fetchit, was an American comedian and film actor.
Perry parlayed the Fetchit persona into a successful film career, eventually becoming a millionaire, the first black actor in history to do so. He was the first black actor to receive featured screen credit in a film.
Perry's typical film persona and stage name have long been controversial, and seen as illustrative of negative stereotypes of African-Americans. Seen through a modern lens, Perry's "laziest man in the world" character can be "painfully racist" but also "subversive". Wikipedia

Stepin Fetchit remains one of the most controversial movie actors in American history. While he was undoubtedly one of the most talented physical comedians ever to do his shtick on the Big Screen, achieving the rare status of being a character actor/supporting player who actually achieved superstar status in the 1930s (becoming a millionaire to boot), his characterization as a lazy, slow-witted, jive-talkin' "coon" offended African-Americans at the time he was a major attraction in motion pictures (primarily the 1930s) and still offends African-Americans in the 21st century, more than 50 years after he had faded from the screen. Yet some African-Americans claim him as the first black superstar, and thus a trailblazer for others of his "race." The controversy over Stepin Fetchit remains alive to this day, with two biographies published about him in 2005. Setcelebs 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Room 237

American documentary film directed by Rodney Ascher about perceived meanings in Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining. The film includes footage from The Shining, and other Kubrick films, along with discussions by a number of Kubrick enthusiasts. The film has nine segments, each segment focusing on different elements within the film which "may reveal hidden clues and hint at a bigger thematic oeuvre." The film was produced by Tim Kirk.

Directed by Rodney Ascher
Produced by Tim Kirk
Starring Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner
Music by Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson, The Caretaker, Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind
Edited by Rodney Ascher
Released in 2012
Run time 102 miutes

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale

The film received its name from a famed line from The Godfather Part II directed toward Cazale's character of Fredo Corleone, and acts as a retrospective of Cazale's distinguished acting career, which was cut short at age 42 when he died of lung cancer.
The film was produced with the cooperation of Meryl Streep, who was living with Cazale at the time of his death. It features interviews with a number of his notable co-stars and directors. -Wikipedia

Released in 2009
Run time 39 minutes

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Volumen is a music video collection released by Björk on 30 November 1998 as a VHS and on 31 May 1999 as a DVD. It includes all of Björk's videos up until "Hunter". On 2 December 2002, it was reissued as Greatest Hits - Volumen 1993–2003 which includes all the videos to "Nature Is Ancient". A separate DVD released in 2002, Volumen Plus, is available for those who purchased this original release and who want the additional seven videos. It has been certified Gold in the USA. -Wikipedia

Released 1998

Payback: Some Debts Can't be Paid with Money

An adaptation of Margaret Atwood's book examining the metaphor of indebtedness. -IMDB

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tarr Bela I used to be a Filmmaker

An illuminating and extremely rare documentary profile of one of the great filmmakers of our time, Bela Tarr. Filmed during the production of The Turin Horse, his final film, Tarr Bela: I Used To Be A Filmmaker features clips, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with longtime collaborators such as Mihaly Vig, Erika Bok and Tarr's wife and co-director Agnes Hranitzky. IMDB

Directed by Jean-Marc Lamoure
Cast Erika Bok, Zolt Cholnoky, Kata Czigler, Janos Derzsi, Jeroen Frantzen, Szabolcs Galgoczy, Miklos Hajdu, Agnes Hranitzky, Zsolt Jambor, Attila Janosi, Fred Kelemen, Yann-Eryl Mer, Bela Tarr, Janos Toth, Gabor Teni, Mihaly Vig

Music by Akosh Szelevenyl
Cinematography Jean-Marc Lamoure, Frederic Lombard
Edition Nadia Ben Rachid, Jean-Marc Lamoure

Antonio Gaudi

The Village Voice wrote a review describing the film as "Something of a passion project, completed decades after an earlier visit by the director, the film is given over to an eager, rolling catalog of Gaudí's fin de siècle works sans much voiceover or any explanatory text". The New York Times wrote that "Much of the imagery in 'Gaudi' is nothing less than astounding in its beauty and boldness, and the blending of a neo-Gothic mysticism and grandeur with an Art Nouveau line and a surreal apprehension of the power of nature". Wikipedia

Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí (1852–1926) designed some of the world’s most astonishing buildings, interiors, and parks; Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara constructed some of the most aesthetically audacious films ever made. Here their artistry melds in a unique, enthralling cinematic experience. Less a documentary than a visual poem, Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudí takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture, including his massive, still-unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. With camera work as bold and sensual as the curves of his subject’s organic structures, Teshigahara immortalizes Gaudí on film. Criterion Collection

Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852 in Riudoms or Reus, to the coppersmith Francesc Gaudí i Serra (1813–1906) and Antònia Cornet i Bertran (1819–1876). He was the youngest of five children, of whom three survived to adulthood: Rosa (1844–1879), Francesc (1851–1876) and Antoni. Gaudí's family originated in the Auvergne region in southern France. One of his ancestors, Joan Gaudí, a hawker, moved to Catalonia in the 17th century; possible origins of Gaudí's family name include Gaudy or Gaudin.
Wikipedia Bio

Director Hiroshi Teshigahara
Music by Shinji  Hori, Kurodo Mori, Toro Tekemitsu
Cinematography Junichi Segawa, ryu Segawa, YoshiKazu Yanagida
Edited by Hiroshi Teshigara, Eiko Yoshida


Miami-born Carl Casper is the head chef of Gauloise in Brentwood, California. While popular with his kitchen staff and hostess Molly, the restaurant owner Riva wants Carl to stick to tired "classics" rather than innovative dishes. Carl has a strained relationship with his tech-savvy preteen son Percy and ex-wife Inez.
When Carl has a chance to prove his talents during a visit from prestigious critic and blogger Ramsey Michel, Riva demands that he stick with old favorites at the last minute, causing Carl to concede, leading to a scathing review. On Twitter, Carl insults Ramsey, not realizing that his reply is public, and gains a large Twitter following. Carl comes up with an inspirational new menu that his staff loves and invites Ramsey to a "rematch". After a confrontation with Riva, Carl walks out, quitting. At home, he prepares the menu he wanted to serve to Ramsey, goes to the restaurant, and angrily berates Ramsey.
Videos featuring Carl's meltdown go viral, and his professional credibility evaporates. Molly and Inez encourage him to run a food truck. He accepts Inez's invitation to Miami, where he spends some quality time with Percy and rediscovers his love for Cuban cuisine. Inez's ex-husband Marvin offers him a dilapidated food truck, and Carl reluctantly accepts. He and Percy bond while restoring the truck and buying groceries and Carl buys him a chef's knife. Martin, his friend from Gauloise, turns down his restaurant promotion to work with Carl, who has become an exuberant and passionate chef again.

Directed by Jon Favreau
Produced by Jon Favreau, Karen Gilchrist, Sergei Bespalov
Written by Jon Favreau
Starring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Keguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey, Jr.
Emjay Anthony
Cinematography Kramer Morgenthau
Edited by Robert Keighton

Released in 2014
Run time 114 minutes 

Monday, March 2, 2015

When Bjork Met Attenborough

When Björk Met Attenborough is a 2013 documentary television film directed by Louise Hooper, executive produced by Lucas Ochoa and produced by Caroline Page. It was aired for the first time on 27 July 2013 on Channel 4, in conjunction with Pulse Films and One Little Indian Records. Partly filmed at the Natural History Museum in London, the documentary features an encounter between Icelandic singer-songwriter and musician Björk and English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough. They discuss the nature of music and the intersection between music, nature and technology. It also follows the singer as she prepares for her Biophilia Tour, along with rehearsal and studio recording.
The documentary was inspired by the singer's eighth studio album Biophilia (2011), which was released as a series of apps which blends nature elements with musicology. Collaborators in the project Scott Snibbe, Damian Taylor, Andy Cavatorta and Evan Grant appear in the documentary to talk about their role in the development of the album and the live show. It also includes neurologist Oliver Sacks, who talks about the effect of music on the brain.
Despite the low ratings, the show received positive to moderate reviews from critics, who applauded the content of the documentary but, in some cases, criticised the interaction between Attenborough and Björk, which was considered "awkward" and "unlikely". The documentary was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 5 May 2014. Wikipedia

Two of the most intriguing humans on the planet today. ~Mike

Directed by Louise Hooper
Starring Bjork, David Attenborough
Narrated by Tilda Swinton
Executive Producer Lucas Ochoa
Released in 2013
Run time 47 minutes