Super sized sodas & cinematic fried Twinkies..

14 Apr

No one really cares about anyone else’s guilty pleasure films and yet, everyone has their own guilty pleasure films – even if they won’t admit it. And thats ok. I have mine- I call them my Cinematic Fried Twinkies because they are not good as a steady diet but they are so light & yummy but surprisingly satisfying.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who either:
A) won’t stop trying to get you to love their Cinematic Fried Twinkies OR
B) can’t see just how much better you’re Cinematic Fried Twinkie really is- because of course it is! My Fried Cinematic Twinkies tend to have accents and be romantic comedies.

I can’t help it- films like GREENFINGERS with Clive Owen, WAKING NED DIVINE with David Kelly, & LOCAL HERO with Burt Lancaster, are my weakness. Why? With a seemingly improbable plot- usually the no fail ‘little guy trying to fight an unjust system wins against all odds’ – these films make me feel warm & fuzzy and yet, as with GREENFINGERS, they give you food for thought.

With GREENFINGERS- you ponder the prison system & concepts of rehabilitation; with LOCAL HERO – you ponder responsibility to the environment & the stewardship of the planet that we all share; with WAKING NED DIVINE- like the less charming WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S & definitely the most fried of my Twinkies – you wonder how the heck you would keep anyone from figuring out your gravy train is dead before you can claim the winning lottery prize.
Stock up on some tasty treat movies for the long holiday weekend & don’t fidget hour super sized soda to go with it!

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Earth & water: looking at oppression through film

1 Apr

So I had another great unplanned cinematic double feature Friday night – after teaching a class on Deepa Mehta’s 1998 film, EARTH1947 ( part of her EARTH, FIRE & WATER trilogy on issues in India) I headed over to my local Alamo for an apocalyptic environmental turn & Darren Aronofsky’s Pope Francis approved NOAH. It’s nights like Friday that have me wishing I was at the New Beverly cinema in LA more often- I miss their great double headers – like SPINAL TAP & The DOORS- brilliant!!!

Both EARTH 1947 & NOAH deal with jealousy & misguided motives, repression by an unfettered force, evil in the hearts of men, hope for a new life & a new world order, and the desire for love & happiness. While EARTH looks at India’s independence from English rule on the brink is its split into Hindustan & Pakistan, NOAH looks at the world’s split from human corruption under God’s dominion.

While a more obvious double header might be NOAH with Mehta’s look at Indian widowhood along the banks of the Ganges in her film WATER, EARTH 1947- with it’s message of peaceful co-existence between varying religions worked well as a pre- cursor to Aronofsky’s cautionary tale. If we cannot co-exist harmoniously with the plants and animals on the earth, acting as stewards for a better world (as in NOAH) what hope is there for humans to live together, respectful of our different beliefs, without apartheid or religious division, spurred on by brutal acts of revenge & dominance ( as in EARTH 1947) ?

Mexican milkshakes & the Loss of Lego fun..

7 Mar

So – there’s an Alamo draft house by me- its been here a year or so already. We’re still a bit behind the trend – Vermont ski town like manchester & waitsfield near Sugarbush (to name 2 great ones) have some great little theaters that have been serving food & drink for years & of course, the idea has already been in Los Angeles for years & years.

I hate the interruption of servers (however nice they r & however quiet they try to be) coming & going all throughout the movie- asking u questions, disrupting your attention, etc.

That said, I went to see the Lego movie last night specifically because I wanted to watch a silly fun movie while having a few drinks. Wouldn’t ya know- the servers never came back after they dropped off the first round & the movie was sooo flat- best lines in the trailer r actually most of the best lines.

It’s interesting to watch the effects & see how they stick to the concept that everything is built by Legos and there’s a cute little twist but it was a VERY long 90 minutes. Could have been like watching Pink Floyd laser show at the New York planetarium with a cocktail & everything is trippy & fun but sadly it was like watching the Pink Floyd laser show at the New York Planetarium without a cocktail- 5 minutes was enough – like watching paint dry. :(

Gravity & Nebraska: Limits, Universes & Universals

25 Jan

Watching screeners and attending Oscars & SAG awards Q & A sessions the past 2 months have had me unwittingly curate some very strange double features for my viewing pleasure. After watching Gravity & then jumping into Nebraska one night, it seemed like the running theme that week somehow ended up being about parents & the way we live our lives -either because of them, despite them, or as them.

I went from the grand scope of Gravity, where the intimacy & immediacy of death is played out by Sandra Bullock’s character in the vastness of the universe, to the much smaller canvas of a father/son road trip crossing state lines while exploring mental & emotional states.

While seemingly so different, both films shared the exploration of purpose & being. They both look at the questions of existence & use of life, forcing the viewer to ponder who we are & why our lives make a difference? Gravity asks why continue to fight for your life when you feel alone -when your reason to exist as parent is gone – why continue to age? Nebraska seems to ask not just how we age in society but how do our roles as children allow our parents to age? At an age when many people struggle with mid-life crisis issues & ideas of identity & self-acceptance, are we good caregivers of others? Are we good at helping others to age with dignity?

I couldn’t help but love the comparison between these two films & I’m glad I did them back to back. The incredible sound & special effects work of Gravity- where perception constantly shifts from the exterior to the interior, the limitlessness of space to the hyper close area within a space helmet & the reflection captured on the surface of an eye contrasts the endless vistas of the simple road trip and Americana of the American experience in Nebraska while both films tackle the limits & expanse of the mind & heart.

Slow & simple: weeping camels & Kentucky fried chicken

25 Jan

In a world where new is better & faster is the best, I have been captivated by several films that take their time to open up like a red wine that breathes & expands after it is uncorked. The German-Mongolian co-production The story of the Weeping Camel looks at the connection between the Mongolian people and their domesticated Bactrian camel herds. One family goes through great lengths to develop the missing bond between mother camel & newborn calf. Along the way, this 2003 docudrama shares with us the respect and love that this herding family feels for their animals, as well as for each other.

Meanwhile, 2002 saw South Korea create a story pitting city against country, excess against minimalism, grandson against grandmother. With a minimum of dialogue & set in an unforgiving but beautiful rural mountain village, The Way Home also takes a gentle look at the importance of familial bonds & maternal love. Like The Giving Tree in Shel Silverstein’s 1964 children’s book of the same name, the grandmother gives of herself repeatedly for the selfish boy under her care. Gently unwinding, the film guides us as we develop affection & respect for the grandmother (intuitively portrayed by a 76 year old non-actress) and an unexpected tenderness & understanding for her self-centered grandson.

These two films complement each other so well in their messages of intergenerational & interspecies love and respect. Grab a bottle of wine. Shut off your cell phone. Watch this peaceful & joyous double header.

Defenestration & Monsieur Lazhar

16 Jan

Monsieur Lazhar: (major spoiler alert!!!) I can’t help but be moved every time I listen to little Victor matter-of-factly tell his classmates that his grandfather threw himself out of the window after being tortured in Chile. The acceptance & casual sharing of such a tragic & profound event belies the fact that he has thought it about in a way that is textured by his parents’ point-of-view. In contrast, Bashir’s reassurance of Simon’s innocence in his teacher Martine’s suicide parallels Bashir’s own need for reassurance regarding his culpability in his own wife’s death. Such a gentle, lovely way to look at how our actions always affect those around us and how we should never shy away from leaping in where solace is needed.

22 minutes in heaven -The Cafe…

15 Jan

Not sure why UK TV show The Cafe doesn’t get more play… Airs on PBS in NY & is such a brilliant, dry look at your stereotypical quirky English village. Sweet, edgy, funny, with rapid-fire repetition of dialogue contrasting slow reaction shots. 3 generations of women finding their way- I love it!

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