Thursday, October 27, 2016

"America's Small Town in Canada": short about the Northwest Angle of Minnesota

America’s Small Town in Canada” is a CBS Sunday Morning short film about the Northwest Angle in the Lake of the Woods, a section of Minnesota that juts north into Manitoba (along its own border with Ontario).

The area exists because of an error in drawing maps in the 19th Century.

But visitors have to sign in and out with customs to leave and go through Manitoba to go shopping, along a dirt road.

There is one small public school.   There’s one large family owned fishery and boat business.
I drove to the area in July 2001 on a Sunday morning,  The dirt road is not very good.  It was actually a hot day, in the low 90s.

Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Damanan5.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Michael Moore in Trumpland" (Wilmington, Ohio), on iTunes

Today, I watched “Michael Moore in Trumpland” after upgrading iTunes on my MacBook.  It seems that right now the film is available from iTunes ($4.95) but I don’t see it on Amazon Prime yet.  This is Moore’s “October surprise.”  The best site seems to be here.

Most of the film (72 minutes) consists of Michael Moore’s doing a comedy routine on a well-furnished stage in Wilmington, Ohio (north of Cincinnati) , in the heart of white blue-collar “Trumpland”.

 The middle of the film is punctuated with a comic enactment of what happens on January 20, 2017 if Trump is elected.

Trump makes a good point when he tells the white middle class, OK, throw a tantrum.  I’ve had enough, of all kinds of indignities – job loss, higher premiums.  But then the fan stops a week later.  At the end, he says, hate Hillary all you like.  But vote for her.

He also mentions the right wing “demographic winter” argument, and says it comes down to “the right babies” or “more white babies.”  But actually, minorities who emigrate to the US gradually reduce fertility while living here.

Moore gets to become rich himself by making fun of the other rich.  He’s not the only one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Hooligan Sparrow": Chinese try to cover up abuse of elementary school girls by a principal

Hooligan Sparrow”, by Nanfu Wang, documents the journey of activist Ye Haiyan in rural southern China (Hainan?), to blow the whistle on an elementary school principal who abuses at least six girls. In the US, this would lead to immediate dismissal, investigation and prosecution. Not in China,
  Along the way, she faces harassment and imprisonment herself.

The film also touches on the role of women in rural Chinese culture, the expectation that they will be “realistic” in finding marriage partners.  It also gets into the process by which impoverished young girls become sex workers in China.  There is the idea that in China women sacrifice for men.

The later part of the film shows a long train ride to the north,

The PBS broadcast Monday Oct. 18 on POV-Independent Lens was followed by a brief featurette interview of the director. PBS link is here.

Wikipedia attribution link by Anna Frodesiak, pd.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sneak preview of controversial film: Distributor orders all cell phones checked in during the show

Tonight, as I left seeing “Cameraperson” (to be reviewed soon on Wordpress in detail) at Landmark E Street, I passed a security guard station where consumer cell phones, all sitting on a table identified with tickets, sat out in public.  Maybe there were some Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s.

It turns out that for a sneak preview of “American Pastoral” (Ewan McGregor), about deadly 1960s revolutionary activism, officially to be released Oct. 27, Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment didn’t want to allow the possibility that a customer could film or record.  That would mean all digital cameras should have been confiscated, too.  But I have never seen this done for a sneak before.  This particular theater has cell signals blocked in the auditoriums by the architecture of the building.

In March 2012, there was a disco party called the “Black Party” at a hotel above midtown Manhattan near the hotel where I stayed to go to a LGBT bookfair.  I passed it on the way to a free dance bar (the Therapy) and overheard a speaker asking guests to check in their cell phones.  I suppose they didn’t want any photography of the show.  The event was sponsored by the old bar “The Saint”.  I have hoped that film of the event was shot legally and would be released and sold on DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or the like.  I sounds like it would make a nice release for a company like TLA or Wolfe.  If someone knows anything about this, please comment.  Yes, I’m a big fan of getting valuable (documentary or live event) film distributed legally. I know of three or four other such projects in abeyance.  Yes, I would help.

In 2007, a woman was arrested in an Arlington VA theater for camcording about 20 seconds of a popular film.

Around 2014, I saw someone peddling pirated DVD’s on a NYC subway.  A woman sitting next to me actually bought one for $3, don’t remember the movie, a silly comedy.  Call it street smarts if you will, and don’t tell Donald Trump.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"Killing Reagan" on NatGeo, recreates the 1981 attempt on Reagan ny John Hinckley Jr.. out of a romantic fantasy

Rod Lurie’s film “Killing Reagan” continues the NatGeo series on assassination attempts (successful or not) against US presidents, and aired on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016.

Kyle S. More is chilling, so to speak, as John Warnock Hinckley. Jr.  Physically, he looks fat and formless, featureless.  He is presented as having gone off the rails mentally two or three years before attempting to assassinate Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.  The film shows his life during the 1980 campaign, and his reaction to John Lennon's death.   The film shows his stalking of Jodie Foster, with land line phone calls where he has to tell him not to call again.  The idea of having a job and a place he can earn in society has become replaced with a romantic heterosexual fantasy and fixation.

The assassination sequence is well done and brutal. As Brady lies bleeding on the sidewalk. The scene seems to have been done somewhere else than Washington, as are the scenes outside GW Hospital, since the exteriors don’t match what is or really there.

The film covers the dangerous confusion within the administration during the first hours. The Soviet submarines may be on the move.  The press secretary Speakes is told to get off the stage.  Reagan had walked into the hospital can collapsed. The bullet was difficult to remove, and he lost a lot of blood.

 The script implies that the use of a lot of O- blood could lengthen his recovery and possibly make him impotent, but apparently he overcame that and recovered rapidly. Cynthia Nixon played the dedicated Nancy Reagan.

Tim Matheson, 68, provides a convincingly flabby appearance for Reagan, as noted in a 1985 issue of “Christopher Street”.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"The Chase" (1966) got me back into movie going when I was in grad school: Watch out for Bubber Reeves

I didn’t go to movies much during my undergraduate or graduate school days, but my last night in Lawrence KS at KU my first graduate school semester there in 1966, I walked from McCollum Hall (now torn down) on top of Mt. Oread to downtown Lawrence KS (the Varsity Theater) to see “The Chase”, directed by Arthur Penn, produced by Sam Speigel for Columbia Pictures.

A small town in Texas has the creeps when it learns Bubber Reeves (Robert Redford) has escaped from prison up north and is heading down.  The sheriff (Marlon Brando), the cheating son (Robert Duvall), and oil man Rogers (E.G. Marshall) fight it out.  What impressed me (but not my roommate) was how people in a small town spread rumors and get so focused on the damage that can be done by one person, and it seems like it takes a battle of the titans to do anything about it.

Another film with somewhat the same idea is "High Noon" (1952, see 2019/8/21).

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

"Blood of the Beasts", 1949 short film, shows the bowels of the slaughterhouse industry in at the "gates of Paris"

Blood of the Beasts” (“Le Sang des betes”), 22 min, 1949, by Georges Franju, makes a moral case for veganism today.  Or call it high art.  Or is this a stretch to say, as nobody took food for granted then, so shortly after WWII and Nazi occupation?  It reminds me of the class trip to France that I did not take in early 1958 in ninth grade.

The film, narrated in English, starts out at the “Gates of Paris” with a glorification of the natural squalor around, before showing a business that slaughters horses.  At least it uses an electric prod to cause instant death.  The animals are flayed and eviscerated, and workers have lost limbs in the process.

After another scene of the “gates” we see similar slaughter houses for cows and then sheep.  Some of the executions are done by decapitation. In all cases, the cooperative animals are led by their captors, having no idea that their sentience is about to end.

An old church is used as an auction center.

The workers do this to support their families, and feed the post-War French people.

Monday, October 03, 2016

"Best of Enemies": Gore Vidal v. William F. Buckley

Best of Enemies”, directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon, , aired this evening on PBS Independent Lens (site).

The 85 minute documentary focused on clips of debates between William F. Buckley (the “conservative”) and Gore Vidal, especially during the 1960 elections which Nixon beat Humphrey (after LBJ bowed out).

Buckley said he had always wanted to be a politician but was born a writer, and that Vidal was a “talker”.

Gradually the subject matter turned toward homosexuality, which Vidal considered natural and inconsequential. Buckley even called Vidal a “queer” on television, which was quasi-acceptable in the 1970s.

Later there would be extensive cross litigation between the two when Buckley came under suspicion as at least bisexual himself.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) was the first movie I saw

What was the very first movie I ever went to?

To the best of my recollection, it’s the 1952 technicolor “The Prisoner of Zenda”, based on an 1894 novel by Anthony Hope (English – book report stuff), directed by Richard Thorpe, starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Robert Douglas, and  James Mason, same screenplay as the 1937 BW verison of John Cromwell.  I went with my parents to the old Glebe Theater near Lee Highway in Arlington. The same music by Alfred Newman was used.

The swashbuckling plot would seem artificial to today’s movie goers.  It involves a future king (in a fictitious Balkan country) with a distant relative who looks like him, and a rival for the throne of a fictitious country, who has to marry correctly to challenge the would be king. After the relative subs for him, the king is kidnapped.

I doubt I would have followed the plot very well at nine years old.  But the film demonstrates the old fashioned idea of escapist entertainment, where writers have to go way outside of themselves.