While soaking in the coverage on CNN of the death of Nelson Mandela, I was not surprised to hear the deservedly respectful quotes from diverse political figures. Certainly, Barack Obama’s declaration that Mandela “no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages” is ever-so appropriate.
The silent film era from the start of the 20th Century through the end of the 1920s was a rich time in American entertainment. Rich, poor, immigrants new to our nation—they all sought out the new and wondrous moving shadows which looked so clearly like real life. By the mid-teens, the Hollywood studio system and movie companies in Chicago, New York, and parts of New Jersey, as well as Florida and Maine, were churning out thousands of short films and feature-length entertainments for mass consumption.
These days, we are long-past the time in which cineastes would excitedly queue up to check out the latest work of art from a filmmaker who is not American: an Ingmar Bergman, say, or a Federico Fellini, an Akira Kurosawa, a Francois Truffaut. Today, with pitifully few exceptions, films with subtitles simply are not widely seen in the U.S. And with few exceptions-- two that come to mind are Michael Haneke and Pedro Almodovar-- there are no foreign filmmakers whose careers match the length and depth of Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Truffaut, and so many others.
Until recently, to my way of thinking, the term “bullying” referred to groups of grade school, high school, or college-age kids who singled out and picked on a solitary young person who was viewed as being weak and vulnerable. But one current media item has been much on my mind. This is coverage of the alleged harassment of Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by one or more of his teammates. So the questions here become: Are insecure children the only victims of bullying? In fact, can a 300-pound professional football player also be bullied? Is there a difference between good-natured locker room ribbing and the kind of provocation that apparently was experienced by Jonathan Martin?
When German director Margarethe von Trotta makes a film, I rush to see it. Her previous works include powerful portrayals of strong-minded women who come up against the Establishment and boldly act to change society as they see it. She is a fine director, writer, and actress whose films go back to New German Cinema.
Back in September, a new film titled PARKLAND very quickly made the rounds of the film festival circuit, screening at Venice, Toronto, and elsewhere. Then in October, PARKLAND opened theatrically. Even before coming to movie houses, its November 5 DVD release date was announced. From a marketing standpoint, all of this makes perfect sense. That is because PARKLAND is an ensemble piece which recounts the chaos that occurred in Dallas, Texas, five decades ago this month, upon the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Upon first seeing the word “vampire” in the description of ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, the latest Jim Jarmusch film, which was screened this year at the Toronto Film Festival, I thought to myself, “Oh, no. Not another vampire film.” And furthermore, is Jarmusch just being trendy here? Is he looking to latch onto the coattails of the TWILIGHT franchise by making a film about creatures who subsist by sucking the blood of living beings?
Sarah Polley’s unusual documentary, STORIES WE TELL, was released on DVD earlier this month. It is an outstanding genre piece and a fascinating study of human behavior. If one views it as a low-budget Canadian production about a Canadian show-business family, it might just get lost in the shuffle of Fall video releases. That would be a shame, because STORIES WE TELL has plenty to say—and a very creative way of saying it!