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.
Last weekend, the mighty Florida Gators football team lost, at home, to Georgia Southern. This is notable for several reasons. First, and foremost, Georgia Southern plays in the lower tier FCS Division I subdivision, not the FBS top category like the Gators. This is the first time since the creation of these divisions that Florida has lost to an FCS, or I-AA squad. It also sealed Florida’s first losing record since 1979 and the first season since 1990 without a bowl game. It could inevitably cost Florida coach Will Muschamp his job, and it’s led to considerable unrest amongst the legions of Florida fans, including the big donors that help fund the program.
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.
I went to the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, as well as the track and field Olympic trials in the same venue. I watched Michael Johnson run, which at that point I assumed was the fastest man there ever could be, and I spent the better part of a week surviving the summer heat of Hotlanta. And I remember thinking, as a track and field fan, that wow, that’s one nice track stadium in the middle of a big city.
When I say the word hazing, you probably think about college, maybe a frat house where pledges are forced to dress up or clean the house or things far more onerous and potentially dangerous. In fact, hazing has gone from something of a tradition to a dirty word, something that keeps college presidents up all night. Once a right of passage, now it’s something of a criminal offense.
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.
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!