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.
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.
What does a filmmaker do for an encore after having scored a major international hit? The filmmaker in question is Asghar Farhadi. A couple years ago, Farhadi earned across-the-board acclaim and a well-deserved Best Foreign Film Academy Award for A Separation, a quietly powerful drama about a family in crisis. The country of origin of A Separation is Iran, and its characters are Iranian. But aside from being an exceptional film, what makes A Separation special is that it explores issues that are common to countless families, irrespective of nationality.
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?
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.
Reviewer Rob Edelman takes a look at the history of slavery in cinema upon the release of 12 Years A Slave...
For sure, 12 Years A Slave is one of the best films not just of the season but of the year. However, there is one point about the subject matter explored in the film that deserves to be challenged. At the start of the Toronto Film Festival press conference for 12 Years A Slave, the film’s director, Steve McQueen, casually observed that the subject of slavery “hasn’t been given a platform in cinema.” Well, this simply is not so.