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Post- Thanksgiving Viewing Update

Is this the beginning of the end of the big screen?  I hope not! Ottawa theatres are shuttered again and thousands have closed across North America.  (All cinemas have stayed dark in New York and L.A. since March.) For a discussion of the prospects see the segment on this recent CBC radio program: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6. At the same time enormous amounts of good content are being added to streaming platforms.However, let me begin with the best film I’ve seen this year— a 1977 Soviet one, The Ascent, by female director Larisa Shepitko.(Tragically, it was her last feature as she and crew members were killed in a 1979 accident.)This extraordinary masterwork was broadcast October 6 on the TCM channel as part of its presentation of Mark Cousins’ 14-hour docuseries Women Make Film: A New Road Movie through Cinema (A+).More at: https://www.womenmakefilm.net/.See also: https://womenmakefilm.tcm.com/and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Make_FilmReviews below begin with three fine doc…
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Early Fall Viewing Options

Included in this post is a review of Nomadland, my top choice from the recent Toronto film festival which was mostly online.More on that festival at these links:https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/09/2020-toronto-film-festival-highlightshttps://variety.com/2020/film/awards/awards-circuit-nomadland-oscars-1234772307/First broadcast September 14 on the PBS as part of its 33rd “POV” season is the 2019 TIFF selection Love Child, an excellent documentaryabout a family of Iranian asylum seekers who find themselves stuck in bureaucratic limbo in Turkey. [*More comment at: http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/tiff-review-love-child.And for a discussion guide see: https://www.pbs.org/pov/engage/resources/love-child-discussion-guide/film-summary/.]At an actual theatre I was able to see a special documentary A Night at the Louvre:Leonardo Da Vinci which is a cinematic guide to the museum’s decade-in-the-making special 500th year anniversary exhibition of the work of the Renaissance Italian…

Mid-September Viewing Options Update

Flying west recently for brief visits in Saskatoon and Calgary was a strange experience with everyone masked throughout and the only thing distributed being a sealed Air Canada “Clean Care” package including a small bottle of sanitizer, latex gloves, and an extra mask (though you already needed one just to enter the airport).With almost no international routes operating, including from U.S. destinations, my return flight from Calgary to Toronto was on a big 300-seat Boeing 787-9 “Dreamliner” with over 100 movies available on the entertainment system.Older titles can sometimes be discovered on streaming services.For example, I watched the 1989 France/Egypt coproduction Alexandria: Again and Forever after The New Yorker’s Richard Brody recommended it as “a masterpiece hiding on Netflix”. Also recently added on Netflix: the documentary Capitalism in the 21st Century based on the book by Thomas Piketty (who is also a cinephile), and the fantastic Danish television series “Borgen” (see: ht…