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Viewing in a time of Covid-19


Viewing in the Time of Covid-19
First I want to wish a very happy 70th birthday to my wonderful sister Yvonne in Calgary!
Good to know there are still many things one can celebrate remotely (we did a Skype call).
On the low tech end, for those confined at home it may be time to return to the pleasures of traditional book reading (beyond the flood of online material).  I’m currently making my way through Thomas Piketty’s monumental Capital and Ideology (about which more in a future post).
Viewing options abound.  TV and various streaming services may never again be as popular.  The available content is already staggering.  I’m not a big fan of the new Amazon Prime Series Hunters which imagines Jewish vigilantes hunting down Nazis in the U.S.  But I highly recommend the new HBO (on Crave) miniseries The Plot Against America which imagines a proto-fascist turn in the U.S. in the early 1940s (somehow the Trumpian zeitgeist afflicting our neighbor to the south makes that seem less implausible).  In the third episode which aired March 30 worried American Jewish families start fleeing to Canada but there are also those who become collaborators.
Among the streaming giants, Netflix alone keeps adding an astonishing amount.  Most of these services have quite low monthly fees with unlimited access.  And don’t forget about the thousands of titles that can be freely accessed through the Kanopy platform linked to public libraries.
            In my last post I highly recommended the new Netflix series Tiger King. Check out the related links below, the first of which is an interview with the directors:

Here are brief comments on other Netflix additions:
Freud (Germany 2020, eight episodes)  B+
The founder of psychoanalysis was born Sigismund Schlomo Freud in what is now the Czech Republic, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  We see Freud as a young neuropathologist in Vienna confronting a series of troubling situations (taking cocaine infusions and using hypnosis) while confronting a hostile medical establishment.  There are séances, hysterias, duels, and gory murders.  An aura of the occult envelops society.  This German production boasts production values almost as good as Babylon Berlin.  The fictionalized dramatization of more sensational elements doesn’t work quite as well.  Still it’s an engrossing watch.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (U.S. 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crip_Camp)  A
This excellent documentary feature from writer-directors James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham is executive produced by the Obamas, Barack and Michelle.  It profiles the seminal role of “Camp Jened”, a summer camp which operated from 1951-77, in pioneering a liberating inclusionary approach to handicapped persons. (The camp was located in upstate New York not far from Woodstock and there’s an early sequence from Ritchie Havens’ iconic performance of “Freedom” at that historic 1969 festival.)  The influence of the camp spurred a larger movement for recognizing and implementing the rights of the disabled, including in regard to the challenges of accessibility.  We see the role of groups like Disability in Action in New York and the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley as part of a much broader civil rights activism that sometimes involved public protests, sit-ins, hunger strikes and the like.  The film highlights key moments in an ongoing struggle from the 1960s until the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.   
There’s Something in the Water (Canada 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There%27s_Something_in_the_Water)  A-
This documentary, based on the eponymous book by Dr. Ingrid Waldron is co-directed by activist actress Ellen Page who also narrates as a Nova Scotia native who visits three of that province’s sites of “environmental racism” in which contamination of water sources from toxic dumps or discharges has resulted in serious harms (such as elevated rates of cancers) to marginalized minority populations, notably people of colour and Indigenous peoples.  The culprits are governments and corporate interests protected by them.  The three cases examined are all in Nova Scotia: a landfill in Shelburne, a pulp mill in Pictou Landing/Boat Harbour, and an Alton Gas pipeline project that would pollute the Stewiacke river. The film especially highlights the role of women activists, notably Indigenous women “water protectors”.  While not subtle the approach is effective.  For more comment see:
Last Ferry (U.S. 2019 https://www.lastferrymovie.com/) B
This rather slight thriller directed by Jaki Bradley stars Ramon O. Torres (also the writer, co-editor and producer) as Joseph, an openly gay New York City lawyer who takes a ferry to Fire Island, a strip of land off Long Island popular with LGBTQ vacationers.  Joseph is unattached and hoping for some action, but what he finds takes a dangerous turn after he is drugged and mugged, witnesses an apparent homicide, then hooks up with the seemingly sympathetic Cameron (Sheldon Best) and his housemates.  Will Joseph make the return ferry?  The plot has potential but never quite gets to the dock.



  




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