Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2019

From Blue Roses and Notes to Democracy's Edge, Pavarotti, Fatherlands, JT, Toy Stories and Photographs

I’ll start with some notes on five documentaries. At last September’s One World Film Festival the audience favorite was a 55-minute documentary Blue Roses ( ) by Ottawa-based filmmakers Ed Kucerak and Danielle Rolfe. It’s a moving exploration of the palliative care needs of the capital’s vulnerable low-income population living in rooming houses. That premiere had its own challenges as it was on the day after 6 tornados hit the capital region when the filmmakers along with most of the audience had lost power and the venue was running on backup generators. On June 19 there was an encore screening in a packed theatre—Ottawa’s historic Mayfair—followed by a panel discussion.   The documentary has been selected for several other festivals, including one in Regina, and hopefully it might be picked up for television broadcast.             Meriting mention are several other documentaries. The best of these by far is The Edge of Democracy (Brazil 2019

Mid-June Movie Picks

Let me begin by noting an outstanding HBO documentary now showing that premiered to acclaim at the Cannes festival. (More at:  Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, Ice on Fire delves deeply and clearly into the science of climate, the carbon cycle, emissions of other greenhouse gases notably methane, and the effects on the biosphere of human activity. As compelling as it is insightful, there’s also positive information on energy alternatives and mitigation efforts (e.g. carbon capture and sequestration). Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese    (U.S. 2019) Veteran master filmmaker Martin Scorsese has a major Netflix drama The Irishman scheduled for release late this year.   He also has a legacy of making great popular music documentaries.   1978’s The Last Waltz is widely regarded (including by me, see pp. 38-39 of my book The Best of Screenings & Meanings : ) as the

More Docs, Fallen Empire, and a Rocketman

I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries as part of the selection process for the 30 th  One World Film Festival.  In addition, here are three getting a theatrical release. The Spy Behind Home Plate (U.S. 2019 ) Directed by Aviva Kempner, this is the fascinating story behind the espionage exploits of Morris “Moe” Berg, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to America, who first achieved renown as the Princeton scholar and lawyer who became an all-star catcher in major league baseball during the 1920s and 1930s.  Berg was played by Paul Rudd in Ben Lewin’s dramatization  The Catcher was a Spy , based on the Nicholas Dawidoff biography  Catcher was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg , that premiered at the 2018 Sundance film festival.  The documentary provides a superior and fuller appreciation. During the Second World War, Berg, whose talents included knowledge of a dozen languages, was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OS