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Showing posts from August, 2019

Late August Movies

All four of the films reviewed in this post premiered at the 2019 Sundance film festival.   That includes After the Wedding which opened the festival.   But I’ll start with two documentaries currently streaming on Netflix. American Factory (U.S. 2019 ) Co-directors/producers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert won a Sundance festival directing award for this remarkable documentary released on Netflix August 21. The opening scene in December 2008 shows a GM factory closing in Dayton, Ohio, throwing 10,000 out of work.   Let me note that the film also won the D.A. Pennebaker award at the 15 th Traverse City Film Festival, founded by Michael Moore who 30 years ago made the groundbreaking Roger & Me , centred on a former GM CEO.   However American Factory eschews Moore’s trademark agitprop self-narration; it’s more in the direct cinema mode pioneered by Pennebaker (who died on August 1), trusting the subjects to te

More August Screening Views

With more and more content arriving on popular streaming services, I’ll start with a small screen pick  The Family (2019 Netflix) Netflix is not afraid of controversy and has been pouring money into “docuseries”, of which this five-episode offering is the latest.   It has production backing from Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Pictures and is helmed by Jesse Moss who directed the outstanding 2014 documentary The Overnighters that focused on pastoral help to a troubled transient population drawn to North Dakota’s then booming energy industry.   There’s a troubling spiritual angle here as well, but the subjects are those in society’s elite positions not at the bottom.               The “family” of the title is a “fellowship” foundation that claims to follow Jesus and “nothing else”.   It also prefers to remain as invisible as possible. With origins traced back to a Seattle founding father of Norwegian descent, the organization has become the force behind the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast

Mid-August Movie Takes

It’s the mid-summer doldrums and there’s mostly dross at the multiplex.   But here are five movies worth a look. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (U.S. 2019 ) Beyond being a devoted fan of director Richard Linklater, I was predisposed to like this latest effort, a sparkling adaptation of the eponymous 2012 bestseller by Maria Semple.   Back in March 2018 I had a brief chat with Linklater during Austin’s South By Southwest festival when he was in production on the film (principal photography began in 2017 and the theatrical release date has been pushed back several times).   I’ve also been in Port Lockroy on the Antarctic peninsula, a tiny British outpost with the world’s southernmost post office, where one of the scenes is set.   Indeed the movie opens with an overhead of kayaks amid awesome icebergs, anticipating the developments of the last half hour.             First we meet the central characters, a Seattle-based family of three.   Bernadette Fox (

Early August Movies Update

“It was the summer of ‘69”, goes the hit Bryan Adams song. Indeed.   The epic moon landing.   Woodstock.   But also Nixon, Vietnam, the Manson murders.   Adams was then 9; I was 17 and already determined to be a nonconformist.   The moon shot may have been driven by Cold War competition, but Apollo 11 was still an astounding feat for the time.   I’m not sure I even knew what a computer was … the idea of a global internet was science-fiction futurist fantasy. With the comparatively primitive technology of a half century ago, how did they do it?   Getting there, and back.             Growing up on a working farm, the idea of idyllic summers at the cottage was also fantasy. I’ve never known cottage life.   So I am grateful for the recent welcome blessing of spending the last half of July at friends’ cottages—first, Bob’s capacious beachfront place at Southampton on Lake Huron; then Jim and Carol’s loghouse-style two-story abode at Nahma Shores on Lake Michigan’s upper peninsula.