Welcome to the 556th Edition of my series. Not a lot going on for me right now. On July 22nd, PIGFOOT gets a premier at the Gnawbrew Festival so after that is done, I will keep everyone informed when it becomes public. There is a lot of negativity happening lately but recently started seeing a little bit of hope. I never thought it would be in the form of an app and certainly never thought it would be in the form of Pokemon. I will admit I really know nothing about Pokemon but have seen the joy it has brought to people playing the Pokemon Go app. I was pretty much sold yesterday when I was at a coffee shop getting this done and seeing a friend rushing outside to catch a Pokemon that she found on the app and went various other places within the building, then to see that enjoyment brought a smile to my face. People are getting out more, getting more exercise in their quest to catch Pokemons, not sure if it is supposed to be plural, and more importantly, people meeting others in what I have learned are called "Pokespots". I've gone on about that so now I'll get on with the recommendations.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007): I start the week out with this French biographical film. Julian Schnabel directed this film based on the autobiography by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Mathieu Amalric stars as Bauby, though Jean-Do to his friends, who has a great life as the editor of Elle magazine but has a massive stroke resulting in a rare diseased called locked-in syndrome which leaves him fully paralyzed except that he has the use of his left eye. The movie goes back and forth between flashbacks and the modern day. In the modern-day, Jean-Do's therapists teach him an alphabet communication where they name of the alphabet and he blinks at the letter he wants, then blinks once for yes and twice for no if they believe they know the word he wants. Marie-Josee Croze co-stars as his speech therapist Henriette who helps him write a book through their communication while Jean-Do is trying to connect with people of his past. Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny, Niels Arestrup, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hinds, Max Von Sydow, and many others co-star in this film. The first 40 minutes are of Jean-Do's point of view where he first comes to the realization of his paralysis. It kinds of reminded me of JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN where he is slowly seeing how his life has changed for the worse. Schnabel is an American director but decided to make this a French film to stay true to the story which works very well in this film. This is a very sad but inspirational tale as well as being very realistic.
Land Ho! (2014): I declare this one my unexpected gem for the week. Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens co-directed and co-wrote this independent film. Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn star as elderly ex brother-in-laws Mitch and Colin. Mitch seems to live life on the fly while Colin lives a more routine way of life and Mitch convinces him to take a trip to Iceland in the road trip comedy. While there, they relive their youth through nightclubs, spas, and rugged campsites. This is also a very good look at aging and friendships. Nelson and Eenhoorn play off each other perfectly and are some very well-written characters with the actors bringing them to life very well. Nelson is a cousin of Martha Stephens and has just gotten into the acting game at an older age but was perfect as Mitch. I find that Eenhoorn has a little more experience but not much and he got into acting at an older age as well unless he started out in theater. The story and dialogue has me in all the way through and is one that really deserves a look.
Amazing Grace (2006): Michael Apted directed this film which is based on a true story and takes place in the late 1700s. Ioan Grufford stars as British politician William Wilberforce who lead a campaign to have slavery abolished. This shows his struggle and frustration in his efforts where he gives up due to an illness but finds inspiration to try it again. Albert Finney co-stars as John Newton who was a priest and friend of William and also wrote the title song we know today which serves as part of William's inspiration. Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell, Youssou N'Dour, Cirian Hinds, Toby Jones, and many others co-star in this film. This is about a man who stood up for what he believed even if not very many people were by his side. This was a very good and moving depiction of these events. It also has good attention to detail in this period piece.
Kings of the Turf (1941): This is my classic short for the month and is part of "The Sports Parade" series. I know many might be thinking an early look at football but that is not the case in this short on horse racing and centered around a horse named Mortimer and his future in horse racing. This goes into the differences between a trotter, pacer and show horse. Knox Manning gives the narration of the film. It is a pretty insightful few minutes.
I Was Born, But... (1932): This is my Asian film for the week and is my silent film for the week. I know it's the 30s and by now most are doing sound but director Yasujiro Ozu decided that there is still a market for silent film and made this one silent. This is centered around the adolescent boys Keiji and Ryoichi, played by Tamio Aoki and Hideo Sugawara, where they are being bullied at their new school and skip school not wanting confront these bullies. The other part is when they are at a social gathering for their dad's work and are disappointed when they see he has to suck up to people for his job and that he is not the man they had the illusion that he was a very important person at work. Tatsuo Saito and Mitsuko Yoshikawa co-star as the parents of the boys. This is a coming of age film that is both a comedy and drama. It also takes a look at how difficult middle management can be like the patriarch of the film is and I suppose the illusion he must maintain. This is available through the Criterion Collection on DVD.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971): This is part one of a possible two-part Ian Holm series. This is my royalty film for the week which was directed by Charles Jarrott. This is a depiction on the rivalry between Mary Stuart, played by Vanessa Redgrave, who was named Queen of Scotland and Elizabeth Tudor, played by Glenda Jackson, who was the Queen of England and now know her as Elizabeth I or The Virgin Queen. It shows Elizabeth doing what she can so that Mary does not get her thrown. Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Davenport, Trevor Howard, Ian Holm, and many others. There is some admitted liberties taken in the film like a couple of encounters between the two that apparently never happened but added interest to the film. I never knew how much Redgrave's daughter Joely Richardson looks like her mother until I watched this one. Timothy Dalton also gives a very interesting and flamboyant portrayal of the scheming and spoiled Henry Stuart.
The White Ribbon (2009): This is part two of my possible four part Michael Haneke series. This is one of those that is really hard to explain. It takes place in a German village in 1913 Germany. Haneke has said it is about the roots of evil which in this film are both religious and political. It is centered around many negative happenings in the village that may have disturbing implications for the future. Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Ursina Lardi, and many others co-star in this film. This is shot in all black and white and really helps the dark tones employed in the movie. Many of the things that happen are drawn from real incidents in Germany in the 1920s-1940s. Friedel made his film debut as the schoolteacher who in a sense was the main character who kind of helped things come together and courts a young nanny. Ulrich Tukor was also a very significant element as a pastor quite strict with his children and is the reason for the title. While difficult to describe, it is really worth a look but might need a couple viewings.
Coffy (1973): I decided to go the Blaxploitation route on this one. Jack Hill wrote and directed this film which stars Pam Grier as the title character. By day she is a nurse and by night, she is a very ruthless vigilante out to kill the drug pushers who wronged her sister. Booker Bradshaw, Robert DoQui, William Elliot, Alan Arbus, Sid Haig, and many others co-star in this film. This was a pretty popular genre in this era that was very stereotypical and a lot of reverse racism along with a cult following. This is considered by many to the best of the Blaxploitation films. Pam Grier is always very watchable and does not disappoint in this one. It had some great action in it and really was better than FOXY BROWN in my opinion. This was available to watch on Comcast On-Demand in the Impact part of the free movie section. For those who partake in the Madness every October will be able to watch this one because of our wild card Sid Haig.
Paths of Glory (1957): This is my war/trial film for the week. This is an early effort from director Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by . This is centered around a French unit in WWI which made a judgement call to pull back on a suicide mission and three men were put on trial for cowardice. Kirk Douglas stars as the commanding officer Colonel Dax who volunteers to defend the ones on trial. Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Bert Freed, Timothy Carey, and many others co-star in this film. Kubrick approached Douglas for the movie and Douglas accepted in regards of its importance. The trial scenes depicted a lot of corruption and politics within the military. The war scenes were depicted pretty accurately and did not glorify war in any way. This is loosely based on a true story of four soldiers executed for not following orders. Very good early Kubrick and a very good war film that has gone overlooked through the years.
Like Water For Chocolate (1992): I end the week with this Mexican film directed by Alfonso Arau based on the novel by Laura Esquivel. I already had this on my schedule to watch but a couple weeks ago my mom came across this and decided to watch it despite the subtitles and really enjoyed it even though she is not one for subtitles. Limi Cavazos stars as Tita who is the youngest and by family tradition is not to marry but is to take care of her mother Elena, played by Regina Torne, until her death. Tita meets and falls in love with a man named Pedro, played by Marco Leonardi, but is forbidden love with the family tradition so Pedro ends up marrying Tita's sister Rosauro, played by Yareli Arizmendi. I watched this with the thought that Elena might very well be the most domineering mother in film of all time. This is a very moving and sad tale of forbidden love and how others need to be considered when it comes to family tradition.
Well, that is it for this week. Stay tuned for next week which so far includes Michael Haneke, Emily Blunt, Minnie Driver, Gene Kelly, Emma Thompson, and many others.