Saturday, October 8, 2011

Movie Review: Warrior

Last weekend when we were in Aspen, see my Moonflower Musing Post,  to see the amazing aspens trees, oakbrush and cottonwoods ablaze, Daughter #1 and I went to the retro Isis Theater...

reviewed here on

We saw Warrior, about two brother, separated by family troubles, but reunited by fate in a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting ring...

Nick Nolte is their alcoholic father, who both gave them the gift of training them both to fight and the curse of a broken family and abuse...
This is both main actors, Joel Edgerton, ( minor roles in King Arthur and Ned Kelly) and Tom Hardy ( starring in TV adaption of Wuthering Heights and minor role in Inception) , first big role and neither has a MMA background and had to go through intense training for the roles and bulk up. Also neither actor is even American, let alone from the tough working class of Pennsylvania, where the movie was filmed and set. Edgerton is an Aussie and Hardy is English.

I wasn't expecting much out of a fight movie, but was pleasantly surprised. Warrior was very engaging and emotional in the story of the family as much as in the action packed fight scenes. A Rocky for the new millennium.

It was refreshing to see a realistic movie of how family battles can last past childhood and into adulthood and in divorce and abuse, the siblings might pull together the older children protecting the younger, more often than not, the siblings take a "everybody for themselves" survival stance and when they grow up, go their separate ways.

The break up of any family has long lasting ramifications and this movie did a wonderful job of showing that, how two brothers would find themselves on two totally different paths, Edgerton, a family man and high school teacher. Hardy, the younger brother, literally wandering the world and full of rage and hate for his father and his brother, but ultimately still coming back and asking his father to train him.

A child of two divorces, I so understand the back and forth pull of wanting to go back and make things right and also wanting to just say "to hell" with those you left behind and move forward. I don't know if we will ever take the time to tally up the damage broken homes are truly doing to this country, there seems to be more pressing problems and most don't realize how much the destruction of the "core family" is the start to such problems.  

MMA is not something most are familiar with, or has a "bad boy" reputation. But since both my daughters are trained in Kenpo Karate, I was trying to get them to do piano lessons, but they picked Karate and my oldest is a Third Degree Brown, one down from a Black, I am more familiar with it than I would have ever imaged!

A combination of traditional boxing and marital arts, where not only punches are thrown, but kicks, and ground work are also allowed. The sport, like all boxing and martial arts fighting is all about excitement so the bouts are fought inside a chain like fenced ring.

Of course there is a dark side to this sport, no argument, but what I have learned since we have do a bit of traveling to Sante Fe and Las Vegas, where  Kenpo  Black and Brown Belts converge every summer from all over the world..
 is most of these guys are huge teddy bears- I have never been around a more "huggy" bunch of men in my life, who could also rip your arm off, if they wanted to!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Telluride Film Festival #38: Devil Wears Prada For Real

Probably the most delightful and funny film I had an opportunity to see was Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, the iconic fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and designer for the Fashion Institute at the Metropolitan Modern Art.

The film was made by her granddaughter in law, Lisa Immordino-Vreeland, who also wrote a book on the iconic Fashion Editor. Immordino-Vreeland had no formal training in film but a good team behind her and her film was the best received by any audience at the festival I was a part of. It is a fun, honest look at a real women, which was refreshing since most of the women I was seeing on screen have only been  helpless and desperate.

The real Diana Vreeland has inspired many a fictitious fashion editor such as in The Devil Wears Prada...

Alli McGraw...
who was an assistant to Vreeland actually threw back the editor's coat when it was tossed at her and Vreeland proclaimed her, "Such a rude girl."

Aurdrey Hepburn dealt with a Vreeland inspired Editor in Funny Face...

By the way, Kay Thompson who played the Editor in Funny Face is also the author of...

Ahh the "connection" in Hollywood!

Diana Vreeland is as extravagant, off the wall as any of these characters. maybe more. One of her assistance saying that if she got a wild hair for orchids to be flown to the North Pole for a shoot, by gosh they were!

In the documentary, Vreeland...

critiqued Adolf Hitler's fashion sense, declaring the little black mustach was just not working,

said the best thing to come out of Wolrd War 2....
was the bikini, which she is credited with bringing to America...
She also popularized the jean, no joke.

Vreeland had two sons, who are interviewed in the documantary. One son said, "I wish I had any mother other than this one." if that is any indication where the sacrifices were made for a women who transformed our fashion and our culture in the mid decades of this century.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Telluride Film Festival #38 Review: The Artist

The second feature after Trip to the Moon, was the new silent film, The Artist . Yes you just read new and silent.

The movie is directed by Michel Hazanavicius, stars Jean Dujardin, who won best actor in Cannes and Be're'nice Bejo. In the strain of A Star is Born and Sunset Boulevard, one star is rising and one star is falling. American actors John Goodman and James Cromwell, along with the rest of the cast, really show their acting chops, with wonderful gestures and facial expression and the story is wonderfully played out across the scene, the use of sound and music, used ingeniously if not sparingly.

Telluride Film Festival #38: Trip to the Moon

Every night at the festival the best seat in town is under the red cliffs framing the ski resort and below a clear night sky in Elk Park, but you better bring your own camp chair, a jacket and rain gear just in case.

I have watched a movie there every night and it is the best reason for coming here, even if you can't afford a ticket, because the films at the little park right across from the courthouse are free!

The first night, before the main feature we got to see the newly restored and originally colored A Trip to the Moon
 Is that not the most wonderful Art Nouveau poster you ever saw!

The 1902 iconic silent film actually opened the Canne Film Festival this year and here at Telluride it was featured at the open air park and would later be part of a line up of the entertaining shorts from that era, all put to music by Serge Bromberg.

Here at the park, the film was introduced by it's restorers, Lobster Films. The restoration took a long process of sometimes letting the originally "munched" colored Spanish version sit in a basement with humidors for upwards of  two years before the fragile film strips could be laid flat and hi-def photographed.

They also told us about Nitrate film and how dangerous it was to actually be stuck in an old movie theater and even had a visually aid....
It took about 2 seconds for the film to go up in flames!

Unfortunately,  finiancing took some time and effort to bring together, but finally with the Technicolor Fountaion on board and new music by the French band  Air, new audience are seeing this amazing little picture in color, made in 1902 when the idea of space travel was already in our collective conscious.

George Me'lie'....

 was inspired by two popular Sci-Fi writers Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and Trip to the Moon is considered the first Sci-Fi movie ever, selling in both black and white version and colored.

During World War I, the French army actually seized most of Me'lie' 's film and melt them down for boot heels for the solidiers. With the power of the big studios in America and Thomas Edison basically pirating Melies work such as The Trip to the Moon, the French inovator in both animation and special effects actually went bankrupt.

But watching this amazing short, I started to think it had many parallels to a modern inovation in animation and special effect, Avatar (2009)....

brought out even more with the amazingly colored version of bright reds, pinks, blues, yellows and green. The moon tribal people, looking very Na'vi- ish.

I truly thought this was an odd thought, until I was reading the festival Film Watch newspaper and
Serge Bromberg was qouted as having the same idea.

The Trip to the Moon is not just similiar to Avatar in its story but to think that Me'lie' 's use of live action and cut outs, primitive animation techiniques is what filmmakers have been building on and was the beginings of even James Cameron's advancements of the computer generated animation of Avator that also mixed in live action. There truly are no new ideas!

And what an iconic image the moon with a red rocket in its eye....

has also become part of our collective conscious, one only needs to look up in a litttle mountain town like Telluride....

Since the film is over 100 years old, it is considered in the public domain so here it is for your enjoyment in black and white, though if you ever can, do see the newly restored version by Lobster Films.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Telluride Film Festival #38: Living in a Material World

I often wonder when I hear about the release of some celebrity's personnel but as yet unpublished material, be it a diary, a manuscript, a piece of art or just family pictures, it feels so voyeuristic to me, like we are being given access to something without getting permission.

I have had the opportunity to go deep in the basement of the the Anasazi Heritage Center research library here in Southwest Colorado, which holds the rights to the archives of the Wetherill brother's...
who were the first  Whites to climb through many of the ruins up at Mesa Verde and were the first to try and preserve them. Researching for a story of the first tourists of Mesa Verde, I sat down in the basement and flipped through their photo albums and read their diaries, some written in the margins of the Post Office ledgers, Al Wetherill used as a post master in his later life.  I felt like I was invading their privacy.

As an arist myself, I also wonder how accurate of a picture we can really get of anyone from what they leave behind?

Thinking of all the half manuscripts and art work I have stuffed in the back of a drawer for a reason good reason, not having the heart to throw them away but knowing they were really,really bad.
DiVinci, Hemmingway and even George Harrison probably have had more material that should not see the light of day, then did. All artist are like that.

With all these concerns it was wonderful in the Conversation with his wife, Olivia Harrison...
that the first thing she emphasized was how much a documentary was one of the many things Harrison very much wanted to do, but did not get to once he knew his time was short from lung cancer and how she knew she had to finish this for him.

That said it took a decade for Living in a Material World to be completed. At the conversation, Olivia Hamilton confessing that at first she could not bare to be apart from her husband's things, she would send a carrier with a few items and make them wait while Martin Scorsese and his team sifted through them.

Scorses, whose last documentary was about Bob Dyon No Direction Home (2005)...

is not at the festival but his editor, David Tedeschi is  and as is Living in a Material World producers Nigel Sinclair and Margaret Bodde are.

The collaboration that was need by all of Harrison friends including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and his good friend Eric Clapton was amazing...

but as a wife married to the same man for over twenty years,  my heart went out to Olivia Harrison, who simply was trying to preserve her husband's legacy before someone else did.

Telluride Film Festival #38 Review: In Darkness

The first big premiere I saw was at the Palm, at the Telluride High School, the festival does a good job of transforming the school's auditorium into a cool theater.

The movie, In Darkness, is so new there is not a movie poster or still to show you. It is directed by Agnieszka Holland who directed a movie adaptation of one of my daughters' favorite books, The Secret Garden ( 1993)...
and many T.V. series such as The Wire and Cold Case

In Darkness, highlights the true story of a group of Polish Jews forced into the sewers of Lvov after the Germans destroy the ghetto and begin to annihilate or imprison any Jew they see.
The group is helped by a reluctant Catholic sewer inspector, who ultimately makes great sacrifice for their protection, even endangering his own family to do so.

Holland, is Polish,  the daughter of both a Jew and an Agnostic, and knows all to well the horrors of the Holocaust. But it felt like the movie mostly highlighted the worst of people during this horrible time. Soha, the greedy sewer inspector, played by Robert Wieckiewicz only helping the Jews in the beginning for money. A German soldier, after making a Rabbi dance, gleefully ripping out a part of his face by pulling on his long beard. One of the Jewish women, who gives birth kills her baby in the dark of the sewers.

I am sure all these did happen during the war and worst.  But what we did not see, other than in Soha finally deciding to help the entrapped sewer Jewish, is any act of kindness, courage, selflessness in any of the other characters and I know those things also existed because they have been highlighted in such great Holocaust movies as Schindler's List ( 1993)
And my favorite Defiance
All three movies are based on the heroics of real ordinary people resisting the oppression of the Germans as they lay waste to Northern Europe. Defiance is also about Jews escaping after the destruction of the Ghettos. But where the Jews in In the Dark hid in the sewers and I mean no disrespect in the comparison, these people had such little assets and time to save themselves, any story of the Jews resistance is to be applauded, the Jews in Defiance were able to run to the forest around them and were much better off, but there were also other things very different between the two groups in hiding.

No true leader emerged  in In Darkness, were in Defiance, almost immediately Tulva Bielski in real life...
and played by Craig in the movie, brought the terrified people together....

In In the Darkness, although Soha, does rise above his known world and help the Jews hiding in the sewer, there is no central leader amongst the hidden Jews and the character, like real life people entrapped in dire times, revert almost to an animistic way of survival.

In both movies,  women attach themselves to men for protection, but where in In the Darkness, it is a raw act of just sex, with the women killing her child after the father steals the groups supplies and sneaks off to save himself, in Defiance, although Tuvia has proclaimed that no baby can be in the camp due to the need to hide from the Germans, he softens when the women he loves asks him for compassion. The Bielski partisans even find ways to continue with their tradition, the youngest brother being married under the canopy and eventually, though not highlighted in the film, go on to create a school for the many children that come there for protection.

A strong leader if needed for survival....
There is much documentation of the unbelievable leadership of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark...

 which protected the lives of all 33 men that went with them and created such a great mass of documentation. Lewis and Clark brought a respect to the whole group, including a black slave, allowing him to vote with the rest of the group on life threatening decisions.

The Shackleton Expedition,
 Where after things did not well for his exploration ship The Endurance, in Antartica, the leader of the expedition succeeded in saving every last man.

There are also times, when no leader emerges, leaving everyone to "save themselves", it usually does not go as well, ever heard of the The Donner Party

Telluride Film Festival #38: The dogs are so unimpressed.

I love all the dogs up here, well, I love dogs. Telluride is a dog town, with places to tie them and many store fronts complete with dog leash anchors and treats at the ready. There is actually an ordinance here you can't leave them in in an unattended car. These dogs are great because  they  are so unexcited about the "who's who" in town, they just want to be scratched behind the ear and be there to clean up a sandwich that George Clooney might drop running from the mob of "women who should no better" chasing him with cellphone cameras.  

I didn't try really hard as I walked by, it was so funny, I came around the corner and here this screeching and I had just been in the Conversation with Olivia Harrison, the widow of the late Beatle George Harrison...

who is here with a documentary of her husband's life and career, so many "connections" here- what this blog is all about, "pondering the connections in Hollywood"!

Telluride Film Festival #38: From the Darkness

One of the films I will be reviewing this weekend is In Darkness, but this morning I woke up in the dark, about 5, so I got up and started working, waiting for the sun to come up and The Steaming Bean, down in town to open, so I would have Wifi.

This year, I have one pass down from the Acme pass I had last year, that got me into all the movies at the Chuck Jones Theater up in Mountain Village, including the first viewing of The King’s Speech, I know I mention that way too much. The Acme, for the money, let me see all the movies I wanted to and some I went to just because I figured at the $500 plus price, each would cost me about $50. Like, 12 Hours...
I still think of my grandma teaching me how to  bone a whole chicken every time that movie comes up. My husband was so green with envy, because 12 Hours did not have a wide release here in the Southwest, go figure, literally where the events happened and he did not see it until it came out on DVD. I wouldn't watch it again, nor let my younger daughter, but he and daughter #1 had a grand old time late one night.
What I didn’t like about the Acme pass was many of the movies were at the same time as the very interesting panel discussions in Elk Park, the backlot films in the library and the conversations in the court house, accessible to all the pass holder and even free to the public, though pass holders get in first.

This year, I did not get my act together quick enough to get the Acme pass, so downgraded one level to the Cinephile, a preselected“selection” by Meyer and the other directors of the festival, consisting of a lot of Art House films, foreign films, documentaries and just a few of the big premiere films that I had such easy access to last year, like.....I won't mention that Oscar winner again, that I saw first, before most everyone else on the planet.

To confess, I am not going to most of the film offered on the Cinephile pass, but it does allow me access to repeat viewing of the big premiere films on Monday, I won’t know what those are until when the TBA are released on Sunday night.

I do have one big sneak preview film for tonight at 11, yes 11 at night. But I won’t know what that is until I head on down to the coffee shop, here in about a half hour, when the sun comes up.  I will probably know what that sneak peek movie is before I can get wireless and post this- but I wanted to post my prediction what that movie will be….as a record for all, who knows it might be another Oscar contender.

Oh by the way, I was totally right about Butter! It is here, Jennifer Garner is here, guess she was in the coffee shop like ten minutes after I headed out yesterday, with her two little girls, so don’t know about her hubby, Ben Affleck, but I totally guessed right on the first sneak peek of the weekend. Alas, no Jackman though.

Okay- my guess for the second sneak peak is one of two based on this evidence- George Clooney is in town, was honored with a tribute and is mostly touting his new movie The Descendants directed by Alexander Payne. But Clooney co-wrote, directed and stars in The Ides of March

Is he really coming to come all the way to a festival known for being the first to highlight Oscar contenders and Not tout his "baby"? 

But, possible there is some contractual reason why the idea of pushing two movies is frowned upon, in that case, Johnny Depp is here too and he has a new art housey movie coming out, The Rum Diaries, so new there is not a movie poster or still I can show you, but the movie is based on the book...

The fact Depp is here, is not totally an indication Rum Diaries will be shown to the all us “Joe Blow movie goers”. There are a lot of private parties and showing up here in what the Hollywood Reporter declared as the richest town in Colorado. I would of bet Aspen, where the joke is the billionaires pushed the millionaires out  to Carbondale down the road, but I digress. Last year, Brad Pitt was in town, with The Tree of Life...
 which was viewed only privately.

So – like I said, I’ll know before this is posted, but wanted to preserve my guesses. Oh, and there is a TBA who will be talking at the town courthouse this afternoon, my guess is on Garner, her movie Butter premiered last night at the Chuck Jones. It could be Clooney, though don’t know how they will get him in there, it probably only seats 70 people, Glenn Close had her talk yesterday and I didn’t try real hard to get in, the line too long.

Today, I might hang around the courthouse and see what kind of a line there is. The movies I want to see today aren’t until later and don’t feel so guilty about not getting to all the ones on my pass.

Well the sun is up…

Sorry, I know the view is pretty amazing here, and I am only here because of my friend’s kindness in inviting me, actually the house is her parent in laws, which are also a sweet as anything, but I do hope you are having a wonderful weekend with those you love. If it is any consolation, those I love are not with me, they are all camping in Utah while I am up here in Telluride and I miss them terribly