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Tag Archives: 2014

The Salt of the Earth

This documentary follows the life of the photographer Sebastião Salgado. Salgado was rained in economics but soon after graduating discovered a love for photography. In partnership with his wife, he spent the next several decades traveling the world photographing the changing human landscape. The movie was directed by Wim Wenders and his Salgado’s son, Juliano. The film is stunning in its documentation of the development of Salgado’s career, its portrayal of how a gifted artist views his subjects, and the presentation of a selection of his best and most powerful images. A huge thumbs-up for an exquisitely beautiful portrayal of …

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Cowspiracy

Keegan Kuhn directs himself in a documentary investigation of one of the largest contributors to global warming: the farming industry. He discovers information regarding the amount of methane contributed to the atmosphere by farm animals and the amount of water required to produce a pound of meat. He then sets out on an investigation to uncover the truth about why various environmental groups are not reporting this. While I found the narrator rather goofy (and sometimes just plain tedious), his investigation of groups such as Greenpeace and people who do and do not do sustainable farming leads to legitimate claims …

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’71

Jack O’Connell plays Private Gary Hook, who has just joined the British Army, and he and his platoon have been deployed suddenly to Belfast in 1971 as part of a peace keeping mission. Their zone of operation is right on the border of the Catholics and Protestants, and right away, the have to try to hold back a large group of protestors. In the confusion, a boy grabs the rifle of a downed soldier, and Hook and one other soldier run into the crowd to chase the boy. Hook finds himself alone in the war zone after having been left …

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Starred Up

Eric (played by Jack O’Connell) is a convict who has been starred up – moved from juvenile to adult prison. It turns out that he is assigned to the same prison as his father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn). The film provides a very unflinching examination of prison life through the lens of the relationship between Eric and his father. Eric is very angry, and his father clearly wants to protect him as he adjusts to adult prison life. One never knows exactly whether Neville is on Eric’s side or not, which provides the movie with its tension and suspense. Big thumbs …

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Glen Campbell – I’ll Be Me

This isn’t as much a documentary about Glen Campbell’s life as it is a film about how Campbell and his family cope with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Soon after he was diagnosed, they decided to do a goodbye tour that included 151 shows. The movie is very emotional and personal; the family appears to give the director unlimited access into their lives. Three of his children played as part of his band during the show (there is an amazing scene during which father and daughter play a guitar-banjo duet), and each of the children seemed to treasure this time …

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Stanford Prison Experiment

Billy Crudup is Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the social psychologist who was the principal investigator on one of the most well know experiments in psychology, the Stanford Prison experiment. Young, healthy college age men were recruited and randomly assigned to be either prisoners or guards. The film, based on Zimbardo’s book and documents from the experiment, captures faithfully what happened during the 6 days the experiment took place before Zimbardo stopped it. The film recreates the experiment in a very compelling way. The acting overall is very good; Crudup is solid, and the actors playing the young men help convey what …

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Song of the Sea

This amazing animated movie from Ireland is a children’s story about Saoirse a serkin who has the ability to swim with seals. She and her brother embark on an adventure and meet the characters in the stories their mother told her brother when he was young, before Saoirse was born. The movie is heart-swelling beauty through the mesmerizing storybook-style images, the flow of the story, and the music. From the moment the movie opens to the ending credits, I was swept into a truly magical experience. Big thumbs up for a film that can be appreciated by people of all …

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Venus in Fur

New Roman Polanski film that has two actors and takes place entirely on a stage; it begins with Vanda who shows up very late to an audition for a play based on a book called Venus in Fur. Thomas, the director, tries to send her away, but she reads a few lines and is captivated by her. I really enjoyed the movie because (a) it is an interesting examination of the politics of sadomasochism through a gender lens; (b) the way the scenes from the play and the actors’ realities become blurred is quite fascinating and enhances the psychoanalytic and …

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Still Alice

Julianne Moore plays Alice, a successful linguistics professor, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film masterfully tackles the disease and its impact on Alice and her family with sensitivity and honesty. Julianne Moore is wonderful and really masters her role; it is a great performance in which she conveys what Alice is going through not only with words but through facial and body expression. Alec Baldwin is perfectly cast as her husband, and one of the gems of the film is Kristen Stewart, who plays her youngest daughter; the scenes she and Moore have together are some …

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Life Itself

Documentary about the life of Roger Ebert, based on his own autobiography of the same name. It was really quite fascinating to see the man behind the public movie critic. Ebert’s willingness to share with the public, up until almost the end of his life, his experiences with cancer is quite powerful. He was also a guy with a rather inflated ego and was full of himself. The examination of his relationship with Gene Siskel was both fascinating and kind of sad. But his successes cannot be denied – for example, his Pulitzer Prize as well as and his lifetime …

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