Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bring Your Hankies

At our last film, I overheard a woman in the audience telling her friend to be sure to bring a hankie for the showing of Unfinished Song, our next film club selection. So be forewarned.

This film stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a curmudgeonly old man who leads a dull life and likes it that way. But his wife (Vanessa Redgrave) wants him to join her singing group. Arthur gives in and discovers that music revitalizes his passion for new adventures. The film teaches us that life should be celebrated at an age.

The film will be showing Sunday, November 23 at the Carmike theater in Oceanside. Hope to see you all there.


I don't know about you, but after seeing Terence Davies film, I wanted to know more about Liverpool. His film was beautiful and poetic, but I didn't feel I had a good idea of what Liverpool is really like. So I found this little video on Youtube which shows Liverpool in a slightly different light:



If you get a chance to see this fantastic film written and directed by John Stewart, by all means go. It's a really interesting film about an Iranian journalist who works for Newsweek magazine. He gets caught up in the aftermath of the Iranian elections and winds up in prison - convicted of being a spy. The acting of Gael Garcia Bernal is worth the price of admission.

In Memoriam

I can't think of a film by Mike Nichols that I haven't liked. Of course, The Graduate is probably everyone's favorite and the one he's most remembered for. But let's not forget his other films: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, Catch 22, Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge, and The Birdcage. On Broadway he directed Annie and Spamalot, The Odd Couple and Plaza Suite. He won an emmy for the HBO miniseries Angels in America.

And remember his brilliant comedy act with Elaine May?

We will miss this very talented Renaissance man.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Of Time and the City

It looks like we're in for a treat on Sunday, the 9th. The acclaimed film  Of Time and the City by Terence Davies is our next film club selection. This documentary about Davies hometown, Liverpool has been called a masterpiece. Here's the trailer just to give you an idea:

I'm really looking forward to this film. Hope to see you all there.

Another Film from Chile

If you enjoyed Gloria, you might be interested in other films from Chile. Here's one that sounds interesting. It's called Bonsai - a love story with a literary back drop. I haven't seen it so you can't blame me if it's not good. But it seems a lot of good films are coming out of Chile and it's a good thing to support their efforts.

In Memoriam

He wasn't a film star, but a lot of us in San Diego county will fondly remember Larry Himmel. He was a fixture on KFMB. He was only 68 and died way too young. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gloria is the next film club selection

Next Sunday, October 19, the film Gloria will be shown. This film from Chile promises to be quite entertaining. It's a about a mature woman trying to find the perfect relationship. The film starts at 3:00 pm. Hope to see you there.

The San Diego Asian Film Festival

Mark you calendars. The San Diego Asian Film Festival is coming November 6-15. Lots of interesting films will be previewed. Click this link for the complete program:

In Memoriam
We all remember Jan Hooks from Saturday Night Live. Her imitation of Tammy Faye Baker was the best. You probably have your favorite character. She was only 57 when she died. Way too young.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Don't Forget to Vote

It's time to start voting for the films for next season. You've been sent an email of the dramas (there are tons to look at and consider). You can either email your choices to or bring your list to the film this Sunday. Watch for emails that will include nominations for documentaries and comedies. Be sure to vote. Speaking of the film this Sunday, you're in for a treat.


The upcoming film Barbara,  is a tale about a female doctor in East Germany trying to defect to West Berlin.  The German film will be shown at the Carmike Theater (formerly Digiplex) in Oceanside at 3:00 pm, Oct. 5. Here's the trailer:


The Red Shoes

There are so many dramas to choose from. Only a few will be in next season's lineup. I noticed that someone had nominated The Red Shoes, a classic film from 1948. For some reason vintage films don't often make the vote. But guess what? as luck would have it, The Red Shoes will be shown on TCM this Sunday at 5:00 pm. You can just barely make it after you see Barbara. You might want to DVR it for later viewing.

Kensington Video 

Another sad tale about the demise of a beloved community establishment. The Kensington Video after 30 years in business will be closing February, 2015. There will soon be no bookstores or video stores. What's this world coming to?

Read this article about the Kensington Video in San Diego.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Instructions Not Included

This Sunday, September 21 the North County Film Club will be presenting the film Instructions Not Included, the highest grossing Mexican film ever released in the U.S.

This Chaplinesque mixture of laughter, pathos and tears is written and directed by its star, Eugenio Derbez, one of Mexico's most prominent and beloved television stars.

The story follows unexpected twists in the life of its protagonist Valentin, a ladies man with bigtime daddy issues whose life is upended when one of his conquests drops a baby he's sired off on his doorstep.  Deciding to raise the child, he goes to America and through a series of comic incidents finds professional fulfillment as a stuntman and personal happiness as a father until the mother's return and a custody hearing threatens the arrangement.

The film is at the Carmike (formerly Digiplex) Mission Marketplace theater in Oceanside at College and Highway 76.  It begins at 3pm.  Please join us and stay for a Q&A afterwords.

Hope to see you there.

Don't forget to send in your nominations for next season's films. Email your selections to or bring them with you Sunday. This Sunday, Sept. 21 is the deadline for nominations.

In Memoriam - Joan Rivers

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Girl on a Bicycle

Next Sunday, August 24, The North County Film Club will be presenting Girl on a Bicycle. This romantic comedy takes place in Paris. Paolo, an Italian tour bus driver,  proposed to a German stewardess, when he sees a young French beauty, Cécile  Soon Paolo finds himself with a German fiancée, a French "wife", and two Australian children who call him "Papa".

Here's the trailer:

Hope to see you there.

In Memoriam

We lost two important actors last week, Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams. Here are tributes to them. They'll be missed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Frances Ha - August 10th Film

On Sunday, August 10 we'll be treated with the film Frances Ha. This independent film starring Greta Gerwig is about a persistent woman who wants to be a dancer. Even though she has no talent for dance, she perseveres only to watch her dream dwindle. The film will be shown at 3:00 pm, the Digiplex Theater (college and mission). Don't miss this interesting look into the life of a New York City woman as she persists in her unrealistic goal. And notice her parents in the film - they're actually her real life parents.

Oceanside International Film Festival

The Oceanside International Film Festival will be starting on August 3 and continuing through Aug. 10. This is the place independent filmmakers have the opportunity to have their work screened and judged. Besides the schedule of films, there will also be workshops. Click the link below for information and schedule:

How nice to have this festival in our own backyard - a perfect activity for north county film buffs to catch up with the latest in independent film.

10 Best Foreign Films
I noticed this site while surfing the web. It's a list of the 10 best recent foreign films. Wadjda is listed along with 9 others. Hopefully they're all available through Netflix.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Even though I haven't seen this film yet, I think we're in for a real treat. How many times have we seen a Saudi Arabian film? Should be very interesting.

Here's a trailer of the film in case you haven't seen this previously when we were voting for the slate of films this season:

Wadjda is a story about a determined 10-year-old girl and her quest for a bicycle. She lives in the Riyadh suburbs where bike riding is considered a threat to a girl’s virtue. Wadjda hopes to buy a bicycle by winning the cash prize in a Koran-recitation competition at school. 

Here's a New York Times review with more details:

This film will show Sunday, July 27, 3:00 pm at the Digiplex Theater in Oceanside. Hope to see you there.

Followup - 20 Feet from Stardom

Wasn't 20 Feet from Stardom a wonderful film? Hope you all had a chance to see it. In case you didn't get enough of that wonderful voice, here's a fun version of Darlene Love performing on the David Letterman show in 2007:

Notice the background singers for Darlene. She has four of them, 2 white and 2 black. I find this kind of interesting. Nice to see that Darlene is an equal opportunities employer. (If indeed, she did the employing or was it David?).

In Memoriam

I don't think there are too many people that didn't like James Garner. He certainly crossed every kind of genre both in film and on TV. He was a handsome, talented, likable guy. What was not to like? Enjoy this tribute (but why no Doris Day?).

See you Sunday, the 27th for Wadjda.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Twenty Feet From Stardom - July 13th

The North County Film Club will open the Summer /Fall season with the Academy Award winning film, Twenty Feet from Stardom.  This film will be shown Sunday,  July 13th at 3:00 pm.

The film is about the lives of backup singers living their lives just beyond the spotlight. Their voices brought harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until this film.

You'll follow the stories of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer, three African American singers who sang backup for many leading bands through the rock era. You'll hear interviews with veterans of the period and see concert footage. It's interesting to see these talented singers trying to make a living in the rock era but burdened with low profiles and career frustrations.

John Anderson's questions to assist in after-the-film discussion:

1.  To what extent are the films' subjects struggles to achieve fame attributable to their own ambivalence or inequities in the music industry?

2.  How has the black church influenced American popular music, and how has the style of musical performance in the gospel tradition conflict with the celebrity driven nature of the secular recording industry?

3.  In what ways does the struggle between sacred and secular values force its subjects to reconcile different modes of feminism in their professional lives? 

Critics Corner
Gail Brown has been at it again - going to lots of movies and favoring us with her reviews. Here's two more to add to our list:

The Fault in Our Stars

*leads perfectly cast
*story sweet, a bit slow
*The three of us gave it between an 7.5 - 9, the teenagers in front of us who read the book gave it a 9

Edge of Tomorrow

*Disclaimer:  Sci Fi is my least favorite kind of movie but wanted to see what the critics were raving about.
*A cross between Groundhog Day and War of the Worlds (on steroids).
*Creative, layered script but…last half hour started losing interest…
*There should be an award for actors that have to work and show various tough emotions (let alone fighting with aliens) on a blue screen.
*Emily Blunt was great…I would have never cast her for this role…but she pulled it off very well
*A true Tom Cruise type of movie..he still has the chops for action at this age (51)..if you love Tom and Sci Fi movies this movie is for you.

Book Nook
Book recommendation by me (Nancy Javier)
Here's one of my favorite books about film. It's not new at all, but it's definitely worth a read.

It's about the making of Heaven's Gate - one of the least viewed and most talked about movies in history. You'll love reading about all of the egos that went into the making of this film - from the nit picky director, Michael Cimino, to the executives at United Artist that just didn't know what to do with him. This ultimately led to the sinking of the studio and the end of Cimino's career. His excesses are very fun, but frustrating to read about. If you get a chance to pick up a used copy, and you're someone who loves to read about the behind scenes (like me), you'll love this book.

Hope to see you Sunday at the Digiplex for 20 Feet From Stardom.

Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Summer/Fall Season

Don't forget to purchase your passes for the upcoming season. And remember, you now purchase your passes at the box office.

July 13 - 20 Feet From Stardom
July 27 - Wadjda
August 10 - Frances Ha
August 24 - Girl on a Bicycle
September 7 - The Book Thief
September 21 - Instructions Not Included
October 5 - Barbara
October 19 - Gloria
November 9 - Of Time and the City
November 23 - Unfinished Song

It's going to be a really interesting season. These are mostly films that have never been shown in North County. Invite your friends to come along.

Last week's film "Starbuck" provided for some excellent discussion. Someone in the audience asked if this story was based on fact. I'm not sure if the filmmaker had researched the history into this phenomenon. But yes, there are several cases of multiple children from sperm donors. There is actually a documentary about just such a happening. You might want to check it out. It's available from Netflix.

 Or just check out this link:

Jeffrey harrison

Critic's Corner

Gail Brown has been busy going to lots of movies. She has so many reviews we'd like to share - but we'll have to pick and choose so as not to overwhelm.

Cast:  Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr. (almost a cameo), Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman (almost a cameo), Scarlett Johansson

Synopsis: A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family

Critics Weigh In:
When a film doesn't have any form of engaging conflict, it’s difficult to like it. Chef is your straightforward, feel good, everything works out in the end project that reeks of passion project.

Pretty simply, Chef has all the strengths of mainstream Hollywood comedies and all the strengths of indie films, without the weaknesses of either. The plot has continual forward momentum without any art-house slack, but nothing that happens is a contrivance, and all the key performances are wonderfully naturalistic.

Favreau's a big man who knows how to wield a chef's knife and shoots the food truck scenes with a hectic good nature that's infectious. There's no message beyond the obvious -- a good sandwich can solve a lot of problems

As for me…

*Did not see this as a 2 hour production.. 1 ½ hrs maybe more like it
*Everyone with me loved it and gave it a 10..for me it was maybe a 7.5 ish as an overall film
*Enjoyable, sweet, predictable…some good family messages about children and parents
*I gained five lbs just watching this film!  It could bring back the cheese sandwich!

If you're a gourmet cook, love to ‘look’ at food and watch it being prepared…you will like this movie.

*Jon Favreau has a lot of friends in Hollywood that like him a lot—that is probably why the cast signed on for this movie (especially RDJr and Scarlett J)

12 of us attended and gave it a 7 through a 10.

Casting and acting from the actors who played the Four Seasons were excellent.

Movie was 2 hours 14 min…dragged a few times but enjoyable and worth seeing since it is a true story with aspects that we did not know.

Anyone who is thinking about stardom should see the downside of it all by watching this movie…the pressures, challenges, jealousies, family issues, money problems….not all it’s cracked up to be.

Critics are mixed as usual.  If you like their music, it’s a walk down memory lane.

Hope to see you all on July 13th for 20 Feet from Stardom.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Next Film, Etc.

Be sure to make it to the Digiplex this Sunday, April 27 for the film, Much Ado About Nothing - a modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words. The film starts at 3:00. Hope to see you there.

John Anderson's questions regarding this film:
1.  Does keeping the film to a limited setting enhance the impact of the play?
2. To what effect does shooting in black and white have in interpreting the text.
3.  What interpretations of Shakespeare in non-Elizabethan settings have worked the best?

Local Film News

(After finishing this post, I found out the Ken Cinema will not be closing. The parties involved in the negotiations have come to an agreement and the Ken will remain open. Yay!!)

Sad news for film buffs. It looks as if the Ken Cinema in San Diego will be closing. This is one of the few single screen movie theaters left in our area (the La Paloma is still alive).  If you want to read about the confusing negotiations regarding this old treasure, click here: 

One of the 10 best theaters according to Forbes
But, not to worry, here's a list of the 10 best movie theaters in the U.S. (in case you're traveling around and want to take in a film):

Book Nook

This is a fun book in case you're thinking of becoming a filmmaker. You can save your tuition and just spend $15.00 for this book which will guide you with lots of helpful information. Author Landau only devotes 1 page to Filmspeak - a list of movie terms. This list could have been expanded to a few more pages, if you ask me. When I look at the titles after a film, there are always lots of terms that completely baffle me.

Here are some helpful hints that I thought seemed interesting:
A flawed protagonist is more compelling than a perfect protagonist.
1 screenplay page = 1 minute of screen time
A high concept movie can be explained in one sentence
Plot is physical events; story is emotional events
Etc. etc. You'll have to buy the book to find out more.
The only thing the book doesn't tell you is the most important part of filmmaking. Where to get the money to make your film. I guess they don't teach that in film school.

In Memoriam

We lost one of our most brilliant authors this month - The Nobel Prize winnr, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I'm including him in this film blog because one of my favorite books of his, Love in the Time of Cholera was made into a movie. So he belongs here, don't your think?

If you haven't seen it, here's a trailer FYI:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Much Ado About Voting

Now's your chance to vote for the next slate of nominated films:

Choose 8 from each category, then email your choices to The deadline for votes is April 20th:

Damsels in Distress
Frances Ha
Garibaldi's Loves
Girl on a Bicycle
Instructions Not Included
In the House
It's a Disaster
Last Call
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Spectacular Now
The Trip
Unfinished Song
The Way, Way Back

A Hijacking
All is Lost
The Book Thief
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Child's Pose
The Good Road
Imperial Dreams
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Invisible woman
The Jewish Cardinal
Le Capital
Neighboring Sounds
The Past
The Secret Life of Bees
Short Term
Still Mine
Walking with the Enemy

20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
Coexist Comedy Tour
Cutie and the Boxer
Finding Vivian Maier
The Queen of Versailles
Rich Hill
Room 237
The Square
Stories We Tell
Tim's Vermeer
Of Time and the City

Our Next Film

There will be no film this Sunday because of Easter. But the next Sunday is Much Ado About Nothing - a modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words. See it on Sunday, April 27, 3:00, Digiplex Oceanside.

Mark your calendars for the upcoming L.A. Film Festival. They don't have a schedule ready yet, but I'll try to keep you posted.

A friend sent me this fun link. See how many quotes you recognize:

In Memoriam

We lost one of Hollywood's great legends last week, Mickey Rooney. I'll remember him best as Andy Hardy. I loved those old films starring him and Judy Garland. "Hey kids, let's put on a show". And he did put on shows - for over 90 years.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Get Your Votes In

Now is the time to vote for your favorite films. Please revisit Jim Hamilton's email of 3/28 to see the list of nominated films and view the trailers (if available).  Email your votes to by April 6. You may vote for 10 films from each category - drama, comedy and documentary.

Our Next Film:

Akiko, a Tokyo student moonlighting as a call girl is sent to a new client. She's surprised to find a  shy and elderly Takashi. He's a committed academic who is constantly distracted by work-related phone calls and more interested in playing house than having sex. When encountering Akiko's volatile boyfriend, Noriaki, Takashi plays into Noriaki's assumption that he is actually Akiko's grandfather. The three settle into their new roles and Takashi becomes the protector that Akiko so desperately needs.

Here are some questions from John Anderson to think about before viewing the film on Sunday.

1.  Why does the director avoid placing vital information in a number of shots, using long takes and avoiding parallel editing?

2.  Do the characters conform to the archetypes that you would expect their characters to represent?

3.  What is the significance of the painting of the Woman and the Parrot? 

Book Nook

I just purchased a used copy of this book at our local library bookstore (The Bottom Shelf in Fallbrook). I thought it would be interesting to read again. I know I read it when it first came out. Didn't everyone? I remember that it caused quite a stir because it was so controversial. It seems tame compared to what you can find on the internet now.

You'll find info on:
Lana Turner's suspected murder of Johnny Stompanato (did her daughter really do it?)
Charlie Chaplin's marriage to a 16 year-old and the nightmare divorce
that followed.
Rudolph Valentino's early death at 31 and the commotion that followed
and lots of Hollywood murders.
My favorite part of the book is a photo of Mae West's room designed by Salvador Dali:

Can you imagine sitting here? 

If you want to review some of these old Hollywood scandals, lots of used copies of this book are available on Amazon.

BTW the author of the book, Kenneth Anger, is a filmmaker, having produced over 40 films which  have been described as containing "elements of erotica, documentary, psychodrama, and spectacle".

See you Sunday at the Digiplex, Oceanside. Don't forget to vote.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nominations Please

Now is your chance to nominate your favorite films for consideration for next season.  If there are particular films you would like to see as a part of the Film Club's Summer Season simply list the films you wish to see and email your choices to

The last day to nominate a film for the Summer 2014 season is Sunday, March 23.

Our Next Film

Our next film for Sunday, March 23 is After the Wedding. Mads Mikkelsen plays a manager of an underfunded orphanage who discovers that he and a potential benefactor share a tangled history. Co-writer and director Susanna Brier withholds key back story information, lending a touch of suspense and surprise in this effecting drama that is ultimately about the struggle to overcome the negative and destructive behaviors that interfere with our capacity to love.

We look forward to seeing you there - Digiplex theater in Oceanside (College and Mission) 3:00 p.m.

Here are some questions from John Anderson to think about as you're watching the film. We hope you'll stay for the discussion after to see how the questions are answered.

1.  How does withholding some of the back story effect the manner we relate to the character's physical display of emotions?

2.  In what other ways does the film's "realistic" style mediate against what many would consider the excesses of melodrama?

3.  Does the film offer its characters closure to the repetitive, destructive aspects of their personalities?

In Memoriam

It's ironic that just after viewing In A World, Hal Douglas, one of the most famous voice over actors has died. Here's the article about him from the L.A. Times:,0,942130.story#axzz2wRVE93cF

Also, take time to watch this video from a Jerry Seinfeld film - it's a parody starring Hal Douglas:

Critics Corner

Gail Brown has recently seen Monuments Men. Here's her review:

Cast:  George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Huge Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Bob Balaban (numerous TV shows and movies)
Director & Producer:  George Clooney
Synopsis: Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys - seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 - possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind's greatest achievements.
 Critics Weigh In:
The movie does have some strong dramatic moments, but in general the story is bland. Yet despite the movie's drawbacks, it still manages to tell a story about an historical event of great importance and significance, and so for that reason alone is worth watching.
"Men" is a good, if flawed, film, telling a difficult tale that had to be harder to accomplish in reality than was depicted on screen. Its flaws are in uneven pacing, mismatched musical support, and a too-simple story; yet even amid these flaws, it conveys a valid story about still more heartbreaking loss in the midst of war. IT's worth your consideration.
In My Opinion:
I waited to review this film because I did not want to knit pick it since it is a valuable, historical and significant story to be told.  One that many of us did not learn about in school.  I agree with the two comments above. 
That is all I will say about the film.  I do think it should be seen.  Just sad and shocking to think of some of the things that went on in this world at that time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February Film Club News

Ah, film noir. Isn't that just one of our favorite genres? And what would filmmakers have done if venetian blinds hadn't been invented? Did you always wish you knew more about film noir? If that's the case, then you'll be thrilled that our own John Anderson will be giving a lecture on that subject. Here's the info:

NCFC host and Q and A moderator John Anderson will be giving a lecture entitled CLUES IN THE NIGHT: IDENTIFYING FILM NOIR on Friday, February 28th at 2:30pm at Mira Costa College. 1 Bernard Drive in Oceanside CA in Administration 1000.

Film Noir is one of the most popular American film genres, and it is often used as evidence to describe a certain dark mood that permeated society in the post WWII era.  The term itself, however, is a fairly imprecise category of film classification, and misusing the terms distorts the role that movies played in reflecting U.S. cultural trends and anxieties.  Mr. Anderson will talk about the evolution of the Noir sensibility as it applies to film, focusing on how themes and images with the films congealed into a widely appreciated film style.
Hopefully, many of our members will be in attendance. See you Friday at 2:30.

Our next film is In a World to be shown Sunday, March 9 (don't come next Sunday, March 2. No one will be there!) What's amazing about this film is that it was written, directed and starred Lake Bell. How often does a woman become a triple threat in Hollywood? The film is about a voice coach who wants to be a voice-over star. Her father dominates the voice-over world which creates the theme for the film - a father/daughter conflict. It's also about the male dominated profession and how a woman breaks through it. This quirky, funny film is full of believable characters, even some cameos of well-known celebrities.

I know there was lots of controversary about Thor Heyerdahl's various theories and voyages. But wasn't the film fun to watch? It was so well photographed and acted. Just a really fun adventure. Most scientists didn't believe his theory, but here's one who thought it might partially be true. This is from the June, 17, 2011 Telegraph, reported by Richard Alleyne:

Don't forget to watch the Academy Awards Sunday, March 2. I have no idea who is going to win any of the Oscars. It should be an interesting show.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ready for Some Adventure? How about Kon Tiki?

Next Sunday, February 9th, we're all in for a real treat and some great adventure. We'll be viewing Kon Tiki, the 2013 foreign language film Oscar nominee. See you at 3:00 at the Digiplex in Oceanside.
Here are John Anderson's questions for the film.
1. Why does the film invoke so many biopic conventions?
2.  What is the underlying psychological motivation of the voyagers?
3.  What role does movie making play in Heyerdahl's journey of self transformation?
4.  What are the merits and problems associated with Heyerdahl's thesis?
Ponder them as you view Kon Tiki and be ready for a discussion after the film.

 More about Fruitvale Station
Oscar Grant's mom, stars of the film Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer
I don't know about you, but I always think about a film afterwards and want to look things up on Google. I'm always curious about the film several days later. I wondered why Octavia Spencer had a producer credit on the film. Here's what she said:

"When the film lost key funding for its shoestring budget of less than $1 million, Octavia took on an executive-producer role and started raising money.

"I shamelessly started calling my friends I knew had deep pockets, friends in which twenty-five grand wouldn't hurt. And I kicked in some of my own money," says Spencer. "I didn't want any of Ryan's vision to be sacrificed."

Spencer also tapped her Hollywood pals to appear in the movie, including Ahna O'Reilly, and Kevin Durand and One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray, who were chosen to play the cops most directly involved in the shooting. The 6-foot-5 Durand had to be brought in "on my insistence," says the relentless Spencer. He didn't want to be known as the guy responsible for Grant's death, even on film.

"I told him that was why we needed him. We needed someone to bring the humanity to that officer."

In Memoriam

We lost two of our most gifted actors this week - Maximillian Schell who played so many roles but will best be remembered as the defense attorney in Judgement at Nuremberg. He won the best actor Oscar for that performance.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, another Oscar winner died this week. I'll never forget him as Truman Capote. He was just such a great actor. He'll truly be missed.

See you on the 9th.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Get Ready for Fruitvale Station

Our next film is Fruitvale Station. You won't want to miss this one. It's gotten rave reviews, but it's disappointing that it didn't get any Oscar nominations. Maybe it was released too early in the year.  
John has come up with some questions to ponder as you're watching the film. He'll lead the discussion after so be prepared with some insightful questions.

1.  How does the film's limited point of view shape the audiences reaction to the event being depicted?  Is this limited perspective nevertheless a fair one?

2.  Why did the filmmakers only dramatize events in the last day of Oscar Grant's life?  Does the attenuated time frame of this biopic enhance or diminish the subjects life?

3.  In what way does knowing the outcome of the story affect the audiences reactions to specific scenes as we are watching them?

Critics Corner

Gail Brown's latest review:

Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit, 2 hours 25 min
Rated:  PG-13
Ratings:  IMDB, 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes, 6.0 with a 63% fresh, 4 of us today rated it 8-10!!
Cast:  Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightly, Kenneth Branagh
Directed by:  Kenneth Branagh

Based on the character created by bestselling author Tom Clancy, "Jack Ryan" is a global action thriller set in the present day. This original story follow a young Jack (Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. The story follows him from 9/11, through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, which scarred him forever, and into his early days in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA where he becomes an analyst, under the guardianship of his handler, Harper (Kevin Costner).

Two Critics Comments:
While all involved talk a good game, this movie really is a bit of a toss-off, a disposable date movie to enjoy momentarily and then completely forget about. (Isn’t that what January movies are all about??)

This film had an oddly generic feel like we have seen this story in some form before. Even if this was set several years post-9/11, it had that dated Cold War (a la classic James Bond) feel especially when the action shifted to Moscow. Fortunately though, despite those gripes, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is still a very exciting action-packed thriller

My opinion:
I am recommending this movie as a good January CIA ‘edge of your seat’ drama/adventure.  We enjoyed it a lot more than most of the critics apparently…same critics that wanted Her to win best pix of the year!!

The pace of the movie was very good…with surprise moments.  Of course the things that happen in these movies are not plausible…but it was a fun ride.  Chris Pine is a likable actor, someone you root for.  I have always enjoyed Kevin Costner….there is just a charm about him…the camera took nicely to both of them. After the crazy, over the top movies I have seen lately…this was a welcome change of pace, as well as a throwback to movies we grew up with (ala 007 but not that good!)

Would never win an award but entertaining…glad we saw it today….

More About The Sapphires

I'm still thinking about The Sapphires and after seeing that fun, interesting film, I did a little more research about it. Are you still wondering about parts of the story? Here's an update that actually includes some of John Anderson's comments after the film (but for those of you who didn't stay after, you'll be interested). This article about Tony Briggs, the writer of the film who is the son of one of the Sapphires is also interesting.

Local Film News

Coming February 6 - 16, The Jewish Film Festival. Fourteen different films will be shown in various venues including San Diego, La Jolla, Carlsbad and San Marcos. Click on the link for more information and for the list of films.

In the meantime, we'll see you Sunday, the 26th for Fruitvale Station.