Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This light hearted British comedy follows an elderly couple and their adult son on a journey of atonement. The father travels to Germany to apologize to the village in which he, as a British bomber pilot in WWII, dropped his bomb load. The son also works to help his parents communicate with each other after years of growing more distant.
This documentary covers the life of 85 year old Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, doctor and surfing legend, who along with his remarkable wife raised their nine children in a camper while traveling the country. All parties involved (the children now as adults) are interviewed, relating both the advantages and disadvantages of such an unconventional upbringing.
The Rape of Europa:
A very interesting documentary chronicling the pillaging of artwork throughout Europe by the Nazi regime as they conquered most of the continent in the 1930’s and 40’s. It also describes the efforts of individuals who worked to protect these works from war’s destruction, as well as to locate and return the huge numbers of stolen works.
Bill Hicks- Sane Man:
A blazing set of stand up comedy performed in Austin, TX in 1989. Hicks had many fans in Austin so this set found an appreciative, attentive, and responsive crowd.
Cry, the Beloved Country:
Based on a novel, this drama takes place in 1946 South Africa. Richard Harris and James Earl Jones play two fathers, one black and one white, who suffer closely related family tragedies. The tragedies help promote a personal bond between the two, despite living in a world of racial apartheid.
A Shine of Rainbows:
This is one of those “family” dramas that succeeds by having just enough of an edge to the story to avoid a lot of syrupy sentiment. The story takes place in 1950’s Ireland when a couple adopts a young boy who must then deal with the loss of his new mother.
This 1995 film version of the Wild Bill Hickock story gives us Bill tripping on opium while avoiding constant assassination attacks and the squirrelly harassment of Calamity Jane. Jeff Bridges does much better work in the recent and much better executed remake of True Grit.
Bill Hicks Live- Satirist, Social Critic, Stand-up Comedian:
This disc includes several performances by the brilliant comic as well as some interviews with family and contemporaries. You can always count on a unique “ride” when listening to Hicks perform.
Captain Abu Raed:
This nicely made drama, filmed in Jordan in Arabic, centers around the dreams of young boys who are inspired by the stories shared by a supposed airline pilot who in reality is a janitor at the airport. The “Captain” also takes an active role in the less than desirable home lives of some of his young friends.
Science and the Swastika:
This two-disc series examines the heavy emphasis on scientific and medical research by the Nazi regime in Germany. The series covers in great detail the absolute corruption of the medical profession, medical euthanasia of “useless eaters,” experimentation on prisoners, and the attempted development of a nuclear bomb.
Clapton- Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010:
Another fine effort by EC and company celebrating the most versatile music instrument. Some interesting collaborations of guitarists here to listen to. One of the best is Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes (of the Allman Bros.) with Caesar Rojas and David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos). Another stand out performance is by the incomparable Jeff Beck.
A very emotional drama about the brutal 1998 IRA bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The victims family unite and demand answers and accountability from the powers that be, but are met with stonewalling and corruption
Army of Crime:
A French film about the immigrant led civilian resistance to the Nazi occupation of Paris. All characters are real life. You come away impressed and inspired by the actions of these martyrs against tyranny.
The Most Dangerous Man in America- Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers:
A must see documentary about the life of Daniel Ellsberg and his releasing of secret documents that exposed truths about the Vietnam War.
The Hired Hand:
This restored 1971 western was Peter Fonda’s first directorial effort after Easy Rider. Not a typical shoot-‘em-up western, the storyline is based around basic human emotions using symbolism that wasn’t apparent to me until I listened to Fonda’s commentary (which is really worth the time). Fonda isn’t much of a lead actor, but is assisted ably here by Warren Oates and Verna Bloom. The film includes some excellent cinematography for a low budget film.
Kris Kristofferson stars as a songwriter/musician who returns to his wife and sons 20 years after he abandoned them. Instead of enjoying his final days of life, his return causes more chaos to his already dysfunctional family. His grandson seems to be the only stable one of the bunch. An excellent screenplay based on a novel.
John Hammond-The Paris Concert:
The veteran blues guitarist and singer (now in the business for 50 years) gives a rocking live performance at a club in Paris. Hammond primarily does covers from some of the early blues composers, so it’s like a watching a living history of the genre being performed for you. Hammond is one of those unique, veteran performers who has his chops down to such a fine art, his soulful playing and singing seem effortless.
Battle Los Angeles:
Aliens land on earth, disguised as meteors and immediately attack a number of major cities. Though the fighting sequences are entertaining, the drama winds up being a recruiting film for the US Marines with all the hokey, goofy, hooh-rah dialogue you would expect.