Friday, October 23, 2015

Freeheld (2007 and 2015)

Gay Rights and Gay Marriage are the themes of both this documentary and feature film by the same name.

Documentary: A terminally ill New Jersey police officer struggles against city council's decision to deny the transfer of her pension to her domestic partner in documentary filmmaker Cynthia Wade's earnest look at one woman's fight for equal rights in the land of the free. Veteran lieutenant Laurel Hester is a police officer who has dedicated 23 years of her life to serving the community. Upon learning that she has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Hester seeks to provide for longtime partner, Stacie Andree, by transferring her pension. A wrinkle arises in Hester's plan, however, when the elected officials of New Jersey county ("The Freeholders") deny Hester's humble request. Without transfer of the funds, Andree will lose the home that the couple has spent their lives building together. Now, as their friends and neighbors rally around in support of the couple, Hester is forced to spend her final days not simply enjoying the company of the one she holds dearest, but racing against the clock to ensure that the love of her life won't be destitute due to a broken and biased system. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi  2007.  36 minutes

The 2015 feature film starring Julianne Moore as Laurel and Ellen Page as Stacie did not get great reviews, but I saw it and found it moving and important.  It was well worth watching.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy (2015)

The Music and Mystery of Brian Wilson
Brian and Melinda Wilson with Biopic Cast
This movie “is a loving tribute to the Beach Boys and the man responsible for their distinctive sound, but it goes to deeper and stranger places than most movies of its kind.”

There’s a theory of negative alchemy that posits that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can turn gold into lead.  In Brian Wilson’s case perhaps it was turning platinum into gold.  What we know about Wilson is that his verbally and physically abusive father (and perhaps an alcoholic mother) may have set the stage for his later mental deterioration that was also related to his substance abuse as a young adult.

Love & Mercy is an engrossing look at mental illness, creativity and amazing music.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Farewell Party

This is an Israeli film about assisted suicide and euthanasia.

See posting on KOHD Blog.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Alive Inside

ALIVE INSIDE is an absolutely amazing, moving and memorable documentary.  It features such key "players" as Bobby McFerrin, Bill Thomas and Oliver Sacks (as well as others). 

It is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. The camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Domestic Violence (2002)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE shows the Tampa, Florida police responding to domestic violence calls and the work of The Spring, the principal shelter in Tampa for women and children. Sequences with the police include police response, intervention, and attempted resolution of domestic violence calls. Sequences at the shelter include intake interviews, individual counseling sessions, anger management training, group therapy, staff meetings, conversations among clients and between clients and staff, and school activities, therapy and counseling for children at the shelter.

This documentary runs over three hours.  It is a powerful introduction to the topic of domestic violence.  I got it from NetFlix.

NetFlix blurb: "By shadowing residents of The Spring, Florida's largest shelter for battered women and their children, documentarian Frederick Wiseman sheds light on domestic violence and reveals the complications that make it such a difficult problem to solve. Though painful to watch, Wiseman's gripping film allows each victim to share her own horrific story in a way that's brutally honest, as they all try to rebuild their lives while living at The Spring."  2002 196 minutes.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Still Alice (2015)

This is an amazing film; a real tour-de-force starring Julianne Moore as a linguistics professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  It is a sobering look at a devastating process.  It shows how the disease affects the patient, but the illness impacts on the entire fabric of the family. If you are interested in the topic, this is a "must see."

In the genre of films dealing with illness, Still Alice in on a par with Wit, starring Emma Thompson.

From A.O.. Scotts, NY Times Review, December 2014.
“Still Alice is a movie that addresses a nightmarish circumstance with calm, compassionate sensitivity. Based on Lisa Genova’s novel and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, it follows the deterioration of a Columbia linguistics professor who learns she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), along with her husband and three children, must endure a cruel and absurd ordeal that has no real chance of growing easier. With what seems like shocking rapidity — the film’s chronology is appropriately fuzzy — Alice slides from a witty, intelligent, capable adult into a fragile and confused shadow of her former self."  2015 101 minutes.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Suicide Tourist

"Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker John Zaritsky, The Suicide Tourist is a portrait of Craig Ewert's final days as the Chicago native pursues a physician-assisted suicide in the one place where it's legal for foreigners to come to end their lives: Switzerland. With unique access to Dignitas, the Swiss nonprofit that has helped more than 1,000 people die since 1998, The Suicide Tourist follows Ewert as he debates the morality -- and confronts the reality -- of choosing to die before his disease further ravages his body, and he loses the option to die without unbearable suffering."  2010.  55 minutes  Frontline Information and Video Link.

This is a memorable and thought-provoking documentary.