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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Theory of Everything

From Fandango: "James Marsh's biopic of the celebrated scientist Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, stars Eddie Redmayne as the famous figure. Enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge, Hawking establishes himself as one of the leading minds of his generation, and begins to win the heart of Jane (Felicity Jones). After one of his earliest breakthroughs, Hawking is diagnosed with ALS, and he becomes less and less able to control his own body. With the loyal Jane at his side, he continues his work. However, as the years progress, Jane starts to feel more like a nurse than a wife, and Hawking begins to have feelings for a woman who is hired to care for him. The Theory of Everything screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

The NY Times Review.

This movie presents a picture of a most unusual case of ALS -- a > 50 year survival (normal course is 2 - 4 years).  It shows how this devastating disorder impacts on the patient and his family. There is a saying, "the disease affects the patient; the illness impacts on the entire fabric of the family."  The Theory of Everything is not about theoretical physics.  The film is entertaining, not deep.  2 hours and 3 minutes  2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Black Heirlooms

Black Heirlooms, by Amanda Brown, is a documentary about wealth in America from an intergenerational perspective. When the 86 year old matriarch, Mee-Mah Royal was hospitalized after a stroke, her 8 children became irreconcilably divided over her care and small estate or roughly $51,000. Through the stories of her children, grandchildren, and supporting interviews with prominent researchers, lawyers, and financial planners Black Heirlooms examines the need for intergenerational planning to transfer family wealth, traditions, and values. Join this critical conversation about intergenerational wealth and the growing wealth gap in America 

The NY Times had an article about this film on November 30, 2014 and an 18 minute version of the documentary can be seen on YouTube.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Late Quartet (2012)

A Late Quartet is a 2012 American drama film co-written (with Seth Grossman), produced, and directed by Yaron Zilberman.[3][4] The film uses chamber music played by the Brentano String Quartet and especially, Beethoven's Op. 131.[5] The film was released in Australia as Performance.

As the Fugue String quartet approaches its 25th anniversary, the onset of a debilitating illness to cellist, Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), forces its members to reevaluate their relationships. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Peter announces his decision to play one final concert before he retires. Meanwhile the second violinist, Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman), voices his desire to alternate the first violinist role, long held by Daniel (Mark Ivanir). Robert is married to Juliette (Catherine Keener), the viola player of the group. Upon discovering Juliette does not support him in this matter, Robert has a one-night stand. Further complicating matters, their daughter, Alexandra (Imogen Poots), begins an affair with Daniel, whom her mother once pined for. Yet bound together by their years of collaboration, the quartet will search for a fitting farewell to their shared passion of music and perhaps even a new beginning.

Definitely high-brow.  Beautifully done and ethereal music!!