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Showing posts from October, 2009

LunaFest - Special Report

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By Moira Sullivan

I have seldom attended a film festival so well organized and in brilliant spirits as the9th Lunafest, a traveling program of short films by women that were screened at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco last month. A VIP reception preceded the program and Lunabar, a sustainable health nutrition bar business, hosted the entire event. The networking and outreach that produced an amazing turnout allowed community leaders, activist and citizens alike the opportunity to gather for a good cause and see films which empower women and take up women’s issues such as learning to overcome cultural differences and living within your limitations at any age.
Lunabar sponsors screenings in over 100 US cities between October and May and provides materials and tools for the creation of successful fund raising events. The Lunafest event actually assists local non-profit fund raising, which in San Francisco is the Breast Cancer Fund. The films featured in the 2009-2010 Lunafest are multi…

Good Hair - Movie Review

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By Jonathan W. Wind

"Daddy, why don't I have good hair?"

So queries Chris Rock's daughter's after school one day, sending Chris upon a quest.

"Good Hair" is directed by established Hollywood comedy writer Jeff Stilson, and produced by Chris Rock for HBO Films. Now, Chris Rock is someone I watch with the remote in one hand, just in case I have to mute it right away or switch channels. He's funny in a mealy sort of way. But this time Chris Rock is a gentleman, a court jester with a research degree and an agenda, letting his subjects laugh at themselves and each other without rancor.

Without pandering he chats up everyday people asking their opinions, listening intently and relying on the irony in their own words. He cracks a few cultural jokes, but seems saddened by the spectacle of young African American women intent on beating the odds by by achieving the admired "good hair" through any means possible. The hair …

The Tomb Of Ligeia - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

"The Tomb Of Ligeia", released on Inauguration Day 1965, returns us to the sort of Vincent Price fare most loved by horror movie buffs: Edgar Allan Poe as seen in color by Roger Corman. Price is Verden Fell, cursed by his dead wife, Ligeia and hoping to free himself with his new wife Rowena. Both are played by Elizabeth Shepherd, a good actress who had been hired to replace Honor Blackman on "The Avengers" and then fired before audiences saw her in action. Diana Rigg was then cast as Mrs. Emma Peel and many years later no one can imagine anyone else in the part. Certainly not Uma Thurman or Elizabeth Shepherd.

It is tricky to imagine Diana Rigg as Ligeia and Rowena, because for all her enormous talent as an actress she has never convincingly conveyed terror or vulnerability. Shepherd projects both, but she is not in the same league as her charismatic co-star. The presence of fine character actors like Richard Vernon, Frank Thornton, Denis Gilmore a…

The Last Man On Earth - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

"The Last Man On Earth" is among Vincent Price's saddest, scariest films. It is NOT a pretty film to watch. Photographed in stark black and white by 35 year old Italian cinematographer Franco Delli Colli, the film looks like a shoestring effort to document the end of the world as we know it. We know it isn't, because who would make such a movie?

The only recognizable human is Vincent Price's Robert Morgan. Everyone else is a vampire or a corpse. Robert's looking for a cure, but his heart isn't really in it. Everyone he knew and loved is gone. Still he forges on, in a despondent state of shock. Ubaldo Ragona directed in Italy and Sidney Salkow (who'd made "Twice Told Tales" with Price two years earlier), was responsible for dubbing the Italian dialog into English.

Two far more lavish movies of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" were later released: 2007's Will Smith version and 1971's "The Omega Man&qu…

Capitalism: A Love Story - Movie Review

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By Moira Sullivan

I know, Michael Moore is cheesy. He too often milks crying victims to make his points and his theatricality is often embarrassing. But his documentaries are commanding, and Capitalism: A Love Story has to be his best work to date. He still manipulates images and sound to drive home his points, and for that reason his documentaries are considered unscientific, but let's face it - everyone manipulates imagery and sound in the documentary medium, so this can hardly be a criticism. There are Michael Moore enthusiasts that love everything he does, and there are enemies, the people that he goes after or the people who don't believe that what he says is true, at all.
Capitalism: A Love Story is not against all capitalists, just the one percent that has extorted the American people, who work hand in hand with the government, who sit on advisory committees, and who get fat bailouts, when no one else does. And he does have the facts nailed down on this. Capitalism: A L…

Birdwatchers - Movie Review

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By Jonathan W. Wind


Birdwatchers chronicles the land battles of indigenous Brazilians forced to find work on their own lands as seasonal laborers. In the southern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sol, a small band of Guarani Indians, unable and unwilling to subsist on the reserve mapped out for them by wealthy white settlers, camp out in shaky trash bag tents on the roadside fringe of a plantation intent on reclaiming what was once their holy ground.

Led by Osvaldo, the tribe's young hero, and the venerable tribe Shaman, their presence on the land creates distrust with the owners mixed with a quiet curiosity, what does the other really want? The tribe itself just stares at the fields, waiting for a miracle. Even this is better than the reserve where poverty and suicide have reduced their numbers and damaged their spirit. But they are hounded even by their own most exalted spirit, Anques, and, as ends most stories of indigenous peoples, they lose their…

Five Minutes of Heaven - Movie Review

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By Jonathan W. Wind

Five Minutes of Heaven is a movie about revenge and redemption, bravely tackling these subjects with only mixed results, asking if the pull towards retaliation is greater than the pull towards forgiveness.
"I'll have my Five Minutes of Heaven" shouts Joe Griffin, a Catholic, as the possible sweet revenge he has waited so long for becomes ever more imminent.
Based on a true story, in Belfast in 1975, 11 year old Joe witnesses his older brother's murder and is blamed by his own mother and family for not stopping it somehow. His family is broken and his young life becomes a darkness of incrimination and remorse. The killer, 16 year old Alistair Little is caught and serves 12 years in prison for the murder.
In the sectarian conflict of Northern Ireland - it was Protestants against Catholics, Christians fighting Christians. Whose god would win?. It all seemed so Medieval, Americans seemed mostly sorry but uncomprehending; was it worth dying for? Irel…