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Saturday, August 13, 2011


Directed by Errol Morris, this is the true story (at least Joyce McKenney's version of truth) of what she calls her "special romance" with Kirk Anderson, a devout Mormon whom she rescued (or kidnapped?) in England and had consensual sex (or forced it upon him?) for three days.  She spent time in jail and became quite a celebrity - which she no doubt enjoyed (though she claims not). A former beauty queen with an IQ of 168 (so she says), her obsession with Kirk made tabloid headlines as did revelations of her colorful past as well as some adorable puppies, the product of a successful cloning process she paid for later in life.  She is deftly interviewed by Morris, and talks nearly non-stop thoughout this fascinating, expertly crafted documentary(showing copies of newspaper articles, and using some animated illustrations apppropriate to some of events in her story) .  She spews out a powerful denunciation of  Mormon beliefs and practices, (She calls it a 'cult,' and claims Kirk was brainwashed by them.) What really happened? Is she lying? or not? Deluded? You decide. Anyway, there isn't a boring minute in this compelling film. (And, of course, she's writing a book about her undying love for Kirk.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

Remember the charming film, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Well, "Tevya the Milkman" was a character created originally by a great Jewish author and humorist, using the pen name, Sholem Aleichem.  He became famously acclaimed for the wit and wisdom of the tales he spun, bringing laughter to the lives of milliions, most of whom were not living in happy circumstances, to say the least.  This documentary of his life is brilliantly put together by Writer, Director, and Producer (!) Joseph Dorman. Narrated by Alan Rosenberg with Peter Riegert voicing "Tevya,"  This movie presents a moving, unforgettable  history of a people who were cruelly slaughtered, not just in Nazi Germany, but in Russia and other countries. Discriminated against, persecuted, the Jewish people found much solace in Sholem Aleichem's stories (which he wrote in Yiddish, the common language of the masses, rather than the scholarly Hebrew). An excellent film that is insightful and meaningful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Help

This wonderful film is based on the excellent Best Seller, deftly directed by Tate Taylor with a fine cast, starring Emma Stone as "Skeeter," college grad who aspires to be a novelist. Co-starring Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis,  "Skeeter" comes up with the revolutionary idea of  writing about the real experiences of "colored help" serving their white employers, lovingly raising their white babies, etc.  It's not easy to convince them to tell their stories to her, considering how dangerous it could be for them (in the '50s in Mississippi !)  however, when they finally agree, the result, the publication of her book, comes at the perfect time in U.S. history, when Civil Rights are coming to the forefront.  Of course, "Skeeter" publishes anonomously. (Watch  for the always splendid Allison Janay and Sissy Spacek.)  As usual in my experience,  books are able to be richer in detail than films, but this movie is an  impactful drama yet includes plenty of laughs.
 "The Help"  ----  Read it, or see it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

Disney Studios at its best. A delightful movie for very young children, using all the well loved characters from the original book by A.A. Millne.  (Sp?)   (Why did I go?  Because my cleaning lady came on a different day than usual, so I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours, and I'd already seen everthing else that I was willing to sit through!)  I don't recommend it for adults, unless you want to study the simple, effective artistry of the non-digital drawings.  It's a sweet story, and it's ideal for  little ones enjoyment. (Older kids and teens probably won't care for it.) 

Crazy, Stupid, Love

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped, with such a good cast.  Julienne Moore, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling the main players.  Most believable was the young (13 year old boy) who is hopelessly in love with his, and his sister's 17 year old baby sitter.   Basically it's about the mating-game, with people falling in love with the wrong people, and the pain they go through when it doesn't work out.   Carell seems to be trying to get away from comedy into romantic drama --not too successfully in my opinion.  There were actually some very funny scenes, but not enough of them.  Nuff said.