Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella


Anthony Minghella died today. He wasn't very old, he wasn't around that long, and didn't make that many movies. He did direct some good ones, though, and usually wrote his own screenplays. He probably would have made quite a few more. Here are a few of TVOR's favorites.

Truly Madly Deeply
This is Minghella's first film. Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson play lovers, only one of whom, unfortunately, is alive. This is a lovely film about loss and longing and dealing with ghosts.

The English Patient
Based on the Michael Ontadjee novel, with Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott-Thomas, and Juliette Binoche in a story taking place during World War II. This was the 1997 Oscar-winner for direction, and it was beautifully done.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, the cast includes Matt Damon and Jude Law, with Philip Seymour Hoffman in a supporting role. Always check references.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Girls Rock!


Girls Rock!
Directed by Arne Johnson and Shane King

There's a nice little documentary playing in a few cities right now called Girls Rock! It follows a group of 8-to-18 year olds through a week at the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon. The program is less focused on playing great rock music (experience and talent are not necessary) and more about building confidence, working together, empowerment, and other things that girls that age may not be experiencing in their regular lives. The counselors are professional (female) musicians from bands like Sleater-Kinney. During the course of the film, we meet several girls, learn their stories, and follow them through camp until the last night when they all participate in a concert for an audience of 750. You probably won't leave humming any of the tunes (using this word loosely) you hear, but you will probably end up believing that girls can and should rock.

Video notes:

TVOR saw Girls Rock! at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2007. TVOR does like her film festivals. Here's another list of festival favorites (documentary division) which didn't have much distribution in theaters, but which are now available on video.

Heart of the Game
Written and directed by Ward Serrill

Here's another girl-related documentary, the story of the girls' basketball team at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. The film spans seven years, and coach Bill Resler is the is at the center of it as he develops his players' talents, including cross-town transfer Darnellia Russell. But will they win the big game?

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Directed by Stanley Nelson

This is one scary movie. It tells the story of Jim Jones, the cult he founded, and the horrible ending in Guyana. In addition to some amazing footage, the film has lots of interviews with survivors of Jonestown, who seem intelligent and articulate. There's much food for thought in this one--how did this man, charismatic as he was, manage to make all these people do what they did?

Manufactured Landscapes
Directed by Jennifer Baichwal

Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer who travels all over the world, photographing landscapes that have been drastically altered by industrialization. The film Manufactured Landscapes follows him around and it is mostly about these visuals, not about providing a lot of context. But oh, what visuals. Never has pollution and devastation looked so gorgeous. This film is absorbing. See it on the biggest screen you can.