Paolo Sorrentino’s YOUTH, is a visually elegant and emotionally moving film that follows two old friends, reconnecting over a summer holiday and coming to grips with the legacy they have left on the world.
My name is Susan and I love music documentaries. Surprisingly, though, I’m not a music buff. I don’t subscribe to Rolling Stone or have an eclectic collection of vinyl. I don’t even subscribe to a music streaming service. (Gasp!) I may seem like an unlikely fan of this genre, but what I desperately love about music docs is that we, the audience, become privy to the conception of art. We see the passion, the hard work, and the process, which to me, is often more interesting than the final product. From 20 Feet From Stardom to The Wrecking Crew to The Winding Stream, we are introduced to the backstory of history-making music. We see the raw talent stripped of pretention and production. Take Me To The River, continues this tradition with a heartwarming and heartbreaking celebration of some of Memphis’ musical greats.
In the late 1950’s Russ Solomon began selling used 45 records out of his father’s drug store in Sacremento, California. He purchased them for 3 cents and sold them for 10. And that 7 cent profit, my friends, was the beginning of what became Russ’s gift to the music world, Tower Records.
The Iranian film Jafar Panahi’s Taxi takes us on a delightful joy ride that gives its international audience a light-hearted, but meaningful glimpse into the everyday lives of Tehran’s citizens. He skillfully delivers to us witty characters with humorous stories, and only after the fact, do we realize he was instead slipping us a secret note with a hidden message. Why the secrecy? Keep reading. Please. I promise you, it’s important.
Now that I have your attention….This week, in celebration of it’s 50th anniversary, (although by my count, shouldn’t it be 51 years?) CBS pictures will release the new 4K digital restoration of the 1964 film My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. The film, based on the 1956 Broadway musical, was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning in 8 of those categories. As Roger Ebert so aptly wrote in a review of the 1994 restoration, this is why my blog post will not be a recap of the story:
“It is unnecessary to summarize the plot or list the songs; if you are not familiar with both, you are culturally illiterate, although in six months I could pass you off as a critic at Cannes, or even a clerk in a good video store, which requires better taste.”
Xanadu is the story of Sonny, a young artist struggling to find meaning in his art, while also paying the bills. Kira, played by Olivia Newton-John, is a muse who comes to life and roller skates her way into Sonny’s life, inspiring him and his new friend, Danny (played by Gene Kelly) to open the nightclub, Xanadu.
While at a film festival a couple of years ago, I struck up a conversation with a fellow movie-goer and began comparing notes on the films we’d seen. We had different opinions on several and I found myself wondering if I wasn’t discriminating enough in my movie tastes. But then she said something that struck me and I go back to it time and time again:
“Movies are like wine. Sometimes you want something light and sweet, sometimes you want something darker and more robust. And if you didn’t like a particular blend last week, that doesn’t mean that you won’t like it next week. Wine, and movies, are always better when they complement your mood.”
“Are you happy?” asks Nolan Mack’s boss at the bank branch where he’s worked for 26 years. Ironically, that scene was filmed a year before Robin Williams’ death, but it’s what many viewers will be wondering about the real life Williams as they view his last on-screen performance. You can’t sit down to watch Boulevard without the anticipation of seeing some small sign that Williams was months away from tragically taking his own life.
My 10 year old son came home from school last week, pulled out his class-assigned recorder, and proceeded to perform Ode to Joy…..through his nose. As much as I hate to admit it, it was funny. Hilarious, actually, and he begged me to put it on Facebook. After some back and forth banter about social media, and a slight shift in topic, he informed me that when the time came for him to get a phone, he absolutely WOULD NOT carry a flip phone. “Mom, that would just be totally embarrassing.” The absurdity of the moment struck me. He was begging me to share with the world his ability to play the recorder with his nose, but refused to be seen with a flip phone. I should have taken this “all about the optics” perspective into account as we sat down to watch Richard Donner’s 1985 film, “The Goonies.”