Tag Archives: Films

A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2017

“Cinema, for me, has always been something like music composed with photographic images.” Roger Ebert 

Continuing the metaphor of cinema as music, 2017’s playlist featured all genres, tempos, and beats, from comic book heroines, car chases, psychological thrillers, to fantasies, historical events, satire, and romance. Apes waged war against people, countries battled each other on land, sea, and in the air, mothers and daughters argued, three billboards in Ebbing, Missouri asked a provocative question, and all the money in the world could not save the reputations of Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and most recently, James Franco, and a long list of Hollywood men whom were exposed and called out by the #MeToo movement, which is changing the culture of the filmmaking industry and giving voice, long overdue equity, and opportunity to women, much like the change ignited by 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite. Continue reading

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Another Trip Around the Sun

“My life is better with every year of living it.” — Rachel Maddow

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Grateful. The past weekend I celebrated another trip around the sun, 365 days, one-day-at-a-time. Songs come to mind, the first from the soundtrack of my life as a young woman growing up in the fifties and sixties, Bob Dylan’s, My Back Pages, followed by memories of people, both here and gone, and my gratitude for their presence in my life, Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Who Knows Where the Time Goes?  Continue reading

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Battle of the Sexes Redux

It’s just really important that we start celebrating our differences. Let’s start tolerating first, but then we need to celebrate our differences. — Billie Jean King

“I wanted to use sports for social change.” — Billie Jean King

“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.” — Virginia Slims cigarette slogan, first sponsor of the women’s tennis circuit which later became the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).

Each generation experiences firsthand a series of events which become mile markers and touchstones for our lives. The past two weeks, I was reminded, while watching Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s riveting PBS documentary series, The Vietnam War, of being a baby boomer who came of age from preteen to young adult during the Vietnam War. Beginning last year, and continuing this year, I watched documentaries and narrative films about the anniversaries of Civil Rights protest marches, riots, and tragedies, most recently the film Detroit. On Friday, the reminiscing continued when I saw the new film, Battle of the Sexes, chronicling the $100,000 tennis television spectacle between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, billed as the “battle of the sexes,” women’s libber vs. chauvinist pig.  Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Dispatch: 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time…” ― Martin Scorsese

The first signs of spring in Madison, Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Film Festival premieres in theaters on the University of Wisconsin campus and near east and westside neighborhoods, usually during the end of March and early April, the terrace chairs return to the UW Memorial Union, and the first Dane County Saturday Farmer’s Market arrives. Continue reading

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The Itchy Restlessness of Spring Fever

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ― Mark Twain

It’s true, I came down with a case of spring fever again this year, beginning in February — the symptoms were clear: itchy restlessness, daydreaming, and questioning the choices in my life — wondering what the future holds for me. Desires and appetites grow stronger. I begin to wear clothes outdoors that are inappropriate for the weather, light jackets, short-sleeves, go sockless with canvas shoes or sandals with snow underfoot.   Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2016

I dedicate this essay to my mother, Ethel Mae Lenzke, who shared her love of movies with me while I was growing up, and to my filmgoing friends and family who join me for movies and post-film discussions. And — as a thank you and a tribute to Roger Ebert — I give you Two Thumbs Up!   

There were some interesting trends and controversies again in 2016, even before all the award shows have named their winners and bestowed their accolades. This year, more than in the past, independent films rose to the surface competing with the studios and their marketing machines. Word of mouth by filmgoers, especially on social media, had a measurable impact. Many franchises and/or remakes didn’t capture the audiences and box office receipts they projected. More options affected where and how we viewed content, from additional film distributors, downloads and subscription services, expanding the choices and the venues, from theaters, to home, to the backseat of a car, or at work during lunch breaks on Smartphones.  Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Takeaway: 2016 WI Film Festival

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” Roger Ebert

Time can play tricks on a moviegoer when sitting in a darkened theater.  A good story ends too soon, while sometimes it’s challenging to remain in your seat until the closing credits.  It already seems like the 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival was a long time ago. Daily life has a way of altering time. Years pass and some memories seem like they happened yesterday. Days go by and recent experiences often feel like they existed in the distant past. Hopefully this dispatch from the 18th Wisconsin Film Festival will help preserve the experience for me and other cinephiles of sitting in darkened movie theaters with filmgoing friends in Madison, Wisconsin from April 14 -21. Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2015

First, as a filmgoer I want to begin by acknowledging that 2015 was an excellent year for movies.  Blockbusters like Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both entertained the filmgoing audiences and made money for the studios. Dramas and biopics told stories about people and events that shaped politics and culture, including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in Love and Mercy, Steve Jobs in both documentary and narrative films about his life, the Cold War in Bridge of Spies, and the Blacklist of screenwriters accused of being Communists in 1950s Hollywood in Trumbo.  The mortgage banking and financial crisis of Wall Street was portrayed in The Big Short, and one of the best films of the year, Spotlight, revealed the pervasive abuse of vulnerable children by Catholic priests in Boston and beyond by the investigative reporters of the Boston Globe. Continue reading

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Full Moon on Christmas Day: Part II

Christmas Present and Christmas Future

“Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.” — Cheryl Strayed

This is Part II of a personal essay on the holidays. The subject of Part I was pre-holiday musings and reminiscing about childhood Christmas celebrations past. I’m grateful to my parents for their gifts to me, most importantly their love, nurturing, and support and for the delight I experienced on Christmas morning as a child when I saw the decorated tree and gift-wrapped presents.

Part II is also recognition that things change; we experience loss in our life as we age. Loved ones leave us, others die, and some traditions are more difficult to sustain.  People move across country, move on from childhood to adulthood, and sometimes family members and loved ones create chasms too difficult to bridge. Continue reading

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Waxing Sentimental

Nostalgia: (n.) a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

Tomorrow, Monday, November 30th is Cyber Monday. It’s the online equivalent of Black Friday, the Monday following Thanksgiving when people return to work and shop online and take advantage of deep discounts and promotions. In late November 2005, The New York Times reported: “The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.” Continue reading

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