Ottawa

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film




Friday, June 2 - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Directed by Vanessa Gould

(U.S. 2016)
93 Minutes

Who would have thought that a film about obituaries could be fascinating.
Well, this one is... and that's probably because it focuses on all types of people, not just famous ones, and the stories are written by excellent writers at the The New York Times. 

The great care that the writers take in selecting people to feature, and the
concern they have for these people when writing about them is the first thing you notice. The stories are not about dead people. They are stories about lives lived.  The writers research their subjects thoroughly. They   only have seven hours to do this, but if a famous person, like Michael Jackson, suddenly dies, they may have to come up with something on the spot. Panic.  And they are usually writing about people they have never met.

The NY Times still has the old-fashioned card catalogues... those kind you used to see in the library decades ago, where you pulled out a little drawer and looked through index-like cards. They call this area of the Times the "Morgue."  Jeff Roth, the lone guy who runs this operation, says it's better than Google.  There are 10,000 drawers of clippings. One photo he pulls out features folk singer Peter Seeger with his father, 1921. Seeger was 2-years-old.

After selecting a subject to feature, for example, NASA Engineer Jack Kinzler, the guy who saved the Sky Lab by developing heat shields,  the writer contacts relatives for detailed information.  The next assignment might centre on a belly dancer.

The next challenge is to find a good lead for the obit.  The lead should also tell a story; it's not just a resume. It must enchant the reader....make the dead person come alive again, for example, Candy Barr, exotic dancer and friend of Jack Ruby.  What made Candy Barr special:  she "
dated a mobster, shot her husband, went to prison for drug possession, and starred - unwillingly, she insisted - in a famous stag film...." She "died on Friday in Victoria, Tex. She was 70." (Douglas Martin)

Another lead:
Eugene Polley, Conjuror of a Device That Changed TV Habits, Dies at 96. He was the inventor of the Wireless television remote control. 

At first, obituaries mostly spotlighted white men. That was the reality of culture 40- 60 years ago.    Manson Whitlock, Typewriter Repairman, Dies at 96.   "For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century's ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell , the decisive zhoop...bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys. Over time, he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never." (Margalit Fox)

Obits are usually between 600- 900 words.  The subjects have to be newsworthy. There is always a photo, and the size is dictated by the person.  James Brown, "The Godfather of Soul" - large photo.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Actor of Depth," merited many photos.

In the NY Times obits, there are no Hallmark card phrases... nothing flowery.  After they published an obituary on a lady who was not dead,
they realized that they had to put the cause of death in the second paragraph.

One individual became history: the bombardier who dropped the 9,000 pound bomb on Hiroshima where 80,000 Japanese were instantly killed.  That was Thomas Ferebee from a small town near Winston Salem, North Carolina.

The obituary section of the paper is known as "Siberia" - the last stop on the way out. 

If you assume a documentary about obituaries is dull, think again.


Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film



A Quiet Passion

Friday, May 19 - 25, 2017

Directed by Terence Davies

(U.K./Belgium 2017)
125 Minutes
Mature Theme
Not Recommended for Children

 A solitary life is not an easy one. Sometimes our talents become our worst enemies. We are compelled to live a certain way.  Poet Emily Dickinson was an extraordinary writer - recognized as the most important poet of the 19th century, but her life became increasingly difficult. 

Terence Davies has created a masterpiece from a production and historical perspective, with great lighting and scenery details for the time. The picture is shot beautifully, with good camera movement, but don't expect a fast-moving story.  It's slow and deliberate.

The casting of actors is excellent.  Cynthia Nixon  (Sex in the City) is superb as Emily.
The film opens at Mount Holyoke, Female Seminary where we learn there is bullying and cohesion. an then moves to the  Dickinson family home.   Emily was born in 1830 and died in 1886, so the morals and ethics of the times quickly becomes quite clear. Women are supposed to act a certain way,  and God and a spiritual life are supposed to be part of people's lives.  It's an acute case of evangelism.

The life of a woman was compared to the life of a slave.

It soon becomes clear that Emily is a rebel and doesn't want to be saved. The film becomes a portrait of attitudes of the times.  Emily's  best friend, Miss Buffam (Catherine Bailey), is a seemingly liberated female with a great sense of humor. She insists that going to church is like going to Boston. You are only happy when you go home. She states that a marriage proposal by mail would be fine.  A failed marriage could be blamed on the U.S. mail.

Emily worked at night on her poetry, "from 3 a.m. to morning." For her, it was the best time for writing. It was quiet. Good for thinking.

There were other writers. The Bronte's and George Elliot were offensive to some people. Emily didn't like the work of Longfellow, her contemporary, because he "expresses the obvious."  She was looking for the beauty of truth. 

We experience Emily's life that was once hopeful, but we suddenly see her consumed by seizures, and she becomes increasingly disoriented.  Emily may have inherited the same debilitating depression experienced by her mother who seems to have lived a missed life.  We follow the path of the family... changes in the lives and deaths.  The film is not always easy to watch. Basically, there is one location, the dimly-lit family home.
 

Emily lived a secluded life... eventually hiding in her room.

"We become the very thing we dread," Emily says.  "Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me."

Emily was not recognized in her own time.  Upon her death, her family discovered forty handbound volumes of nearly 1800 poems.

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

               

Hell or High Water

Directed by David Mackenzie
(USA, 2016)
102 minutes 

Sometimes you find yourself initially rooting for the bad guys in a film. This
love/hate relationship develops with surprises in “Hell or High Water,” a production with strong, engaging characters.

The bad guys are two brothers who live on their family ranch in West Texas.  Tanner (Ben Foster), the ex-con, older brother, is wild and unpredictable.  Toby (Chris Pine) is more thoughtful.  He has two boys, is divorced, pays child support, and cares about his kids.  He wants to make sure they have a good future.

The Texas landscapes are not what we are used to seeing. There are few people on the streets, and beyond the small town cities are desolate country roads that loom into the distance.

We learn that the ranchers’ mother recently died and that their land is being unfairly threatened by foreclosure.  They decide to rob a series of the same company’s bank branches in retaliation – banks without any obvious security.  They seem, for the most part, to be badly protected. Modus operandi:  The brothers steal a car, enter a bank wearing ski masks, demand money, and then flee down a narrow alley at crazy speeds to escape pursuit. Afterwards, they use a tractor to bury the cars on their land.

Between robberies, the brothers eat in little diners. One waitress asks,” What don’t you want.” The film is quirky. Enter two new characters: Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his half-Comanche sidekick Alberto (Gil Birmingham).  Hamilton constantly insults Alberto. The humor is unconventional, but we understand that he really cares about his partner.  After another robber, Hamilton asks the waitress if she has seen the two brothers. She refuses to identify them, probably because she found one of the brothers to be very cute.  

One robbery is unusual. They steal a small amount of money plus a truck. They pay a shady car dealer to let them steal the truck. The deal is that the truck won’t be reported stolen until the end of the week so that they can get away.

The younger brother wants to give the ranch to his kids. He tells them “Don’t be like us. Whatever you do, you do it different.”

Then their lives become two brothers vs two rangers.

After arriving to rob a bank that is closed… bummer… they raid a bigger bank. This is Tanner’s rash idea, not Toby’s.  Big mistake. The problem is that in a larger bank, all the people have guns… and these locals chase them.

The brothers decide to separate. Ranger Hamilton is contacted and joins the chase. He wants to catch these guys before his impending retirement.

The older, crazier brother has a machine gun.

There’s a very strange ending….

“Hell or High Water” Oscar Nominations:
Best Picture - Producers Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Jeff Bridges
Best Original Screenplay – Taylor Sheridan
Best Film Editing – Jake Roberts

See this film. It’s a good story.


DVD: Amazon.ca
Netflix

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas
2214 Bank Street
Ottawa
(613) 736-1115


Photo by Lois Siegel
Gordon Pinsent
Genie Awards
2009

The River of My Dreams:
A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent

Directed by Brigitte Berman
(Canada, 2016) 
104 minutes

If you've seen Canadian films in the past, you have almost certainly experienced the amazing talent of actor Gordon Pinsent. His films span many decades: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968);   John and the Missus (1987) - director, writer, actor; The Shipping News (2001 - actor; Away from Her - actor (2006); The Grand Seduction - actor (2013).

Not bad for a lad who left school after grade eight.

Award-winning director Brigitte Berman has just released her film "The River of My Dreams," a terrific documentary about the life of Gordon Pinsent. 

What you probably don't know is that besides being a brilliant actor, Pinsent is also a painter, thespian, carpenter, and poet.  His rich voice is captivating and his timing masterly.


The story covers his early days in Grand Falls, Newfoundland where his love for film became apparent.
Berman superbly introduces the young Pinsent through animation. We see the steps he takes that lead him to acting. Pinsent was born in 1930, when Newfoundland was a British dominion (1907-1949). In 1948, he migrated to "Canada" with a single suitcase to find his way in the world. He had six jobs in six months...and then joined the army for three years. We view a delightful animation of him teaching dance at Arthur Murray. Was he a dancer... no, but we soon learn that if he didn't know how to do something, that didn't scare him. He took risks and found out....

Pinsent has always been charming... and he developed the fine art of lying.  At his very first audition, he said he only did lead roles, not small ones, so he got the lead. And he recounts his early years at Stratford where he once played a tree... that lit up.


Gordon Pinsent
Quentin Durgens, M.P.
CBC-TV
Naive Rookie Member of Parliament
 

Through out the film we hear him recite by memory speeches from Keats, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and even a hilarious spoof on Justin Bieber featuring Pinsent as the voice of Bieber  that played on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes." Bieber's main focus in the piece is on grilled cheese and girls.

The film doesn't shy away from more emotional moments, revealing past marriages and children.  Pinsent first married at a very young age, and this had consequences. He divorced  and left his wife with the kids. This took a toll on everyone.  He then married actress Charmion King, who had a career that spanned 60 years: stage, radio, television and film. Pinsent quips," I met her acting in a play...and she had a car."

Norman Jewison cast him in the film "The Thomas Crown Affair," starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, because he was consistent as an actor and believable. His  first Hollywood film was not exactly a highlight. Pinsent was the only white actor in an all-black film: "Bracula" (1972) (Dracula's soul brother).  An ancient African prince, turned into a vampire by Dracula, finds himself in modern Los Angeles. Tag line: "Warm, young bodies will feed his hunger."
You get the picture.


There's also a story of Pinsent going on a walk with Marlon Brando and Wally Cox. This event is remarkable - a rather odd combination of beings.

After Hollywood,  Pinsent returned to Canada.  He wanted to work where he wanted to live. 


Gordon Pinsent
The Rowdyman
Writer/Actor
(1972)


Pinsent tells wonderful stories. He talks about a film he was in and Pierre Trudeau was in the audience. The projection started with the film upside down. Trudeau remarked," At least we have popcorn."



About his years as an actor, Pinsent states: "Acting is knowing what you know about the human comedy, the human drama."

"The River of My Dreams - A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent" is a must -see.

Note
: Director Brigitte Berman's film "Artie Shaw: "Time is All You've Got" (1985) about the legendary jazz clarinetist, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
 

Review by Lois Siegel

Trailer

Hidden Figures

Directed by Theodore Melfi
(USA, 2017) 
127 minutes

West Virginia - we are introduced to a young, grade school girl
who has an amazing gift for math. She's Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson). Cut to 1961, NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Langley Research Centre, Hampton, Virginia.

We meet three ladies who are working in the colored section. One of them is Katherine.  The other two are Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson, (Janelle Monáe).

Colored  workers were segregated from white workers in the  "West Area Computing" unit  -  where an all-black group of female mathematicians resided.  They also had separate dining drinking fountains, and bathroom facilities. Even the library had a colored section.

Langley was the center for Project Mercury. The goal was to
land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

Russia's Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. The Americans were lagging behind. The space race was on.
The hallways of Langley were filled with prejudice, but
talented workers were needed.  And these three women were exactly that. They had skills that Langley needed.


Those were the days of air raid drills in the schools. A siren would blare, and students were told to hide under their desks or put their heads into their lockers: "Duck and Cover" from a potential nuclear blast, as if that would solve the problem.

In the film, we follow our main characters as they find ways to advance in the system, despite ridged laws. One goes to night school at an all-white institution. Another moves to an IBM computer section.

Our ladies are delightful. They are not easily discouraged and
we cheer them on as they defeat many obstacles.

Kevin Costner plays Al Harrison, the boss. He's excellent as a gum-chewing leader who understands what he sees in Katherine. He admires her skills and protects her from  insensitive, prejudiced co-workers, like Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons - as in the "Big Bang Theory nerd.

Not only is she a woman in an all-white office, but she's also black.

It's a great story based on true events that most of us never knew existed.  This 'adventure' leads us to Cape Canaveral where John Glenn is ready prepping  to be the first man in orbit. Suddenly, a glitch in the system occurs. When no one else has come up with a solution, Glenn insists that Katherine check the numbers or it's a 'no go.'  Katherine uses old math to find a solution.

"Hidden Figures" is a great story based on the true events that most of us never knew existed. It's an important part of American history about perseverance in the face of racism and discrimination.  It's about the courage of the ladies who took their rightful place in the effort to put men in space, and it's important for us to recognize the value of what they accomplished.

The film has been nominated for three Academy Awards: Best
Pictures, Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer



The Founder

Directed by John Lee Hancock
Written by Robert D. Siegel
(USA, 2017) 
115 minutes

Persistence:  that’s what makes Ray A. Kroc (Michael Keaton) tick.  He learned this from a self-help record. When we first meet him, it’s 1954. He’s a failing milkshake mixer salesman from St. Louis, Missouri who makes cold calls on fast food joints. One problem is that the mixers he sells are too big for the average mom and pop outfit.  Suddenly, an order comes in from San Bernardino, California for multiple mixers.  He can hardly believe it.  Kroc drives off across country to find out who these buyers of eight machines are. 

He discovers two brothers, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) who found a way to automate the delivery of food with amazing speed: 30 seconds from order to take away. Their business has no car service, just a window, so there’s lots of loitering teens around, and their limited menu is the key to fast service. Their machines are custom built, designed by them.  They choreographed a layout for their business on a tennis court in chalk, using their workers to walk through the motions of the process of making the food – a kind of pantomime to the terrific tune of “Music for a Found Harmonium” by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  Kroc is impressed. He’s determined to be involved with this operation, and he’s a fast learner.

Dick is the cautious brains behind the operation.  Mac (as in Big Mac) towers over everyone. He’s very tall and sensitive. These ‘boys’ are a challenge to Kroc.  They don’t see things the way he does.  Kroc is excited and impatient. He talks them into signing a contract with him… one that they will eventually regret…, you see, Kroc is not really a nice guy. He focuses on what he can get out of something.  He’s greedy and doesn’t really care what other people think of him.

Kroc’s wife Ethel (Laura Dern) puts up with all his flawed schemes and even forgives him when he almost loses their house, but he dumps her when business starts to boom.

Franchising is his vision. He starts with one ‘McDonalds,” and then expands. There’s no limit to what he wants to do. “If you increase supply, demand follows,” he insists. And it’s his idea to exploit the brother’s Golden Arches – something people will remember. He pretends he created McDonald’s, but he merely takes the brothers’ ideas and runs with them. 

Time warp:  Hamburgers are $15 cents. People smoke in movie theatres. McDonalds is like the New American Church, open seven days a week.

Essentially, Kroc made McDonalds huge and took over many stores across the States. He made McDonald’s what it became.

Kroc’s big breakthrough occurred when he met an accountant who told him to own the land underneath McDonald’s.  This led to his financial success.  But he did give the two brothers over a million dollars each in the end for their company. Unfortunately, I’m sure he robbed them of their pride. It was a case of traditional values versus Ray Kroc…

Pre-order Amazon.ca
DVD Release date: April 2017

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film



20th Century Women

Friday, January 20 -  
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Directed by Mike Mills

(USA, 2016)
118 Minutes
 

Annette Bening is outstanding as Dorothea in this unpredictable film featuring the lives of three women and one 15-year-old boy.  Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is trying to find out what life is all about and how he should 'live' with these women. He questions his approach to sex. Its 1979, and the world is changing. Dorothea, Jamie’s mother, is overbearing and smothers him with concern. The opening scene: Santa Barbara, California.  Dorothea's car catches fire.  She invites the firemen to dinner - strange, but a nice gesture. She lives in a big, old, decaying 1905 mansion with her son and with people who rent or constantly drop in. There's William (Billy Crudup) a good-looking, ex-hippy who is renovating her house and Abbie (Greta Gerwig) an arty photographer punk who wears a Lou Reed shirt. She saw the film "The Man Who Fell to Earth" by Walter Tevis and dyed her hair red right after. Then there's Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie's best friend, who climbs up the outside scaffolding of the house to sleep with him... but sleeping is all they do, no sex. Julie is victimized by her therapist mother who forces her to attend group sessions. This has distorted Julie’s view of life.

Dorothea is anything but conventional. We learn that she had Jamie late in life - at 40. "She smokes Salems because they're healthier, wears Birkenstocks because she's contemporary, and she never dates a man for very long."  She's divorced, and Jamie only hears from his father on birthdays and Christmas.

There's humor throughout the film. When Jamie was in grade school, Dorothea would make up great excuses for his frequent absences. “Please excuse Jamie from school this morning. He was doing volunteer work for the Sandinistas.” The secretary looks incredulous, but files the note and let’s Jamie head to class. Different Day: Jamie walks in, hands over a note. “Please excuse Jamie from school this morning. He was involved in a small plane accident. Fortunately he was not hurt.”

There are also serious moments.  When the Fainting Game becomes popular (intentionally cutting off oxygen to the brain with the goal of inducing temporary loss of consciousness and euphoria) Jamie decides
to try it.  He collapses, but doesn't wake up and is rushed to the hospital.
It takes him a half-hour to return to
consciousness.  Kids do stupid things. The attending doctor warns Dorothea that this kind of stunt can cause brain damage. Jamie's excuse to his frantic mother - "Everyone was doing it."



Dorothea constantly tries to understand what Jamie is going through. Jamie will leave the house and not say where he's going. Why does he do this? She checks out the punk scene and discovers that parents see their kids differently when they are out in the world.

At the end of the film, we are told what happens to all these characters later in life.  It's an interesting story.  In a way, they've all lived through a turning point in history.  The complexity of the film makes it interesting.

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film

Sing Street

Directed by John Carney
(Ireland/UK/USA, 2016)
106 minutes

Dublin 1985

Jobs are scarce. Families have to make tough decisions.
Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is 14.  His parents tell him he has to transfer to another school - run by Christian Brothers. It's a rough school full of bullies, and the Headmaster loves rules - the kind that make no sense. They are just rules to be rules and to keep control over young boys.

Conor meets a young lady who is older - Raphina (Lucy Boynton).  He instantly falls in love...so he lies. He tells her he has a band and would she be in a video.   She says "yes"... so he has to quickly form one.


                 Connor and Raphina

The great thing about this film is the characters: one short kid with red hair becomes the band production manager. His accent is thick and difficult to understand, but he's terrific.  Another kid auditions and can play every instrument, including bagpipes. We see him picking up one instrument after another and performing. He sports gigantic glasses that take up most of his face.  We know we're in the 80's.  There are two younger boys and a black guy. "He must play something, he's black."  The casting is excellent.


         
   Conor and Eamon

The band becomes "Sing Street" - a Futurist band. 
Conor composes music with the help of Eamon (Mark McKenna).  The music is surprisingly good. The film is a great quiet revolution piece of them versus us - the kids against the Christian Brothers and the bullies.  One bully is extremely nasty. We understand why when we hear his father bullying him.

"Sing Street" practices after school. The scene cuts to Eamon's mother in her bedroom putting batteries in her vibrator. There's constant humor.

The cassette recorder they use for taping is large and old. You could throw it down the stairs, and it would still work. When someone says, "But we don't know how to play as a band," the next comment is "Do the Sex Pistols know how to play?"


"The Riddle of the Model Tune" is ready to be videotaped.  Raphina knows about makeup, the film has been storyboarded. The shoot is on. Each lyric is another shot. It's a fun film.


Reality hits: Raphina has a boyfriend. He's older and has a car... a constant irritation for Conor.

Conor's older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), a stoner, gives him advice on what vinyl records to listen to and girls..."No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins."

Conor gets his revenge when his band plays at the Christian Brothers School. "Sing Street" is about a "boy meets girl," but it's also about rebellion.

Rotten Tomatoes gave "Sing Street a 97% rating.  This is a charming coming - of - age film - not to be missed.

Note:  John Carney has directed some excellent music-themed films.
"Once" and "Begin Again." "Sing Street" should be added to the list.
  

Music by The Cure, Duran Duran, The Clash, Hall & Oats and more....                    

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/is94VGbxXeQ/maxresdefault.jpg
IMAX

Museum of History
100 Rue Laurier
Gatineau, Quebec


Directed by Louis Schwartzberg

http://movies.nationalgeographic.com/u/TvyamNb-BivtNwpvn7Sct0VFDulyAfA9wBcU0gVHVnqC5ghoK8WYwXKbRSUkfpUiQnC-Qkmh4RcCiCTXLAo/

There lives a fascinating world beyond what we can see
with our own eyes. Special instruments are required
to view the intricacies of what is actually there.  
This invisible world is microscopic.
It may move very quickly or very slowly.
There may be light waves that bounce off objects.

Time lapse images allow us to see constant changes.
High speed cameras can be used
to capture details, recording fast-moving objects,
and then they can be played back in slow motion.

The images tell the story.


http://media.utsandiego.com/img/photos/2013/11/07/mosquito_eyes2_r620x349.jpg?75d51d0aea2efce5189afce216053cbc530c46a8 
Produced by National Geographic Entertainment
and narrated by Forest Whitaker, 

“Mysteries of the Unseen World” is worth seeing.
The film gives you a new perspective on the world around you.
The Museum of History now has Digital Projection: a New Laser 4K
 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/94/e7/6b/94e76ba0dd7a0f0586b97efdd6f1de61.jpg

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film

Where to Invade Next

Directed by Michael Moore
( USA, 2016)
120 minutes

It's been six years since Michael Moore released a film. According to Moore, "Where to Invade Next"  was shot entirely outside the USA.  The exception is stock shots from archives.

This is definitely one of his films you should see. You will learn some interesting things about how other people live in other countries: extensive paid vacations, paid honeymoons, two-hour lunches for factory workers, education alternatives (serious sex talk),  and no homework for students. Brains have to relax. Some institutions have even banished standardized tests. In one city, all schools are the same. No private schools. In the U.S.A., Moore insists, school is a business.

One of Moore's opening statements: Why do Italians look like they always just had sex? Is it because there is less stress in their lives?

Moore says he wants to take the best ideas he discovers abroad back to America.

One enticing idea is unveiled in Normandy, France. Gourmet food is served at tables set with real china in an elementary school cafeteria. There's camembert cheese and lamb skewers or chicken; scallops with sauce, or fillet of cod, and fruit for dessert. There are no vending machines.

In Slovenia, students at one college have no debts.  Essentially, education is free. Some U.S. students have caught on to this and are attending. One hundred courses are taught in English.

In Germany, a pencil factory actually has windows, letting in good light. The owner doesn't want ill workers. His employees are on the Board of Directors and often propose good ideas for change. "That's the key to success," he says.

Moore states that the U.S. hides from their sins. It's a country built on the backs of slaves.

And we are shown a prison in Norway that focuses on rehabilitation. Prisoners are not locked in.  We see a murderer making food in a kitchen where there are knives on the wall. He's using one. There are 115 inmates with only four guards who don't carry guns.  The prisoners'  punishment is a loss of freedom, but they are being helped to return to society. The 'residents' take classes. There's a library and a recording studio. Creativity is encouraged. Prisoners also have the right to vote. In the States, Moore, explains, 80% of prisoners are re-arrested. In Norway, only 20% are.

It doesn't matter if you are a fan of Michael Moore or not. This film is worth seeing. It's good to discover there are other ways of doing things.

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer
 


The Mayfair
1074 Bank St.
(Directions)

A Perfect Day

Directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa
(Spain, 2015)
106 Minutes


Somewhere in the middle of the Balkans, suspended between war and peace, there are very few perfect days.  A "cease fire" doesn't mean much here. It's the last days of the Bosnian War.

If you work for "Aid Across Boarders," you don't carry a gun,
but there is danger everywhere: rebels, roadblocks, treacherous, narrow, winding roads with deadly drop offs, and dead cows booby-trapped with land mines ... you get the picture.

Benicia de Toro and Tim Robbins star as "crazy" and "crazier"
in a film that will move you to tears and then have you rolling over in laughter. 

Military convoys are targets for attacks.  You have to stay away from them.  "Cities" have been bombed out, walls are inscribed with nice sayings, such as "Welcome to Hell," and there are young kids with guns.

The centre of the story is an obese corpse in a deep well. It will contaminate the water that people need if it isn't removed, but this is not an easy feat. There are few supplies. It's even difficult to find a length of rope.  But the people in the countryside need help. They become your family, so you go to great lengths to do exactly that.

"A Perfect Day" received a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes.  That should tell you something.

The music in the film is timely and perfect for each setting.
Check out the lyrics by Lou Reed at the end of the film.
"There Is No Time."

This is no time for celebration
This is no time for shaking hands
This is no time for backslapping
This is no time for marching bands

This is no time for optimism
This is no time for endless thought
This is no time for my country right or wrong
Remember what that brought

There is no time....

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film
 

Spotlight

Directed by Tom McCarthy
(USA, 2015)




Based on a true story, “Spotlight” retraces the steps of a team of Boston Globe reporters as they investigate allegations that the Catholic Church is covering up the abuse of children.  Priests, who are discovered accused as being predatory, are merely transferred elsewhere or put on “sick leave.”

In Boston 2001, the church was feared and respected, so evidence of wrongdoing was routinely disregarded. The Globe’s new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), wanted to change this and went after the church. This was a risky move since 53% of their readers were Catholics.

When the facts revealed that at least 80 children had been abused, many more victims came forward. Typically, the children came from troubled, low income families, often with absentee fathers.  Priests befriended lonely kids and then took advantage of them. Private settlements were made with the church, and no records were kept. Lawyers, police, and journalists conspired to keep things quiet.

Spotlight is definitely a film to see. It's engaging and tells the story clearly.


Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Tom McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams),
Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

Running time: 128 minutes

Review by Lois Siegel

Trailer

ByTowne Cinema
 325 Rideau St.
(613) 789-Film 

The Big Short

 


Directed by Adam McKay
(USA, 2015)

In 2007, thousands of people lost their homes during the U.S. mortgage housing crisis. The banks gave almost anyone a loan, even though they knew this was risky. Bad loans were hidden inside prime quality bonds, assuming that the banks behind the bonds were “too big to fail.”  Greed ruled. Some people started to realize that this bubble would burst.  They recognized that the banking system was unstable and widely corrupt, so when nobody would listen, they placed bets against it, making millions of dollars.

What happens when five million people are unemployed? Who pays the mortgages? Alan Greenspan, American economist and Chairman of the Federal Reserve, didn’t like regulation, but he finally admitted that he had “made a mistake.” Financial firms couldn’t regulate themselves.

Using humor, the film helps us comprehend what happened. Despite the complications of understanding all the details of the transactions in the film, the basic story is clear. We become involved with the characters. One of the most interesting individuals is Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an eccentric.  He’s an ex-doctor and a Capital hedge fund manager who wears shorts to the office, doesn’t wear shoes, and plays a mean set of drums.

The story of these fraudulent systems is like Chicken Little – the sky is falling, but most people refused to believe it. When millions lose their homes, reality hits. We see them living in their cars or tents. It’s painful.

Despite years of unethical and criminal behavior, only one banker went to jail, and the others were bailed out.  The regulations that led to this have not been substantially changed. It might happen again.

The acting and editing are excellent. This is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Best Director (Adam McKay), Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Running Time: 130 minutes

Amazon.com: DVD available for Pre-Order.

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer


Dean Kamen
 

Dean Kamen is best known as the inventor of the Segway, a Personal Transporter that has two wheels and is a self-balancing electric vehicle controlled by shifting body weight.

Many people think it’s just a luxury toy like the go-kart, but it’s not. When I was a guest speaker at St. Andrew’s College, Laurinburg, North Carolina, I was surprised to see a physically challenged kid zoom into class on a Segway. Only then did I realize one of the outstanding uses of the Segway: Physically challenged kids were able to move around the campus with ease and speed.

Kamen likes technology and machines… it’s their efficiency. They deliver.
He creates inventions to give people a better quality of life. “I’ve never been afraid of any machines,” he insists.  His company is DEKA in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Four hundred people work for him, building medical equipment.

He certainly doesn’t know the different between work and play. It’s one and the same to him. He says you have to be lucky to find work you love. 

Kamen is eccentric and extremely interesting. He lives in a house with secret passages and hops into his helicopter in the morning to ‘drive’ to work. He also flies his own jet.  His closet is jam-packed with blue denim shirts and pants. He wears the same-looking clothes every day. This must make his life easier because he doesn’t have to think about what he is going to wear.

SlingShot is a biographical documentary about Kamen and his many inventions, with a special emphasis on a water purification system called “Slingshot”- intended to empty one-half of the hospital beds in the world by giving people clean water.  Twenty percent of the population goes to bed sick because of water-borne pathogens they consume.

The key is that Kaman’s machine is simple to operate.  It changes dirty water into good water. This is not just a technological problem; it’s a distribution problem. How do you get the machines to the people and then educate them about the device to convince them to use it?  He solves these types of problems.

Kamen dedicates his life to creating machines that help people in need. He has over 440 patents. His inventions include a prosthetic arm, a home dialysis machine, and a pharmaceutical system that delivers insulin. He has also started a robotic program for students.

How does he do this? “You have to take a big intellectual leap,” he explains. “Every decision is a compromise.” He realizes that people accept new ideas very slowly.  Kamen survives because he is an optimist, despite the fact that innovation is a difficult and frustrating process.

He is obsessively focused on his work. He doesn’t have children.  His inventions are like his children.

This is a film everyone should see. It’s inspiring to learn about this very unique man.

Running time: 88 minutes
Available from Amazon.com and the Ottawa Public Librar
y

Review by Lois Siegel
Trailer


Agents


Audrey's Costume Castle & Dancewear

"Await The Freight"


Mitch St. Pierre

Intermode Media
CBC
It will also air on Current TV (United States)

Produced by Intermode Media with the help
 of Story Editor Sue Stranks
 Director at the Canadian Film Television Production Association

Two daring travelers embark on the journey of a lifetime.

 
Mitch and Skot

Along the way they encounter countless difficulties and obstacles
 that come rolling with the wheelchair and living life off the beaten track.
Come along for the ride and see how they meet adversity and beat overwhelming odds.
Mitch, who has been diagnosed with a brittle bone disorder
sets out on this dangerous expedition in a wheelchair.



He faces unbelievable barriers when attempting freight train hops in the constraints of his chair. Accompanied by his best friend Skot
 the two document their story as they face the unknown in "Await the Freight."


Canadian Film Institute


FilmCan
Local Movie Listings

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07.02.2011
Ottawa, Canada
Contact: Danny McLeod T: +1 613 282-3858 E: danm@qpictures.com

NATIONAL CAPITAL TO BE MOVIE SET OF NEW DARK COMEDY

Quiet Revolution Pictures, Majika Pictures and Denmark's Fridthjof Films with the support of
Telefilm Canada and The Danish Film Institute will be filming the feature-length dark comedy,
"
Eddie" in the Nation’s Capital
.


Photo by Lois Siegel
Miriam Nørgaard and Michael Dobbin
Producers


Photo by Lois Siegel
Boris Rodriguez, Director

Starring Thure Lindhart (Angels & Demons, Into The Wild), Georgina Reilly (Pontypool, This Movie is Broken), Al Goulem (18 to Life, The Trotsky) and Dylan Smith (300, Love & Savagery).

Production is scheduled to begin February 7, 2011.
Quiet Revolution Pictures:
www.qrpictures.com
Fridthjof Films: http://www.f-film.com
Telefilm Canada: www.telefilm.gc.ca/data/communiques/rel_1016.asp

Ottawa, ON Canada,  February 7, 2011 –the Nation’s Capital is being transformed into the set of a twisted, dark-comedy movie entitled "Eddie." The satirical story is about a once-famous painter who rediscovers inspiration after he befriends a sleepwalking cannibal. Telefilm Canada and the Danish Film Institute have partially funded the project to be directed by Boris Rodriguez (Havana Kids, Beso Nocturno) and produced by Ottawa native Michael A. Dobbin (The Devil’s Curse, Powerful: Energy for Everyone, The Maiden Dance to Death) and Ronnie Fridthjof (Armadillo, Tempo). “The National Capital Region is the ideal setting for this movie. I’m really looking forward to working here,” says Boris.


Photo by Lois Siegel
Michael Dobbin, Producer

Director Boris Rodriguez is a graduate of Concordia University and the Canadian Film Centre. Boris’ films Beso Nocturno (Night Kiss) and Perfect both had premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Beso Nocturno was selected for a retrospective at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

Michael’s past work as a producer includes Toni Harman's debut horror entitled The Devil's Curse (aka Credo), (currently available through Lionsgate and iTunes), David Chernushenko’s Powerful: Energy for Everyone as well as Endre Hules' The Maiden Danced to Death. Michael was mentored by BAFTA-winning producer of East is East, Leslee Udwin. He’s an alumnus of the film programme of Ryerson. In October 2006, Michael founded the ‘Just Watch Me!’ Canadian Film Festival and as a story editor, script doctor and lecturer is in steady demand on both sides of the Atlantic.

For further information:
Lois Siegel, Unit Publicist: >>>>>>>
Danny McLeod, Assistant Producer + 613 282-3858
danm@qrpictures.com



IFCO
The Independent Filmmakers
Cooperative of Ottawa


319 Lisgar
(Bank & Lisgar)
Ottawa, Canada
(613) 237-0769
Specializing in a unique collection of films
you can't find anywhere else.
Extensive selection of outstanding
 documentary films by independent filmmakers


Ottawa Film Society

Ottawa-Gatineau
Film Office



The Ottawa-Gatineau Film & TV Registry

 

The 2007-2008 edition of the Registry is available.

 

Visit our web site or call us to order your copy today.

 

 

WATSON PRODUCTIONS

1386 Richmond Rd., P.O. Box 32114

Ottawa, ON

K2B 1A1

 

tel: 613.759.0797

fax: 613.721.3953

info@watsonproductions.ca


Ottawa International Animation Festival

Teen Filmmaker First Local to Win

at Ottawa International Animation Festival

 


©Photo  by Lois Siegel
 

 Will Inrig's short, animated film
 "The Depose of Bolskivoi Hovhannes" won the
Adobe Prize for High School Animation

 

This is his first animated film and tells the story of a humble shepherd
on a wind-swept heath in Armenia, whose sheep begin to conspire against him.

 

Inrig gained significant attention last summer with his debut feature documentary film
 
"The Exceptional Jivatma Valettas" that chronicles his very eccentric next-door neighbours.
 The film
premiered at the Library and Archives Canada.

He is currently working on another feature documentary
 "The Fantastic Ballet of the Mind and Its Master," exploring the inner fantasies of the autistic mind.

The film is inspired by his younger brother who has been diagnosed with severe autism.
Inrig is working with
the National Film Board of Canada through
 the assistance of Oscar-winning producer Adam Symansky.
Acting as the film’s executive producer is renowned Canadian filmmaker
 and Order of Canada recipient Allan King ("Warrendale," "A Married Couple").
 

Inrig is mentored by Order of Canada recipient Alanis Obomsawin,
one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers
 and Ottawa filmmaker Lois Siegel.

 

Inrig's first dramatic feature about an enigmatic alien landing in northern Ontario,
 is also being supported by the National Film Board of Canada



 

 "The Depose of Bolskivoi Hovhannes" was made as part of
Canterbury High School's Media Arts Program 

YouTube


Director: Will Inrig
Camera: Gordon Bailey
 

AUDIO: Will Inrig talks to All in a Day host Adrian Harewood on CBC Radio July 23, 2008


 International Launch of Mediateque


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