Monday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Loving Vincent (USA, 2017)
Runtime: 94 minutes
This animated feature brings the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil painting, hand-painted by 125 professional oil painters who traveled across the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production. As remarkable as Vincent's brilliant paintings is his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death. "Loving Vincent" was first shot as a live action film with actors, and then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils. The final effect is the interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent's famous portraits, and the performance of the painting animators, bringing these characters into the medium of paint.
Monday, April 2, 7 p.m.
Keep On Keepin’ On (USA, 2014)
with Sonoma Mendocino Coast Whale & Jazz Festival
Director: Alan Hicks Rating: R Runtime 86 minutes
Cast: Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Justin Kauflin, Arturo Sandoval
The film depicts the friendship of music legend and teacher Clark Terry, 89 and Justin Kauflin, a 23-year-old, blind piano prodigy. Kauflin, who suffers from debilitating stage fright, is invited to compete in an elite Jazz competition, just as Terry’s health takes a turn for the worse. As the clock ticks, we see two friends confront the toughest challenges of their lives.
Terry was also Quincy Jones’ first teacher, and mentor to Miles Davis. He is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands. In the ‘60s Terry broke the color barrier as the first African-American staff musician at NBC – on "The Tonight Show."
Shot over the course of five years, "Keep On Keepin’ On" is crafted with great affection by first time filmmaker Al Hicks, who is a drummer and former student of Terry’s.
Paula DuPre’ Pesmen (behind the Academy Award winning "The Cove" and the Oscar nominated "Chasing Ice") produced the film with seven time Academy Award nominee Quincy Jones, who also counts Terry as his mentor.
Monday, April 9, 7 p.m.
I Confess (USA, 1953)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock Rating: NR Runtime: 95 minutes
Cast: Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden, Brian Aherne, O.E. Hasse
Based on the turn-of-the-century play "Our Two Consciences" by Paul Anthelme, this Alfred Hitchcock film is set in Quebec. Clift plays a priest who hears the murder confession of church sexton O.E. Hasse. Bound by the laws of the Confessional, Clift is unable to turn Hasse over to the police.
"A forgotten albeit flawed masterpiece, this thriller about a priest accused of murder – bound to keep secret the confession made to him by the real killer – smoulders gloriously." –Philip Olterman, The Guardian
Monday, April 23, 7 p.m.
42 Grams – An intimate portrait of a complicated chef
Director: Jack C. Newell Rated: NR Runtime: 72 minutes. Skype audience Q&A with filmmaker follows screening
After working at some of the world’s best restaurants, Jake’s aggressive personality kept him from finding a kitchen to call home. A chef without a restaurant, Jake began cooking fifteen-course menus out of his apartment. Alongside his dedicated wife Alexa, their “underground” restaurant becomes a foodie hot spot. The experience is unique: they present refined flavors while dirty dishes soak in their bedroom. A year later, they take out a lease on an abandoned chicken joint to open a real restaurant, 42 Grams. The film follows them developing menus, hiring and firing staff, shows Jake’s temper, the strains on their marriage, and what they risk in their pursuit of the American Dream.
Here’s a review:
Monday, May 7, 7 p.m.
Land of Mine (Denmark, 2015)
Written and Directed by Martin Zandvliet Rated: R for violence, some grisly images, and language Runtime: 101 minutes
Based on extraordinary true events, Zandvliet’s multi award-winning historical drama tells a gripping story of redemption and forgiveness, as it follows a group of captured soldiers in Denmark in the immediate aftermath of WWII.
Denmark 1945. The defeated German occupiers have retreated but have left a cruel parting gift – the beaches of the west coast of Denmark are studded with more than a million landmines. The British and Danish come up with a plan: use German prisoners of war, many of them teenage boys, to clear the beaches. This oppressively tense drama follows one squad of callow, terrified soldiers who have barely grown out of childhood and into their uniforms, and the Danish officer who grudgingly becomes their protector.
The History (as published on http://sonyclassics.com/landofmine/)
The Geneva Convention of 1929 forbids forcing Prisoners of War to carry out hard labor or dangerous work. However, there is evidence that British and Danish commands deliberately changed the wording of the text from "prisoners of war" to "voluntarily surrendered enemy personnel" in order to sidestep the rules of the convention. Many of the German soldiers ordered to defuse more than two million mines along the Danish coastline were mere boys - only 15-18 years of age.
To this day, the events surrounding the demining of the Danish beaches are considered taboo in not only modern Danish history, but also European post-war history. The five-month demining process claimed more human lives than the entire length of German occupation in Denmark.
The idea of using German prisoners of war to carry out the dangerous demining task came from British command, but was carried out with no objections from the Danish administration. The Danish Brigade was in charge of supervising and handling the operation.
From The Atlantic:
Most of the film’s power and interest comes from the ethical discussion it inspires. The Danish audience may be asked to confront this cruel episode in their nation’s history, but all viewers can draw parallels to their respective countries and conflicts, how they have behaved in times of war and afterwards, and how they remember and justify their actions. And this reflection on national memory and behavior can be uncomfortable. As Zandvliet told Indiewire, “there was a big debate after this movie in the media and TV, where everybody called me not patriotic enough. It’s not about that. It’s more the dilemma of the terrible things that happen after a war.” The reaction also shows the indelible force of patriotism given that even after many decades, Denmark’s decision and action are still sensitive subjects.