Saturday, April 25, 2009

Volume 20. 8 X 5

Following is a list of some of the finest films I've seen the past few months. All 8 of them 5 Stars. Many of them are life affirming films. Something we need more of during these rather bleak times. Some of them are funny. Some suspenseful. Poignancy even pops up! If you haven't seen these films... run, do not walk, to your nearest video store. I think you'll be thrilled.

The Singing Revolution is the brilliant story of these lovely people, the Estonians, who simply want their independence. Here's what the director had to say about it.

A Special Message from filmmakers James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty:
"Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolutions. But in Estonia song was the weapon of choice when, between 1987 and 1991, Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. During those years, hundreds of thousands gathered in fields to sing forbidden patriotic songs and to rally for independence. The Singing Revolution documents how the Estonian people regained their freedom and helped topple the Soviet Union along the way. We learned of the Singing Revolution while teaching filmmaking at an Estonian university in 1999. We not only were amazed by the story itself, we were amazed that we knew virtually nothing about it. Unarmed people facing down tanks; 300,000 people singing forbidden songs under the eyes of Soviet authorities (even the Soviets couldn’t figure out how to arrest people for simply singing); incredibly clever parliamentary and street theater maneuvers that vexed Moscow at every turn (including working within the Soviet system to officially make the hammer and sickle an illegal symbol in Estonia, implemented while still occupied by the Soviet Union!). We called all our friends to ask if they had ever heard of the Singing Revolution. Virtually no one had. And even those who had heard the phrase knew close to nothing about what had actually happened. We looked at each other as husband and wife (which we are as well as filmmakers) and said, “This story has to be told.” And if not us, who? If not now, when? And so we embarked on a four year journey trying to understand what was behind the miracle of this bloodless revolution. This is not a history film. It is not even an Estonian film. It is an inspirational film. Although Estonia’s occupation began under the most murderous and oppressive means by both Soviets and Nazis, not a single person was killed during this 4-year revolution, and the strategies used to achieve this were just brilliant. David vanquished Goliath without even the use of a slingshot, and yet no one knows about it. Ironically, had people been killed during this revolution, it probably would have received press attention. We think the fact that no one was killed kept the story out of the international news. From 1940-1946…in just six short years…Estonia lost more than 20% of its population through successive brutal occupations by Stalin, then Hitler, and then Stalin again. They suffered a persistent attempt at genocide…by direct executions at first, by population dilution second, and then by an attempt to wipe out all symbols of the nation of Estonia. And yet, the people survived…and when their moment came, they seized it. They seized it and won a victory for all of humankind. If this were fiction, you wouldn’t believe it. But we have the footage to prove it. The Singing Revolution took place in the late 1980s, and it was documented. There is no argument. Creating “The Singing Revolution” changed our lives. We learned a lot about what humans are capable of enduring, and what they are capable of achieving, under the most horrible of circumstances. We hope you consider watching “The Singing Revolution”. It might change your mind about how to change the world, and it might open your eyes to much greater and higher possibilities than you now think are possible. And as dark as some of the above history is, your faith in humankind will be uplifted and energized after viewing this film."

Academy Award nominee Mike Leigh (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, Vera Drake, 2004), delivers the delightfully fresh and cheerful comedy Happy-Go-Lucky. Free-spirited and effervescent, Poppy is a schoolteacher whose unstoppable optimism guides her life. Bubbling forth with giggles, laughter and jokes, life's a bowl of cherries even when she comes across a few pits. Whether it's a cranky driving teacher or a fiery flamenco instructor, Poppy embraces life on the sunny side of the street. It's a joyous, feel-good film you'll find irresistible.

I fell in love with Sally Hawkins and want her to have my children.

Balanced gracefully on a ladder, deftly carving with his electric hedge trimmer, Pearl Fryar has the elegance and strength of a dancer. He is, by contrast, a topiary sculptor, an artist whose medium is discarded or junk plant life and whose canvas is his magical and fantastical garden. A MAN NAMED PEARL chronicles the story of Pearl's dazzling garden as well as his extraordinary life, both of which serve as inspirations to his family, his community, and the thousands of visitors who come to experience Pearl's world each year. The film traces Pearl's journey from a small town sharecropper's son to an internationally-acclaimed artist, focusing in particular on his position as the celebrated cultural and spiritual icon of his impoverished town. Now 68, the soft-spoken Pearl has just one wish for all those who wander through his living art; they must leave feeling differently than when they arrived.Stirring and profoundly uplifting, A MAN NAMED PEARL offers a captivating window into the life a man who turned obstacles into breathtakingly beautiful possibilities.

The Film - Synopsis

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb the 23,000 foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. A dangerous journey soon becomes a seemingly impossible challenge made all the more remarkable by the fact that the teenagers are blind. Believed by many Tibetans to be possessed by demons, the children are shunned by their parents, scorned by their villages and rejected by society. Rescued by Sabriye Tenberken - a blind educator and adventurer who established the first school for the blind in Lhasa, the students invite the famous blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer to visit their school after learning about his conquest of Everest. Erik arrives in Lhasa and inspires Sabriye and her students Kyila, Sonam Bhumtso, Tashi, Gyenshen, Dachung and Tenzin to let him lead them higher than they have ever been before.The resulting 3-week journey is beyond anything any of them could have predicted.

Be With Me the new film by Eric Khoo (Mee Pok Man, 12 Storeys) is a tapestry of stories woven around the themes of love, hope and destiny. The characters lead separate lives but are bound by one common desire - to be with their loved one. The protagonists in the movie are fictitious bar one - Theresa Chan, a courageous deaf and blind woman whose life story inspired
Be With Me.

From one of the producers of the Academy Award winning NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Best Picture, 2007), comes this critically acclaimed, postmodern Norwegian coming-of-age story. REPRISE follows two aspiring novelists and lifelong friends journeying down different paths after one's first novel receives wild acclaim and the other a pile of rejection slips. Filled with infectious energy, filmed in French New Wave style and featuring a stellar up-and-coming young cast, REPRISE is an extraordinary film you'll want to experience again and again.

Stephen Collins is an ambitious politician. Cal McAffrey is a well-respected investigative journalist and Stephen's ex-campaign manager. En route to work one morning, Stephen's research assistant mysteriously falls to her death on the London Underground. It's not long before revelations of their affair hit the headlines. Meanwhile a suspected teenage drug dealer is found shot dead. These (apparently unconnected) events expose a dangerous habit within modern government of dancing too closely with the corporate devil. Friendships are tested and lives are put on the line as an intricate web of lies unfolds.

I saw this BBC Series before the american movie was released and cannot imagine that the film could have anything on this.

A stylish, contemporary thriller series. The Cold Case team is a crack squad of police investigators who reopen unsolved murder cases, using new technology to re-examine evidence that hopefully will lead to the killer. They are at the cutting edge of modern police investigation, but they have been given just one year to prove their worth.

Another great BBC presentation.

(Product descriptions from Amazon or the films official website)


  1. Hi David,
    what an interesting and intriguing list of movies..thank you for this.
    i think i would love to watch Reprise...
    tonight we're staying at home viewing "Che"
    Have a great week !
    (hope all is well)

  2. Lovely Lala,

    How are you? Glad you like the list. You really should see them all. I loved them! I was thinking of doing a list of the 4 stars as well.

    BTW, Eric made his Meatloaf last night! Said he might share his secret with you!