Vor der Morgenröte (Before the Red Sun rises again)

Movies, Documentary

Vor der Morgenröte (Before the Red Sun rises again)

No Comments 14 December 2018

Stefan Zweig is one of my favorite German writers. I already reviewed on these pages the film Secret Burning based on his novel and his Chess novel. Both are fantastic. This film is about the life of Zweig. I knew how Zweig’s life ended but I had no idea of his years in Exile. Zweig was a Jew and he—unlike so many others who ended up in concentration camps—had the good sense to leave Austria and Germany shortly after the Nazis took power. The film covers his exile years. Its method is to pick out 5 episodes in a ten year period. Vor der Morgenröteis as poetic as Zweig’s work and it is a major accomplishment. The performance of Josef Hader as Zweig is stunning.

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Gurrumul

Movies, Documentary

Gurrumul

No Comments 10 July 2018

You may have never heard of Gurrumul. I certainly had not when I was asked to see this biopic. After the first 10 to 15 minutes, you realize that you are for a very special story that is deeply moving. It is a remarkable piece of work and I put up there on the level of Searching for Sugar Man, which is my all-time favorite documentary of a musician. The Gurrumul story is so different from Sugar Man that it feels in no way repetitive. But what they have in common individuals whose music and poetic vision is so strong that they find against to odds a large audience.

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The Shop around the Corner

Movies, Documentary

The Shop around the Corner

No Comments 31 May 2018

Today successful Hollywood actors are widely admired. This was not always the case. Some years ago, I visited LA and learned about the surprising history of Hollywood. The good society of LA looked down on actors. They were only seen as slightly better than prostitutes and so they were not allowed to live in town. The actors needed to move outside the city in a new area called Hollywood. I was reminded of this history in the opening minutes of The Shop around the Corner, which was produced in 1940.

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Amy

Movies, Documentary

Amy

No Comments 18 April 2018

Since every person now has a smartphone, documentaries of people living today will much easier to do because so much film material will be available on each person. Compared to the documentary on Bob Marley that I covered earlier, a lot of film material was available on Amy Winehouse. Relatively cheap digital video cameras were around when she turned 14 and she and her friend started to interview each other like teenagers do. Documentaries on popular musicians are generally wonderful because we love to hear the music again that accompanied our own lives. Amy is a rewarding film to watch.

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Purple Rain

Movies, Documentary, Drama

Purple Rain

No Comments 8 April 2018

Prince’s premature death prompted me to see Purple Rain for the first time. The film feels a bit like Flashdance. Incidentally, Jennifer Beals, the star of Flashdance was asked to play lead female role but declined. The plot is apparently based on Prince’s life but the main story is Prince’s talent. No plot can compete with his musical genius. The movie’s ending, where Prince shows off his musical talent, is worth seeing.

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I am Heath Ledger

Movies, Documentary

I am Heath Ledger

No Comments 3 February 2018

When Heath Ledger died at age 28, I was deeply sad. Very rarely has the death of someone who I did not even personally know affected me so deeply. The talent of Ledger was so extraordinary. When the news of his death traveled around the world, I felt we all had been cheated of a lifetime of spectacular performances that was still was lying ahead for Ledger.

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Shine

Movies, Documentary, Drama

Shine

No Comments 23 January 2018

For those of us who like classical music, Shine is a real treat. The film chronicles the life of the piano child prodigy David Helfgott.

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