Hi Movie Fans,
Movie Monday is still in limbo, we won't be opening again anytime soon as this COVID pandemic rolls on, but here are a few more good things to watch (your feedback and suggestions back welcome).
Some of these were meant to go out with the holiday mailing - so here they are to brighten up your long January evenings. Good watching and best wishes for the New Year!
Bruce - 3 Jan 2021
No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos, 86 min, 2008
Here's a doc about the lifelong friendship of the great Hungarian-born cinematographers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond and their impact on American cinema. Their innovative style made a huge impression; from Easy Rider to Paper Moon, Ghost Busters to McCabe and Mrs Miller, Heaven's Gate and The Rose, these "brothers" made so many films memorable by their vision. The documentary chronicles their careers with numerous clips and testimonials from Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Tatum O'Neal, Sharon Stone and Barbra Streisand and others. 13 (subtitled throughout) on Prime Video
Borealis: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees, 90 min, 2020
From NFB: "In his new feature documentary Borealis, acclaimed director Kevin McMahon (Waterlife) travels deep into the heart of the boreal forest to explore the chorus of life in Canada's iconic wilderness. How do trees move, communicate and survive the destructive forces of fire, insects, and human encroachment? Borealis offers an immersive portrait of the lifecycles of the forest from the perspective of the plants and animals that live there." view the video or read an article on the film
Finding Vivian Maier, 83 min, 2013
Just about the finest documentary you're ever going to find. I came across this DVD at the library and watched it again after showing it to a full house 6 years ago at MM. It celebrates photographer's eye and digs deeply into most complex personality. "A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers." "Narratively gripping, visually striking, and ultimately thought-provoking, Finding Vivian Maier shines an overdue spotlight on its subject's long-hidden brilliance" Well worth a second look if you saw it back in the day. Pg
It's on Prime Video: here
All the best for the season and New Year
- 26 Dec 2020
Traditional Choir Christmas Yule Log, 50 min, 2020
Carols and a real fire that creepily never changes… (our in-house camp fire forensic pathologists have discerned a loop with a barely visible edit every 10 or so seconds…) view it
"Beatus Choral Ensemble offers the sounds of the season with a medley of traditional Christmas carols and music. Have a blessed Christmas season!"
Becoming Santa, 52 min, 2010
Even if you only watch the trailer you'll love this documentary. Here's about the wonderful legion of men who work the Santa booths and parties up till Christmas. A really warm hearted look at the profession. trailer
Scarce but there is a copy in Greater Victoria Public Library - no holds.
Our Man In Tehran, 85 min, 2015
This story was told with the Hollywood blockbuster ARGO - but that was an American fantasy version with American heroes (go figger). This documentary of the same story is seen through a less bombastic lens, a different take, just as riveting, by Canadian filmmakers. It is particularly from the perspective of Ken Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran who hid the six Americans in the embassy and obtained the counterfeit documents that allowed them to make their dramatic escape from Tehran. This is the real deal and something we can be proud of!
At one point our Public Library had 12 copies of Argo and eventually just one of our version. Now they have 3 of ours (no holds!) and the same number of Argo videos. There is also a book to consider in GVPL, "Argo: how the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in history" more
Charley Pride: I'm Just Me, 90 min, 2019
"Explore the complicated history of the American South and its music through the life of country star Charley Pride. Raised in segregated Mississippi, his journey shows the ways that artistic expression can triumph over prejudice and injustice." Even if you're not a hard core County Music fan you'll recognize many of his hit songs and the smooth, comfortable voice. With interviews from Willie Nelson, Marty Stuart, Dolley Parton. His career was a breakthrough as a Black man singing Country. And he had a touch of the Bipolar...
Charlie Pride died Dec 12 of this year at 86 years old of complications of COVID19.
on CBC Gem.
The Rainmaker, 135 min, 1997
The Rainmaker is a 1997 American legal drama film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on John Grisham's 1995 novel of the same name. A rookie lawyer is in over his head on a high-profile case. Opposing him: an army of seasoned legal sharks. It stars Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Roy Scheider, Mickey Rourke, Virginia Madsen, Mary Kay Place and Teresa Wright in her final film role. Just discovered on Prime, and only there till year end I found this a most slick and satisfying legal drama. All that talent put to great use, especially Danny DeVito as the young lawyer's 'Man Friday'. View on Prime Video
Christmas at Moose Factory, 14 min, 1971
A charming early short film from Alanis Obomsawin using kids' voices and their drawings to describe their Christmas experience in this residential school in northern Ontario. It is composed entirely of drawings by young Cree children and stories told by the children themselves.
Clydesdale: Saving The Greatest Horse, 78 min, 2019
"One woman's passionate quest to the Canadian Prairies to rescue Scotland's Clydesdale horse from the edge of extinction." Here's a chance to marvel at these beautiful animals, once the powerful tractors that powered farming for centuries. Who knew they're a great saddle horse too!
View on CBC Gem
~ read an article
Here is another batch of recommended titles from the things I have been watching. It's great how a satisfying watch can help with the isolation we're feeling these days.
I just wish I could look forward to sharing these titles in the near future, but it looks like it will be a while.
Best, Bruce - 10 Dec 2020
Silent Monks Sing the Hallelujah Chorus, 3 min, 2008
A Holiday offering, just a little over 3 minutes of cleverness. more
An Honest Liar, 90 min, 2014
"An Honest Liar is a feature documentary about the world-famous magician, escape artist, and world-renowned enemy of deception, James 'The Amazing' Randi. The film brings to life Randi's intricate investigations that publicly exposed psychics, faith healers, and con-artists with quasi-religious fervour. A master deceiver who came out of the closet at the age of 81, Randi created fictional characters, fake psychics, and even turned his partner of 25 years, the artist Jose Alvarez, into a sham guru named Carlos." Prepare to be deceived! Randi died this year.
Prime video: more
The Guilty, 84 min, 2018
"Inspired by the podcast Serial, this debut feature from Gustav Möller is a nerve-wracking police thriller set within the confines of one room. Equal parts psychological portrait and shocking mystery, The Guilty's ingenious screenplay gives rise to an enthralling performance by Jakob Cedergren." This low budget, high impact film will rivet you to your seat. Pg13 (Danish with subtitles)
iTunes has it. more
Nebraska, 115 min, 2013
Bruce Dern is "Woody Grant, is a senile and alcohol-addled Korean War veteran. Woody is not only foolish enough to believe he's won a million dollars from one of those sweepstakes letters that the rest of us customarily toss in the trash, he's also insistent on collecting his winnings personally by making the 900-mile trek from his home in Billings, Montana, to the prize office in Lincoln, Nebraska." Review
His son finally takes some time to hang with his dad and support his unlikely quest. A film that will stand up for many years to come. In beautiful black and white. R (for some language) trailer
Lars And The Real Girl, 106 min, 2007
One of my favourites. "Lars is a sweet but shy guy who has a hard time talking with his family, coworkers, and neighbours. His family fears the worst when Lars brings home a life-sized companion doll who he treats as a real girlfriend, named Bianca. A doctor encourages them to play along with him so that he can work through his delusions." Sounds weird but a sweet story. When showing it at MM an audience member came out of the theatre in tears, "Why can't our community treat us as well as these towns-people accept Lars?" 14A GVPL has it or it can be rented from Prime. more
Elling, 89 min, 2001
In a similar vein, this deadpan Norwegian comedy is another favourite of mine.Two men leaving an institutional life are learning to cope with the great wide world. This Scandinavian Odd Couple was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film. R for language
A bit rare but of course PicAFlic has it. trailer
Cranford, 291 min, 5 episodes, 2007-2010
For those want to dig into a well-made, Jane Austen-like mini series here's just the thing. "In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip, and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town." Will the doctor get his girl? Is there a chance the young lad will be allowed to become educated and save his destitute family? With all the regulars at their best: Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter...
We got our copy from the Greater Victoria Public Library, all on 2 discs in 1 case. PicAFlic has it too. (And there is a 469 min version if you really want to immerse yourself)
The Life Ahead, 94 min, 2020
In an Italian seaside town, Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren), a former prostitute who now runs a children's home, is mugged by 12-year-old street kid Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) She is persuaded to take Momo in, the latter becoming part of Rosa's deeply unconventional family. Pg13 Sophia Loren On Netflix
We tried watching the new season of The Crown. Well acted and beautifully produced, totally engaging, but find it just too dark - kind of creepy as it speculates on what these relationships of real, many still-living people, were (are) like. It seems this series' depictions will sit in watchers' minds as the historical truth and lasting impression of what really went down. Can you imagine having key turning points and conversations in your life speculated on and broadcast to millions? What do you think? - 1 Dec 2020
Uncle Frank, 95 min, 2020
We very much enjoyed this "coming out and growing up" story about a young woman getting to know her gay uncle. Well acted with Paul Bettany and Sophia Lillis (an up and comer that reminds me so much of a young Ellen Page) Pg
Just released on Prime about the project.
Hillary, 253 min, 2020
"Hillary" doesn't disguise itself as some sort of balanced expose, as if such a thing even exists. It sets out, and succeeds, in telling the motivating, painful and redemptive story of a polarizing figure who has generated backlash and excitement in equal measure. Spanning from her idyllic childhood in a Chicago suburb to her earnest activism at Wellesley College to tumult at the White House to the battle of 2016, it paints the picture of a whip-smart woman whose candor and ambition both alienated and inspired."
, this terrific four-part look at Hillary Clinton's political career.
Wild Australia After The Fires, 44 min
A Nature Of Things episode looks at the devastation of the recent fire season and the recovery of wild life that inhabited the areas burnt to cinders - and what extraordinary animals they are! Free
if you don't mind a few ads.
I Am The Blues, 106 min, 2015
"Go on a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Mississippi Hill Country." Sweet observational documentary by Canadian filmmaker Daniel Cross. My fave bits are simple, front porch playin'. This is the real deal.
Free to watch with ads on CBC Gems
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, 129 min, 1975
I just went through my special edition Bluray of this classic film, a box with a book and two documentaries about its making, even playing cards (not Xrated as Randal P MacMurphy's deck) It truly is one of the great films - period. You might remember the film but the enjoyment in a classic like this is the details.
It's a particular favourite of mine as we had Dr Dean Brooks come to MM to present the film back in 1994. He was in the film as Dr Spivey and was Superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital where it was filmed. The actors in patient roles, except Nicholson, lived in hospital rooms and hung out with the patients for weeks as they prepared for the shoot. All the details about its making explain why it stands up so well after all these years. Nicholson was so great! The film swept the 1976 Oscars' top five awards.
The GVPL has that Bluray with a bunch of extras including a full length doc about its making and commentary track with director Milos Forman, producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas. R
As the nights draw in earlier and the Trump entertainment is hopefully fading into
the rear view mirror, you'll be looking for entertainment. Try some of these:
The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, 83 min, 2018
Here is one of the most satisfying documentaries we've shown at Movie Monday.
"Alison Reid's loving documentary affectionately celebrates little-known giraffologist Dr. Anne Innis Dagg's groundbreaking scientific work and generous contributions to women's equality." Tomris Laffly, Variety. G trailer
Rent from iTunes or Crave - and GVPL has a DVD and Bluray copy (with multiple holds)
After you've watched the film (or maybe before), watch this terrific interview
with Anne Innis Dagg zoologist, author and a feminist and filmmaker Alison Reid.
Friends of Music, at the Imagine After Hours Show, 20 min
Here is a 20 min video that features Friends of Music, at the Imagine After Hours Show - Episode 1.
Four different offerings beautifully played and professionally presented. YouTube
Old Dog, 3 min, 2020
A short animated film. After losing his best friend, an elderly pug named Henry must depend on his owner for help and companionship. Writer/director Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses) makes visible the tender work of caretaking in her new animated short, Old Dog. All dogs (and people) should be so lucky and so loved. more
Midnight Run, 126 min, 1988
Looking for a rollicking good time at the movies? This one was suggested by a MM regular and was a treat to share at MM, like Blues Bros.
Here's one that's just plain fun. Robert De Niro is a hard-bitten bounty hunter set on bringing in mild-mannered embezzler (Charles Grodin). Non-stop slam-bang action and chase sequences and some sweet moments as these two desperados bond with and double cross each other numerous times. They're on a desperate trip from NY to LA in time for De Niro to claim the 100K bounty. R language and comic book-like violence.
Worth a rental on iTunes
Here Are The News: A Crow's Eye View. The Life Of Miss Edith Josie, 51 min, 2009
Edith Josie, was an Aboriginal elder whose "News" was the voice Old Crow, Yukon (pop. 300), for more than 50 years. Her column was widely read and loved for it's folksy style and Gwit'chin world view. It won her a Life Magazine feature, and much recognition including numerous visits on air with Peter Gzowski. She was loved for her winning laugh and her dogged work to preserve her language, her people's traditional way of life, language and values. She died just last January 31, at 88.
Her good friend and "honorary sister", Cathleen Smith, made this tribute to her from a trunkful of gathered media clips, films, photos, news clippings! You'll see her in the doc. You'll love both these ladies. Pg
It's a remarkable document and not available anywhere on line. There is one copy (with no holds) at GVPLibrary.
My Octopus Teacher, 90 min, 2020
Here's a great recommendation from Ingrid. It "stars Craig Foster, who also produced the film. The film captures a year Foster spent with a wild common octopus. Foster followed the octopus for most of the octopus's life." A very meditative watch as this man connects with the animal, that looks like one of sci-fi's most weird alien inventions, and tracks it's life adventures. G On Netflix
Into The Wind, 107 min, 2020
The Stand At Paxton County a different kind of western. We liked it. A new piece of legislation meant to protect farm animals seems to be being used for nefarious purposes by corrupt authorities. I'm a sucker for stories based on real situations and this is one of those. R for language On Netflix
Matador, 102 min, 2006
Here's close to a perfect, dark comedy/touching drama - and back again - as you'll ever find. This film keeps you off balance the whole way as an unstable hit man, Pierce Brosnan, and game everyman, Greg Kinnear, take you from edgy, comic performance to pathos. A surprise around every corner. R for brief sexual content and language
You'll have to drop by PicAFlic for this one but well worth the old-fashioned video store outing. review
Hope Gap, 100 min, 2019
This touching and perfectly cast film gives you a ringside seat into a marriage that after 29 years is eroding. Don't read reviews or synopses but watch it with no idea where it is going. Real characters in a real situation. You'll be rewarded. With Annette Bening, Bill Nighy, Josh O'Connor. Pg13
Worth a rental from PicAFlic or iTunes.
The Trial Of The Chicago 7, 74 min, 2011
In 1968 there were riots in the streets of Chicago. Seven were tried for inciting the incidents and were up against the odds in an unfriendly court. Well dramatized. Takes us back to that time of great political awareness and change as well as being a cracking legal procedural. 130min 2020 R for language on Netflix
After you've watched it, here are the real life cast and the rest of their stories: more
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, 83 min, 2020
"Stunning imagesIn his 93 years, David Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. Produced by WWF and award-winning wildlife film-makers Silverback Films, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet is a first-hand account of humanity's impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations." Stunning images and a thoughtful message. G trailer
~ Streaming on Netflix
World's Biggest Family, 44 min, 2014
My suggestion a while back, a great Canadian comedy, Starbuck (on Prime Video), is bought to you on CBC Gem as a documentary about the ramifications for offspring of sperm donor parenting.
"A personal story where the filmmaker discovers his bio-dad was an anonymous sperm provider who secretly used his own sperm without informing his patients. The number of siblings is growing, all sired by the same man." more
How To Be At Home, 4 min, 2020
from MM fave Andrea Dorfman: "Lean into loneliness - and know you're not alone in it. Filmmaker Andrea Dorfman reunites with poet Tanya Davis to craft tender and profound animation on the theme of isolation, providing a wise and soaringly lyrical sequel to their viral hit How to Be Alone." more
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, 118 min, 2017
An ultimate surfing story from body surfing to riding above the waves on foils. Fearless or foolish? Stunning cinematography and strong storyline. on Prime Video
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, 91 min, 2016
Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the 1970s, writer/producer Norman Lear's name is synonymous with the sitcom. With unprecedented access to Lear, his work and his massive personal archives, American Masters - Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early career with his groundbreaking TV success (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude) and social activism. Netflix
High Steel, 13 min, 1965
A short documentary from NFB
Offering a dizzying view of the Mohawk Indians of Kahnawake who work in Manhattan erecting the steel frames of skyscrapers. Famed for their skill in working with steel, the Mohawks demonstrate their nimble abilities in the sky. As a counterbalance, the viewer is also allowed a peek at their quieter community life on the Kahnawake Reserve, in Quebec. Truly a remarkable look at a wild way to make a living. Free on NFB more
Randy Bachman Talks 'Bachman', 53 min, 2010
Documentary, Beatles Inspiration & More a great interview with Bachman in 2019, as usual Randy telling terrific band. Brilliant repartee with NY host Ken Dashow. view
Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap: Every Song Tells a Story, 86 min, 2014
"Filmed in Winnipeg, the city that inspired many of his anthemic songs, Randy Bachman weaves together the chart-topping hits of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive with the often-humorous stories that brought the songs to life." Bachman is just a terrific storyteller. more
Ghost Town, 103 min, 2008
After surviving a near death during a hospital procedure, our protagonist, a surly dentist (Ricky Gervais) finds himself able to see ghosts who are looking for his help to move on. Greg Kinnear is terrific as usual in this one. A favourite of mine. Pg13 Worth a rental from PicAFlic or on iTunes. trailer
Nobody's Perfect: The Making of Some Like It Hot, 49 min, 2001
Behind the scenes and retrospective of one of the great comedies. Great interviews, especially with Tony Randal. more
Chihuly In The Hotshop, 90 min, 2008
Seattle based master Dale Chihuly reunites with some of the world's best glassblowers who have been important in the development of many of his most well known series. Highlights from a week of masters 40 past collaborators blowing and sculpting glass. So many different style, mesmerizing!!
Free to Watch Without a Subscription IndieFlix more
The Booksellers, 99 min, 2019
Here's a fun and thoughtful watch about the curious characters who inhabit the world of New York antiquarian book dealer world. Highly recommended by Winnipeg Cinematheque's Programmer.
Free with commercials on CBC Gem. more
Grease Paint, 84 min, 2013
"When Joey Thurmond, quits the police force to perform as a clown, he recruits his family and puts his life's savings into the show. However, pressures mount when his acrobat is threatened with deportation and schedule puts a strain on the relationship with his son." This look at clowning generally and the challenging life on the road with a small circus. It really entertains, with trills, chills, and drama.
Free through GVPL Hoopla. more
My research assistant found that they were still on the road this year (till COVID struck) with an even more amazing show. more
LA NOUBA,, 78 min, 2010
Speaking of circus! I was led down the YouTube wormhole to the ''60min [for some reason 78min long] SPECIAL #10 | Cirque du Soleil | LA NOUBA, VAREKAI, QUIDAM. You'll run into a few ads and distractions. I found the first 26 minutes featuring highlights of La Nouba all I could handle - in a good way. It's spectacular! more
The Goes Wrong Show, 30 min, 2020
The conceit is: A British amateur theatre troop puts on a play each week. Things go wrong. Clever writing, amazing prat falls, set design, timing and humour all done live before an audience. Bite sized 30min episodes that will dazzle and delight. On Prime Video: Like "90 degrees":
And A Trial To Watch more
Becoming Labrador, 70 min, 2018
Here's a glimpse into the lives of Filipino immigrant workers living in Canada.
Beautifully shot and touching.
In the stark Labrador interior, a growing number of Filipino workers have recently landed in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, travelling halfway around the world for jobs they hope will offer their families new opportunities and a better life. Becoming Labrador follows a handful of those women and men as they make a place for themselves in Labrador while dealing with the unexpected costs of living far from their family. A collaboration between three directors, Rohan Fernando, Tamara Segura & Justin Simms. Justin Sims* as director of photography. Free from our NFB
Hard Light, 55 min, 2011
Justin Sims made this wonderful, thoughtful film about life in Newfoundland's outport culture and our modern world through the thoughts and work of Michael Crummy.
Free to watch on NFB
Margaret's Museum, 114 min, 1996
One of my all time favourite films and another look at lives lived in the Maritimes. Adapted from Sheldo Currie's novel The Glace Bay Miners' Museum, this poignant period romantic drama looks at a small mining town in 1940s Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant as a 'snot-nosed scrub woman' who has lost family members to the pits. A tall, bag pipe playing Scot arrives in town and goes to work as a dishwasher. Can he resist the only well-paying but dangerous job in town, so they can have a life together? It's about the high price of coal. Pg Hard to find on the web but good old Picaflic has it.
The Show Must Go On: The Adam Lambert Story, 84 min, 2019
Here's a documentary that might be considered a sequel to Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) the dramatization of the career of Freddy Mercury and Queen. The Show Must Go On: The Adam Lambert Story follows on after Freddie's death, a giant 70's ad 80's rock band stumbling after the loss of it's front man, finally finding a powerhouse talent in former 'Idol' contestant Adam Lambert. Terrific performance footage and interviews. On Netflix.
The Legacy Of A Whitetail Deer Hunter, 83 min, 2018
I love a good mocdoc and this one is just fun and a surprise around every corner.
This Is Spinal Tap, 82 min, 1884
Of course the greatest mock- documentary ever is This Is Spinal Tap. "This Is Spinal Tap" shines a light on the self-contained universe of a metal band struggling to get back on the charts, including everything from its complicated history of ups and downs, gold albums, name changes and undersold concert dates, along with the full host of requisite groupies, promoters, hangers-on and historians, sessions, release events and those special behind-the-scenes moments that keep it all real. R
Rent it on iTunes
Incident At Loch Ness, 94 min, 2004
And seeing Werner Herzog in Incident At Loch Ness is pretty great too. A doubtful and reluctant maker of many films and documentaries reluctantly gets drawn in to a search for the famous monster. Pg13 more
Seriously though: Two of my favourite biographical docs celebrating men of letters their work and their relationships, both Canadians:
Shut Up And Say Something, 82 min, 2017
Acclaimed spoken word artist Shane Koyczan prepares for his most personal poem yet as he embarks on a journey to reconnect with the father he never knew.
I love this film; it's about a local hero, his heart is wide open, the film is full of his extraordinary art, and we follow him on a dangerous quest.
Available by signing up (free) to Knowledge Network more
Al Purdy Was Here, 91 min, 2016
Al Purdy Was Here is a tribute documentary to Purdy, a Canadian literary icon but also a throwback to a time in this country when culture and arts played a more significant role. Mixing a ton of incredible archival footage with a contemporary story about restoring Purdy's old A frame cabin as a writer's retreat. With performances by Doug Paisley, Sarah Harmer, Tanya Tagak, Joseph Boyden, Jesse Zubot Bruce Coburn and others, and readings by Gord Downie, Gordon Pinsent, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Leonard Cohen and more - this is a feast of Canadiana, all paying tribute to a true legend! Lovingly directed by Brian D. Johnson, longtime movie critic for MacLeans.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, 109 min, 2019
"Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbour." (we spell it with a ‘u')
How could our most trusted actor playing our most genuine, trusted person go wrong? Happily this screenplay got it right. Rated PG
Where To Watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime, also available for purchase on Apple TV.
Another look at this very influential man is Won't You Be My Neighbor apparently coming soon to Netflix, but I liked BEAUTIFUL DAY much better.
The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open, 105 min, 2019
Two Indigenous women from vastly different backgrounds find their worlds colliding on an East Vancouver sidewalk when brutality and fear drives one of them out from her home and into the cold rain. As this intimate yet challenging encounter develops, what began as violent and terrifying, tentatively expands as the women's shared imagery and cultural experience weave a fragile bond between them. Both women now must face their own unique struggle as they navigate the complexities of motherhood, class, race, and the ongoing legacy of colonialism.
The makers effectively utilized a filmmaking style of telling the story in real time, as if it's the raw experience, unedited. A thoughtful film that aced top prizes at last year's TIFF and Vancouver Film Festivals as well as MM 's lineup.
Where To Watch: For a limited time, The Body Remembers is available on Apple TV for free (either via your Apple TV box or on Apple TV (formerly iTunes) app on any Mac/PC Platform) as well as CBC Gem with ads.
This Mountain Life, 87 min, 2018
On Knowledge Network. This beautiful, thoughtful film was one of our best attended and most satisfying presentations last year. A BC-made documentary. "High in the snowy peaks of BC, adventurers, nuns, artists and photographers feel the draw of the mountains so strongly that their lives must revolve around it." We had a packed house and lots of appreciative responses when we showed this homegrown film last fall. PG
Where To Watch: Free to watch and share on the Knowledge Network channel! more
Crosby Stills Nash And Young: Fifty By Four, 164 min, 2014
It's long, very detailed with lots of great photos and context of this ever changing loosely connected bunch of "Alfa males" madly making some of the best music that we boomers could call the soundtrack of our impressionable decades. "The incredible story of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, featuring exclusive interviews, rare performance footage and more. This is CSNY's story, a journey of breakthroughs, breakdowns, break-ups and incredible music. Featuring exclusive interviews, seldom-seen footage, classic and rare performances, and contributions from those who worked closely with CSNY across the years." Rated G
Where To Watch: Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Tournament: The Power Of Community, 22 min, 2020
About a bunch of spunky kids playing para ice hockey and a blog about the making by the director/dad. Not rated
Where To Watch: This and many other NFB docs are free to stream at the NFB website!
Crip Camp, 52 min, 2020 available on Netflix
This compelling film was highly recommended to me by Bonnie Sherr Klein, herself a filmmaker (Not A Love Story, and Shameless is her story about joining the disability movement.Shameless: The Art Of Disability - this one at more
) One doesn't ignore a tip like this. We were not disappointed! trailer
About a camp that empowered many its campers to reach beyond their identities as 'disabled' to become shakers and movers in the movement for concrete access to full lives.
Some of the folks in the film, particularly Judy Heumann, were inspirations and role models for her when Bonnie was coming out disabled. article
An audio response
to the film you'll want to hear by some of the participants in the film more.
Life's A Twitch, 30 min, 2002
Another terrific short film about someone "living strong" with a disability: Life's A Twitch.
Free to watch on NFB's site
A terrific "calling card" film (a first film to show an aspiring director can do it. She could!) This short documentary is a quirky ride into the world of Duncan McKinlay, a man with Tourette Syndrome. At 7 he noticed what he called a devil in his head that made his life hell. In his teens, it wasn't a question of whether to kill himself, but when. At 19, when he was finally diagnosed, Duncan made researching TS his life path. He's come to understand that his strange ticks are release triggers for the high energy charging through him. At 27 he's a virtuoso at channelling this energy. He's just finished a doctorate in psychology. He's in nationwide demand for his workshops that enlighten and boost the spirits of the 100,000 across Canada who have Tourette's.
Shark Tale on Netflix, 90 min, 2004
A vegetarian shark disappoints his mobster dad (beautifully styled after and voiced by Robert deNiro) by not being a voracious shark like his brother. Lots of great characters from Rastafarian Jellyfish to a pufferfish voiced by Martin Scorsese and a nice theme of acceptance is brought forward through inventive high jinx on the reef. PG
Haida Modern, 85 min, 2019
Haida Modern free to watch Knowledge Network for a few weeks, don't miss this opportunity
In the 50 years since he carved his first totem pole and saw it raised on Haida Gwaii, Robert Davidson has come to be regarded as one of the world's foremost modern artists. This gorgeous film by MM visitors in the past Charles Wilkinson and partner Tina Schliessler, (Peace Out, Oil Sands Karaoke, and Haida Gwaii: On The Edge Of The World - all well worth a watch) celebrates Davidson, his outstanding work in several mediums and the long, rich tradition he is a shining part of. A wonderful showcase for Davidson's art in a context that shows a documentarian's high art as well.
"Understanding Black Stories" from Cineplex on line Films like Just Mercy, The Hurricane
and more - sadly topical and plentiful stories reflecting the Black struggles in America - can be rented Free:
(I had trouble accessing these on Safari browser - but Chrome works well)
The Hurricane, 146 min, 2019
A 1999 classic from Norman Jewison with a great performance by Denzel Washington - well worth revisiting
Story about 1960s world middleweight boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter--a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he was arrested along with another man for the murders of three white men in a New Jersey bar. Wrongfully accused, Carter and John Artis were convicted and sentenced to three life terms in prison, where Carter decided to channel his frustration and despair by writing his own story from his cell. Although his autobigraphy, "The Sixteenth Round," did get published, Carter remained behind bars, finding inner peace by withdrawing from the outer world and the national interest which surrounded his case (including impassioned pleas from Bob Dylan and Muhammed Ali and others). Years later, an alienated American youth living in Canada, Lezra Martin, found direction and purpose for the first time in his life after reading Carter's book, and began corresponding with him… this eventually lead to a full-time campaign to get Carter released. [Lezra became a lawyer and practices is Kamloops BC!] trailer
Brian D Johnson's article
that follows up the story.
Just Mercy, 137 min, 2019
A new release. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian, who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds-and the system-stacked against them.
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds, 59 min, 2017
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds - an hour long documentary about this groundbreaking and much revered album, celebrating Brian Wilson's genius. On Prime Video. trailer
Love and Mercy, 121 min, 2014
And follow up with this terrific feature film about Brian Wilson's life: Love and Mercy: trailer
Only $1.99 on iTunes!
Never Surrender, 95 min, 2019
A sweet doc about the making and ensuing fandom of Galaxy Quest. Such a feel good piece about a film that just needed to happen 95min
on Prime Video.
For those with a short attention span there is this Youtube version
- 22 minutes.
You are going to want to see the original of this film, considered by some to be one of the perfect films and also the best (or at least second best after IV) of the Star Trek films - also on Prime.
Typewriter Artist, 4 min, 2007
Here is a short and amazing item from a friend of MM: Typewriter Artist, Paul Smith more
And a gallery and further history of this remarkable man and his art: more
American Made, 115 min, 2017
Tom Cruise does a great turn as Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, who is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. That spawned the birth of the Medellin cartel and eventually almost brought down the Reagan White House with the Iran Contra scandal. One of the more bizarre secret maneuvers of the American gov't, illustrated with a highly entertaining film. more
Netflix has it.
Article about the real Barry Seal: more
"While Cruise's character executing missions for the government adds a sort of patriotism to it all, in real life Seal was first and foremost a drug smuggler."
A Friend Indeed - The Bill Sackter Story, 90 min, 2008
Now another kind of story: A Friend Indeed - The Bill Sackter Story The inspiring true story of a man who left a lifetime in an institution to emerge as an international hero for people with disabilities. I stumbled across this documentary on line many years ago. It was late one night, I got hooked on the first few minutes and it kept me up till well into the wee hours. It remains one of the most affecting stories I know and one I've featured a couple of times at MM. Free to watch and pass around
His story was told as a feature, "Bill" with Mickey Roony in the lead role. Barry Morrow who you'll meet in the film went on to write that screenplay and the story and co-writing of Rainman, all inspired by the community of people with disabilities Morrow met through his association with Bill Sackter. more
The Hecklers 1993 & Nothing Sacred 2003 - Canadian Political Cartooning
Both NFB'S The Hecklers
and Nothing Sacred
shine a light on the talented artists who create political cartoons whose work is usually given short shrift. Their cartoons are as important as the written word in any newspaper editorial. They must be protected at all costs. As John Diefenbaker states at the beginning of the film, "A picture is worth a thousand words, a cartoon, well done, is worth a thousand pictures." Free to enjoy at NFB.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, 114 min, 2013
Many of us missed this in the theatres but it is a delightful, unpredictable ride, a 2013 American adventure comedy-drama film directed, co-produced by and starring Ben Stiller.
When Walter Mitty's job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. And he is blessed/curse with aa active imagination! With Ben Stiller (director and lead), Kristen Wiig, appearances by Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn. G iTunes has it.
Made You Look: A True Story of Fake Art, 94 min, 2020
Investigates and exposes the events, high-society characters and con artists that brought such a bizarre and sudden end to what was one of the world's best-known art galleries M. Knoedler & Co. A really absorbing watch. Lots of talking heads but such interesting ones, well edited.
* And complimented by a great interview with the director that adds a lot (just scroll down on the CBC Gem site).
Free on CBC Gem
(several sets of commercials to wade through, just like network tv watching)
There Are No Fakes, 113 min, 2019
... and an excellent homegrown doc on the same topic:
There Are No Fakes is a Canadian documentary feature last fall at Movie Monday, even more intriguing, compelling and available - from TVO (TV Ontario) - free
about the film.
Harry and Snowman, 129 min, 2015
Dutch immigrant, Harry deLeyer, journeyed to the United States after World War II and developed a transformative relationship with a broken down Amish plow horse he rescued off a slaughter truck bound for the glue factory. Harry paid eighty dollars for the horse and named him Snowman. In less than two years, Harry & Snowman went on to win the triple crown of show jumping, beating the nations blue bloods. They were famous for their day and traveled around the world together. Their chance meeting at a Pennsylvania horse auction saved them both and crafted a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Eighty-six year old Harry tells their Cinderella love story firsthand, as he continues to train on today's show jumping circuit.
GVP Library's Hoopla has it - another free service
The Song and the Sorrow NFB, 43 min, 2018
Gene MacLellan (February 2, 1938 – January 19, 1995) was a Canadian singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island. Among his compositions were "Snowbird", made famous by Anne Murray, "Put Your Hand in the Hand, "The Call", "Pages of Time" and "Thorn in My Shoe". Elvis Presley, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby were among the many artists who recorded MacLellan's songs. Musician Catherine MacLellan, the daughter of Canadian singer/songwriting legend Gene MacLellan, grew up surrounded by her father's music. He died of suicide when she was 14. Two decades after his loss, Catherine is finally ready to confront the hurtful mystery of her absent parent and embrace his musical legacy.
Now available free from NFB here
Wild Rose, 101 min, 2010
Wild Rose Jessie Buckley delivers an unforgettable, star-making performance as Rose-Lynn Harlan, a rebellious country singer who dreams of trading the working-class streets of Glasgow for the Grand Ole Opry of Nashville. Fresh out of prison, Rose-Lynn juggles (but drops some balls) her menial job, two children, and concerned, doubting mother, as she pursues her bold ambition of a one-way ticket to musical stardom. With the support of her boss, Rose-Lynn embarks on a life-changing journey that challenges her sense of self and helps her discover her true voice. We showed this on Victoria's "Snow Day" this year show had a small audience for such a great show. On Prime Video.
Starbuck, 74 min, 2011
A fun French Canadian story about a prolific sperm bank donor whose progeny come home to roost. He's not terrifically good at other things but his 'speciality' is now a huge complication (142 of his off-spring have looked him up) in his not so ambitious (loser) lifestyle. What's a middle aged boy to do? Pg13 On Prime Video.
Forgetting Dad (another kind of Dad story), 83 min, 2010
A week after a traffic accident a 45 year old man suffers total amnesia leaving five kids without the father they grew up with. Sixteen years later the eldest son embarks on a journey to find out why his dad's memory never returned. A curious tale, start to finish. On Prime Video.
Two For One, 77 min, 2011
When transgendered Adam helps his baby-crazy ex-girlfriend Miriam artificially inseminate, they wind up in bed together-and they both get pregnant. Now Adam must grapple with his identity, feelings for Miriam, and learn what it means to be a man. Fun and thoughtful too. Directed by Maureen Bradley here in Victoria, (you'll recognize some locations). Rent it from NFB
Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, 94 min, 2010
A fascinating and deeply moving account of the romantic and creative partnership between storyboard artist Harold Michelson and his wife, film researcher Lillian - a talented and generous couple once considered to be the heart of the industry. They became the film industry's secret weapons. Nobody talked about them, but everybody wanted them. Harold visioned the imagery Lillian made sure the details were right.
For sixty tumultuous years, Harold and Lillian weathered personal and professional setbacks while working on hundreds of films, many of them now classics, including The Ten Commandments, The Apartment, The Birds, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Rosemary's Baby, Fiddler On The Roof, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Scarface, Full Metal Jacket. Although the couple was responsible for some of Hollywood's most iconic examples of visual storytelling, their contributions remain largely uncredited.
Through an engaging mix of love letters, film clips and interviews (including candid conversations with Harold and Lillian, Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, and Francis Coppola), home movies, and rare production art, Harold and Lillian lovingly chronicles a remarkable relationship and two extraordinary careers spanning six decades of movie-making history.
Netflix has it here
Snowman, 82 min
"From childhood, Kevin Fogolin dreamed of living and working in the mountains. After breaking the shackles of small-town expectations, his dream comes crashing down in a helicopter avalanche bombing mission gone horribly wrong. In the aftermath, Kevin and his childhood friend, freeskiing icon Mike Douglas, are forced to confront the risks and rewards of following their passion for the mountains. Set in British Columbia's rugged Coast Mountain Range, SNOWMAN is a familiar tale of dreaming big and a life where the greatest risk is not daring to dream at all."
About two Campbell River friends who just loved the snow growing up and made it their life work. A gorgeous, exciting, thoughtful, BC made film with a strong, highly personal story buddy story tying it together. We showed it at MM with Mike Douglas, filmmaker and adventurer in the film, with us in person. Available from iTunes.
Another for us arm chair mountain adventurers: The North Face Presents: Lhotse
In 2018, Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison completed the first ski descent of the 27,940-foot Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, one right beside Everest. view free more
Making of The Blues Brothers, 55 min, 2011
Blues Brothers is a terrific watch any time but great way to do COVID time. We just dug into a wonderful Special Edition of this seminal comedy/musical. It's essentially a musical with some car crashes and explosions to hold it all together. For a couple of hours be oblivious the woes of the world while joining the boys on "a Mission from God".
The Stories Behind the Making Of The Blues Brothers
is a real treat and can be watched free on youtube
Safe at Home: An Evening with Orson Bean, 85 min, 2010
From MM friend Beck Peacock: "Orson was first of all a great storyteller. Here is a performance that has both funny and tragic elements, full of quick turns, as he relates important transitions from his boyhood and on.
Orson died as he was crossing Venice Blvd and was hit by two cars. He was running to catch a play at the Pacific Resident Theatre in which his wife was performing. Oddly, it's also where "Safe at Home" was staged.
Somehow I think that Orson would be OK with the manner of his death - full of surprise and irony." Be patient with his opening standup jokes. He gets down to some solid storytelling. We found it very engaging. A pro entertainer. view
Maudie, 115 min, 2016
CBC television recently featured Maudie
as one of its Saturday Night at the Movies offerings but well worth watching on iTunes. This bio pic about Maude Lewis is terrific and a favourite at Movie Monday, shown twice. trailer
Watch also an NFB doc about Maude
Amarok's Song - The Journey to Nunavut, 75 min, 2011
This doc is a really great slice of Inuit life, past and 1998 present. It touches on church and residential school influence - and includes a raunchy legend! I enjoyed the watch. more
NFB: "In this feature-length documentary, three generations of the Caribou Inuit family come together to tell the story of their journey as Canada's last nomads. From the independent life of hunting on the Keewatin tundra to taking the reins of the new territory of Nunavut on April 1,1999, we see it all.
The film is the result of a close collaboration between Ole Gjerstad, a southern Canadian, and Martin Kreelak, an Inuk. It's Martin's family that we follow, as the story is told through his own voice, through those of the Elders, and through those of the teens and young adults who were born in the settlements and form the first generation of those growing up with satellite TV and a permanent home." Free on NFB.
What Happened Miss Simone?, 102 min, 2015
Another Movie Monday selection for your self-isolation! ABOUT: On stage Nina Simone was known for her utterly free, uninhibited musical expression, which enthralled audiences and attracted life-long fans. But amid the violent, haunting, and senseless day-to-day of the civil rights era in 1960s America, Simone struggled to reconcile her artistic identity and ambition with her devotion to a movement and abusive relationships. Culled from hours of autobiographical tapes, this new film unveils the unmitigated ego of a brilliant artist and the absurdities of her time. Late in her life it was recognized that she struggled with bipolar disorder. At the height of her fame Simone walked away from her family, country, career and fans, to move to Liberia and gave up performing.
Currently streaming on Netflix. Click and enjoy! more
The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, 95 min, 2016
If you are at all interested in the life of Broadway musical productions, the glory of success and the heartbreak of failure, this will please. It does have an eventual happy ending. Made by a member of the original cast! This film from acclaimed theatre director Lonny Price charts the journey of the original cast of Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" in the 30-plus years since the musical debuted on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre in 1981
A Movie Monday featured doc! If you have a Netflix account, you can stream it now!
Chomavision, 52 min, 2010
, my own opus. I'm really keen to get feedback on it as mentioned when it went out first.
I've had some great responses about this project since sending it out, especially from my cousins and friends. I welcome your responses. more
Stories We Tell, 108 min, 2012
Sarah Polley's brilliant exploration of her own roots through a creative interrogation of family members. free at NFB's site
Comedy tonight! These free youtube segments have made Gary Gulman my fave standup. Love this guy. Unfortunately the Great Depresh feature is not currently available in Canada. But this conversation about the standup comedians' art 'stands up' well on its own!
The Great Depresh: A Conversation About Depression from HBO, 37 min, 2011
: To celebrate the premiere of The Great Depresh, Gary Gulman joined Executive Producer Judd Apatow and comedians Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt for a benefit show and Q&A benefiting Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services at Largo in Los Angeles. Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh is now streaming on HBO.
I admire the way comedians know how to use a mic, nailed to their chins. And these guys share beautifully! And they react so well to each others' jokes. more
Gary Gulman, 8 min, 2010
I love this clip too, not the least because Gary is performing as musicians are getting ready for their set to follow on the same stage, practically doing their sound check as he is delivering his captivating material. What a pro!! more
Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh , 4 min, 2019
And here talking about "the job"
of comedy: more