Friday, May 07, 2010

Reel Inspiration: About Films of Substance.

You may have noticed that I haven't written a review for a while. I've seen plenty of films but few have inspired a review. (Sundance winner, "Don't Let Me Drown," that screened at the AIFF, warranted a great review but I only had time to send out a quick summary.) Even the Oscar nominated films I saw were lightweight in regards to theme.

I considered writing a review of "Crazy Heart." I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Bridges lived-in performance of the seedy, alcoholic, has-been Western singer Bad Blake as well as his musical performance (which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nod.) But, for me, there was something missing from this redemption story. When Bad finally decides to go to rehab, his father says something to effect that it won't be easy. Aside from a scene where his young girlfriend refuses take him back, it's damn easy. No difficult introspection going on here.

After seeing the trailer of, "The Last Station" I looked forward to reviewing this historic epic about the last turbulent days of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy with his wife Countess Sofya . (Tolstoy's novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" sparked the Tolstoyism movement.) One reviewer called "The Last Station" a romantic comedy, a romantic romp! Considering the subject, I hoped for something more. I found the feuding between Tolstoy and his aristocratic, drama-queen wife entertaining. (Helen Mirren deserved an Oscar for her role.) But I learned very little about Tolstoyism movement - just that they opposed private property (while Tolstoy owned a huge estate) and advocated sexual abstinence (while Tolstoy and Sofya had numerous children.) The main focus of the story is about who should get the rights to his novels after Tolstoy's death - his wife and muse Sofya or the Russian people. This plot line becomes repetitious, then tedious. But I enjoyed the pretty scenery and pretty love making (ironically!)

"The Last Station" and "Crazy Heart" are now playing at Crossroads Cinema. I would definitely recommend them for their Oscar caliber performances and entertainment value.

Of all the films I watched, the one with the most depth and importance was a sixty-minute documentary called, "389 Miles: Living the Border" by Tucson filmmaker Luiscarlos Davis. I generally don't review documentaries, but I am making an exception because this film is so relevant to the issues of our times. Luiscarlos, who grew up in the border city of Nogales, travels the length of the border to find the true and sometimes tragic stories. I was so moved by this film, that I immediately went on facebook and urged my friends to organize screenings to spread more understanding of border issues and the trials facing migrant workers.

Recognizing a pressing need, Luiscarlos is presenting his documentary around Arizona to create more understanding during these difficult transitional times. He has agreed to do free screenings; but because the film doesn't have distribution yet he must present the film himself. This is great because he has a personal connection with the issue that he can share. Please, consider arranging for a screening for your club, organization or church NOW.

Movie blessings!
Jana Segal

(Note: The host usually pays for the filmmakers' travel expenses and may make a donation towards the costs of preparing the film for distribution so even more people can see this powerful film.)

To arrange for a screening, e-mail the filmmaker Luiscarlos at:

Watch the trailer:

1 comment:

manuel said...

I love these Luis Carlos is so in touch w our times it's incredible I am a tru admirer of these young master ,thank you Luis Carlos ...just an admiror...Manuel Vale.