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Year: 2013

‘Still Mine’ unmasks the hazards of creative limitation

‘Still Mine’ unmasks the hazards of creative limitation

“Still Mine” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: James Cromwell, Geneviève Bujold, Campbell Scott, Julie Stewart, Rick Roberts, Jonathan Potts, George R. Robertson, Barbara Gordon, Ronan Rees, Zachary Bennett, Chuck Shamata, Verlyn Plowman. Director: Michael McGowan. Screenplay: Michael McGowan. Web site. Trailer. The power of creation is one of our essential birthrights, one that enables us to manifest any of a number of infinite possibilities. But, when our efforts become unduly stifled by limitations, such hindrances can make for difficult times. The perils of these restrictions can lead to frustration and heartache, challenges that are clearly depicted in the new, fact-based drama, “Still Mine.” New Brunswick farm couple Craig and Irene Morrison (James Cromwell, Geneviève Bujold) have lived a long, happy, love-filled life together. They’ve spent many a productive year in Maritime Canada, herding cows, growing strawberries and raising seven children, including their daughter Ruth (Julie Stewart) and son John (Rick Roberts). But, for all their sweat equity, they don’t have much to show for their efforts, at least financially speaking. Under typical conditions, they’ve managed to get by, but, now that the infirmities of age have set in, the shortage of funds has become something of a problem (universal health ...
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‘Blackfish’ reveals the high cost of captivity

‘Blackfish’ reveals the high cost of captivity

“Blackfish” (2013). Featured Interviews: Samantha Berg, John Hargrove, John Jett, Carol Ray, Jeffrey Ventre, Dean Gomersall, Dr. Dave Duffus. Archive Footage: Dawn Brancheau. Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Writers: Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Eli B. Despres. Web site. Trailer. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to marine theme parks around the globe to see performances featuring large sea mammals like bottlenose dolphins and, especially, killer whales. Facilities like the SeaWorld parks feature heavily promoted, high-profile orca shows that generate billions of dollars annually from sales of tickets, stuffed animals and other souvenirs. But those prolific profits come at a high cost, as the new documentary, “Blackfish,” articulately illustrates. So what, exactly, are the costs involved? As the film clearly shows, it involves more than just money. Tilikum, a male killer whale linked to the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in February 2010, performs for the crowds in the riveting new documentary, “Blackfish.” Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. According to the experts interviewed for this picture, virtually all of the marine mammals in captivity are psychologically damaged in one way or another. This is especially true for killer whales, creatures who are known for being intelligent, highly social beings who live long ...
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‘Blue Jasmine’ proves ignorance isn’t bliss

‘Blue Jasmine’ proves ignorance isn’t bliss

“Blue Jasmine” (2013). Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, Max Casella, Alden Ehrenreich, Charlie Tahan, Kathy Tong, Ali Fedotowsky, Emily Hsu, Tammy Blanchard, Annie McNamara, Sharon Finn, Daniel Jenks, Max Rutherford. Director: Woody Allen. Screenplay: Woody Allen. Web site. Trailer. Being willing to face the truth of our lives can be a difficult and painful lesson at times. Under such circumstances, it may be tempting to look away in hopes that the difficulties will somehow just evaporate. But such wishful thinking seldom pans out as hoped for, leaving us with problems that are even larger to contend with, as becomes all too apparent in the new Woody Allen comedy-drama, “Blue Jasmine.” Fifth Avenue socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has taken a very hard fall. Having once been married to Hal (Alec Baldwin), one of New York’s most successful financial wizards, she experiences quite a come-down when he’s indicted and convicted on a range of illegal activities. Her implicit trust in her crooked husband leaves her financially destitute. But, if that weren’t bad enough, she also learns that he’s been cheating on her for years with one of her best ...
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‘20 Feet From Stardom’ chronicles the path to the limelight

“20 Feet From Stardom” (2013). Cast: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Bette Midler, Sheryl Crow, Lou Adler, Dr. Mabel John, Claudia Lennear, Táta Vega, Lynn Mabry, Jo Lowry, Stevvi Alexander, Patti Austin, Janice Pendarvis, Chris Botti, Bill Maxwell. Archive Footage: David Bowie, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Ike and Tina Turner Review, Talking Heads, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector. Director: Morgan Neville. Web site. Trailer. Stepping to the front of the line in any field of endeavor is often a challenging task for anyone seeking to get ahead. The path is riddled with obstacles and calls for hard work, and success is far from guaranteed. Such is the lot of those who ardently seek to rise to the top in the engaging new documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom.” Backup singers occupy a unique position in the music world. They’re easily overlooked, but they’d definitely be missed if they were absent. In musical arrangements, they provide “completion” to the pieces in which their voices appear. In concert appearances, they’re an integral part in the performance landscape, contributing both visually and harmonically. And, in studio recordings, their input often helps make songs ...
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‘Way, Way Back’ offers a roadmap for those difficult years

‘Way, Way Back’ offers a roadmap for those difficult years

“The Way, Way Back” (2013). Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Liam James, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Zoe Levin, AnnaSophia Robb, River Alexander, Jake Picking, Jeffrey Ryan, Adam Riegler, Jeremy Weaver, Robert Banfield Capron. Directors: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Screenplay: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Web site. Trailer. Growing up is hard to do. The harder we try to fit in, the more awkward we often feel. But, at some point, things start to click. We find our legs or our voice, and life starts to make sense. The more we understand about this – especially the role that we play in shaping how events pan out – the better off we’ll be. This is particularly crucial for those who feel like they’re under the thumb of others who would intentionally or unwittingly hold them back, circumstances not unlike those depicted in the hilarious new summertime comedy, “The Way, Way Back.” Fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James) dreads his upcoming summer vacation in the hilarious new comedy, “The Way, Way Back.” Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. Spending the summer at the seashore may seem like a dream come true for many ...
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‘Unfinished Song’ examines changing one’s tune

‘Unfinished Song’ examines changing one’s tune

“Unfinished Song” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, Orla Hill, Barry Martin, Taru Devani, Anne Reid, Elizabeth Counsell, Ram John Holder, Denise Rubens, Arthur Nightingale, Jumayn Hunter, Alan Ruscoe. Director: Paul Andrew Williams. Screenplay: Paul Andrew Williams. Web site. Trailer. When life doesn’t turn out as hoped for, it’s easy to slip into despair. But, if we adhere to the principles of conscious creation, we must also realize that, however our existence unfolds, the results ultimately originate with us. How we respond to those outcomes is what makes the difference in terms of how much fulfillment we get out of the experience and how we might change our circumstances if need be. These are some of the significant themes that characterize the story in the charming new comedy-drama, “Unfinished Song.” If anyone ever epitomized the persona of a “curmudgeon,” it would be Arthur Harris (Terence Stamp). The crusty, middle class British retiree complains about virtually everything from indoor smoking restrictions to the well-meaning gestures of others to the life led by his son, James (Christopher Eccleston), a blue collar divorced father who works hard to help his parents and support his daughter, Jennifer ...
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