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Category Archive for 'Film connection'

Peter Turner, who befriended Hollywood Oscar winner Gloria Grahame in 1979, was then a twenty-seven-year-old budding actor in England, and Grahame was fifty-five, a four times married American actress who had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1952 for “The Bad and the Beautiful.” Their twenty-eight-year age difference became irrelevant as they came to know each other and Turner found he was able to keep Grahame on an even keel and able to inspire her to perform her acting duties. The two traveled and explored New York, a place new to Turner, a resident of Liverpool, as Grahame showed him the places to go and the things to do there. When, after two years, she suddenly ended all contact with him, refusing to explain anything or answer any of his messages by phone or mail, he was forced to go on with his life, his relationship with Grahame just a memory. As the novel opens, Turner is suddenly contacted by Grahame months later about getting together, and he soon discovers that she broke off her relationship with him and ended all contact because she was seriously ill and did not want to be a burden. Now, however, he realizes that she needs help – and quickly. A physician is recommending that she seek hospitalization, but she is adamantly opposed to it. Instead she wants to move in with his large family in Liverpool and stay with them until she feels better. Book has been reprinted to coincide with the release of a film of the same name, starring Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jamie Bell.

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Produced and directed by famed cinematographer Louis Malle and written by Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano, who became the Nobel Prize for Literature winner in 2014, this 1974 film of Lacombe, Lucien broke some unspoken taboos when it was first shown. Only once before had a film raised questions about the masses of French citizens, many of them living in the countryside, who were ignorant or oblivious to the horrors of the Holocaust and the terrible costs to France at the hands of the Nazis in Vichy France. Marcel Ophuls had first produced a documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, in 1972, nearly thirty years after World War II ended, claiming that the prevailing view of the actions of the French citizenry during the war was naïve. Many citizens had been working farms in rural areas during the war and did not know or care to find out about what was happening on a national level – they had enough to worry about keeping food on the table and their families safe. A surprising number of citizens had collaborated with the Germans, not for political reasons, but because they believed that it was the only way they would be able to survive, and far fewer had worked with the Resistance to overthrow their German occupiers than was once believed. Ophuls suggested that most citizens just accepted what was happening because they did not believe they had much choice. With Lacombe, Lucien, Malle and Modiano continue this theme, and both had had experiences that made this subject important to them.

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The film version of this novel won the Academy Award in 2010 for Best Foreign Film. Now the novel itself has been released in English, and it’s proving to be as popular as the film. Main character Benjamin Chapparo, a deputy clerk and chief administrator associated with the investigative courts in Buenos Aires, has just recently retired, and having more time than he knows what to do with, he decides to tell the story of his most compelling case, a murder from 1968 and its aftermath. Alternating between the present and the fraught circumstances of the late 1960s in Argentina, Chaparro lets the reader into his life, a life in which he bemoans his two divorces; his seeming inability to find true love; his commitment to justice at a time in which Argentina was experiencing turmoil from a succession of militaristic dictators; and his thirty-year, unrequited love for a married colleague who seems not to know he adores her. Sacheri’s observations about his characters, their motivations, and the circumstances in which they work or find themselves by accident are particularly astute, giving sociological and psychological explanations for many of the unusual scenes in which they find themselves. The conclusion is full of surprises.

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Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a film festival where I saw the most important film I’ve ever seen—one which I hope everyone, everywhere, will see as soon as possible! The film is Chasing Ice, filmed by award-winning nature photographer James Balog and his small crew from 2007 – 2012, a full-length film which shows incontrovertibly, through time-lapse photography, that the world’s glaciers are not only vanishing, but are vanishing at a rate so alarming that unless something is done soon, they may truly vanish completely. One glacier studied for the film has retreated more than two-and-a-half miles in just a couple of years and over eleven miles since 1984, with all that water, and the additional melt from other glaciers, emptying into the ocean. The rising water levels, if they continue, will soon threaten coastal land and islands. The book being reviewed here, Extreme Ice NOW: Vanishing Glaciers and Changing Climate, also Balog’s work, was published by National Geographic in 2009, and includes dramatic photos of Balog’s early work at the glaciers, some of which are included in the film of Chasing Ice, along with essays by Balog. (The review includes a video trailer for the film CHASING ICE.)

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Flemish author Patrick Conrad, who is also a poet, screenwriter, director, and painter, combines his varied talents in this lively and unusual novel of the silver screen, and fans of classic film, including Hollywood’s early black-and-white films, will be kept thoroughly entertained and engaged throughout. Several Antwerp deaths modeled after murders in classic films, or associated with the scandalous lives of Hollywood stars and directors, keep Chief Superintendent Fons Luyckx, known as The Sponge, and his assistant, Detective Inspector Lannoy, involved with all the gory details as they search for real clues to real murders while also searching for the cinema connections which might provide them with suggestions about the possible motivation of the killer or killers. At the heart of the mystery is Professor Victor Cox, who teaches the History of Cinema at the Institute of Film and Theatre Studies and whose wife Shelley vanishes one night, later found dead. The author keeps the tension high as the police (and the reader) try to figure out which famous films provide clues to the various deaths, only one of which is obvious. Original, filled with dark humor, and great fun to read (even for novices to classic film).

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