For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movie Time: 2009's Best DVDs featured in FEAST

Winter and the quieter time following the holidays--what better time to curl up with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite person and spend an afternoon or evening watching movies. Here are six of my favorite DVDs, featured in FEAST this year, to give you ideas. These are not meant to be "movie of the year" selections, but films that might have had a smaller distribution, been relatively unknown, or perhaps you missed them because they were not surrounded by Hollywood hype. I hope you find something to entertain you--

Iron-Jawed Angels (2004). For 8 years in the early 1920s, a group of determined suffragettes led by Alice Paul (played beautifully by Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O’Connor) organized to pressure the US government to adopt a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. The abuse and mental and physical challenges they faced are heartbreaking and an important part of our history that should not be overlooked or forgotten. Entering WWI under the guise of bringing democracy to other countries when so many in the US were still disenfranchised is hypocrisy that continues today. The brutality against these women who only wanted some say in their own destiny and that of their children is shocking. But this is no boring, dry documentary, as some are, but instead a beautifully crafted and dramatic film with strong acting that makes the story real for a greater number of people. Not to be missed! An HBO original drama directed by Katja von Garnier. Available on DVD.

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005). Frank Gehry’s friend and director Sydney Pollack made what could have been a dull tale of history and buildings into a more intimate portrait of a man and his creations. I found it fascinating! Gehry’s story about his life and how he came to create imaginative, magnificent buildings that gleam against their landscape is one of hardship, anti-Semitism, and determination to follow his own dream. Since Pollack was neither knowledgeable about architecture nor a documentarian at the time, he brings a very personal sensibility to the film that I, as a layperson, found totally appealing. Pollack’s recent passing makes this ode to his friend even more poignant.

The Painted Veil (2006). Based on the classic novel by Somerset Maugham, the title of this film is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet that begins “Lift not the painted veil which those who live/call life.” The Painted Veil is a love story set in the 1920s that tells the story of a young English couple, Walter (Edward Norton), a middle class doctor, and Kitty (Naomi Watts), an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic, and forces her to come along. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in a remote and wildly beautiful region. This film is not only visually breathtaking, it is a touching story well acted.

Herb & Dorothy (2009). Directed by first-time filmmaker Megumi Sasaki. To see Herb and Dorothy Vogel today, you’d never guess they have built one of the most important contemporary art collections in the United States. Oh, you say, well, those who have it can do it. But that’s not the case here, which is part of what makes their collection and the two of them so very unique. This is a love story. Herb spent his working years as a postal clerk and Dorothy as a librarian. By living on her paycheck alone, they were able to indulge their interest in Minimalist and Conceptual art by spending his salary on works of unknown artists that they liked. They had two rules: the piece had to be affordable and it had to be small enough to fit into their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. As time went on, the second of the rules became a challenge as by the time this film was made there was little furniture and only “paths” winding among the more than 2,000 pieces they had accumulated—and they shared the space with 19 turtles, a school of fish, and at least one cat. What they “liked” proved to be prophetic as the chosen artists became better and better known, now sought after at significantly higher prices by other collectors. Today their collection’s value runs into the millions. It’s an uplifting, amazing story and the film has won award after award at the festivals!

Trailer: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2910339/herb_and_dorothy_movie_trailer/

Swimmers (2005). An indie film set in coastal Maryland. Eleven-year-old Emma needs an expensive operation, which puts mounting pressure on a family barely making ends meet. When underlying tensions start pulling her parents and brothers apart, Emma turns to an emotionally haunted young woman for friendship. This is a fine story about good people who make some bad decisions, and the healing that irreversible family feeling can bring about.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD-qhHDGuCs

The Secret Life of Words (2005). Directed by Isabel Coixet, starring Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins, with a small part by Julie Christie. A hearing-impaired factory worker, a refugee from former Yogoslavia, gives up her first holiday in years when she volunteers to nurse an accident victim on an oil rig off the coast. Josef (Robbins), who was temporarily blinded during a fire on board, tries to get to know his taciturn nurse. Slowly a strange sort of intimacy develops and they share secrets, lies, truths, humor, and pain, from which neither will emerge unscathed.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dAJUEngedA

Detailed introduction by director Isabel Coixet: http://www.irct.org/news---media/latest-irct-news/the-irct-in-the-media/the-secret-life-of-words/video-isabel-coixet-introducing-the-film.aspx

-- Rosemary Carstens
Editor, FEAST

1 comment:

Andrea Meyer said...

Wonderful roundup of recommendations, thanks!