On Yolanda Adams

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Here is what I have to write about Yolanda Adams’s tribute to Anita Baker during the 2018 BET Awards show :

Yolanda practiced; she rehearsed. I’m not talking about the week before scheduled rehearsals for the show–no. I refer to practice and rehearsal the day after she accepted the invitation to give the tribute. I’m talking about listening to the song over and over until it becomes a kind of muscle memory; writing the lyrics on paper with pencil to engrave them on the mind; parsing out the meaning; and, then, practicing bit by bit and piece by piece until the song made friends with her vocal chords as well as her personality. “You Bring Me Joy” became Yolanda Adams’s song as only she could deliver it. That’s downright Holy!

She honored the voice/performance process to such an extent that she could let it go and allow the song to breathe. As a vocalist who has been a student of voice off and on since I was 14 years old (and currently under the coaching talents of Alicia Opoku), I saw, felt, and heard every single technique she used to make this performance flawless (i.e., posture, resonance, breath control, diaphragm support; voice and note placement [head, chest]; mouth, and jaw placement; tonality, diction, et al). She was grounded and she stood tall so as to allow her breath to easily travel throughout her body. She and her vocals were as one; in sync. She did not try to show up Anita Baker but she made it possible for her own talent to soar. She gave “You Bring Me Joy” its own due. As a result, the cosmic forces anointed her performance. This anointing is the answered prayer of every vocalist but it only comes to those who are serious about his/her work. Believe me: It is a spiritual experience.

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Vox Lux @ The Ross

 

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Written and Directed by Brady Corbet and narrated by Wilhelm Dafoe, Vox Lux is a riveting commentary on fame and celebrity culture in the 21st century. Natalie Portman stars as Celeste, a high school student who is thrust into stardom after singing at a memorial for her classmates who were shot and killed by another student named Cullen Active, played by Logan Riley Bruner. Celeste and her song-writer sister Eleanor, played by Stacy Martin, and her manager-with-no-name, played by an unrecognizable Jude Law, navigate the waters of the music industry as they ride the waves of drugs and alcohol and other means of self-abuse.

Watching Vox Lux is like treading on razor blades; so many scenes I wished for … no longed for Wilhelm Dafoe’s narration to relieve me of the cinematic cuts and bruises. Corbet, however, refused to alleviate my discomfort. Julia Heyman’s art direction adds salt to the wounds as she splashes scenes in hues of blue grey haze, midnight blue, black, white, sepia, and purple and teal laced with silver.

Celeste moves through the film like a marionette whose puppeteer had too many whiskey shots but still thinks he can manipulate the strings. She is so thin so fragile so fractured that you view in fear at some point her head is going to drop off and roll down the street into traffic or one of her limbs is going to break off and land somewhere along the way.

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There is more. Corbet frames Vox Lux within the context of gun violence and terrorism. We see, for instance, the bodies of slain students on the floor and slumped against the wall as young Celeste, played by Raffey Cassidy, bears witness to the murder of her classmates. Wait.

There is even more. You will feel the sound effect of each bullet as it travels through the barrel of the gun to reach its intended victim. No one will escape the trauma of this heart break.

For all of its nail-biting drama, Vox Lux loses itself somewhere out there, but the loss has to be noted. Corbet explores in Vox Lux the strain of memories. How does a witness to trauma bear up under the strain when she has survived? Celeste gains fame and celebrity after her performance at the memorial of her slain classmates; this experience has to have had a psychological impact. How does that fact translate the next day and the next and the next?

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 6.30.01 PMVox Lux plays through Thursday, January 31th at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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Ben Is Back @ The Ross

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Holly (Julia Roberts) and Ben (Lucas Hedges)

Julia Roberts plays Holly Burns, a suburban housewife whose nineteen-year-old son Ben, played by Lucas Hedges, unexpectedly returns home on Christmas Eve morning from rehab for his treatment of opioid addiction. Much to the angst of her daughter, Ivy, played by Kathryn Newton and her husband, Neal, played by Courtney B. Vance, Holly is determined to prove that Ben is worth every ounce of her love and belief in him, even though she doesn’t trust him any farther than she can throw him.

Roberts is a gem in this movie as she strikes at the heart of every mother’s fear. She plays Holly with grit and depth, and we feel her frustration that she just may not be able to control everything in her universe since Ben is back. Written and directed by Peter Hedges, the film opens in Sloatsburg Village, a suburb of New York. The drama begins Christmas Eve night when the home is broken into and, even worse, the dog, Ponce, is taken by drug dealers. Ben laments his coming back has put the family in danger.

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Holly listens as Neal shares his concern now that Ben is back

The abduction of Ponce is cause for grave concern, and Holly curries patience as she tries to ally the fears of the smallest children, Lacey and Liam, played by Mia Fowler and Jakari Fraser respectively. Holly and Ben, then, embark on a twilight trek through their neighborhood in search of Ponce. On the ride, Ben points out a house he robbed, one where he and his male history teacher had an arrangement of sorts in exchange for drugs, and a seedy part of town where Ben once frequented.

Ben is Back joins Hollywood’s attention to suburban white teenagers and their problems with drug addiction. The camera romanticizes these teenagers; families are dramatized as fighting momma and papa bears who will stop at nothing to save the addicted child. Law enforcement is nowhere in sight, unless momma bear calls on them as does Holly in the police precinct. Even then, when she bangs on the window and wails in sheer desperation and pleads for them to arrest Ben because he has stolen her car, the police tell her to calm down and to wait her turn. Dickon Hinchliffe’s music score ensures the pull of the heartstring for wayward Ben. He’s just a teenager who went down the wrong path, and with a mother’s love and care, he will be alright. In addition, Hedges makes known and makes known clearly drug addiction affects not just the abuser but everyone within the home and those within the community. Fear and distrust find a comfortable residence not only in every space of the house but in the psyches of family members. We learn a young woman to whom he dealt drugs died of an overdose, and throughout the film, Hedges shrouds Ben in mystery.

Roberts shines in Ben is Back. She inhabits the stress of Holly’s try to control circumstances. The disappointment in the movie is Courtney B. Vance. The film underuses his talents in favor of Roberts; it’s just that obvious. His performance is an actor’s push to bring some value to a half-baked script that undoubtedly failed to meet up with his skill; it is painful to watch. When he tells Holly to come home, she says, “you take care of our children, and I’ll take care of mine.” Hedges, however, does not hesitate to ask, “Weren’t the class privilege, the breadth of love Ben received from his family and siblings, and the financial sacrifices made for him … enough?”

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Nation Hunger ~ Some Words

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 3.36.42 PM.pngBefore I begin Writing … , I have some words:

Be careful–very careful. When you beat down the door to drag a ‘moron’ out of the room, be aware of who is standing in the room–still. It is not empty.  Pay close attention to the person who scoots around the desk to pull out the chair for the next person to sit in it. Observe who will take the seat:

A well-versed and well-rehearsed official and his supporters who have been biding the time.

The emotional psychological turmoil Americans have been experiencing every single day since November 2016 I believe, on serious reflection, has been well-orchestrated to create what I call Nation-Hunger for that someone else to take the helm.

Once fed, and we are belching out perceived pleasure brought on by the change of the guard, watch how events will unfold. We will be too satiated and too distracted to respond bc we will have been seduced into a faux-euphoria.

The strategy is brilliant in its simplicity but I fear subsequent action on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be treacherous in its implementation.

Be careful. IJS. Stay Woke.

Charlotte Duncan-Wagner ~ The Interview

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Charlotte Duncan-Wagner

Charlotte Duncan-Wagner has contributed to the canon of children’s literature with her self-published book Backpacks with Feet. Her desire for her son Jason to have a diversity of stories and images when he was a child inspired her to write her first children’s story.

Want to know more about Charlotte Duncan-Wagner? Read The Interview.

TDR:   What inspired you to draw on the motif of backpacks and feet?

CDW:  I volunteered as a greeter at Elliott Elementary School for about 8 weeks. All of these beautiful children of every shade were moving through the doors and speaking a host of languages carrying their backpacks. The first few weeks, they would not talk to me because I hadn’t been scheduled to introduce myself at their assembly. When I would greet them, they would put their heads down and keep moving. They looked like backpacks with feet.

TDR:   Why a children’s book and not a romance or a mystery?

CDW:  When my son Jason Wagner II was 7 years old, I wanted to write books for Black sons that were about people, not just about fables and talking animals.  So, I had the desire but I couldn’t find that ‘thing’ that would get me going until my father pulled my coattail.

TDR:   Talk about your parents and their influence.

CDW:  I am an only child. My parents always believed in me. I was forever affirmed. When I was little, I was a thick girl. People would ask my daddy, “George, what are you feeding her?” He’d say, “whatever she wants!” or “Oooo, she’s big!” My daddy would say, “No she’s not fat, she’s strong.” So, when I told him I wanted to write a children’s book–I was 38 years old—daddy says to me, “You’ve always wanted to write. How come you’re not writing?” I remembered that no matter what the challenge or the negative, the words my parents poured over me made all the difference in the world. So, when I had my doubts about writing my first book, I knew I had to keep writing until it was done.

2nd grader Alex Brown waved to everyone in the sidewalk parade that passed his house going to your school on that street. Mama tells Alex not to talk to strangers. How will Alex do his job as a greeter with Grandpa J. and the other volunteers at … your school on that street?

Backpacks with Feet

TDR:    By what means did you remain focused on your project?

CDW:  Interacting with the children—that made me happy. Hearing all of the different languages spoken every week for eight weeks inspired me and fully charged my creativity. After my volunteer shift ended I’d write notes on a scratch piece of paper in my car. I’d look them over when I got home and edited them.

TDR:   How did you maintain your enthusiasm for the story after the 8 weeks at Elliott?

CDW:  Every year near my birthday, I’d give myself a gift to motivate me to work on my dream.

TDR:   What tools did you use to familiarize yourself with your art given you had not written a book and published?

CDW:  In 2010, I attended a gospel music workshop in Cincinnati, Ohio with my son Jason. I signed up for a 7 a.m. writing course Monday through Thursday. The teacher was self-published author Moses T. Alexander Greene. I learned all that I could from him about writing and publishing, how to find an illustrator, and the pro and con of self-publishing.

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TDR:   What specifically did you learn from Greene?

CDW:  To never give away your ideas without protecting them. When I spoke to him about my project, he responded, “You don’t have your idea copy written. I cannot talk to you”. That afternoon, I went to the Business Center and paid my $45 to copyright my work on the Library of Congress’s website. He talked to me then. I learned that with a children’s book, the author sends it to the publisher and they assign their own illustrator to match the illustrations with your words. I was unfamiliar with that process.

TDR:   You found your illustrator Jerry Washington. Talk about your collaboration with him.

CDW:  Jerry had an up close and personal relationship with my family, and that made for a smooth collaboration with him. He helped the family with the caretaking of my father when he lived with us. While we were attending Jason’s football games or attending his music concerts, Jerry was one in the village to help with my dad.

TDR:   What inspiration did you draw from to create some of your characters?

CDW:  The grandfather in the book is a tribute to my father George Duncan. Jerry drew from real life to create him. My dad did wear an orange t-shirt and khaki pants; he wore big glasses. Some of my characters borrow from historical figures. I wanted a black female explorer. I am so inspired by Barbara Hillary, the first African American woman to reach the North Pole in 2007; she was born in 1931. I named one of the backpacks in the book Hilary Hilltop, and I hope it will bring up a discussion of this phenomenal woman. To capture the personality and individuality of children I used various footwear, hairstyles, and head coverings. One of my favorite passages in the book reads Those Backpacks with Feet had curly and straight hair, beads and braids, buzz cuts and fades, scarves and hijabs on their heads.

TDR:   After you wrote the story, did you solicit feedback? If so, from whom?

CDW:  Yes. I needed to know how I could improve the story but I shared the rough draft of the story with people I trusted. A former UNL professor at Tennessee State gave me feedback and talked to professionals who dealt with children. Charlene Maxey-Harris, Diversity Librarian at UNL, made it possible for her peers and youth librarians to read the story. My good friend Lynette Collin, who used to work with me at State Farm in Iowa and for her son-in-law, New York Times bestselling author mystery writer David Baldacci, read the story and gave me her comments as well. Carrie Banks, who works for LPS, wrote a glowing review on my Spotlight that Backpacks with Feet is a good read aloud book for families and in the classroom. But the review closest to my heart is from a 9-year-old boy from Atlanta, Georgia who was given the book as a Christmas present; he gave the story five stars.

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Charlotte Duncan-Wagner reading to children during Winterfest Lux Center for the Arts     (photo: Mark Schwaninger)

TDR:   Was the feedback helpful to you?

CDW:  Well, yes but I found that I had to stay positive no matter the comments. I would read the feedback quickly, afraid of finding any criticism. When my friend read my book, she responded “Charlotte this is really good; you need to …” but I read it in the negative. I had to really caution myself to stay away from conclusions such as “they don’t understand” or “they just don’t get it”. Months later I reviewed the responses and discovered constructive criticism as well as letters of encouragement that read, “this is good you need to keep going” and “Yeah, get that book published.” Finally, in 2016, I got up the courage to pay the money to self-publish.

TDR:   How did you feel when you held your printed book in your hands?

CDW:  Oh Wow! is how I felt. This is a real book, I thought. Backpacks with Feet is more than I could have expected—ever!

TDR:   Any closing thoughts for the readers?

CDW:  I encourage people to go LuluPublishing.com or Amazon.com to purchase The Backpacks with Feet. $1.00 from the sale of each book will be donated to a Child Hunger program to eradicate food insecurities in local communities. When you open the book to experience the story, you will be greeted with a variety of languages that reflect the diversity of families around the globe. Then, write a review on either website.

Spotlight on: Jerry Washington, Illustrator

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Illustrating Backpacks with Feet was an awesome experience. I prepared myself by listening to Charlotte talk about her vision. Once I had a grasp on that, I began to draft the characters for the book. Charlotte’s enthusiastic reaction to each sketch I drew enabled me to put my best foot forward. I was glad to be a part of a book project that I knew would be a positive force in the lives of parents and children. When I saw the finished product, I felt proud.

In Between @ The Ross

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The In Between is a film about three Palestinian Israeli women who navigate the oppressive and tumultuous waters of a patriarchal culture in predominantly Jewish Israel. In their navigation, each woman offers support to the other even in the knowledge that her support could have dire consequences. Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, the In Between is a strong filmic pulse for the issues addressed by women across lines of race and ethnicity in today’s socio-cultural political climate.

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Hamoud takes a hard line in his story, being sure to tap into the interior lives of each woman. Laila, played by Mouna Hawa, is a lawyer, who is no stranger to a party. She drinks and smokes and lets her thick curly hair run wild. Salma, played by Sana Jammelieh, adorns tattoos; she loves to deejay and to bartend. Then Nour, played by Shaden Kanboura, arrives at their apartment dressed in a hajib, ready to continue her studies in computer science. Laila and Salma baffle and intrigue her at the same time. She is the character walking across the bridge between her Muslim traditions and the free-style of her roommates. To the consternation of her fiancé, Wissam, played by Henry Andrawes, Nour finds herself caught between her promise to marry Wissam and her desire to stay with these two bold and brash women and practice her independence. The results of her decision are devastating but the bond between the women releases her to wholeness.

There is more, however. Salma reveals to her parents that she is a lesbian. They are livid and question how this could have happened to the family. Salma has to negotiate her love for family, her independence, and her sexual preference. Laila finds out, much to her disappointment, that her lover, Ziad, played by Mahmoud Shalaby, is more conservative in his beliefs about women than she had anticipated.

In Between is well cast, and each actress brings to her character a verisimilitude that strikes an honest chord with her character’s dilemma. Hamoud also is careful to depict a wave of parental emotion from disquietude to embarrassment to love and acceptance.

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What Hamoud manages to bring out in his film is that female independence is complicated by myriad factors. It does not come as easy as one would expect. You either take it and accept the consequences or abandon it in lost hope. Even the decisions we make to ensure independence do not mean a life of euphoria and dances in a field of wildflowers; there can be honest misgivings, confusion, and ambivalence. What he gives each woman, though, is the gift of each other that does not waver as she walks in between.

 

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The In Between plays through March 15 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Also playing through March 15 at the Ross is Fantastic Woman, Sebastian Lelio film about a woman who struggles to safeguard her chosen life after the death of her lover.

 

Faces Places @ The Ross

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JR and Agnés Varda

Do you remember that trusty old photo album? You know that book with plastic pockets wherein you placed the photos you waited about a week for them to be developed? Do you remember the anticipation of driving up to the photomat or walking up to the counter in the drugstore and going through every photo all while the cashier waited patiently for you to pay for them? You didn’t care because as you leaned on the counter perusing each photo, certain emotions came over you. Those 3×5 cards bore witness to particular moments in your life. Those photos told a story.

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The Town’s Postman

Street Artist JR and Agnés Varda feature the art of taking photos of faces and places and developing them on gigantic sheets of photo paper for all of their subjects to see in the moment. In their documentary entitled Faces and Places, Varda, a co-founder of French New Wave Cinema of the late 50s, and JR travel around the French countryside together in a van equipped with a camera seeking out the everyday ordinary. Daily life of working class people is the main aspect of this documentary, and Varda and JR invite audiences into the lively conversations each one has with them before the photo is taken. Why? Because these dialogues lay bare the histories of faces and places.

In the film, ordinary places and things such as crates in an industrial yard, fish at the market, feet and eyes and trains and water towers capture the attention of Varda and JR. One of the most amazing scenes are those of an area of abandoned row houses wherein the coal-mining families lived. These row houses are to be demolished but one lone resident on the row, Jeanne, refuses to leave. The retired miners come out to the area and tell of the dangers and hazards they endured as they worked the daily grind in the mines. Pictures are taken, then JR and his crew plaster these larger-than-life visuals of the miners and Jeanne, on the frontice piece of the brick homes. Autobiography along with the visual coalesce to offer testimony to a community once teeming with families, relatives, and friends. People once lived here.

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The Coal Miners on Brick

I enjoyed seeing this young man and octogenarian finding solace in each other’s company and in their art. The strolls on the cold windy beaches, the conversations in the café, and the interactions with ordinary people, the patience, the comfort level JR and Agnés have with each other are refreshing, especially in this pop culture that is saturated with and salivates over youth.

Faces Places reminds us that the everyday ordinary of working-class people—from the postman to the truck driver to the goat farmer to the miner–all have stories to tell us if we take time to listen. But JR and Agnés privilege particular faces their documentary. No people of color are interviewed. The extent of JR’s and Agnés’s curiosity begins and ends, then, with French white citizens. On one excursion, an interracial couple is included in the project but the wife of African descent is silent. She sits without emotion as if to look into space as her husband chatters on and her children play around her. Why? Is there a political statement both filmmakers are trying to push to the viewing audience?

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The Shape of Water @ The Ross

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The Asset (Doug Jones)

Guillermo del Toro’s newest cinematic endeavor, The Shape of Water, entices audiences to suspend its disbelief and nestle into his fairytale love story between … well, a beauty and a beast. Film goers will recognize other references to films such as Splash, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, E.T., and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I’d even go so far as to include Cinderella and The Elephant Man in the line-up of film references. In The Shape of Water, del Toro delves into the ‘what if’ of romance as he carefully dramatizes the fervent attraction of a lowly Cinderella-esque character to an amphibian creature called The Asset, played by Doug Jones. The Asset has been captured from the amazon in South America to be examined for its ability to endure extreme situations.

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Elisa (Sally Hawkins) on her way to work

Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, a mute who lives alone above a movie theater and who is employed as a janitor at an underground science hub in Baltimore, Maryland. The time is 1962. Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, is Elisa’s friend and confidante. Giles, played by Richard Jennings, is an unemployed gay advertising artist who also lives alone in the same apartment building as Elisa. He introduces us to our heroine as the princess without a voice. It is to Giles that Elisa reveals in sign language the reasons for her attraction to The Asset.

Elisa and Zelda labor in the isolated underground lab facility in chilly and bitter conditions. The scientists and lab technicians in their white coats shore up the echo as they walk the halls to their appointments. There is no joy in this environment; only a clipboard of statistics, computers spewing data, and, even more terrifying, creature hatred and abuse inhabit this world.

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Elisa and her friend, Zelda (Octavia Spencer)

The United States is in a race against the Russians to develop its space program. The creature, or The Asset, is the key to the space program’s advancement.

Yet in Elisa’s world, love intervenes. Not only romantic love but love for your friends and associates who believe in those time honored civil rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Shape of Water plays through February 8 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

78/52 Hitchcock’s Shower Scene @ The Ross

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I am sure you have a story to tell of the first time you saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. I am sure you have a story to tell of your response to the notorious shower scene in that film. My own experience is that it messed with my sense of safety in private spaces. Hitchcock warned me that no matter how secure is a door’s lock, privacy can be invaded and there would be nothing I could do about it.

Well, Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary 78/52 Hitchcock’s Shower Scene takes us behind the scenes of Marion Crane’s murder by Mother as she takes a shower before turning in for the evening at the infamous Bates Motel. Philippe has an impressive line-up of talking heads to facilitate the telling of his story: Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Torro, Ilyanna Douglas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Lee’s daughter, and Osgood Perkins, the son of Tony Perkins. Archival footage of Janet Leigh, the star of Psycho, as well as Alfred Hitchcock generates insight on the man behind the curtain.

One striking element to 78/52 is Philippe’s contextualization of the film. Points of reference include the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, the in cold blood murder of the Clutter family in 1959, and how the outbreak of juvenile delinquency cast an exhaustive eye on mothers. Even more important, Philippe notes a tear in the seams of 1950s idealism, in particular the changing roles of women. Something was about to give; it had to, and Philippe delivers a remarkable and incisive analysis of Hitchcock’s move into the space of that breach.

Hitchcock announced to the world of filmmaking: It is time for a change and here it is 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts later: Psycho, the murder of the movie’s female star early in the film by a cross-dresser. Enter the era of the modern film. Filmmaker Karyn Kusama notes that Marion Crane’s brutal murder is “the first modern expression of the female body under assault”, and Alfred Hitchcock left no stone unturned to render shock to the assault.

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Marli Renfro, Janet Leigh’s body double

As did Hitchcock dismember the body of Marion Crane, so do the interviewees cut apart the shower scene in the film. The shot-by-shot analysis by each of them feeds audience hunger to know more about its composition. Each analysis is remarkable, and this documentary will serve as an informative introduction to film analysis and film review. The attention to detail is astonishing. Did you know that Hitchcock ordered a horde of melons—yes, as in watermelon, honeydew, casaba, crenshaw, cantaloupe–to get the perfect sound of a knife stabbing flesh? The casaba won! Bernard Hermann, the motion picture conductor who composed the unforgettable shrieks, appears in raw footage. Yet, one of the delights in the documentary is the interview with Marli Renfro, Janet Lee’s body double. Now 79 years old, Renfro gently claims her historical significant in playing Lee’s body double. It is a joy to hear her behind-the-scenes story.

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Brigsby Bear @ The Ross

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Kyle Mooney as Brigsby Bear (James Pope)

Kidnapped as a baby from the hospital by a two science kooks, James Pope, played by Saturday Night Live regular Kyle Mooney, has lived in isolation underground somewhere USA since then. His parents, Ted, played by Mark Hamil, and April, played by Jane Adams, have assembled an animated outside world where animals and foliage appear real. Installed in the compound are secret codes that open and close doors; they wear gas masks when going outside. James’s only means of entertainment is a television show called the Brigsby Bear Adventures, and new episodes are delivered on VHS tape to him by his parents. Do you remember the 1970s television series called Spectreman and more recent Smallville? Well, add Teletubbies, Barney, and Power Rangers into the mix, hoist the moon from George Milies’s 1902 film Trip to the Moon, and you have Brigsby Bear.

Directed by Dave McCrary and written by Kevin Costello and Mooney, Brigsby Bear is a quirky offbeat film, and it envisions a world of acceptance no matter your circumstance. The FBI locate Ted and April, rescue James, and return him to his birth parents. The adventures begin as James, now 25 years old, finds friends who have an emotional and psychological investment in his project to turn Brigsby Bear into a film. For him, it is his only means of closing out his former world in isolation and embracing his new life.

Costello’s and Mooney’s story really is about using what you have in your own house to create happiness. James has memorized every Brigsby Bear episode, but with his return to his birth family, no more episodes are delivered to him. Since Brigsby Bear’s world is all James has known, Brigsby Bear is the dross material he utilizes to keep him from the brink of insanity. Strangely enough, we can credit James’s steady emotional and psychological course to the advice from his kidnapper father.

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All of Brigsby Bear’s adventures rest inside of James. This element in the story works, and sidesteps our expectation for a complete nervous breakdown by James after his capture and entry into his new life. Mooney is perfect in Brigsby Bear, playing him walking a very fine line between sanity and complete madness.

 

 

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