FILM: Living Downstream
FILMMAKER: Chanda Chevannes
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer
Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Living Downstream is an eloquent and cinematic feature-length documentary. This poetic and character-driven film follows Sandra during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.
I am so glad that I took the time to attend D.C’s Environmental Film Festival’s Bonus Day on April 25th. I saw a film that was very special. My glowing review starts with the first scene – The opening scene visuals are thoughtful and the narration is extremely well written. The open also happens to be part of the trailer so I don’t feel like disclosing the narration (below) will be any kind of spoiler …
There was once a village overlooking a river.
The people who lived there were very kind.
These residents, according to parable, began noticing increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the river’s swift current. And so they went to work devising ever more elaborate technologies to resuscitate them.
So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the victims in.
This film is a walk up that river. The river of human cancer.
Finally, Doc&aDrink has experienced an intelligent Host-Main Character. The documentary was filled with beautifully – well composed landscapes and solid science. Simplicity & Style of the visuals just works. The B Roll was clean and deliberate. My favorite scene was the beluga whales. The scene included beluga dissection in the name of science. It was raw and interesting. I’ve never seen anything like it – effective.
For all those who were wondering – the screening was free and the location was wonderful. Please keep an eye out for the festival next year.
It was well attended and the audience included Senator John Kerry.
Final Thought : STAY TUNED FOR KATY’S INTERVIEW WITH THE FILMMAKER!
5 out of 5 Cheers.
I ran across this article on Life Hacker about Pairing Beer with your food.
Here is the cheat sheet:
- Pale Ales – Salads, light appetizers, fish and seafood
- India Pale Ales (IPAs) – IPAs can stand up to a little more richness and flavor. They can go well with things like pulled pork, pizza, and fried chicken, as well as lighter salads and seafood dishes. And if you like heat, try an IPA with spicy food – the hoppiness really pumps up the spice quotient!
- Hefeweizens and Wheat Beers – Fruit dishes, dinner salads, grain salads, and desserts made with warm spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg).
- Amber Ales – Ambers are a good middle-of-the-road beer and go well with just about anything: burgers, grilled cheese, roast chicken, soups and stews
- Stouts and Porters – Barbecue, stews, braised dishes – any kind of meat dish, really. Also rich desserts with chocolate and espresso flavors.
For the full article – go to : LIFEHACKER ARTICLE
—- becky beamer
FILM: This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
FILMMAKER: Kirby Dick
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer
This Film documents a history of the MPAA ratings board. Talks to numerous directors and actors about the censorship of their movies before they could be released. Includes directors, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, John Waters, Darren Aronosfsky, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan. Director, Kirby Dick hires a lesbian family of private investigators to find out the names of the MPAA ratings board and see if the raters are actually parents of children 5-17 like the MPAA tells American parents they are.
I love when documentaries make me think about something I’ve taken for granted. Case and point – the MPAA rating system. I started thinking about censorship and the all-powerful studios.
Knowing me, if my film was critiqued in an unfair way by the MPAA, I also would have felt the need to push boundaries and boycott the system by rolling with the “NR” or not rated cut of the film. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy in “real life”. The “real life” in which your film rating means distribution, marketing, and making a living.
I feel the need to mention that this documentary had great interviews with many well-known filmmakers. The filmmakers speak quite frankly about censorship of their films by the MPAA. Even This Film is Not Yet Rated had more than a handful of scenes that needed editing before the NC-17 rating could be removed.
Personally, I do believe that American’s can be prudish. The MPAA is a reflection of this majority. The MPAA is not the first system set up to regulate a type of business that ends up favoring big business. (Check out our review of Beers Wars for another story of conquering big business).
I wish this film actually changed the ratings process. It didn’t – but maybe it will start the ball rolling…..
4 out of 5 Cheers
FILM: Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale
FILMMAKERS: David Shapiro & Laurie Gwen Shapiro
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer
In 1955, while a Fulbright scholar, a Manhattan painter named Tobias Schneebaum spent seven months in the Amazon basin with the Harakambut. When he returned to the US, he could no longer paint. What happened? Nearly 45 years later, filmmakers want Tobias, now 78 and suffering from Parkinson’s, to return to Peru & New Guinea.
This documentary is an adventure. It will whisk you away to far away lands and answer cannibalistic curiosity. Tobias’ story is exciting and nostalgic. It’s infused with primitive culture and extremes but it’s just plain humanity that shines through.
Tobias is a wonderful painter, explorer, and anthropologist. My heart was touched when Tobias re-unites with his ex-Lover who he thought had passed. I appreciated Tobias’ interview candor. He speaks from an acceptance of dying and with an open mind . Tobias had the opportunity to explore many cultures before they were severely influenced by Western Culture. I envy that.
Through out the documentary – Tobias expresses a mental battle regarding returning to the jungle in Peru where he witness and participated in murder and cannibalism. In fact – I was so distracted by the story – I hardly noticed the constant soft focus and poor framing. I just wasn’t impressed with the camerawork from any angle. I guess that just goes to show that the most important thing is putting the story to tape and not fretting over “what you are shooting on”.
I really enjoyed the journey – being exposed to traditions passed down through generations. The tribes display their dancing, sculpting, their sexuality and language. I like that this documentary will keep some of these traditions “alive”.
AND Don’t worry – you won’t fall asleep for this adventure. But, you may think about death, watching National Geographic, and taking a holiday to a far away land.
4 out of 5 Cheers
Now is your chance to catch up on all the Oscar Nominated Documentaries for FREE! Did I mention the shows are free? The National Archives is going to show 82nd Academy Award Nominated Films from March 3-7, 2010.
Highlight ? THE SHORTS: Documentary Short Subject Nominees, Sunday, March 7, noon
China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit à la Berlin
Total Running Time: 199 minutes (with a brief intermission).
Details: Seating for all screenings will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations will be accepted. Free tickets will be distributed at the National Archives Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue beginning 60 minutes prior to the start time. You must be present to receive a ticket. Theater doors will open 30 minutes prior to start time. The saving of seats is strictly prohibited.
The William G. McGowan Theater is located in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. The public should use the Special Event entrance on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, NW. To verify the date and times of the programs, call the National Archives Public Programs Line at: (202) 357-5000.
For more information: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2010/nr10-58.html
5 out of 5 Cheers!
Doc and a Drink was present at the 2010 Realscreen Summit in Dec Feb. 1-3rd. I have proof! We made it onto some APM promotional material…….. (4th photo down)
Cheers and Beers!
FILM: Food Inc.
DIRECTOR: Robert Kenner
REVIEWER: B. Beamer
SUMMARY : “In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.”
More Movie …..
My reaction to this documentary was similar to how many are affected by a placebo. It hit “home” right away and then fell away from my thoughts just as fast as it had entered. Immediately following the film viewing, I made a personal pact to buy from local farmers and visit a local farmer’s market. But, I was quick to find myself eating at McDonald’s during a road trip over the holidays and I still haven’t bought anything from a local farmer – yet. My excuse for now is the winter months.
On the other hand – I did buy organic milk this morning. Maybe the movie did make me think twice about what I’m putting in my body and who I am supporting with my purchase. Over all – I found this movie extremely easy to watch. It was just well done – creative, interesting and fast paced. I didn’t fall asleep once. I also didn’t find it “preachy” which could have easily been an issue for this type of program.
This film is currently available “on demand” from Netflicks.
4 out of 5 Cheers.
DRINK: Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale
REVIEWER: Becky Beamer
There’s a feeling to winter. It’s a time when you want to be warmed by a fire while looking outside to a winter wonderland. I fell victim to these wintery feelings recently – at the shopping market.
I looked around the Harris Teeter beer selection and noticed that everyone was picking up Sierra Nevada’s WInter Ale : Celebration Ale. Check out the label. It’s a perfect sell for the seasonal winter ale.
I had high hopes that were quickly dashed. Don’t fall for the label. The beer is just average – nothing special.
Learn More about the Celebrational Ale.
2 out 5 Cheers
DOCUMENTARY: the English Surgeon
DIRECTOR: Geoffrey Smith
REVIEWER: becky beamer
It’s been a while but Katy and I reunited this week for a Documentary viewing. As promised in a previous post – I reviewed the English Surgeon in anticipation of the new film by Geoffery Smith.
Netflicks Summary: Get acquainted with the work of British brain surgeon Henry Marsh, who, since his haunting first visit to a Russian hospital in the early 1990s, has been devoted to founding a quality brain surgery clinic in the former Soviet Union. Marsh cobbles together secondhand tools and used equipment from hospitals in the U.K. to treat patients in need, such as Marian, a Ukrainian man for whom Marsh is his greatest hope.
The first thing that stands out is how “very BBC” the visuals and story telling style is for this film. This story was not assisted but a narrator which left the viewer a bit sleepy at a few points. We were just sitting – waiting – for the narrator to push the story ahead. I was a little disappointed by the tre conservative camerawork. And low and behold – it was sponsored by the BBC.
On the upside – the English Surgeon did have the most tactile face I’ve seen in quite a while. And the English Surgeon in combination with his Ukrainian counterpart were funny, insightful, and humanistic as characters. Thier interaction inspired laughter and conversation. I also have to admit I laughed OUT LOUD at least 3 points in the film. On the other hand – I fell asleep about 1 hour in and woke up 15 minutes later. At least I wasn’t the only one who took a cat nap during the same segment……. I think I can speak for Katy when I say that we both found the need to talk a bit about life, the health care system. and hard choices as the credits rolled.
It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. Too bad it wasn’t just 1 hour I think it would have been a 4 out of 5…..
3 out of 5 Cheers
For those of you who do not know – I’ve been teaching a class this semester at Philadelphia University called “Digital Production and Post Production.” For their first editing project they each completed a found footage pieces for an “open call” for WGBH.
This “open call” is inspired by the Evolution programs airing on PBS and created by NOVA. It is a chance to share your vision with the world. Everyone is challenged to make a three-minute video that offers a compelling perspective on the living world.
They are all just fantastic. If you have a moment to watch and vote — give some feedback would be much appreciated.
Below are all of the direct links to their projects. You may have to sign up (it takes 2 minutes and is free) in order to vote.
Thanks Again and All the Best,
5 out 5 Cheers
PLEASE VOTE >>>