LOVE AND DEATH, AND A FOUR-LEGGED METAPHOR

LOVE AND DEATH, AND A FOUR-LEGGED METAPHOR

A Commentary & Review of HEART OF A DOG
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

A Film by Laurie Anderson
Documentary  - Non-Rated - 75 min. 
This film was Mountain Shadow’s selection for December, 2015

“Life can only be understood backwards," wrote Søren Kierkegaard, "But it must be lived forwards.”  The 19th century philosopher’s quote expresses the conundrum that lies at the heart of Anderson’s film, HEART OF A DOG. The film is a meditative compilation of recollections, reflections and ruminations to be experienced by the viewer as a cinematic retrospective on love, life and death; all of which might enable one to move forward. To read the review, click on the image above.

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Remembering Skokie

Remembering Skokie

A Commentary & Review of SURVIVING SKOKIE
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

A Film by Eli Adler and Blair
Documentary  - Non-Rated - 66 min. 
This film was Mountain Shadow’s selection for November, 2015

Surviving Skokie is the best kind of documentary. It’s historical and informative, to be sure. In addition, it tells a story that is inspirational; and, to my way of thinking, even redemptive. But it’s also personal, even autobiographical. And therein lies the kind of archetypal father-child journey that is authentically poignant and persuasive.

Everyone knows something of the Holocaust. It is the emblematic story of the kind of devastation, death and destruction which human beings seem all too capable of inflicting upon one another in every age and generation.  Whenever and wherever the spark is ignited once again, it requires the best in us to confront and denounce the worst in us. 

Click on the image above to continue reading.  

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Lie ‘n Wait

Lie ‘n Wait

A Commentary & Review of AN HONEST LIAR
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

A Film by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein
Documentary - Biography - Comedy – NR – 90 min.
This was the Society's selection for June 2015

“Magicians are the most honest people in the world. They tell you they’re going to fool you, and then they do it.  No matter how smart or well educated you are, you can be deceived.  It’s OK to fool people as long as you’re doing that to teach them a lesson, which will better their knowledge of how the real world works.”      -  James Randi

Such is the premise that begins this bio-documentary about the life of the honest liar, James “the Amazing” Randi.  It’s not only a true life tale of a masterful deceiver’s crusade to expose the fakery of charlatans who claim to possess amazing powers, but a very human story about a man caught up in his own self-deceptions, as well.

Click on the image above to read the full review.  

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Whistling in the Dark

Whistling in the Dark

A COMMENTARY ON THE FILM, “CITIZENFOUR”
This documentary was the selection in March 2015 for the Society.  
Review by John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

What makes CITIZENFOUR simultaneously both compelling and seemingly un-dramatic in a theatrical sense is that it isn’t based on a true story, after the fact. Instead, it’s a real story that unfolds in real time.  Regardless of whatever personal predisposed opinions each viewer may have at this point nearly two years later about the famous (or infamous) main character, the filmmaker takes us to the front lines of a battle that has yet to begin; with raw footage of Edward Snowden’s deliberations and declared intentions, before he even puts the whistle to his lips.  

It is the kind of exclusive scoop with unfettered access of which most investigative reporters and documentarians can only dream. It is this front row seat every viewer is given of an unscripted non-actor and real-life character playing a role only he can play that makes CITIZENFOUR fascinating to watch.

Click on the image above to read the full review.

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Three Comics Walk Into a Bar: Did You Hear the One About ... ?

Three Comics Walk Into a Bar: Did You Hear the One About ... ?

A COMMENTARY ON THE FILM, “3 STILL STANDING”
By John Bennison, Director, Mountain Shadow Film Society
This film was featured by the Society in November 2014

The funny bone is probably the most elusive part of the human anatomy. For the comedian who considers their self a professional, finding the right way to tickle it is a quest not for the faint of heart. And for those aging comics who’ve been at it for 3-4 decades, their career paths are not unlike any of us who’ve found and followed a passion that can be “intoxicating.”  

That’s the way Will Durst describes the connection he’s sometimes able to find with his audience. “When it works, it’s better than anything,” he says. And like everything else, it seems, it has a life of its own. This film tells such a story; how the stars once aligned over the San Francisco skyline in the eighties. And that nothing lasts forever.

Click on the image above to read the full commentary.

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Ramblin’ Rose

Ramblin’ Rose

COMMENTARY ON THE MAY FILM , “ELLE S’EN VA” (On My Way)
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Director

Elle S’en Va is not Hollywood fare. The story begins with the the sense one could have begun watching Bettie anytime before she grabs her car keys one day and takes off. A string of events then unfold. Then the story ends rather abruptly without any real conclusion; except for a one-liner several characters shout in agreement.

The film is an empirical exercise, leaving the viewer to observe a life that -- like most -- is a mixed bag that includes some things that just never get fixed, or even addressed. So one learns to accept people and things as they are, and just learns to live with them. Comme ci, comme ça.  Read the full review here, or -

Click on the image above to read the commentary.  

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