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. 

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When You Can’t Have It All - A Film Review of "The Second Mother"

When You Can’t Have It All - A Film Review of "The Second Mother"

Writer/director Anna Muylaert gets personal with a simple story exposing the human costs with the last remaining vestiges of a class system that is all but gone. Where one film critic dubbed THE SECOND MOTHER “ is a soap opera with a social conscience,” I call it Downton Abbey in Portugese. 

Val is the loving and lovable maternal surrogate and domestic backbone of an affluent Sao Paulo household that maintains a vestige of Brazil’s colonial past through a combination of pretension and dysfunction. 

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Trust, but Verify

Trust, but Verify

A Commentary & Review of ABOUT ELLY
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director
A Film by Asghar Farhadi
Drama-Mystery - Non-rated - 118 min. Iranian (Persian, with English subtitles). 
This was the Society's film for August, 2015.  

It’s August, so what better time for a movie about a fun-filled seaside weekend vacation amongst family and friends? At least that’s the way the film, ABOUT ELLY begins … The men will dance together, the women will laugh and clap their hands, the children will, well, be children.  It’ll be a great time for this group of educated, up and coming, middle class types with their Beemer, their SUV, their spouses, girlfriends and kids.
 It could be the ordinary beginning to a summer vacation story. Except this beach house just happens to be located on the Caspian Sea, about 200 kilometers from Tehran.  And presumably, it's a story all about Elly.

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Getting Even

Getting Even

A Commentary & Review of “WILD TALES”
By John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

A Film by Damián Szifrón
Comedy-Drama-Thriller - R, 122 min. Argentine
This film was the Society's selection for July 2015

It has been said one can marvel at the depths to which we are sometimes willing to sink in order to seek revenge. It can be sweet, but the pleasure short-lived. If one survives long enough, a bitter aftertaste is often the result. 

But what if one has been unjustly wronged? In such a case, retribution would appear justified. With retributive justice, the offender is said to pay a price for their misdeeds. The punishment should fit the crime, we say. Lex talionis (‘an eye for an eye’) is an ancient legal concept that is still fully operative today. But when is enough enough? And when is that thin line crossed between justifiable retribution and unbridled vengeance?

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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.

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A Touching Film

A Touching Film

MARIE’S STORY - Biography • Drama, Non-rated, 95 min. French (English subtitles)
A Film by Jean-Pierre Améris, screened by Mountain Shadow in May, 2015

Review by John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Volunteer Director

It is an intriguing task to tell such a “true” and “biographical” fable like MARIE’S STORY with sumptuous cinematography, a minimal script and a stirring musical score where the main character is blind, deaf and dumb. It leaves the only two remaining sensory experiences unavailable to such a medium as film (touch and scent) to the visceral world of filmmakers and critics alike.  As the filmmaker comments on his work: “This project began with my fascination for the story of Helen Keller..." 

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