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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

Posts from the movies Category

Hoop Dreams has been on my mind lately for several personal reasons: last weekend, BJ and I watched it on our drive up to Austin, Kevin Durant’s awesome MVP speech and shout out to his mom, I’m still bummed from the Rocket’s upset loss in Game 6, I’ve been reflecting on my first year teaching at an all boys Catholic school. Below is a clip from one of my favorite scenes, Sheila’s Graduation.

from Robert Ebert & Martin Scorsese: Best Films of the 1990s

ROGER: To me the greatest value of film is that it helps us break out of our boxes of time and space, and empathize with other people — it lets us walk in someone else’s shoes. “Hoop Dreams,” made by Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert, gave me that gift.

MARTIN: Well, I think it’s a extraordinary film. I mean, you have real people becoming dramatic characters. You follow their lives like everyone’s life I think is a drama in a way. And the dedication of the filmmakers was remarkable. It reminds me Goes back to Flaherty where they live with the people and stay with them for years. Again, this is a new way, a new interesting look at story telling. And what’s great too is you begin to see the relationships in the family and how they change, the boy and his father.

ROGER: When we reviewed the movie on this show Gene Siskel said that the best scene for him was where the mother turns out to have been attending nursing school –

MARTIN: Oh, that was a great scene!

ROGER: — and she has her graduation. And he says, “That’s where the crowd should have been, not at the basketball game.”

MARTIN: Just catches you, that scene.

 

Paul D’amato’s Here Still Now series includes photos documenting the decline and demolishment of Chicago’s notorious housing project, Cabrini-Green, which is where William Gates, one of the main subjects of Hoop Dreams, also resided. The other photos in the series are equally touching, beautiful, and sincere.

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I’ve been gathering websites and materials for the upcoming courses I’m teaching and BJ has been a huge help with finding art history related lectures and movies. Last night, we finished watching, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a beautiful documentary about the Chauvet Cave in France. I can’t recommend it enough! The glittering stalagmites, the handprints scattered through the caves, the expressive horse paintings, the 30,000+ years of history all adds to the overwhelming sense of awe. We’ve also watched the Caravaggio episode of Simon Schama’s The Power of Art, which is presented in a more passionate and dramatic fashion than most art history videos – it works though. I’ll post any other good finds we come across this summer.

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BJ loves, loves going to the movies. I feel bad, because I only feel the urge once in awhile. When I get to the theater, I’m usually glad I went, but I generally prefer watching movies at home. But after watching these trailers, I’m looking forward to catching Museum Hours and  The Spectacular Now on the big screeb. They look promising, right?


We watched Before Sunrise today as a refresher for Before Midnight. The first time I viewed this movie, it was on a VHS tape my sisters and I rented from the local Krogers. I love that you’re able to grow with the characters, and now reflect on where you were at when the 1st and 2nd movie came out. Watching it again, they seem so young, and Ethan Hawke comes off as a cynic and Julie Delphy very passionate about everything. It works though and seems very appropriate for who they were in the first movie.

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I loved reading about Robin Wood’s thoughts on one of my favorite scenes – the listening booth scene. Found here:

“I have to confess, at this point, to a failure: even on first viewing I told myself that I would ‘one day’ analyze in detail the scene in the listening booth of the record store, in which nothing happens except that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy either do or don’t look at each other, their eyes never quite meeting. After a dozen viewings I abandoned the project. I suppose one might try an elaborate system of charts and timings, annotating ‘direction of the gaze’, when and how long each looks (or doesn’t)… which would demonstrate nothing of the least importance. With no camera-movement, no editing, no movement within the frame except for the slight movements of the actors’ heads, nothing on the soundtrack but a not-very-distinguished song that may vaguely suggest what is going on in the characters’ minds and seems sometimes to motivate their ‘looks’ (“Though I’m not impossible to touch / I have never wanted you so much / Come here”), the shot seems to me a model of ‘pure cinema’ in ways Hitchcock never dreamed of (not merely ‘photographs of people talking’, but photographs of them not talking), precisely because it completely resists analysis, defies verbal description. All one can say is that it is the cinema’s most perfect depiction, in just over one minute of ‘real’ time, at once concrete and intangible, of two people beginning to realize that they are falling in love.”

Before Midnight on npr

On Thursday night, BJ and I had dinner at our friends and we all watched A Model For Matisse on Netflix. The film tells the story of Matisse’s unlikely friendship and work with Sister Jacques- Marie on the Chapel of the Rosary. It may have been an unusually Valentine’s movie pick, but by the end, it made sense. I was a little caught off guard by how moved and inspired I was after watching both by the tenderness of their bond and the drive Matisse had even in his aging years.

Already a fan of Matisse, especially his paper cuts, I have an even bigger admiration for his work created after he became less mobile. Here he is in poor health, drawing with a 9 foot pole, climbing dressers to reach higher spots. I can’t imagine anyone else during that time who could have gotten away with creating such modern imagery for a chapel. I can see how some of the nuns were up in arms!

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I love the little details that went into planning of the chapel down to the priest’s chasubles, which Matisse first drafted with paper cut outs. There were several proposals for the stained glass, and one of my favorites that didn’t make it was the piece above called The Bees, which captured an overhead view of nuns in their habit. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already!

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BJ and I saw The Deep Blue Sea over the weekend. The pace was slow and natural, the sweet scenes were super tender making the dark ones even darker, and I thought this one of the few movies that examined love in a different light. Rachel Weisz was beautiful as always. If you see it, I would love to hear what you think.

One of my favorite scenes played You Belong To Me by Jo Stafford. And it’s one of the few youtube comment sections worth reading.

photo by Liam Daniel. Music Box Films

Our friends Andrew and Bridget were married on April 30th. Imagination and care could be discerned in every facet of their wedding: the words, the prayers, the places, the songs. It was a triumph. As a bonus, we got to see many of our favorite people in one of our favorite cities.

Of course, I forgot the camera charger and used my phone  as alternative for most of the trip. It ended working out. Enjoy!

More pictures from the trip here.