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Jiro Dreams of Sushi-Movie Review *** 02/12/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Documentary, Japanese language film, Movies, Online Film Critics Society Awards, Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, St. Louis Film Critics Association.
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Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Japanese) 2011 ***

Directed By David Gelb
Starring Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, and Takashi Ono

Check out the list of one win and eight nominations on IMDB.

Jiro Ono has devoted his life to sushi. At the time of filming he is age 85, but not yet ready to hand the reins of his famous, award-winning Tokyo restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, over to his elder son. Yoshikazu, who is in his fifties, has been his father’s apprentice for many years, but is still not skilled enough to take over his father’s business. Jiro’s younger son Takashi has opened a second successful sushi restaurant based on his father’s principles.

For anyone who thinks they love sushi: Jiro Ono will show you what a true passion for it is. Whether his control of the fate of his sons–however well-meaning–is an admirable quality is, for me, something to ponder.

Writing this review makes me want some well-prepared sushi, and I know just where to get some. But (sorry, Jiro) sometimes nothing makes me happier than opening the refrigerator and seeing some leftovers that I just have to heat up! 🙂

Highly recommended. ***
81 min. Rated PG.


Fambul Tok–Movie Review *** 10/12/2014

Posted by Films to consider in African language film, Based on true events, Documentary, Movies.
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FAMBUL TOK (African) 2011
Family Talk

Directed by Sara Terry
from Catalyst for Peace

WINNER, Best of the Fest, Global Social Change Film Festival
WINNER, Human Spirit Award, Nashville Film Festival
WINNER, Best Documentary-Audience Choice, Rhode Island Film Festival
WINNER, Best Documentary, Fort Myrers Film Festival

A powerful and beautiful documentary about an organization that works to bring about reconciliation between community members in various parts of Sierra Leone. There the civil war that took place from 1991–2002 led to murders and horrific tortures among family members and people who lived in the same community.

Rather than having the perpetrators go before the courts and be taken to prison, the organization facilitates the resolution of crimes within the community. If perpetrators genuinely seek forgiveness, the community members agree to truly welcome them back into the community. With little narration, an incredible lesson is learned here about the need for and power of genuine forgiveness in a situation in which it doesn’t seem possible.

In the special features, which can be viewed online, is the story of the man who came to be known as Captain Savage, who came forward to seek forgiveness after the original filming.

Highly recommended. ***

82 min. Not rated (discussion of harsh violence).


Last Train Home-Movie Review *** 09/19/2013

Posted by dbinder in Asia Pacific Film Awards, Chinese language film, Documentary, Genie Awards, Movies, News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Sundance Film Festival.
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Last Train Home (Chinese) 2009 ***

Documentary film
Directed by Lixin Fan
Starring Zhang Changhua, Chen Suqin, Zhang Qin, Zhang Yang, and Tang Tingsui

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Documentary Feature Film, Asia Pacific Screen Awards
WINNER, Best Documentary, Genie Awards
WINNER, Emmy Award-Best Documentary and Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form, News and Documentary Emmy Awards
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize, World Cinema – Documentary (Lixin Fan), Sundance Film Festival

This documentary film illustrates the damaging effect of migrant work on several generations of a family. Changhua and his wife, Suqin, who work in the big city, try to return to their home in a rural area of China for the annual Chinese New Year holiday. The parents, who have lived away from home since their children were born, must join the throngs of others trying to get to the countryside at the same time. They will wait for expensive, crowded, and infrequent trains at the Guangzhou Train Station.

Director Lixin Fan has managed to capture some very honest reactions, especially from the rebellious teenage daughter who has also moved to the big city. We learn about the deplorable living and working conditions of the migrant workers, as well as why they left their home and who is left behind there.

Highly recommended.

87 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens.


Defiant Requiem-Movie Review *** 08/13/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, Big Apple Film Festival, Documentary, PBS, World War II.
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Defiant Requiem (American) 2012 ***

PBS Documentary
Written and directed by Doug Shultz

WINNER, Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival

The true story of Raphael Schächter, a Czech conductor who was sent to the Terezin concentration camp by the Nazis. When Schächter finds an unused piano, he secretly trains a chorus of his fellow prisoners. Eventually they are found out and are forced to perform for their captors. Schächter chooses the beautiful and difficult Verdi’s “Requiem.”

This amazing story haunted conductor Murry Sidlin, who decades later brought a choir and orchestra to Terezin to perform “Requiem” in the very place that Schäcter and his chorus did. The rendition is so beautiful, even a non-religious person would be touched, especially when contemplating the message Schäcter and his chorus delivered through the lyrics.

The film includes interviews with people who were at the camp, some of whom participated in the chorus.

Highly recommended.

85 min. Not rated. Content could be disturbing for children.

Man On Wire-Movie Review 09/09/2010

Posted by Films to consider in British, Documentary, French language film, Movies.
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Man On Wire (British/French) 2008

Winner, Jury Prize and Audience Award for World Documentary, Sundance Film Festival

Based on Phillipe Petit’s autobiographical book, To Reach the Clouds.
Directed by James Marsh.

The film’s title refers to the police report filed when Phillipe Petit, a charismatic and amazingly agile young Frenchman, crossed between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers in the early hours of August 7, 1974.

There might be those for whom this film is too difficult to watch, considering the events to come, but the feat stands as part of the history of the structures. The towers beckoned to Petit, and he (as he makes convincingly clear) could not help but respond.

The story is astonishing – not just the daring and unbelievable feat itself, but how it happened. Nothing about the plan seemed very organized, especially considering the possible outcome.

The documentary is narrated mostly by Petit and interspersed with present-day reactions from those who helped him. Petit liked to be in the limelight, and there is much original footage shot by one of his small and motley crew. As a result, viewers get an up-close look at the crossing. Petit spent nearly one hour up on that wire. And he wasn’t just walking back and forth. Incroyable!

Footage of previous highwire crossings and street performances reveal a good deal about Petit’s personality. The very short children’s animation in the Special Features gives a clearer picture of what he and his assistants were actually trying to accomplish during their preparations; this sometimes gets a little murky in the main film.

94 min. Rated PG-13.

For more about Petit’s book:
To Reach the Clouds

For a children’s book about Phillipe Petit by Mordicai Gerstein:
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers