Terence Davies (1945- ), filmmaker and writer, takes us, sometimes obliquely, to his childhood and youth in Liverpool. He’s born Catholic and poor; later he rejects religion. He discovers homo-eroticism, and it’s tinged with Catholic guilt. Enjoying pop music gives way to a teenage love of Mahler and Wagner. Using archival footage, we take a ferry to a day on the beach. Postwar prosperity brings some positive change, but its concrete architecture is dispiriting. Contemporary colors and sights of children playing may balance out the presence of unemployment and persistent poverty. Davies’ narration is a mix of his own reflections and the poems and prose of others.
Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz (1997) Julian Benedikt, Andreas Morell, Freddie Hubbard, Gil Melle, Herbie Hancock, Documentary, Music
“It must ‘schwing!'” was the motto of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two German Jewish immigrants who in 1939 set up Blue Note Records, the jazz label that was home to such greats as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. Blue Note, the most successful movie ever made about jazz, is a testimony to the passion and vision of these two men and certainly swings like the propulsive sounds that made their label so famous. The only documentary about the legendary Jazz record label includes original footage from concert recordings by Blue Note label artists, original footage of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff and interviews with Carlos Santana, Rudy Van Gelder, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock among others.Grammy nominated for “Best Long Form Music Video” in 1997, Blue Note also went on to earn a Peabody Award (1998), Vision Award (1998) and a Rocky Award nomination.
Born of talks with four hundred disaffected teenagers in the suburban belt around Toronto, the film reflects their recurring theme: “Wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t hassled by parents and police, didn’t go to prison-like schools and could just get out of this polluted city and into the coun¬try and hang out with a bunch of kids like ourselves.” Would it? The filmmakers invited five boys and five girls ages 13 to 19 to live on a farm for ten weeks, to be filmed, and to see what might emerge for each of them personally.
This film is about the experience of dying. Five terminal patients in a Palliative Care Unit at Toronto’s Grace Hospital share the last days of their lives and deaths with a film crew, having already given prior consent. They do so in the hope that their experience will be useful to the audience in managing its own fear of dying and death.
Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company (2005) Allan King, Claire Mandell, Sherry Mandell, Jeff Glickman, Documentary
At Baycrest, an old-age home in Toronto, we follow a social worker as she talks to residents, particularly Max, Claire, Ida, and Rachel. The film opens on Claire’s birthday, she’s 89; Max, a tiny cheerful man, is her close friend. Rachel is lonesome, missing her son, complaining he rarely visits. Ida relies on memory for her solace. Helen has no memory and doesn’t recognize her daughter; her moods swing. Murray keeps his cap on and likes women. Staff members bring medication, provide care, and offer small talk. Memory is fleeting: Claire re-experiences the death of a close companion several times, each time without remembering her previous grieving. Lives are circumscribed.
Volta à Terra tells the story of an endangered community: farmers who practice subsistence farming in a mountainous village of northern Portugal, deserted because of immigration.
Between the evocation of the past and their uncertain future, we follow the 49 inhabitants through four seasons.
Among the inhabitants we meet António, a former emigrant who fulfilled his dream of returning home, prepares the village festivities for the coming summer, and Daniel, young shepherd who dreams of love at dusk.