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Inspiration

In honor of Women’s History Month, Mellini Kantayya and I wrote about women pioneers as part of the “Women in Film & Television History” Series for the New York Women in Film & Television blog. Read More

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“Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity.

Take up the battle.

Take it up.

It’s yours.

This is your life.  This is your world.

I’ll be leaving it long before you under the ordinary set of circumstances. You make your own choices. You can decide life isn’t worth living, and that would be the worst thing you can do. How do you know, so far?

Try it. See.

So pick it up. Pick up the battle, and make it a better world.

Just where you are.

Yes, and it can be better, and it must be better, but it is up to us.”

–Thank you, Dr Angelou.

“Maya Angelou” Oprah Presents Master Class. OWN, 2011.

“My knowledge that I will die gives focus and meaning to every day that I am alive.  Were we to live forever, what motivation would there ever be to write a poem?” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

David Bowie. Photo by Jimmy King.

David Bowie. Photo by Jimmy King.

Of course the last opus of David Bowie comes to mind, impeccably released within days of his own death.  Bowie was as much a storyteller as he was a musician, so it is fitting that his last work would be an expression of his final journey.  With the single “Lazarus,” Bowie has written his own requiem:

“Look up here, I’m in Heaven

I’ve got scars that can’t be seen

I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

Everybody knows me now.”

Bowie kept his 18-month long illness private, which may be why his fans are obsessing over cryptic clues about his death in the lyrics of his songs.

Perhaps the knowledge that we are mortal beings with limited time is what inspires some artists to continue to create until their final days. But why? Is it a means of control? Does it bring meaning to their lives? Is it a way of saying goodbye? Facing one’s death is deeply personal, yet these artists have shared their journey in a public way. Read More

“How to Dance in Ohio”  – Review

Marideth Bridges, right, in “How to Dance in Ohio” on HBO.

Marideth Bridges, right, in “How to Dance in Ohio” on HBO.

There’s a story I was told recently about a boy with autism. One summer, his mother took him to the community pool every day, and every day people would avoid him or stop and stare. The mother worried that this would be his life, playing alone at the opposite end of the pool, suffering the gaping of strangers. One day, towards the end of the summer, a girl about eight years old tried to talk to the boy but got silence in return. She marched up to the mother and asked, “Does he have autism?”

The mother replied, “Yes, he does.” With that the girl turned on her heel, returned to the boy and changed her dialogue to make it much more direct. She said, “Get on the float, and I’ll pull you.  I’ll throw the ball, and you’ll catch it.” And for 20 blissful minutes, the mother saw her baby boy laughing and playing with another child for the first time all summer. Joyful, hopeful tears ensued.

It is with this story in mind that I watched the documentary “How to Dance in Ohio,” a portrait of young adults with autism preparing for a spring formal dance.  (Full disclosure, it was produced by my dear friend Bari Pearlman. )  Well-deserved praise has followed the film since its premiere at Sundance this year, and now it is widely available on HBO. Read More

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With NASA’s announcement of the confirmation of water on Mars, I’m posting a nod to some fiction inspired by our celestial brother.

Mars has long captured the imagination of storytellers since the discovery of the “canals” provoked the idea of ancient civilization on the red planet.

  • War of the Worlds, HG Wells (1897)

Equally compelling are the stories about the colonization of the planet.

  • Red Planet, Robert Heinlein (1949)
  • The Sands of Mars, Arthur C Clarke (1951)

Colonization breeds imperialism, a theme that was especially prevalent in works from the 1950s, a hot topic on this planet.

  • The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (1950)
  • The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (1959)

Most recently, I enjoyed The Martian (2011) written by Andy Weir, which Ridley Scott has adapted for the big screen. The verisimilitude of surviving on the surface of Mars is remarkable. Sticking to the science of human space travel, once again the story reflects the times in which it was written.  Today a journey to Mars could happen in the next 15 years.

Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

In cinema, the Long Take is one long uninterrupted shot lasting several minutes and usually requiring careful and complicated choreography.  It’s a technique that is almost as old as film itself, yet over the years the technical aspects of the long take have evolved as directors and cinematographers rise to the challenge of pulling off even bigger and better “oners.”

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Birdman, which won an Oscar for best film this year, is a recent example of a long take – in fact the entire movie is intended to have the effect of one long tracking shot.  But this is nothing new.  Alfred Hitchcock employed same device with his 1948 film, Rope.  Hitchcock was limited by the technology of the time. Because reels of film were only 10 minutes long, the director was required to hide the cuts; many of the takes ended on a nondescript surface so the next roll of film could pick up right where the last one left off.

The use of the long take is often a spectacular display of technical acumen, but it also risks breaking the film’s spell with a flashy moment for the filmmaker to shout “look at me!” when it doesn’t serve the story.  It is most successfully executed when we don’t realize that it’s happening.

While this is by no means comprehensive, check out a select list of my favorites: Read More