Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I, Claude Monet - film

The documentary, I, Claude Monet, was shown in February and sold out, so the wonderful Cape Cinema did encore showings, one yesterday and another tonight. I skipped the first showing thinking I'm so familiar with his Impressionist paintings, I had little to learn.  WRONG! of course.

Yes, I have seen, in museums and in books, a large selection of the many, many paintings he did. I actually knew very little about his life.  Especially I was touched that he not only wrote constant begging letters for money to a variety of people during his first  20 or  so years. He was impoverished to the point that his wife died from lack of medical care and perhaps a baby as well  -- the movie was unclear as it was almost all a voice reading from his letters.

As a documentary it was repetitious in the sense of being one letter after another with pictures of the places he was living and the paintings he did of those places.  There were photographs of him and his family -- he eventually had a second wife and a total of 8 children and was financially well off. There was no discussions, really about his style which I found alright because I've read a lot about the Impressionists' use of light and I think no one did it more effectively than Monet. The sound track was a sometimes tiresome piano score, occasionally with a cello -- the credits told me it was composed specifically for this film.  I would have liked more variety. But it was beautiful to see.  One had been to Giverney when it was in full flower -- I envy her that experience, the shots the were magnificent.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Not all documentaries are equal

I saw two documentary films yesterday, each well over an hour long, each on important subjects. One was magnificent, although hard to watch at times; the other one was so boring I could hardly sit still.

Sharkwater, a documentary by Rob Stewart, told our roomful of documentary aficionados far more than we knew about sharks and entirely won us over to the enormous, pressing need to protect these very endangered animals (90% of their population has be destroyed in the last 10 years).  The movie was the story of Rob Stewart's love of sharks and then his joining the fearless SEA SHEPHERD, with it's magnificent captain, Sam, whose full name I do not know, which patrols the open seas trying to protect endangered sea animals -- sharks in this case (apparently whales in other cases).  Sharks are not vicious, they are shy about people, they are highly intelligent, they are the top predators in the ocean and without them the ecology of the ocean (which is not well understood) would be out of balance and could result in a lessening of the amount of oxygen generated by the ocean -- an amount absolutely necessary to life on the solid parts of Earth.  Those are only a few of the facts I learned from the film. 

Most disturbing is the huge predation of sharks simply for their fins for the market for shark fin soup in China.  Once again (as with elephants an rhinocerses) that vast population of insecure people is wrecking havoc for the financial gain of a mafia-like business.  There were extremely painful scenes in the movie.  And it included an action novel like run in with the "bad guys" an the way they had paid off government officials who actually charge the Sea Shepherd and its crew, who (spoiler alert!) who found a time to make a run for freedom.  As a documentary it was beautiful, highly informative, had highly admirable real life people. When the film was over the woman showing it was nearly in tears as she told us that Rob Steward has died.

The second film was Food Choices about, of course, the many compelling reasons to eat a plant-based diet. It presented some new information with one talking head after another, some of whom had boring voices, some not even very clearly enunciated, although I was gently reminded by my companion that only the speaker on the right side of the room was playing and that music obscured some of the voices. Yes, my hearing is not entirely perfect, but indeed I think the several experts who sat, unmoving in their various chairs, spoke unclearly.  It was just plain boring.  A long Q&A afterwards with the area's foremost MD-nutritionist was a little helpful and somewwhat repetitious

By the time I put my head down on a pillow I was overwhelmed with information and visuals and happy to turn off the brain entirely for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring? yes, no, maybe

It's definitely time to get rid of the snow picdture. Spring may be here -- I was able to walk on the beach for a while yesterday but the wind off the ocean was very chilly.  The ocean was far calmer than this photo of the surf which is higher than any that we have in Hyannis -- this was at Nauset Beach in Orleans which my daughter calls "the real ocean". We are protected from  such surf and from the way it eats at dunes by the fat blob of land just at our horizon called Martha's Vineyard. 

Friday night I went to a documentary shown at the Unity Church which houses an EarthCare Ministry team. In April (Earth month), they show a film each Friday, free and open to the public, about an ecological subject. Last year I went to two that were about whales; beautiful films from which I learned a lot. This past Friday it was a film called One Big Home, about, really not one, but many, an almost staggering number of big homes that have been build in the last ten years on that once quaint and rather modest island. The filmmaker, Thomas Bena was present; he talked and answered questions afterward. These are called Trophy Houses, a phenonmenon that aggrivates almost all of Cape Cod's towns as well as Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Not only are they far larger than the homes that were previously there (many of which have been torn down by the builders of these sturctures) but they are used, in most cases far less than 6 months of the year.

Bene spent ten years making this film, in the course of which he married, had a child, bought a small old home that was beyond repair (though he tired diligently to do so). He built a larger home than he ever expected to have. He filmed many locals, many town meetings, a very verbal architect, and did a good documentary job.  He is going around to gatherings like this speaking about the rampant ostentatious and ecologically destructive habits of the very wealth and how the less affluent residents can come together to at last enact regulations that put some brakes on the destruction of their way of tlife.