The Oscars Make Sunday Grand! The Power Of The Dog Will Romp Tonight

I do love movies and films. And each year I thrill to the Oscars.

Growing up in a small rural area helped instill in me the grandeur of Hollywood. Though I did not see many movies as a kid on the big screen I saw enough late-night movies to know I needed to appreciate the talent it takes to write, act, produce, and direct. How I felt as a kid is how I still now react to movies. Some make me smile, others cry, some make me think, and others are just pure fun to watch.

Due to the pandemic, the last big-screen movie I watched was in 2019. But with a nice screen and surround sound at our home the ability to escape with a tonic for the soul within the frame of a film continues.

Just like when I was a teenager in Hancock, the 94th Academy Awards tonight will be a time for movie magic. I have that same eagerness to see the men in tuxes and women in designer gowns enter with grace and hope. With so much hurt in the world right now some uplifting winds are timely.

The Oscars are for more than just looking at the films of the past year but also a vehicle for montages to again remind us of the magic that film continues to hold from decades past.  I trust there are some legends who show up and make the night come alive with memories. (With this the 50th anniversary of The Godfather I have some hopes…..)

I give plenty of political predictions each year on CP, and I love thinking through the various components that will produce a winner or loser. I have not been shy over the years about doing the same for Best Picture. As such, I am betting it all on The Power Of The Dog to take home the biggest award of the night.

The pacing of the film drew me in at once. The use of landscapes and horizons set against the epic feel of the story blend in such a way that the award for cinematography must also be carried home by this film. Ari Wegner will be applauded heartily for the win.

Taking home the Best Actor award will be Benedict Cumberbatch who was masterful in the film. I am not sure that Kodi Smit-McPhee can do the same with Supporting Actor–though his character was the one I rooted for the entire movie. One just has to love justice, in whatever form it takes.

I loved this film! And I just know the Academy of voters surely felt the same.

And so it goes.

Documentarian Stephanie Manesis Gets Grant To Further Film Project, Guest On Doty Land

Good news was received today upon learning Stephanie Manesis has been the beneficiary of a $2,050 grant to further her film about compassion on the battlefield. The filmmaker has been working on the project for a few years, having raised over $6,000 for the effort.

Manesis was awarded the grant by The Arts Partnership in Fargo, North Dakota. With the work well underway she has now hired a scriptwriter from Fargo (who has won Emmys) and a story consultant from Los Angeles who will consult about the project.

There is a real delight in hearing this news as Manesis was featured on a Doty Land podcast.

She has culled through many hours of footage from interviews and reduced that amount down to 5 and a half hours from which a script and a 26-minute documentary will be produced.

The Arts Partnership was able to help fund 10 local artists who received funds to record music videos and podcasts, explore the fringes of photography, deck out home studios, and further their artistic careers. Totaling $20,500, the grants were made possible by privately raised dollars, as well as the Erin Coffer Memorial Fund and donations by the Moorhead PEO Chapters.

Care About The Children At The Border

A short simple post, and to the point.

As we talk in our nation about children who flee from Central America comes a film from another part of the world that is so powerful. James and I watched it tonight. If you have a heart have tissues, too. This is a global story. One we need to care about and not shout stupid crude remarks that the kids are not ‘ours’. They are ours! That is, if you come from any place with humanity.

Golden Age Of Hollywood Oscar-Bound With “Mank”

There is no way to watch Mank and not be lulled back in time with deep fondness and a true thrill to the era when Hollywood sizzled and stars dazzled. This year the clear favorite for Oscar’s Best Film is the one centered on Herman Mankiewicz as he works on the screenplay for what would become Orson Welles’ 1941 cinema classic “Citizen Kane.” And who does not adore that old movie?

Hollywood is, by its very nature, attuned to a grand film about itself–and make no mistake this one directed by David Fincher–is perfectly packaged for the voters of the Academy. But far more than a movie that brings to life the tone and temper of a by-gone era it is also a masterfully presented story of the creative juices of a writer pitted against the crafty needs and motives of a movie mogul. The story has tentacles throughout the industry.

What captured me from the outset with Mank was its similarity to Citizen Kane through the use of flashbacks to advance the compelling story. Then place the film into the context–with historical accuracy–of the conservatism of 1930s Hollywood. Add in black-and-white cinematography. Include musical scores that reverberated with cinematic memories of yesterdays. Simply put the film was made with such technological precision one would think it was a film from that era.

So with all that being said, what do we have?

First, we have a movie to love.

And secondly, a movie that will take home the Oscars.

The nominations for the Academy Awards were released Monday morning and I was most pleased to see Mank had 10 of them ranging from Best Film, Director, Cinematography, along with Gary Oldman for actor and Amanda Seyfried for supporting actress. Oldman is a for-sure winner…he was superb as Mankiewicz.

The golden age of Hollywood was often shown on television when I was a teenager. Weekend afternoons and Saturday nights I would be captivated by the action, the lively nature of the music, the daring stuntmen, and the ability of dancers to land perfectly as they commanded attention. So it is not hard to fathom why anyone who has such respect and fondness for such moments would not delight in Mank, a film that revisits Hollywood when it was King.

Big Film, Good Feel, Downton Abbey Movie A Winner

Tonight James and I sat in a Madison movie theater to see an early viewing of a film that is slated to open nationwide in just 24 hours.  Being huge fans of PBS’ Downton Abbey meant we were so looking forward to the movie version of this family, the servants, and the large magnificent home.

The first thing I noticed, and much appreciated, was the crisp writing from Julian Fellowes.  As with the television series, there is no wasted dialogue in the movie.  Each line and every word has meaning and purpose.  That type of writing is hard to do, and harder yet to achieve in a major motion picture.

The epic feel from the director, along with the first lines of the classic musical opening to the summation of the storyline, made me feel good.

Good about the film itself.  And good about the movie-making industry.  Too often movies get a bad wrap for being too youth-centered in simply throw-away work.  Or too violent.  Or too lewd and vulgar.

But with brilliant writing and top-notch acting along with Michael Engler using his skill as a director, the final result is what every person who sat year after year on Sunday nights caught up in the drama of the Crawley family, and those around them were needing.

The downside would be if one had not been captured by the magic of the series on PBS there is little to grasp as the storyline picks up from where it ended, without allowing for newcomers to catch up. But really, where were they when the series was rolling along, anyway, on PBS?

I loved this film very much!

Judi Dench Allows “Victoria And Abdul” To Step From History Books To Cinematic Glory

This is a richly told film production about a chapter of Queen Victoria’s life, which I was unaware of until last week.  James and I saw this on the big screen, and since we are both most fond of Judi Dench, we absolutely loved it!

The meticulous touches were in every scene.   Such as when Victoria, an older woman and needing to be steadied when dancing, will gently grasp the fabric of Abdul’s clothes as they move to the music.  It was not called attention to in any way–nor are the countless other such moments– but from a movie-watching perspective every scene has those small polished niceties that makes a movie a truly fantastic experience.

Five Stars!

Film About Compassion In War Needs Your Helping Hands

I want readers of Caffeinated Politics to be among the first to know of a new historical documentary project, Compassion on the Battlefield in WWII, now underway which many will find most intriguing.  While reading about the project’s ambitious plans to document the degree which compassion plays a role in warfare my mind flicked back to a most incredible photograph I saw in an exhibit this spring in Washington, D.C.

The black-and-white photo showed a handsome young East German solider lifting barbed wire so a small boy could climb through and be reunited with his family. What I still recall was the focus of the soldier’s eyes as if he knew there was only a split second to do the right thing. The moral thing. The compassionate thing.  Which is the type of thinking and action this groundbreaking documentary project seeks to explore.

Independent filmmaker Stephanie Manesis from Fargo, North Dakota is working on a film titled Compassion on the Battlefield in WWII where first-person experiences of unexpected acts of compassion are examined. Manesis has interviewed 42 veterans, 36 of which are World War II veterans. Visual footage from the Midwest, along with locations in Germany and England combine with soldiers talking about the way compassion plays out among comrades and between enemies makes this footage riveting and emotional.

The film also shares the views of experts who examine how compassionate acts occurred even though some jeopardized military careers. Combining the societal, religious, and cultural context in which compassion plays out in combat will prove to be a groundbreaking event certain to start a national dialogue.  And you can be a part of this amazing project.

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) of Moorhead, Minnesota, a 501(c)(3) organization, is *their fiscal sponsor, which * oversees all contributions made to this documentary.  All donations are tax deductible. .Right now, an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign is running to raise money to complete the production of this film. Only one day of filming is left and then the team will move to post-production.

You can be a part of this project by watching this video about the film and donating today at http://www.zenlilyfilms.com!