Webster University hosts a multicultural film series with three documentaries this Thursday through Sunday: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, (Miss)Representation and Being Elmo. Though different in subject matter and style, each work presents its subject in an informative, engaging way: the failure of St. Louis public housing, American media's appalling portrayal of women and girls, and the fabulous Kevin Clash, aka Elmo.
A personal essay contemplating the changes the South has experienced over decades, even centuries, General Orders No. 9 juxtaposes the historical South of Indians and small communities with interstate highways and the metropolis of today. First-time director Robert Persons, through voiceover narration by William Davidson, reflects on what has been lost in the push to modernization.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 to 1832) made his mark in late 18th and early 19th century Germany as a true genius: lawyer, philosopher, playwright, poet, and scientist. But in his early 20s, as depicted in the film Young Goethe in Love he's a familiar, love struck young man in conflict with his father.
Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi's A Separation opens with a Rashomon-like question-and-answer session before an unseen judge. Husband Nader and wife Simin sit facing the camera, debating the necessity of a divorce Simin advocates. She insists on raising their 11-year-old daughter in a more equitable society, one not separated in terms of gender, class, religion and modern vs. traditional values.
Modern dance fans know German choreographer Pina Bausch and her imaginative creations. Film lovers know German director Wim Wenders, especially for Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. Wenders' documentary Pina brings these two masters together to showcase his cinematic expertise in a 3D masterpiece that invites viewers into the midst of the exuberant, energetic dance experience.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates short films in animation, live action and documentary categories. For several years, animation and live-action nominees are presented in a program at Landmark cinemas here before Oscar night to acquaint audiences with these works. Of course, any compilation is a mixed bag, but most of these nominees are stunning.
As much a human-interest story as a spiritual odyssey, Jennifer Fox's documentary My Reincarnation chronicles the relationship between spiritual Tibetan Buddhist Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and his secular son Yeshi. Fox gives equal screen time to both men, crosscutting between scenes with them together and alone, while also giving each voiceover narration to express innermost thoughts and feelings.
Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr is among the best directors too few U.S. film fans know. This results in part from the demanding nature of his work, as The Turin Horse proves. For it requires enormous patience for almost 2½ hours during this minimalist, black-and-white masterpiece probes the human condition of an isolated father and daughter.
Some people eat to live; others live to eat. Spanish chef Ferran Adrià lives to create aesthetically pleasing, innovative food. Several sources praise his El Bulli restaurant as the most fascinating, best in the world. Until recently, El Bulli closed for half the year so master chefs could concoct avant-garde culinary treats, quietly documented in El Bulli: Cooking in Progress.