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The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"Directed by John Ford"
Most artists would rather let their work speak for itself rather than talk about their work. That adage is apparent in the 1971 documentary "Directed by John Ford." By the time Peter Bogdanovich inserts footage of the director himself (not others talking about him), John Ford's responses are terse with a combination of impatience and disgust.
Bogdanovich started filming interviews years ago with Ford film regulars John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda and at times it feels like you're watching home movies of relatives remembering Grampa. The problem with that approach is that unless you're a member of the "family," home movies become tedious very quickly. Perhaps that's why Bogdanovich inserted new material in 2006 featuring admiring "stepchildren" to the master - directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood - in the hope that more memories might provide more interest.
Watching "Directed by John Ford" will trigger all kinds of memories of the great films Ford directed: "The Grapes of Wrath," "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," "The Quiet Man," "How Green Was My Valley."
The best way to appreciate one of America's premier directors is to watch his work. Skip the home movie and rent one of John Ford's classics.
There are so many events happening in the world that we never hear about because of the media's obsession with missing children, dead celebrities or weather disasters. Not that all of those topics aren't of interest on some level, but where can in-depth stories be found that actually touch our lives on some level?
Luckily, there are documentary filmmakers in the world who realize that by choosing this arena of the business the likelihood of fame and fortune is slim to none and yet they still pursue important issues.
Scott Hamilton Kennedy wrote and directed the 2008 release of "The Garden." After the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a 14-acre parcel of land in South Central was purchased and dedicated to establishing a community garden. Through the years the plots were divided among a large number of families, primarily Latino, to grow vegetables for their own use. Snap peas, avocados, zucchinis, tomatoes, papayas - dozens of different kinds of fruits and vegetables flourished in the inner city because of the tender care given the garden.
But shady politics and personal greed surfaced in 2003 and eviction notices appeared. The community united to fight for their gardens and their legal battles became a matter of interest in the news.
As land use is an issue everywhere, whether in a large metropolis in Southern California or a small Northwest community, a movie like "The Garden" demonstrates the battles that are fought and sometimes lost in growing communities.
HIDDEN GEM/FIRST WORK
"A Little Romance"
Thirty years ago, a 14-year-old Diane Lane made her film debut with Laurence Olivier, one of the most respected actors in the world. Also, debuting in the film was Thelonious Bernard, a 15-year-old French boy. The two youngsters were perhaps too naïve to be intimidated by Olivier's presence and "A Little Romance" blossoms in Europe when this unusual threesome unite.
Lauren (Lane) is a brilliant and bored American student in Paris with a self-absorbed mother (Sally Kellerman) and a preoccupied, but loving, stepfather (Arthur Hill). Their wealthy surroundings are a far cry from the life the equally brilliant Daniel (Bernard) leads, taking care of his crusty, widowed father. His fascination with American movies adds to the chance meeting of the two teenagers and their plight for happiness is abetted by a gentlemanly grifter, Julius (Olivier).
George Roy Hill directs this delightful holiday of young love. Filmed entirely on location in Paris and Venice, with a lilting score by Georges Delerue, "A Little Romance" is appropriately titled.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.