I am very excited about the upcoming release of “The Tempest” (described here as “Shakespeare’s final masterpiece”), starring Helen Mirren and directed by Julie Taymor (forever known as the woman behind the stage version of “The Lion King”). “The Tempest” is the story of a sorcerer named Prospero who was once a king, but, distracted by his study of magic, was deposed and exiled by his brother to a remote island, accompanied by his daughter Miranda. Mirren takes the lead as “Prospera,” who uses her powers to shipwreck her brother’s boat, bringing them to her island to right the wrongs of the past, with the help of spirits Ariel and Caliban. The cast includes Alan Cummings, Alfred Molina, Russell Brand, Tom Conti, and Djimon Hounsou.
I am proud to be a part of Blog Action Day 2010. This year, the issue is vitally important — water.
Some great movies about water:
1. Oceans Huge, swooping creatures with bright speckles; shape transforming beasts that pounce and gobble up crabs; gelatinous monsters that glow; all this and more is captured in this stunning film.
2. FLOW: For Love of Water This documentary finds a good balance between terrifying statistics, depressing images, talking heads, and hopeful suggestions.
3. Blue Gold: World Water Wars Corporate control of water puts the supply at risk for everyone.
4. Running Dry This film is so powerful it inspired the Senator Paul Simon Water Act for the Poor, which funds clean, safe water in areas that otherwise wouldn’t have it. It was based on the senator’s book, Tapped Out: The Coming World Crisis in Water and What We Can Do About It. There is a 2008 sequel, The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry? focusing on domestic water shortages.
5. The End of the Line The catastrophic consequences of over-fishing are explored in this documentary, which comes with a pocket guide to help decide what to buy in grocery stores and restaurants.
In the post-WWII era of peace and prosperity — and the Cold War and the blacklist and conformity — a small group of writers found much to terrify and infuriate them. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,” one of them wrote, the beginning of a barbaric yawp of a poem of fury and protest called “Howl.” His name was Allen Ginsberg.
This movie is not the story of Ginsberg (smoothly played by James Franco), who would go on to become one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed and influential poets, though he is affecting, even at times electric. It is the story of the poem itself, taking us back and forth between three key moments. First is Ginsberg’s own performance, reading the poem aloud in a small, smoky club. Second is an interview two years later with a now-bearded Ginsberg in his apartment. And third is a courtroom, where the obscenity charges brought not against Ginsberg but against his publisher, fellow poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, were being argued.
“Experts” (Mary-Louise Parker, Alessandro Nivola, Jeff Daniels) debate the literary merit and destructively prurient content of Ginsberg’s work on the witness stand. The prosecution (David Straithairn) argues that the poem is so detrimental to the minds of Americans that it should not even be seen. For the defense, Jake Ehrlich (“Man Men’s” Jon Hamm), with a natty four-cornered pocket square handkerchief, who shows the court that far more important than any expert’s opinion on the value of Howl as a work of art is the freedom for Americans to decide that issue for themselves.
And for me at least, that is where the real poetry is.
James Franco stars in the upcoming “127 Hours” as engineer/mountaineer Aron Ralston, who was climbing alone in the Utah canyons on what he thought would be a day trip when a boulder fell on his arm, pinning him against the canyon wall. For six days, unable to move, he tried to chip or push it away. Finally, he understood that in order to survive, he would have to lose his hand and lower portion of his arm. He performed a self-amputation with only a dull knife, rappelled one-armed down the side of the mountain, and walked six miles to get help. His book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place tells the story.
Writer-director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) has made this extraordinary achievement into a movie of great power, touching, moving, exciting, and inspiring. And Franco gives one of the best performances of the year.
Here is the real Aron Ralston, who now uses his story to help audiences think about what we can do to survive, how to analyze and solve problems, how to think about priorities, about healing, the importance of taking responsibility and how to be fully alive, which means being fully grateful.