Yesterday, I attended a press conference at the historic Smithsonian Castle and had the immeasurable and almost-surreal pleasure of sitting opposite Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, director Shawn Levy, and screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, who were in Washington DC to talk about the sequel to the unexpected blockbuster “Night at the Museum.” This one is set in the world’s biggest (and in my biased opinion, best) museum complex, the Smithsonian Institution. I will be posting more shortly, but as a starter, here’s a short clip with Amy Adams talking about her role as Amelia Earhart and Levy talking about what he wants children and their families to learn from the film.
The New York Times reports that a short animated film called “The Story of Stuff” has become “a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.” What I like about the story is the way the unabashed advocacy of the film has led to real teachable moments and substantive engagement from the kids.
Mark Lukach, who teaches global studies at Woodside Priory, a Catholic college-preparatory school in Portola Valley, Calif., acknowledged that the film is edgy, but said the 20-minute length gives students time to challenge it in class after viewing it….Mr. Lukach’s students made a response video and posted it on YouTube, asking Ms. Leonard to scare them less and give them ideas on how to make things better. That in turn inspired high school students in Mendocino, Calif., to post an answer to Woodside, with suggested activities.
There is no movie I am more excited about right now than the Spike Jonze-directed “Where the Wild Things Are,” opening this fall and based on the classic children’s book by Maurice Sendak. Having watched the trailer several times, I was thrilled to get a chance for more information on “We Love You So,” a new blog from Jonze about the film. It is a lot of fun to peek behind the scenes and hear his thoughts on some of the movies that influenced the look of the film. And it is worth visiting the site just to take a look at this photo Jonze found on Flickr of an adorable costume made for a real-life Max by his mom, who calls herself Kitjule1010.
The wonderful Warner Archive has released another movie I remember fondly, Bye Bye Braverman. Director Sidney Lumet, showing the same feel for the city evident in his other films like “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Serpico,” made this film about four New York Jewish intellectuals on their way to a funeral. They bicker, they get lost, they consider the meaning of life. Not much happens, but a lot happens.
It’s not a classic by any means, but it has moments of enormous richness and poignancy and beautiful performances by everyone involved, especially Phyllis Newman, Zohra Lampert, and Godfrey Cambridge in smaller roles. And of course New York City playing the lead.