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April 17, 2012

Himitsu no hanazono (My Secret Cache)

What does it take to make someone happy? Wealth? Fame? Power? For hyperactive, materialistic Sakiko, it's finding a suitcase stuffed with 500 million yen. She sets out on a manic quest to track down the case, mastering a bizarre range of activities, like rockclimbing and scuba-diving, as she goes. Her relentless pursuit, combined with her wicked sense of humor, makes for a wild satirical commentary on the human conditions of conformity, materialism and obsession.

This is a very fun, nice film. With a smart, wise mother, detached father and bratty sister watching and wondering, Sakiko loves counting money. Her whole life is about the accumulation of money. After getting a job at a bank, it is robbed and Sakiko is taken hostage because she will not let go of the suitcase full of money. All and all film offers insight to the silly side of modern life. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 50603-D 83 minutes 1996

Posted by mcmike at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)

Holy Cow

Story of how we've changed the cow and how the cow has changed us, forever. Human history, biology, agriculture and economics have all been affected by this most influential animal. Societies which learned to domesticate the cow prospered, while those that did not were left behind.

A story of one of the greatest domesticated animals for human society. The cow is an amazing animal. It has been an integral part of human society for a very long time. After watching this documentary you will have a much more enhanced appreciation for the cow. This animal should receive much more positive consideration in western society. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 56624-D 60 minutes 2004

Posted by mcmike at 01:29 PM | Comments (1)

Into Eternity

"Into Eternity is the first feature documentary to explore the mind-boggling scientific and philosophical questions long-term nuclear waste storage poses. Structured as a message to future generations, the film focuses on the Onkalo underground waste repository now being built in Finland, one of the first nuclear waste storage facilities. Once the repository is full in about 100 years, it will be closed and sealed 'forever'."

Into Eternity is a horrible yet beautiful poetic discourse on the thoughts concerning the storage of spent nuclear materials. These materials are being buried deep into a desolate location of Finland. The location must be forgotten but always remembered, "Into Oblivion". This will be a place where no one can go for one hundred thousand years. How can you communicate this to future generations? Can we best anticipate the societal impact of such a discovery in the future? Mankind’s curiosity could certainly kill and destroy if this place is found by a unprepared future society. Can we depend on geological stability for that length of time? These questions are considered but cannot be answered. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 56972-D 2010
Includes TV version (58 min.), theatrical version (78 min.) and trailer.

Posted by mcmike at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Letters from Iran

|a "While winds of freedom blow through the Arab world, the Iranian youth waits. They were the first to rise up against their leaders in 2009. The first to tweet, Facebook and post YouTube updates, filming the fallout of their failed revolution on camera phones. Now, Iran has closed itself off to the Western press, making itdifficult to get the inside story from the outside. For the past two years, Manin Loiseau has been following a group of Iranians inside Iran. Many lost loved ones or were tortured themselves in the aftermath of the elections. Piecing together interviews, footage from hidden cameras, YouTube clips and more, she paints a vivid portrait of the aftermath of the Green Revolution."

The hopeful dreams of the citizens of Iran were aggressively oppressed after the 2009 presidential elections. The Iranian population is quite used to being ignored and let down by their political leaders. Hope was short lived and many of those who had hope were arrested, tortured and in some cases disappeared. As tyranny reaches out in its last, dying, grasp during this first part of the 21st century, does this signal its end? As always it is the population who must suffer the wrath of dying political and religious power structures. The interviews are heartbreaking. The protest videos were shot mostly with cell phones. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 56609-D 79 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2012

Double Take

A documentary/fiction hybrid that combines archival footage with cryptic allusions to an imaginary murder plot involving Alfred Hitchcock and his double to create a portrait of American media run amok during the Cold War.

This film uses a large amount of "popular" images from the Cold War, 1950 through 1990. With new footage and voice over the film pulls the viewing into a compressed view of this period. More recent footage about the war with Iraq is added near the end. Double Take is entertaining and is a good example of the use of image and audio to convey a feeling or an idea. ~Mike

One of the special features is a nice audio interview with longtime film actress Karen Black. She talks about her experiences working with Hitchcock.

Askwith Media Library 56647-D 79 minutes 2010

Posted by mcmike at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Kamome Diner

Set in a Japanese diner in Finland, the story revolves around the diner and its owner, Sachie, and the friendships that Sachie develops with her customers and employees.
Also includes a 40 min. film about Helsinki where the film was shot, film trailer, and trailer for the film "Megane."

Kamome is a very sweet, quirky film. It is wonderfully shot with a great cast. The Finnish scenery is outstanding. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 56768-B Blu-ray 102 minutes 2006

Posted by mcmike at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2012

Origins of human aggression (the other story)

"The Origins of Human Agression" discusses the biological environmental and psychological reasons behind human violence and provides guidelines on dealing with its prevention.
Featuring interviews with international experts from different research areas, including a Nobel prize winner, and startlingly illuminating footage of children acting out their aggressive impulses, this documentary examines the complex interactions of factors that affect the socialization of human aggressive behavior.

“Origins of Human Aggression” provides very pertinent information about the development of violence in children. Which if left unchecked could lead to violent teens and adults. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 47575-D 50 minutes 2005

Posted by mcmike at 02:30 PM | Comments (1)

The mindscape of Alan Moore

We begin with Moore's childhood background, and follow the evolution of his career as he transformed the comics medium, through to his immersion in a magical worldview where science, spirituality, and society are part of the same universe.
Bonus features: featurette, interviews with director, composer and special make-up FX artist, selected scene analysis with director's commentary, trailers (202 min.)
Extra features: "Making of" featurette -- Interviews with director, composer, and special make-up FX artist -- Selected scene analysis with director's commentary -- Trailers.

Alan Moore is well known for the graphic novel V for Vendetta, The Watchmen and others. I was not at all familiar with Mr. Moore, although I did like the movies and I am a fan of graphic novels. This interview gives us access to his insight of growing up in industrial England, his philosophy and his social/political views. He is a well spoken person. I found his views engaging and his opinions outstanding. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 52596-D 78 minutes plus special features 2008

Posted by mcmike at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2012

Incendies

After the death of their mother, a set of twins make a life-altering discovery. The pair travels to the Middle East on a mission to uncover the truth about the father they thought was dead who is still very much alive, and the brother they never knew existed. Along the way they will piece together the story of the woman who brought them into the world, discovering a tragic fate as well as the courage of an exceptional woman.

In the horror and confusion of war who suffers the most? The innocent does. This is a heartbreaking tale that could take place in any war at any time. Survival is important, Love is important but to what end? The film leaves the decisions to the viewing audience. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 54794-D (both Blu-ray and DVD) 130 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

Big Trouble in Little China

Jack Burton is a big-talking, wisecracking trucker who goes beneath the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown to battle an army of spirits when his friend's fiancee is kidnapped.

This is a great film from the 80s. One of my favorite John Carpenter projects with Kurt Russell. The silly, fun, action story line may seem a little out of time today but the parody type format is used to perfection. Kurt Russell is a wonderful over the top Jack Burton, somehow like Snake Pliskins little brother. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 32931-D 99 minutes 1986

Posted by mcmike at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

Nothing Sacred

Hazel Flagg is the small-town girl who mistakenly believes she's dying of radium poisoning. Sensing a great human interest story, exploitative journalist Wally Cook brings Hazel to New York City and turns her into a media darling, but Wally's strategy takes a sudden turn when he starts having feelings for the vulnerable Hazel.

A fun and quirky comedy about greed, love and no character redemption; Hazel wants to leave her small town and being misdiagnosed by her doctor starts a series of events that take her to New York as the latest tragic public spectacle. She is not sick and it takes a team of 1930's stereotypical Germen specialists to diagnose her properly. Upon finding out this information the Newspaper, Governor and others scramble to save their jobs. Carole Lombard and Fredric March provide outstanding performances. The support case is from the A list of character actors. This is a classic “screwball comedy”. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library Blu-ray 57280-B and DVD 56651-D 73 minutes 1937

Posted by mcmike at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Body typed


Three short films on media and physical perfection
False images(12 min.) The guarantee(11 min.) 34 x 25 x 36 (8 min.)

Wet dreams and false images: "Exposes the art of digital photo-retouching. How do images of perfect female beauty influence men's perceptions of real women? And, how we see ourselves?"

The guarantee: "Teasing, self-perception, cultural identity, and plastic surgery. How would changing our bodies to try to fit an image alter the way we see ourselves? -- Or even who we are?"

34 x 25 x 36: "A look at mannequins, religion and perfection. Enter the inner workings of the Patina V Mannequin Factory and see what goes into making 'the ideal woman of the moment' -- in plastic."

Bonus features, The barbershop three years later, Sex lies and photoshop New York Times Op-ed piece, story leads to action workshop with filmmaker.

In the barbershop, on paper and in the factory, this documentary looks at the "idealized" human shape and the manipulation of the image through various means of retouching, plastic surgery and mannequin production. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57134-D 31 minutes 2009

Posted by mcmike at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Priceless

"This non-partisan film includes a look at two national policies -- agriculture and energy -- shaped by a variety of interests including industry groups, political parties, lobbyists, citizen groups, candidates, and officeholders."

If any film can be a testament to campaign finance reform it is “Priceless”. The film takes a close look into the variety of ways special interest groups invest in political decision making. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57020-D 58 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

Nollywood Lady

Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima of Lagos, Nigeria is an impresario of showbiz and an impassioned spokeswoman for the thriving and innovative African film industry. She is "Nollywood Lady," an ex-lawyer, producer, filmmaker, and the founder and CEO of the influential African Academy of Motion Pictures. And she is reshaping the way Africans see themselves--and how the world sees Africans. Sharing her vision for transforming preconceptions about Africa and African images with filmmaker Dorothee Wenner, Anyiam-Fiberesima takes viewers on an all-access tour to film locations, markets, and sit-downs with Nollywood professionals in the vibrant production hub of Lagos.

The documentary depicts Nollywood as exciting, inventive and very local. The film industry in Nigeria is slowly getting off the ground and looking ahead to international distribution. The Askwith has quite a few Nollywood films along with African films. The films are usually very good dramatically though in some cases the production value isn't on par with main stream films. The films produced in Nigeria speak to local issues and larger global issues. If you want to see modern Africa without western interpretation Nollywood is a great place to begin. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 52509-D 52 minutes 2008

Posted by mcmike at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

The Last Days of the USSR

This documentary recounts the critical last two years of the USSR and sheds light on events that led to the sudden collapse of one of the most totalitarian empires of the 20th century.

This is one of those great historical events where you ask yourself, "What is happening?" and quickly ask "What just happened?" This documentary provides some insight into the fall of the Soviet Union. The documentary interviews the officials involved, while trying to document the series of events.
As a side note:
Our elected officials were just as unprepared as the rest of the world. However, it was George Bush's (41) greatest moment. George Bush was not able to use this as a political benefit for re-election. The world was sick and tired of the Cold War and its politics. The Cold War lasted almost 50 years and, considering the cost and toll of death, its end was less than fantastic. Without the east and west divisions and since their strategic relevance became meaningless many countries were left broke and ignored. Most countries struggled through the collapse; this left some countries unprotected both externally and internally leading to dictators, extremists and genocide. On a variety of levels the world is still dealing with the collapse today. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57141-D 52 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

Truck Farm

"Truck Farm tells the story of a quirky urban farmers. Using green roof technology and heirloom seeds, filmmaker Ian Cheney plants a vegetable garden on the only land he's got: his Granddad's old pickup. Once the mobile garden begins to sprout, viewers are trucked across New York to see the city's funkiest urban farms, and to find out if ameria's largest city can learn to feed itself."

Using the bed of a pickup is a great idea. It's also a good way to try your hand at urban farming. There are some drawbacks, weight of the dirt, plants, water and water drainage can be a problem. The questions are answered here. The demonstrations offered provide information on how to set up an urban garden not only in your truck bed but also on the roof. There is a growing community of urban farmers across the United States. Some of our urban centers are not attracting new businesses. This seems to be a wonderful option for the citizens to reclaim the space for much needed fresh foods and city governments to utilize vacant property. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57026-D 48 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)