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Showing posts from January, 2017

Evening in America: 31 Years After the Challenger Explosion

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January 28, 1986. We were out of school that day for snow. My best friend, Donna, and I were riding sleds off the strip mine across the road from my house.  My mother came out onto the porch and hollered, telling us to come in "right now". She didn't say why but her words telegraphed over the frozen air to us that something bad had happened.  I had not wanted to miss school that day because we were scheduled to watch the launch. There had been a special station set up for schools to watch via NASA and it was always exciting when the massive television was wheeled into our classroom on its metal stand.  This was a time when children were very interested in the space program and the space shuttles had made us even more interested.   There were action  figures and model kits and toys dedicated to the space missions.  We learned all about the astronauts in class. We were the children of the Cold War, still three years from the fall of the Berlin Wall, and there was national p…

Favorite Movies of 2016

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1.  Manchester by the Sea is a heartbreaker that feels so real you leave the cinema feeling as if the story has happened to someone you know well and care about.  I think it also boasts the best performances of the year in Casey Affleck's heartbroken handyman and Michelle Williams as a woman doing everything she can to survive.  Rarely does a film so well use sense of place as this one.  It was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, who also made You Can Count on Me, and--a favorite film of mine--Margaret, an underrated masterpiece inspired by a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem.

2. Sunset Song.  Terrence Davies is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers ever yet this film didn't make much of a splash in America.  It should have, as it is the film that has most haunted me this year with its sweeping scenes of farmers working their fields or the rising chorus as they stroll to church (as shown in the short scene I'm embedding below).  It's a film that uses words like "g…