Monday, January 18, 2021

Film Review of Amazon's Mangrove - Small Axe: Steve McQueen Swings an Axe at Racial Prejudice in the Year's Best Film


By Ashton Samson

“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.”  - Bob Marley

This quote is at the heart of 2020’s Small Axe, a brilliant and very timely new effort from director Steve McQueen. Being an anthology series of five films that takes place between the 60’s and the mid 80’s in the West Indian area of London, it covers a wide range of ideas. 

Among them is the “celebration of all that community has succeeded in achieving against the odds,” (McQueen) an exploration of racial prejudice, Black resilience, resistance and freedom. Part of the magic is in the individuality of each film, which is fresh and different from the previous installment.

Despite their individuality, fundamentally each of them are linked together by the phrase small axe that McQueen took from the Bob Marley song of the same name. Marley’s lyric, “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe,” emphasizes his belief that the imposing and oppressive established order can be brought down or changed for the better with small, but peaceful acts. McQueen’s Small Axe puts this belief on display in all five, with the best of them being my favorite of the year, Mangrove

Females in Entertainment: Dorothy Papadakos Talks about Her Book Entitled The Kingdom of Winter, What we Can do to Save the Planet and Why Children Are Our Hope

Interview by Suzanne Ordas Curry

Dorothy Papadakos is setting out to make a difference. And she is doing it by reaching children. Her novel, The Kingdom of Winter, has not only become beloved by those children (and adults) that are reading it but has also become invaluable as a teaching tool in several districts, and with good reason. The book is all about our planet, our physical world and it's changes and what we must be doing to preserve it, It's quite the heavy and overwhelming subject but through her writing and plot devices she manages to make it engaging and adventurous. Read on to find out more about this book and what other projects she is taking on. And oh.. find out about just how much she admires Greta Thunberg.

Heroic knights, starry dogs... tell me what  The Kingdom of Winter is about.

Dorothy Papadakos: The book is about science-savvy kids who enter a realm never revealed to humans until now: the Kingdoms of the Seasons.  This incredible climate science adventure with heroic knight Sir Windham the North Wind takes them into wild & wonderful nature on land, in sea and sky and into our galaxy where the Great 88 Constellations live — lead powerfully by Orion and his starry dogs Canis Major & Canis Minor. 

They all have one goal: stop the Fire Witch (global warming) and cool down Earth with the return of Winter on Winter Solstice. If they succeed, the other three Kingdoms — Spring, Summer & Autumn — can get back into their 3-month rhythms. Earth's astonishing built-in mechanisms, at work 24/7 in our soil, water and atmosphere, re-awaken to keep the planet in balance. But … the Fire Witch was just a minion of the true villain who emerges in book #2, The Kingdom of Spring, with a verrrry different climate plan for Earth … a Fifth Season.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Review: The Queen's Gambit is A Boon for Chess, but it's so Much More: Read Why you Don't Need to know a thing about Chess to Understand What this show is About

By Beth Abramson Brier

The Queen’s Gambit? Check!


In the summer of 1971 Mike Turner, the heartthrob lifeguard at our swim club, taught me to play chess.  hat and the fact that I share my first name with the protagonist of The Queen’s Gambit is where, much to my disappointment, the similarities between us end.  Anya Taylor-Joy who plays Beth delivers an Emmy award worthy performance as an unexpected child chess prodigy who enters the mostly male ranks of competitive play. 


Set during the Cold War, #TheQueen’sGambit is a seven part miniseries that has become an international success as Netflix’s most watched series.  If you haven’t yet seen it because obviously you’ve been busy following the news of “Kimye’s” rumored divorce or perhaps you’ve been hiding under the covers*- start binge watching right away.  


And don’t worry that you haven’t finished or even started watching The Crown.  It wasn’t until halfway through the first episode  that I learned that The Queen’s Gambit has nothing to do with Victoria/Elizabeth/Diana/Kate/Meghan/BabyArchie, “Brexit”, or digestive biscuits.  It has everything to do with the rather unlikely subject of chess in the even more unlikely backdrop of an orphanage in Kentucky. Wait!  Don’t go back to bed.  Let me explain why chess boards are selling out faster than Gwyneth’s candles.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival Goes Virtual Feb. 27th - March 3rd 2021: Over 85 Films from the US and Around the World Including Free Presentations of Interest to Filmmakers and Film Fans Alike

This year the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary. In keeping with the tradition of showcasing a broad array of quality films from local and international fillmmakers, the show will go on but virtually. Though nothing can replace the hustle and bustle of the RGIFF Red Carpet and parties in beautiful downtown Ridgewood, holding the festival virtually means that now anyone can view it from the comfort of their own home on their own device.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Film Review: A Case of Blue Features Award-winning Performances by Stephen Schnetzer and Annapurna Sriram - It's A Story of Modern and Vintage Love

By Beth Brier Abramson


We have have spent most of the last year searching.  First for toilet paper.  Then Lysol wipes.  Lately any stray Xanax that might have slipped into the fuzzy abyss of our purse.  But - good news - the search for what to watch next is over.  Dana H. Glazer’s new film  A Case of Blue is not only what we have been searching for.  It is about what we are searching for.  The timing couldn’t be more perfect.


Stephen Schnetzer delivers an award winning performance as Richard Flicker, a recently retired accountant. To fill his newly free days Richard pursues an old passion and takes up drawing classes.  It is there he encounters Amelia played by Annapurna Sriram (Feral, The Blacklist) the granddaughter and striking imagine of his first love, Marci. Neither Richard’s wife, Ellie (Tracy Shane), nor his best friend, Kenny (Ken Baltin) seems surprised by this improbable but not impossible coincidence.  Nuanced symbolism blurs where the past and the present intersect.  Pause. Go back.  Look carefully.  Now go back to the beginning.  Watch it again. You will need more popcorn.