Film review: Boom Bust Boom (2015)

The housing related financial crisis caused devastation on a major scale and sent many people into homelessness and ruin. As a result, it has spawned a number of excellent films, both documentary (Requiem for the American Dream (2015), Inside Job (2010)) and feature (The Big Short (2015), Margin Call (2011)) that have sought to understand the causes and pin the blame.
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When revealing a film’s ending is a public service

Michael Heaton is a columnist and occasional film critic for the Plain Dealer, my local newspaper. In yesterday’s paper he does what film critics are never supposed to do and that is reveal the ending of the film he had just seen. The film is called Wiener-Dog by writer-director Todd Solondz and the review, that begins with the ending, is as brutal as anything that I have read. Here is a small sample.
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Foley artists and sound effects in films

I am fascinated by the way that films are made. There is so much going on behind the scenes to produce what seems so smooth and natural. I have posted many times about CGI and other visual effects but via David Pescovitz, I came across this short documentary about the production of sound effects in films. I had no idea that so much of the sound is added on later, and is not captured in real time by microphones that are hidden from the camera. In addition to getting the sound right, the timing is crucial.
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Film review: Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

Thanks to reader Norm, I was made aware of this short (73-minute) documentary that consists essentially of Noam Chomsky giving a tutorial explaining the roots of the rapidly growing inequality in the US and the world, with a backdrop of newsreel footage and animation illustrating his points as he goes along. The way I describe it sounds boring but in reality it is intensely absorbing since Chomsky is as lucid as ever.
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Film review: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)

This is an excellent documentary that deals with a complicated and troubled period in American history and the role in it of an organization that is still shrouded in controversy. The documentary covers the six-year period from 1967 to 1973 that saw the rise and fall of the original Black Panthers. It uses archival footage, mixed with current interviews of former members who look back on those events and provide perspective.
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Standing up for the things that matter at the time they matter

Watching the film Trumbo that I reviewed yesterday brought to mind a very old post of mine that quoted Trumbo extensively from a moving letter he wrote to a friend in 1967 that was published in the March 2004 issue of Harper’s magazine (subscription required). It asks us to reflect on what is really important in life, what is worth making a stand for, and how people use the flag and country to shift blame away from themselves for their unprincipled behavior.
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