Quickie Review: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

“Sesame Street” is a timeless classic and this documentary helps explain why. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street takes a deep dive into the heart and soul of the long-running children’s show, with a focus on its creators, including socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett, writer/director Jon Stone and the name most people are familiar with, Muppets creator Jim Henson. Just as I learned a lot as a kid watching “Sesame Street,” I learned a lot watching this documentary, including how it got the name Sesame Street; the vital integration of music into the program; the very deliberate and trailblazing efforts to show diversity and reach inner-city kids; the crafting of the show’s curriculum, carefully cultivated by a team of professional educators and television writers; and the cast of characters on-camera and behind the scenes who became a family themselves. And who knew that Holly Robinson Peete’s father played the original “Gordon” on the show?!

Arty Chick’s Oscar Ballot

Update: I began my Oscar viewing thinking the show was fun and creative, but it went totally off the rails about half way through and ended in the most abrupt and confusing way possible, mostly because I think they assumed that Chadwick Boseman was going to win and they’d go out on an emotional note, and then he didn’t. Please, please next year, make it a show worth watching.  As for my ballot, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to get a lot of them right, and I was entirely correct! But I did get those surprises I asked for.  I only got 10/23, and I stand by my choices. I’ve annotate my original with the winners *bolded*.  😊. 

Between the two of us , we saw most of the films that are nominated this year and reviewed most of them here at Chickflix, so if you’re filling out a ballot (here’s one you can download), you can use this to read up on all the ones you might have missed, though we did miss a few. But it’s also my ballot, with my picks *bolded*. I’ll say right up front, I know a lot of my choices are non-mainstream and I won’t win any pools with this ballot, but I’m okay with that!

So happy Oscars! Here’s hoping the producers pull off a creative and entertaining pandemic-limited show. And I am hoping for a few surprises in the voting, too.

 

Tune in Sunday April 25, 2021 at 8pmET/5pPT on ABC.

Mainstream Chick’s Oscar Picks for 2021

UPDATE: In what I found to be a rather boring presentation of the awards, I ended up with a score of 16/23. Not too bad all things considered. It was a weird year in film – and life. I look forward to next year and hope it is filled with more joy – and music! -hb

Let’s just go ahead and make it official – my picks for the 93rd annual Academy Awards being handed out Sunday, April 25, 2021 after a long COVI-Delay. I discussed them all with my cinematic nemesis Charlie Juhl on a recent episode of “The Cinema Clash.” But just in case you missed it (wine wager and all) and/or haven’t filled out your own ballot yet… this may or may not help your chances of winning the remote office pool! I don’t know the order in which the awards will be announced, so I’m following the Oscars 2021 Play Along Ballot, except for Best Picture, which I’m saving for last. So, without further ado…

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 13

This week’s picks are heavy on big name directors: Louis Malle, Akira Kurasawa, Volker Schlöndorff, Ingmar Bergman, Billie August, Hal Ashby, and John Huston. Many of these are their first films and one is the director’s final film. And only one is a comedy. They hail from France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Hollywood. Most of them were Oscar nominees, and many of them winners.

Except for one they’re from the 70s and 80s.

The films are: Lacombe Lucien, Dersu Uzala, The Tin Drum, Fanny and Alexander, Pelle the Conqueror, Harold and Maude, and The Maltese Falcon. 

 

Review: My Octopus Teacher

With the Oscars just a few days away, I’m trying to catch up on all the ones that slipped by. I’d heard about My Octopus Teacher  from friends, but thought they must be exaggerating when they said they LOVED IT! I mean a movie about a man’s relationship with an octopus. Really? Well, now I get it. It is amazing filmmaking! And it’s in the running for Best Documentary for good reason. It’s a beautifully shot, touching story that teaches us all a thing or two about a creature we probably haven’t give much credit to for its intelligence and ability to communicate, and also about how we humans miss out by giving short shrift to so many fascinating creatures all around us.

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2021

 

The Academy Awards show will take place this year on Sunday, April 25th, much later in the year than usual after it was pushed back 2 months because of the pandemic. As we get ready to fill out our ballots, the shorts are always the big question. So here’s a quick run-down on all three categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action.

Review: Thunder Force

The latest action-adventure comedy from celebrity couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy is not exactly a Thunder Force to be reckoned with. It’s barely watchable. So don’t be fooled by its cute trailer and impressive roster of actors. Thunder Force is a dud that takes way too long to get to what might be considered the good stuff if you’re in a forgiving mood… and happen to have a Netflix account… and managed to find some escapist value in critical bombs like Superintelligence, Tammy, Life of the Party, and the The Boss — all starring McCarthy and co-written and/or directed by Falcone. Seems their talents are far better served by other people’s material. And Octavia Spencer? The Academy-Award winner seemed to have far more fun playing super bad in the 2019 creepy horror movie Ma, and that wasn’t exactly a film to write home about.  Here, she’s a newly-minted superhero out to save the world — or at least Chicago — from genetically-altered supervillains known as “miscreants”.

Review: Slalom

Competitive sports are hell on the body and the mind. Even more so when you’re a teenager with no support system. In Slalom, Lyz (Noée Abita) is an ambitious and talented young skier who eyes the fulfillment of her dreams when she’s accepted at a prestigious ski training school in the French Alps. She’s just 15-years-old and still in high school, and pretty naive about the world. But ski pro-turned-coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) sees something in her and takes her on as his special case, training her hard and pushing her to be the best. And it works. She starts winning all the big prizes. But that’s not all he wants from her. He’s a predator, a control freak, and a sleaze. And she’s too young to have to deal with that, especially when her mother is nowhere to be found. Writer-director Charlène Favier, herself a former competitive skier, says the film isn’t exactly autobiographical, but it depicts the uneven power dynamic between athletes and their coaches that can and has crossed the line all too frequently in the sport. It’s a powerful #metoo film with great performances.

Review: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Talk about a film that’s hard to watch! This Oscar nominee from Bosnia and Herzegovina tells the horrifying story of the days leading up to the 1995 massacre of 8,000+ Bosnian Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. The central character is Aida (Jasna Duricic), a school teacher from the town and also a translator for the UN peacekeeping forces there during the wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. When the Bosnian Serbian army rolls into town, despite the fact that the United Nations had declared it a UN safe area two years earlier, the Muslim citizens flee to the nearby UN camp looking for shelter and safety. Aida’s husband and sons are among those fleeing. But as she can see from inside, the UN troops are left high and dry by the UN command in New York, and they’re outgunned by Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic) and his army. And as the time ticks by Aida does everything she can to save her family, though if you know the history, you know it cannot end well.

Review: TINA

To say that Tina Turner is a music icon is a huge understatement. She’s the original Queen of rock & roll and a force of nature. I was too young to appreciate her when she was with Ike and first made her name.  But when she made her comeback after leaving him in the 80s, I saw her on stage and she was electrifying! She was pushing 50, but she owned that stage, strutting up and down stairs in platform heels with the energy of someone half her age. I was in awe and kind of in love.  Not only was she a performer like no other, but her stage presence was that of a kind person who adored pleasing us all.  This new documentary from Oscar-winning directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin leads its audience through her turbulent life and career through interviews with Tina, and her friends and family, some never before seen video, and fabulous performance footage that makes you love her all the more. It’s the story of one of music’s greatest female performers who thankfully rose from the ashes after years in a violent relationship.