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Monday, October 12
"So, I'm not sure why I decided to watch these during this CRAZY time of uncertainty!  The first episode was deadly dull and had way too much information delivered too quickly. The second episode was a little more engaging, but for the most part, a lot of this was over my head--risk, probability, etc. BUT...I DID learn about the term "black swan" which was mentioned in both lectures; referring to something that had never happened before and/or no one knew about. Apparently REAL black swans were discovered in Australia but prior to that, no one knew they existed."
 


Monday, September 28
"I really enjoyed this documentary on yoga gurus. It was filmed in India and consists of many interviews with current yoga teachers. Included are Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, of the Kundalini yoga camp, as well as Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in India as well as the founder of the Hindu Jain Temple in Pittsburgh. The cinematography nicely captures the vibe in India, and the various interviews capture the essence, philosophies and many different flavors of yoga. Watching it was a kind of spiritual retreat at home. I recommend this one for those interested in the teachings, as well as the practice, of yoga."
 


Monday, September 21
"This film is about two Australian sprinter friends/mates that face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey during WWI. A film about the graphic futility of war and the price the two friends paid. I thought this was a moving and emotional film with an excellent cast."
 


Tuesday, September 15
"I hadn’t heard of this movie but, like both actors and the plot, it intrigued me. John’s character, retired and divorced, spends all his money stockpiling his shelter (yes, toilet paper, too!) for when our country gets invaded and suddenly, the world as we know it will be gone, including the internet! He meets Ronnie, a woman who’s lost her husband and child, while shopping, and a relationship develops. This is really more of a character study and slow moving in terms of plot; however, there are some comic and poignant elements to this story (which is not so far-fetched in terms of today’s pandemic reality)!"
 


Monday, September 7
"This movie is very graphic and harsh but inspiring and heart wrenching. The ending makes a viewer hopeful and sad all at the same time. I walked away realizing everyone's life is different and what everyone wants out of life is unique. Some find peace in a place of solitude, while others strive for something more. It emphasizes the importance of good relationships and being able to find those you can rely on. That way they can help you get past the darkness in the world. If you cry do not worry because you are not the only one. If you do not cry…why? 
One thought I hope you walk away with after this movie is, never give up even in the darkest times.
(Disclaimer: I did fast forward on some parts because I could not handle some scenes.)"
 
 


Monday, August 31
"I have always wanted to learn how to draw but I could never find time to learn. I then found The Great Courses How to Draw on Kanopy and I was hooked. The Professor is a very informative instructor and his demonstrations are easy to understand. You will not learn how to draw specific things but how to do it. With this program, you gain tools and discover how to use them to produce various drawings. I’m enjoying this series and I hope to improve my drawing skills! I recommend this course to anyone who ever wanted to draw."
 


Tuesday, August 25
"I loved this movie, a modern classic. It is subtitled, but the acting and filming make it easy to follow. It tells the story of the widower Ove, his life after his wife's death (grumpy and angry) and his ultimate redemption and transformation. He finds within himself, with the help of others who need him, great love, compassion and generosity. The bittersweet story is captivating and heartwarming. You will definitely need a hanky."


Tuesday, August 18
"This is an underrated film that I really enjoy because it is light hearted. The main character fails epically at work and pretty much just wants to quit life. His innovative ways to quit life are interesting to say the least. Then his dad passes and he takes a trip home. The film takes us through his walk as he learns to remember and find the good things in life worth living for. The movie ends on a high note even though there is loss. Do not miss the scene about exit 60B. I laughed so loud at that part in the film. How did he miss the exit?"


Monday, August 10
"This slice of life film follows Carol, a retirement aged but not totally retirement ready woman, over the course of a few weeks. It is mainly a "chick flick" for sure, but could appeal to a wider audience with its themes of loss, love and friendship. Carol suffers a personal loss and makes a friend of a much younger man. These two occurrences change her routine up and she begins to look at herself and her life in a new way, as well as to bring back some of the things from the past that she had let go but still loved. It was a cutely quirky movie, with likeable characters and good acting. It was a simple film with a simple message, but was enjoyable and entertaining."


Monday, August 3
"This documentary follows Samuel Johns, a Native Alaskan Athapaskan hip-hop artist and recovering alcoholic as he uses his Facebook group "Forget-me-not" to help homeless Alaskans in Anchorage to get back to their homes once again. He scours the streets in search of these people, hears their stories and provides them with plane tickets back to their original villages. He uses both his rap music and native drum to educate adults and especially children of all ages of the dangers of drug and alcohol use, and the devastation it can cause. He also joins in with other native peoples, such as the Standing Rock Sioux, to stand with them as they protest against violations of their rights and lands. I found this documentary to be an inspirational look into lives gone astray, and the power of hope and caring to get them back on track. Samuel Johns' story is one that will renew faith in our ability to both heal ourselves and help others."


Monday, July 27
"The Last Black Man in San Fransico is a moving tale based on the real life character of Jimmie Fails. Jimmie and his best friend Mont try to reclaim the Victorian style house that his grandfather built in 1946, in the now gentrified Filmore District of San Fransico. This tests Jimmie and Mont's friendship and sense of belonging in the place they call home. Visually stunning--this story has so many layers and emotion."


Monday, July 20
"Episode 2 of this two-part miniseries about the horse focuses on ways in which humans began to rely on horses in their civilizations, and how we actually changed them. Natural selection and adaptation altered the horse over time into hundreds of different breeds, perfectly adapted to their environment and work. Through personal stories of horses and their people, we learn of the myriad ways horses were used, and how they changed the course of our history as well. Whether it be the Blackfoot tribe of Native Americans that still compete in "Indian Relays" or reconstructing a chariot and testing it out in modern times in a mock battlefield, Equus: Story of the Horse gives us a look into the continuing and changing relationship between man and horse, our stories inextricably intertwined. I would recommend this series for both nature and horse lovers."


Monday, July 13
"This movie was similar to others I had previously watched in the context of taking away human emotions. I had high hopes because I liked the other films like Equilibrium but to be completely honest I am not a fan of this film. The majority of the film was just displaying sexual tension and emotions between a couple. The description provided was accurate when it stated a “forbidden and passionate romance”. It was never explained why emotions and couples are a “disease” in society. Quite a few people are shown defecting. Then the downward spiral begins in the main character where emotions come back and he becomes a stalker. I wish they had focused more on science. The one thing I can say I did like was the electronic tables they work with in the movie. I would like to have one of those."


Monday, July 6
""Equus: Story of the Horse" is a well-researched and well-presented documentary of mankind's helper and sidekick, the horse. Part 1 of the two-part miniseries focused on the origins of the horse, going all the way back 56 million years ago to the "Dawn Horse." It then follows the evolution of this prehistoric animal into the modern horse we know today. Through interviews with influential horse people, including trainers, whisperers, conservationists and an equine psychologist, we get an inside look into the world of the horse and its relationship with man. This is an informational and extraordinary documentary, filled with beautiful footage of horses in their environment and lots of insights into the world of the horse. I would recommend it for horse lovers, nature lovers and those with an interest in anthropology as well."


Monday, June 29
"The early life of author Astrid Ericsson Lindgren is explored in this Swedish biographical drama. While her childhood was a happy and carefree one, Astrid Ericsson yearned for independence and adventure. At the age of sixteen her life begins to expand beyond her conservative family when she interns with the local newspaper editor Blomberg. When Astrid discovers she is pregnant with his child she voyages to Denmark to give birth to her son in secrecy. After refusing Blomberg’s marriage proposal, Astrid begins a years-long quest to be reunited with her son, who has been left in foster care. While doing so, this extraordinary woman finds courage, resourcefulness, and tenacity to move her life forward. These trying experiences serve her well as she becomes a successful author of many works including her classic Pippy Longstocking. Highly recommended!"
 


Monday, June 22
"This short but sweet documentary looks back at the ever-popular Fred "Mister" Rogers and the show he created and starred in for 33 years. Hosted by Michael Keaton, who appeared on the show (and worked on the set behind the scenes as well), it tells the story of Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood through interviews with celebrities whose lives were touched by him. What was so endearing and universally loved about Mister Rogers was his ability to make you feel as if he were speaking directly to you, as well as his playfulness and ability to put together thoughtful, useful, and educational entertainment for children. I enjoyed the walk down memory lane with such icons as Yo-Yo Ma, Tony Bennett and others, who shared their stories and experiences. It also includes many scenes from the show over the years. It  I would recommend this documentary to anyone who recalls feeling loved and personally seen by Mister Rogers, beloved to so many children and people everywhere."


Monday, June 15
"It's about a woman, Florence Cathcart, who is a hoax exposer. She visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a ghost child. Everything she believes in begins unraveling as she finds herself part of the ghost child. This film is a must see for those who like creepy and scary movies. A great Halloween movie."


Monday, June 8
"This was a very interesting, approachable, well-put-together and not too heavy documentary about Siddhartha Gautama, who later became "The Buddha." The film follows a group of pilgrims taking a train trip across India to visit five historic places significant to the Buddha's journey to enlightenment, while telling the Buddha's life story. Stops include his birthplace, a few of the areas he visited along the way, the place where he attained enlightenment, and his final resting place. The documentary is informative but also sets a spiritual and cultural mood, using sacred chant and classic Indian music, as well as footage of the country and its people. We also get the perspective of one particular pilgrim and follow his reactions to his experiences along the way. I would recommend this film to anyone interested in the Buddha, yoga, spirituality or history in general. The piece also serves as a spiritual lesson in its own right, by recounting the Buddha's teachings and their meaning."


Monday, June 1
"Parts of this movie are indeed “fantastical” in an over-the-top kind of way. A family of hippies, including six children, live in the forest somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. During this current pandemic, their lifestyle doesn’t seem so far-fetched -- they're totally self-sufficient, “off-the-grid,” growing and hunting their own food, physically fit, incredibly educated via home-schooling and adept at all manner of survival skills. While some may totally embrace “power to the people” and “stick it to the man” as concepts (I do!), this movie does make one think about societal norms and “how far is too far?” when advocating for one’s beliefs and values."


Monday, May 25
"Set in the 1930s, it's a film about the Holocaust. A thought provoking and troubling drama of the relationship between a German and his Jewish friend as the power of the Nazis rises. An interesting example of the dangers and the consequences of naivety in our recent past. Well acted (Viggo Mortensen) and well written."


Monday, May 18
"Amy is an Oscar-winning look at the turbulent life of the talented, modern jazz singer Amy Winehouse. Through a collection of candid personal videos and laced throughout with her music, Amy weaves an engaging and personal look into her life and career. The documentary details her early life in London, told in family videos and interviews with her friends. We are then taken on a back-stage look at the rise of her career with early recording sessions. Her difficulties with fame and addiction are presented in a sensitive and respectful way. Her unique voice is highlighted with footage of performances, and often gives us the inspirations behind her lyrics. In all, Amy offers an in-depth into her personality, her relationships, her career and her downfall. I would recommend Amy to anyone who enjoys music, especially jazz, as well as to those who are interested in what made her tick."


Monday, May 4
"This award winning independent film is a true story of a man, Zanis Lipke, a blue collar worker who was honored as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations" for his heroic deeds during WWII. He saved thousands of local Jews from Nazi persecution and certain death. Powerful and suspenseful!"


Monday, April 27
"I knew this was a classic but I had never seen it. I was prepared to cry (heads up from my daughter!) but I didn't know why; and yes, I did! Such a true tale of small town life with all its challenges and quirky characters and the love of family, not to mention an incredibly young Leonardo DiCaprio!!"