Posts tagged ‘mama at the movies’

Mama at the Movies: Rivers and Tides

I have unabashedly, and with great success, manufactured an interest in the artist Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture in my children this summer; soon I’ll post pictures of our trips to see Spire, Stone River, and Storm King Wall. But in the meantime, here’s my latest Literary Mama column about watching the film about Goldsworthy’s work, Rivers and Tides:

My family has spent a lot of time in museums lately; both boys love to draw and paint, so we often take them to see works by other artists. We don’t stay long, but we’ll look closely at a painting or two, talk about what materials the artist used, wonder whether the painting was made outside or in a studio. I lift Eli up so he can see better, and we stop in the gift shop for a postcard of our favorite. But San Francisco is the home of a different kind of artwork, too: sculptures by a Scottish artist named Andy Goldsworthy that offer a quite different experience. The boys have reached their arms around his tall redwood Spire, climbed up and over Stone River, walked like tight rope walkers, arms outstretched for balance, along the path of Drawn Stone. We’ve sat in the dirt beneath Spire with a gathered pile of sticks and built our own miniature version; we did the same with pebbles at Stone River. These pieces are alive and accessible to them in a way a painting can never be; and for a pair of energetic kids, they’re just fun.

And so it occurred to me to show my kids the beautiful documentary about Andy Goldsworthy’s work, Rivers and Tides.

You can read the full column at Literary Mama; I’d love to hear your comments.

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Mama at the Movies; Away We Go

We interrupt this vacation blogging to announce that the latest Mama at the Movies column is now up at Literary Mama:

In the grand tradition of summer buddy movies, Sam Mendes’ new movie Away We Go presents a couple who take to the road. They’re not running from the law like Thelma and Louise or Manny & Lo, nor simply exploring, like the guys in Sideways; like road trippers from Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to Bree and Toby in Transamerica, Verona and Burt are trying to get home. The difference here is that they don’t know where home might be. Verona is six months pregnant, and the couple reminds me of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard in Make Way for Ducklings: they’re looking for a good place to raise their baby.

Please click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Mama at the Movies for Father’s Day: Mary Poppins and Finding Neverland

I found unexpected Father’s Day fodder in the films Mary Poppins and Finding Neverland; here’s an excerpt from my latest column:

As my family counts down the days to a summer trip to London, I decided to prepare my sons the way I know best: by watching movies about the place. Of course, my choices might not be the most realistic visions of the city, but we’re not ready for A Clockwork Orange or The Elephant Man here (we may never be). I wanted to show them the London created by my childhood reading, the London of corner flower shops, chimney sweeps, and nursery tea, the London of Mary Poppins. I’m planning to read the books with the boys on our trip, but at home we started with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Robert Stevenson’s 1964 musical film.

You can click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Who Does She Think She Is? in San Francisco!

For those of you in San Francisco and near by, don’t miss the screening next week of Who Does She Think She Is?, the documentary by Pamela Tanner Boll which profiles several mother-artists; the film will play at the Red Vic Movie House on Haight Street, Wednesday June 10th (2, 7:15, 9:15 PM) and Thursday June 11th (7:15, 9:15 PM). Pamela Tanner Boll will be present for Q&A; following screenings Wednesday at 2:00, 7:15 and Thursday at 7:15.

I’m just a little bit of fond of this film, as you may be aware; my column on it is here, and my interview with the director, Pamela Boll, is here. The film’s not out on dvd yet, so make the trip out to see it on the big screen!

An Interview with filmmaker Pamela Tanner Boll

As a college student, I interned with Women Make Movies, an organization that helps female filmmakers at every stage of their projects. I caught a glimpse of how difficult it was for women to get their stories to the screen, but I never saw into these women’s private lives, didn’t know if any were mothers; now that I’m a mother myself, I think about the intersection of motherhood and creativity all the time. So after I watched and wrote about the documentary, Who Does She Think She Is?, which profiles several mother-artists, I decided to interview the woman behind the film, director Pamela Tanner Boll. The result of that conversation has been published at Literary Mama this week; here’s a brief excerpt:

Caroline: How do you write a documentary film? Do you start with a loose script and then adapt based on interviews? Are there certain questions you have in mind before you begin, or do you leave yourself open?

Pam: I did not “write” the documentary until we began editing. I had a very firm conviction that I would follow these awesome amazing women as they made their way through their days, their art studios, their breakfast dishes, and errands, and loneliness and see what happened.

I wanted to stay open to the story. I did have certain questions, the main one being, what made it possible for these women to not give up on their dreams? What made it possible for each of them to believe in their voice, their talent, their truth despite lack of support and often, little recognition?

Caroline: Who are some filmmakers and writers you admire, or who influences your work?

Pam: I am more influenced by writers than filmmakers. I grew up reading, reading, reading. Some of my favorite books and authors are Virginia Woolf, especially To the Lighthouse; George Eliot’s Middlemarch; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; The Color Purple, just to name a few.

I was an avid movie watcher all throughout my childhood and early adult years. I loved all the Walt Disney films and the Tarzan series with Johnny Weismuller and Bonanza — big family dramas.

Click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Mama at the Movies: The Iron Giant

I always imagined that my kids and I would watch loads of movies together. We would start at home with sweet animated features like Toy Story or movies I loved as a kid, like The Red Balloon. Then as they got older, we would go out regularly, settling in with our salty buckets of popcorn to watch the latest family flick. It hasn’t worked out like that, though. Ben, at seven, has only seen one movie in a theater, a special screening of The Polar Express for a friend’s birthday. He lasted about ten minutes before he came out to the lobby, overwhelmed; the loud soundtrack and the huge projected images were just too much for him. Meanwhile, although I managed a few mom and baby movies when Eli was still a tiny nursling, I had to quit those screenings before he was nine months old; instead of sleeping quietly while I caught up on the latest releases, he wanted to watch and chat with the figures on screen. At four, he’s happy to watch the same movies at home that Ben has been watching for years: Curious George; Toy Story; The Little Prince. But I’m getting bored, and wanted to find something new that might suit their very different temperaments.

Read the rest of the column over at Literary Mama!

Mama at the Movies: The Business of Being Born

A couple days after my first son’s birth, I walked down the street of our busy neighborhood with my baby in a sling, awestruck. Everybody I looked at, I realized, every child, every adult, had come out of a woman’s body. I walked home slowly, mind-boggled at the wonder of it all. I was still a little stunned by my short, hard labor, and felt like I had been initiated into an amazing new society; I wanted to tell my birth story to anyone who would listen, and wanted to hear other women’s stories. Now, nearly four years after I gave birth to my second son, I still often find myself in groups of women that drift into sharing birth stories; we commiserate over past pains, cheer for supportive attendants, and, as we tell our stories, come to a better understanding of this sometimes joyous, sometimes traumatic, always transformative event.

Better understanding is the impulse behind the documentary, The Business of Being Born (2008). Producer Ricki Lake, unhappy with the interventions she experienced during her first child’s birth, set out to research American birth practices. She and director Abby Epstein (who became pregnant during the filming) dig up incredible documentary footage and still photos to create an informative, gripping film that should interest anyone concerned with healthcare in the United States, especially parents and parents-to-be.

Click on over to Literary Mama
to read the rest!

Mama at the Movies: Coraline

Coraline’s life is a nightmare.

She’s the new girl in town, an only child living in a creaky, leaky-windowed flat in a remote house at the top of a bare and ugly hill. Her neighbors — except for an annoying, talkative boy named Wybie — are old and eccentric. Her parents write about gardening but can’t be bothered to plant any flowers to beautify their uninviting surroundings, and they are too absorbed in work to pay any attention to their daughter.

Like a certain young Dorothy before her, Coraline, the main character of the gorgeous, scary, definitely-not-for-young-kids new animated film (Henry Selick, 2009) based on Neil Gaiman’s popular young adult novel, feels neglected and bored.

click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Mama at the Movies: Must Read After My Death

My latest column is up now at Literary Mama:

When I first learned I was pregnant, I started a journal on my computer; seven months into the project, my hard drive crashed and the most detailed journal I had ever kept was lost. Since then, I fill Italian paper notebooks that I buy in bulk at a local art store; I keep one next to my bed with a pen marking my place and the journals from earlier years are piled on a low shelf of my bedside table. If I ever had to flee the house, I would scoop the journals up on my way to get the kids.

I do this for myself, to keep hold of my sons’ fleeting childhoods and to make sense of my life. I reread the journals frequently. I am a researcher searching for patterns, seeking context or comfort in the midst of challenging periods, and I am a writer looking for anecdotes for my public writing. But I wonder sometimes, what will become of this private record when I’m gone? Will my children preserve it? Do I want them to read it? Will their children be interested in their grandmother’s life?

The documentary film Must Read After My Death (Morgan Dews, 2009) has me thinking about these questions of legacy and privacy more pointedly than usual. Filmmaker Morgan Dews composed the film entirely of the 300 pages of transcripts, fifty hours of audio diaries and Dictaphone letters, and 201 silent home movies he discovered after his grandmother Allis’s death; the boxes were all carefully labeled in thick black marker with her initials and a message: “Must Read After My Death.” The film makes a searing portrait of a typical American family, one that slips gradually, mysteriously, from happy to tragic while they all unwittingly document the change.

Click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest…

Mama at the Movies: Fly Away Home

Eli is standing by the side of my bed in his pjs, clutching his patch blanket, Little Blue Bear, Moosie, and his small pottery train engine. He is angling for some Saturday morning television. “Let’s watch the goose movie again, Mama!”

“Yeah!” adds Ben, walking down the hall, “Let’s watch the goose movie!”

“Do you want to watch any of the story,” I ask groggily, “or just the geese and planes?”

“Geese and planes!” they chorus happily, “Geese and planes!”

Click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!