Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
The theme for this month is: IDENTITY & MEMORY: Am I who I remember, or who I forgot?
We are blessed with crazy weather–warmish days, freezing nights. I warned our tulip tree that by blossoming early, it was living on the edge; & few days ago after several of our frosty nights, 95% of the blossoms have been blighted, & have turned brown. I face this daily reminder of my prophesy, & it saddens me to look at it; sort of alive, sort of not.
This provides a bit of a segue into our theme, with Alzheimer’s being the thread that weaves all three films together: STILL ALICE, & IRIS.
Douglas Barnhart wrote: I had the privilege of seeing this at Sundance–& it was easily the most memorable film experience of my life.
The film took three years to shoot, where the director stayed with social worker, Dan Cohen the whole time. As we watch the movie, we witness the modern equivalent of a miracle with the therapy, & the process of taking a good idea that exists outside the narrow confines of medical acceptance, & never giving up on it until it succeeded.
Dr. Bill Thomas wrote: “Nursing homes are an experiment that has lasted 50 years, & it is failing–both professionally & emotionally. It is foremost a business model that makes a fortune for some. I mean, why is it that I can write a prescription for a med that costs a thousands dollars a month, & no one bats an eye–yet if I want to give a forty dollar iPod & earphones to a resident, there is a ton of resistance.”
ALIVE INSIDE (2014)
Written & Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett @ 78 minutes.
The film features Dan Cohen, Louise Dueno, Oliver Sacks, & Dr. Bill Thomas.
Oliver Sacks has written a book: MUSICOPHILIA: Tales of Music & the Brain.
Synopsis: This is a powerful Documentary about Dan Cohen, founder of MUSIC & MEMORY, using music as therapy to fight memory loss & restore a stronger sense of self to those who are suffering from it.
This film is the winner of “Best Documentary” at 5 Film Festivals, including Sundance. It had a budget of 600K, & has only earned back about half of it.
Director Michael Rossato-Bennett had made a couple of short films, & documentaries, when he met Dan Cohen, who talked him into shooting his therapy sessions for one day.
The first resident on camera was “Henry”, a 92 year old who had been at the facility for nine years, was non-verbal, sat with his head down, eyes closed. Cohen put the headphones on him, & he was listening to Cab Calloway’s big band. Henry opened his eyes, began weeping & smiling, he began to sing loudly, & talk a mile a minute, & as the director said, “It was like his soul came up”.
That five minute segment was put up on YouTube as THE STORY OF HENRY, & it went viral in a few hours.
Director Bennett was “hooked”. This film has changed his life, made the organization MUSIC & MEMORY successful; donations flowed, people began to volunteer. There are 1500 nursing homes in this country. Dan Cohen has helped thousands of elders with dementia in over 500 of them.
Bennett has now got several documentaries in various stages of development, through his new production company, PROJECTOR MEDIA.
Rob Thomas of MADISON MOVIE wrote: “We are made to age”, says director Bennett about half way through ALIVE INSIDE, which may be the most radical statement you will hear in a movie theater all year.”
Brian Orndorf Of BLU-RAY.COM wrote: “this delivers significant emotion with an uneasy topic, finding a rich sense of hope in the seemingly hopeless inevitability of aging.”
I have to say, while previewing this film, to insure its quality as a DVD for us to screen at CSL, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Sure, I am a sentimental guy, more so as I age; yet I was brought to tears a dozen times. What you witness has to be experienced–words can not convey the visceral emotional truth you take part in. These days, we are so used to Reality TV, which has always been a scripted lie sold as truth–it is disarming to view miraculous transformations that defy medical explication. We are told that the part of the brain that allows music to be warehoused is not touched by any form of dementia.
Nikola Grozdanovic of THE PLAYLIST wrote: “ALIVE INSIDE contains a tiny revolution within its message–& will likely end up being one of the most important documentaries of the year.”
ROTTEN TOMATOES rated the film at 73% Critic’s Approval with a 93% Audience Approval. The IMDb rated it at 8.1 stars.
Of course, there are those sarcastic reviewers on the other end of the spectrum, like Ben Sachs of the CHICAGO READER who wrote: “The movie effectively bullies you into feeling good, with its emotional hard sell & superfluous CG imagery–it might as well be a superhero movie.”
Undoubtedly, the films picked for this month, with so many members of the Club already being in the autumn or winter of their lives, will spark an incredibly spirited discussion on Wednesday, March 18th.
So be absolutely sure to mark your calendars, & join us this Friday, March 13, 2015, while we screen this important, meaningful, film, ALIVE INSIDE. It will be shown at the Center for Spiritual Living (CSL), the church building that we rent for our screenings, meetings, parties, & events. It is located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of Division & J Streets, across the street from the Group Health Hospital.
Arrive early, around 6:30 p.m., & join many of us downstairs in the kitchen area for fun, fellowship, & snacks. It is permitted to bring snacks & beverages, including wine & beer, to share with others. Please remember to clean up after yourselves before coming upstairs to enjoy the movie. There is no food or drink allowed in the sanctuary during the screening.
There will be a donation box upstairs by the entrance to the sanctuary. All donated funds will go to help pay the rent for the space, & other Club expenses; such as membership cards, business cards, & flyers. Our biggest expense is for the Screening License annually, allowing us to show movies to the public.
Diane Jensen will have the 2015 TFC Membership Cards available. The cost of membership annually is still a low $20.00–unchanged for all 12 years of the Club’s existence. This year the card is graced with Lauren Bacall. ALIVE INSIDE will screen at 7:15 p.m., & it runs 78 minutes, so the curtain will fall before 9 p.m. See you at the movies!