Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Does She Think She Is?

A documentary by Pamela Tanner Boll
Comments by Jolene McMaster
What is your view of woman’s societal role? How does your own struggle to create fit into your daily life? Do you have to choose to be either an artist or a wife and/or mother? Do you have to give up a professional career until your children are grown? I guarantee you’ll give some serious thoughts to your life as compared to the lives of those women featured in Pamela Tanner Boll’s documentary WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?.

If you missed the opportunity to attend the WIFT co-sponsored screening at Museum of Fine Arts Houston in May, then make a point to see this documentary at some point, even if you have to wait and purchase the DVD when made available to the public. It’s a well-conceived and beautifully executed documentary. Co-Director and Editor Nancy C. Kennedy was in attendance for the Q&A, and the reception following. Upon viewing it, you’ll be inspired by what you see, and you’ll want to watch this multiple times especially when you need the inspiration to go on with your journey toward a rewarding life that allows you the time to pursue creativity, if you measure fulfillment by something more than successful parenting.

Here’s the review written by Jeanette Catsoulis of “The New York Times:”
Five female artists explore the competing demands of muse and family in “Who Does She Think She Is?,” an engaging documentary about the struggle to create art while nurturing life. For Maye Torres, whose mountain home in New Mexico overflows with her paintings and sculptures, this has meant divorce, guilt and feeding her three sons on $24,000 a year. Janis Wunderlich, on the other hand, seems cheerfully adept at managing five children, a husband and a successful career as a sculptor. Only when we examine her fantastical, disturbing figures — often with rabbit ears and tiny, toothy creatures swarming over them — do we see explicit evidence of her internal conflict. Calmly directed by Pamela Tanner Boll, “Who Does She Think She Is?” is about answering the call to self-expression in the face of biological imperatives and cultural programming.
Though the documentary was written in support of women who can enjoy their children and their art without losing either, there’s something to be said for the artist who knows early in life where her or his passion lies, and can consider beforehand whether or not parenting might be best left to others.

The documentary’s Official Web Site is However, the press kit alone is worth preserving. It’s available for downloading at

Our thanks again to Ernie’s On Banks for providing the venue and snacks. Rick Haas, the owner, is film friendly. His place is great for wrap parties and other group gatherings, or just stop by for a cool one during these hot Houston summer days.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Review by Matt Piccirillo
Running time: 106 minutes
Rated R
Film Opens June 12, 2009

Matt’s Score: 8 popcorn buckets out of 10

If you are questioning yourself whether or not to see the PELHAM 1 2 3 because it looks like just another hostage film, I encourage you to take Pelham 1 2 3 for a ride because it is the most suspenseful action movie of the summer so far.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, the new Tony Scott film which stars Oscar winner Denzel Washington and John Travolta is my pick of the week. The film is based on the novel by John Godey. It is also a remake to the 1974 version called THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE. In case you were wondering, PELHAM 1 2 3 is the title because it is a subway that departed from Pelham Bay at 1:23.

After a slow opening, Scott comes back to deliver plenty of suspense building up to PELHAM 1 2 3’s final turn. Scott effectively uses good visual effects and cinematography supported by the strong screenplay written by Brian Helgeland. And by the way, Washington and Travolta are fun to watch as well.

Washington plays Walter Garber who works as a dispatcher at Rail Control Center in New York City while Travolta plays Ryder, a smart hijacking criminal who takes over PELHAM 1 2 3. Washington and Travolta share some entertaining scenes together even though they are rarely in a single frame at the same time. Most of the time you are watching engaging conversations from Garber who is at his desk at the Rail Control Center and Ryder who is at his spot aboard PELHAM 1 2 3.

Sure the story has been done several times, but Scott makes it work. The movie is entertaining and fun. It even brings out some laughs with some quirky one-liners by both Washington and Travolta.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is the one to see one, two, or even three times. So, don’t let it pass you by. I predict PELHAM 1 2 3 will crash the box office and haul away more than $100 million by the time it makes its last stop.– Matthew Piccirillo


Review by Rob McKinnon
(6/12/09) Rated: R
Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Tony Scott
Opens: June 12, 2009

Ordinarily I am less than enthusiastic regarding the release of yet another remake. For the most part, unless one is talking about a remake of a film from the 1950s or before, I usually find the remake simply isn’t needed and is usually (almost always) less good than the original. A film such as “The Day The Earth Stood Still” had a story line and a point of view to express. (Yes, I know it was made in the 50s and I know, sin of sins, it is in black and white, but many of my favorite films are in black and white and for films in the cinema noir genre, black and white adds to their visual effectiveness…but I digress.) The recent remake was just more of a CGI video game kind of film sans the subtleness of character, story arc, and point of view of the original.

Occasionally, however, a remake is made that maintains the story integrity of the original and provides an updated environment in which to present the story making it seem less “historical,” i.e., less “old timey” to the younger audience. If this is done without losing character development and the fullness of the story, the viewing experience can be every bit as enjoyable as the original. Just think of John Carpenter’s outstanding remake of “The Thing,” for example.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is another excellent remake. Though containing a number of changes from the original, it is just as engaging, exciting and as true to the book upon which it is based as the original which is a favorite of mine.

Denzel Washington delivers a thoroughly convincing and real portrayal of Walter Garber, the story’s protagonist. Unlike in the original where Walter Matthau’s Garber was a Transit Police Chief Lieutenant, Washington’s Garber is a Transit bureaucrat in equipment purchasing. This change allows us to relate to Garber’s feeling of being overwhelmed when thrust into the middle of a subway train hijacking and hostage taking. We expect an experienced police officer to be able to deal with such a situation, but a guy like us, untrained in hostage negotiations, is really being put through it.

As always, I don’t want to give away any plot points or surprises. Let me just say that if you are new to this story, you’ll have a really exciting ride and feel more than satisfied by the experience. If you are familiar with the original version, you’ll notice some story specifics and characterizations that are changed in this take on the story, but you are most likely to find the changes positive, allowing you to have a new experience with this story. My recommendation is watch them both and just hang-on for a tense and terrific ride. The original, now on DVD, is in my library and the remake, when it comes out on DVD, will be also.

My only criticism of the new version is a little too much shaky camera technique in the action scenes, but this is a matter of personal preference and I think the studios believe this is necessary to hold the younger audience. THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 is, however, a great evening’s entertainment and I highly recommend it. – Rob McKinnon