Contest: Blue Like Jazz

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 4:00 am

I am thrilled to give away a copy of one of my favorite films of the year, Blue Like Jazz.  Director Steve Taylor raised the money for the film $10 at a time on Kickstarter.  Fans of the inspirational book by Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, were eager to provide backing for a movie version of Miller’s story of his journey from a very strict fundamentalist upbringing to his studies at one of the most free-thinking schools in the world, Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Taylor told me about adapting a book of essays on spirituality into a movie:

I read it six years ago over Christmas and it’s not the sort of book you put down and say, “I see this movie in my head!”  But it struck me as, this would make a great movie, particularly that part about that guy growing up as a suburban youth as a Southern Baptist, really conservative culture, and then ending up at Reed College.  It would be hard to imagine a more opposite place. So I showed up for a reading, and they had a line wrapped around the block, and afterwards I pitched him the idea and from the beginning, told him, “Look, I think this’ll make a great movie, but I would love to end it with the confessional scene which is a really powerful scene in the book.  The big change I’d like to propose is that in the book, he’s a thirty-year old writer who lives off campus and audits classes. I just think a more interesting movie story would be if you were a college student.” You know, usually authors understandably are very protective about their work and what they’ve written, and particularly if it’s memoir-ish, but he just immediately sparked to that.  I think he would tell you it’s because he’s seen too many books, memoirs in particular, turned into movies where they tried to stick exactly to the book and it made for a bad movie.  He recognized that it’s a different craft, and that the goal is to keep the truth but to make a compelling movie story.

The movie achieves that goal.  To enter the contest, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Blue” in the subject line and tell me a book you like about spirituality or inspiration.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only.)  I’ll pick a winner on September 9.  Good luck!

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Contests and Giveaways Spiritual films

Tribute: Michael Clarke Duncan

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm

The towering, powerful, magnetic actor Michael Clarke Duncan has died at age 54.  Best remembered for his Oscar-winning performance in “The Green Mile” as a prisoner with extraordinary grace and powers of healing, Duncan showed off his skill as a comic actor in films like “The Whole Nine Yards.”  But in that film, as in many others, he was naturally cast as a tough guy, taking advantage of his 6’5″, 315 pound presence and deep, powerful voice.  He worked as a bouncer and bodyguard in real life and he played bouncers and musclemen on screen as well.  He provided voices for animated films “Brother Bear” and “King Fu Panda” and action video games like “Saints Row” and “Soldier of Fortune.”  Most recently he starred in the television series, “The Finder.”

May his memory be a blessing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FCWXTH0XD8

 

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Actors Tribute

Contest Winners! Chimp and Magic Schoolbus

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Thanks to all who entered!  For those who entered but forgot the address — please try again and remember the address next time!

Magic School Bus: The Complete Series

Dyer C, Houston TX

Chimpanzee
Mary K, San Diego CA

Geza K, Vancouver WA

Andrew C, Bronx NY

 

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Contests and Giveaways

Bessie Coleman: Pioneering Black Woman Aviator

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I am delighted that the small publishing firm I founded, Miniver Press, has produced our first Kindle ebook.  Today, on the anniversary of the first public flight of a black woman in the United States on this date 90 years ago, John B. Holway’s new book about Bessie Coleman is available for 99 cents. Bessie Coleman: Pioneering Black Woman Aviator is the story of a young woman from the cotton fields of Texas, half African-American and half Cherokee, who was told that the brand-new skill of flying was beyond the capacity of women and minorities.  When no one in the US would teach her to fly, she learned French and went to France to attend flight school.  When promoters told her that only white people could buy tickets to see her barnstorming shows, she told them they had to sell tickets to everyone.  She was romanced by a gangster, a prince, and the heir to a chewing gum fortune.  And no one knows if the plane crash that killed her was an accident or premeditated murder.

It is an amazing story, and it is thrillingly told by John Holway, author of many books about 20th century figures.  His book about the Tuskegee Airmen was the basis for the George Lucas film, “Red Tails.”  Coming soon from Miniver Press is a fascinating book by an insider about the recording of the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” in time for the 50th anniversary of the song’s release on October 5, 1962.  And I’ve got a new series called “Must-See Movies,” with the first three coming out before the end of September.  Stay tuned!

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Books

Documentaries about Work

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

Documentary filmmaker David Kraus is making a series of documentaries about work.  He says his films capture “the sights, sounds, and textures of different American jobs, without the accompaniment of interviews or a musical score. Each chapter reveals the surprising, engaging, even redemptive routines of hard-working men and women across the country.  Although each film is humble in its approach, seen as a whole the WORK series is epic in scope, creating a significant historical document of modern American life.”  Films so far are “Preacher,” “Sheriff,” “Musician,” and “Professor,” and Kraus invites anyone to suggest future subjects.

There are a number of classic documentaries about work including Salesman by the Maysles brothers, Harlan County, U.S.A. by Barbara Kopple, and Frederick Wiseman’s series, including “Store,” “Model,” “Hospital,” and “Meat.”

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Documentary
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