Sunday, April 20, 2014

TFF2014 Day 5: 'Slaying the Badger' and 'Bad Hair'


Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault on the "Tour" in "Slaying the Badger." Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

UNTIL a body begins to understand the “Tour de France” or any cycling race, it just looks like a bunch of guys (usually) leisurely riding bikes. Anybody can do that, right?

Of course, a body never forgets how to ride a bike. However, there is bike-riding, and there is BIKE-RIDING. The Tour de France&Co are the latter. Not only does a body have to be fitter than an iron man and have the willpower of an elephant, one has to have one's wits.

All of these elements come into play in John Dower's “Slaying the Badger.” The documentary makes its world premiere today at the The 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

In “Slaying the Dragon,” Greg LeMond (now the only American to have legally won the Tour de France) reminisces about the 1986 race during which the reigning champion and GLeM teammate Bernard “The Badger” Hinault promises to help the Californian to victory.

In “Slaying the Dragon,” evidence suggests that The Badger didn't keep his word. Not so surprising in a sport that has more twists, turns and trauma than a winding French road. Except that the two men were teammates. GLeM looked up to BH.

There is trauma and drama in Mariana Rondon 's “Bad Hair” when 9-year-old Junior (Samuel Lange) makes an innocent enough request. Simply, the boy wants to straighten his beautiful mass of curls. Not forever, just for his yearbook photo.

His mother (Samatha Castillo) nearly has a cow, allowing her imagination to run far, far away with her. Imagine how this effects Junior? The film makes its U.S. premiere today. Watch and learn. (See video below).

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “The Search for General Tso,” “Brides,” “Champs,” “Under the Brick: The Lego Documentary” and “Below Dreams.”

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TFF2014 Day 4: Teacher and Pupil 'Keep on Keepin' On'

Justin Kauflin and Clark Terry at the piano in "Keep on Keepin' On. "Photo from "Keep on Keepin' On."

“KEEP on Keepin' On” is both a labor of love and testament to the fact that if you believe you can achieve.

The documentary from Alan Hicks follows over a four-year-period the teacher-student relationship between jazz master Clark Terry and blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin. It makes its world premiere today at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

“Keep on Keepin' On" is a love letter, master class and ode to current and future greatness all rolled into one. AH, a former student and band member of CT's, has confessed to knowing nothing about filmmaking when he decided to capture the special relationship between an old lion and a young club. Well done.

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “5 to 7,” “Gabriel,” “Life Partners,” “Super Duper Alice Cooper,” “Point and Shoot,” “Regarding Susan Sontag” and “Ballet 422” (see video at right).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Friday, April 18, 2014

TFF2014 Day 3:"Human Capital," & "I Won't Come Back

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Fabrizio Gifuni in “Human Capital.” Photo by Loris Zampelli.

IMAGINE reading the end of a novel first and the beginning last.

Knowing the end does not necessarily have to be a spoiler. A case in point is “Human Capital” starring Valeria Golino, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Fabrizio Gifuni. It makes its international premiere today at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

Paolo Virzì's film, based on the Stephen Amidon best-seller about an actual case, is further proof that all human life is not created equal. Someone dies but who should be/will be held accountable? Muddying the already murky waters, "Human Capital" is told from three different perspectives.

At the center of “I Won't Come Back” is an unlikely duo. A young woman (Polina Pushkaruk) and a girl (Victoria Lobacheva.) Leaving behind them painful episodes and in search of something better, they warily throw in together.

Ilmar Raag's, latest in its world premiere, is a buddy movie played out against the backdrop of an unforgiving Russian landscape. Hitchhiking adds another level of danger and derring-do.

Anya (Polina Pushkaruk) and Kristina (Vika Lobacheva) hit the road in "I Won't Come Back." Photo from Visit Films.

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “Ice Poison,” “Beneath the Harvest Sky,” “Life Partners” and “Loitering With Intent.” At the TFF2014 Drive-In is “Splash.” And also making a world premiere is “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” (stay tuned for more about it ahead of its premiere on HBO on 28 April).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Documentaries Steal Spotlight at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Ann Richards was the first female governor of Texas. Photos courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

“Poor George, he can't help it — he was born with a silver foot in his mouth,” Ann Richards famously observed about George W. Bush.

The political stalwart had a way with words and will be forever remembered by so many for that quip made during her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

The late former governor of Texas was well-known for her quick wit, but there was much more to this trailblazer as revealed in “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” from Keith Patterson and Phillip Schopper.

The film has its world premiere at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival on 18 April, the first of three screenings. TFF2014, which runs from 16 April to 27 April, opens with Time is Illmatic.

At TFF2014, the documentaries are the most interesting prospects. “Time is Illmatic” is One9’s dissertation on the hip hop artist Nas' 1994 seminal album, “Illmatic.”

Speaking of music, before Prince, Micheal Jackson and countless other reverent imitators there was "the hardest working man in show business" aka James Brown. In “Untitled James Brown Documentary” from director-writer Alex Gibney, is a portrait (1933-1974) of the legend and the man.

Another noteworthy documentary is Bert Marcus' “Champs.” Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, among them, literally fought their way out of poverty. The two champs will be around to jaw after the screening.

James Brown at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Elsewhere at TFF2014, new sponsor AT&T makes a grand splash with Film for All Friday (visit http://www.tribecafilm.com to learn about ticket availability.) It debuts on 25 April when 35 films will have free screenings, including the aforementioned “Time is Illmatic.”

Also included in Film for All Friday is Gia Coppola's directorial debut, “Palo Alto,” starring James Franco and Emma Roberts. Based on Franco’s “Palo Alto: Stories,” it concerns teen angst in that California city.

Closing out TFF2014 is Begin Again, John Carney's comedic meditation on a chance meeting that spawns a beautiful relationship. It stars Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Mark Ruffalo and Hailee Steinfeld.

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Autism Part 2: The Way It Is for William&Co.


HEAD'S UP: It's April. It's also National Autism Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, VEVLYN'S PEN contributor and autism counselor Ray Cepeda will address a different aspect of this neurological disorder. Everything from causes to potential cures to the latest research. An article will be published each Tuesday of the month.

BY RAY CEPEDA

WILLIAM'S
parents have video of him developing typically, talking and playing with his cousins – until he was about 2½ years old.

That was when they noticed that he started to slowly lose his language skills, then eye contact and then any desire to interact.

William was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or autism, when he was 3 years old. He is now in his 20s. (See the video at top that addresses some things that children with autism wished everyone knew).

The brain of someone diagnosed with autism is larger than the one of someone who does not have that diagnosis. Image from American Psychological Association.

It’s Week 2 of National Autism Awareness Month. Last week, the focus was on the prevalence of the neurological disorder (http://www.ow.ly/vmVax). Today, the spotlight is on individuals with whom I have worked, including William, that illustrates three potential outcomes for children with autism. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy … More shortly.

Visit the following Web sites to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder:
http://www.autism.com/prevention
http://www.autism-society.org/
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html


Ray Cepeda is Director and Quality Control Supervisor at New Jersey-based ABAskills, LLC, http://www.abaskills.com.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Enjoying, and Possibly Crying Over, 'The Bridges of Madison County'

Robert (Steven Pasquale) and Francesca (Kelli O'Hara )make a startling discovery in “The Bridges of Madison County.”

BY TAMARA BECK

EVER
wonder how you wound up where you did?

In "The Bridges of Madison County," at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in an open run, the question may never have had to be asked but for a chance meeting.

Francesca (Kelli O'Hara) came to Iowa as a war bride from Naples. She married an American soldier, Bud (Hunter Foster), who soon exchanged his uniform for farmer's overalls. They settle into family life.

As the story opens, Bud and their two teenage children, Michael (Derek Klena) and Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) are off the Indiana State Fair to show off Carolyn's prize steer.

Meanwhile, Robert Kincaid (Steven Pasquale) is on assignment for “National Geographic” to photograph the picturesque covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. His work takes him to Francesca's driveway looking for directions to a bridge he has missed.

Francesca leads him to it. Afterward, she invites him to stay for supper. Unlike her friends, neighbors – and even her husband who all call her Franny – Robert calls her Francesca. He has recently shot a photo spread in Naples and he brings her a copy of the magazine. Robert reminds Francesca of home and she is homesick.

They talk, they laugh, they fall in love. (See video below).

The story, adapted by Marsha Norman from Robert James Waller's chick-lit novel, is pretty much 50 shades of rich color from blushing pink to deep purple. Jason Robert Brown has given it a lovely score and straight-ahead lyrics that support MN's book. In its musical adaptation, "The Bridges of Madison County" is as believable as, say, "Madame Butterfly" or "La Boheme."

If anyone can sell this "Bridges..." it is the players, KO'H, SP and HF. In an excellent cast and ensemble, directed by Bartlett Sher, there are also strong performances by Cass Morgan as Francesca's understanding neighbor, Marge, and Michael X. Martin as Marge's husband, Charlie.

JRB ventures off into country and torch songs, giving Whitney Bashor as Robert's ex-wife, Katie Klaus, as a state fair singer and the aforementioned CM show-stopping arias.

Michael Yeargan's scenery – with Iowa's flat country painted in the backdrop – is lovely and simple. The ensemble pulls and pushes furniture and fences into each scene change while window and roof frames fall gently from the eaves.

This iteration of "The Bridges of Madison County" is not as insufferably sentimental as its source material nor as schmaltzy as the film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. That's not to say, however, that "The Bridges of Madison County" the musical won't cause some to shed tears.

It is as much a pleasure to watch and hear as any musical theater work currently on the Great White Way.

Visit http://www.bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com/ to learn more about "The Bridges of Madison County."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Autism Part 1: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

HEAD'S UP: It's April. It's also National Autism Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, VEVLYN'S PEN contributor and autism counselor Ray Cepeda will address a different aspect of this neurological disorder. Everything from causes to potential cures to the latest research. An article will be published each Tuesday of the month.

Bestselling author Caiseal Mor and friends. Photo from Caiseal Mor Facebook page.

BY RAY CEPEDA

STEPHEN Wiltshire
has drawn Tokyo, Manhattan, Rome and numerous other cities. What is incredible, is that he produced these renderings in great detail after studying the landscapes for only a few hours.

The British architectural artist also has Autism Spectrum Disorder, commonly known as autism. (See documentary about him below).

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Autism awareness … Who is not “aware” of autism these days? Just about everybody has heard of autism and most know someone who has a child, relative or friend with autism. But very few actually know what autism is. Actually, no one really knows what autism is or what causes it.

There are many theories about the causes of autism, from vaccines to genes to the environment to some combination of many other factors. What is generally known is that autism is a neurological disorder that has the following three key features:

1. A qualitative impairment in social interactions, or difficulty relating to others;
2. A qualitative impairment in communication, or difficulty expressing one's self in typical words and motions;
3. Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior interests and activities; for example, repeating the same action over and over.


Although autism can be diagnosed in a child as young as 2, the median age of diagnosis is older than 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Birger Sellin's "I Don't Want to Be Inside Me Anymore: Messages from an Autistic Mind" has been translated into numerous languages.

Interestingly, I have yet to met two people with autism who exhibit these behaviors in the same manner. In other words, the “symptoms” are never the same from one person with autism to the next. This is in part why it has been so difficult for researchers to pinpoint what causes autism. When I started working with children diagnosed with autism more than two decades ago, 19 in 10,000 were diagnosed with autism. Those numbers have increased exponentially in recent years, according to CDC estimates.

In 2000, one in 150 children were diagnosed with autism. By 2004, it was one in 125 and one in 88 by 2008. By 2010, the last year for which estimates are available, the number was one in 68. Inexplicably, boys are five times (one in 42) more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls (one in 189).

People with autism are a diverse group. Some have very high IQs and have friendships, as well as families and children of their own. Others are more isolated and require a lifetime of specialized support. Some with autism people live at home with parents and parent figures their entire lives, while others go on to influence and change the world.

Richard Wawro landscape in wax oil crayon. The Scottish painter drew from memory. Photo from Richard Wawro Web site.

Numerous prominent and famous people have been reported to have autism (this does not include those who have Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition to SW, they include pianist Tony DeBlois, writers Birger Sellin and Caiseal Mor, painter Richard Wawro and composer Hikari Ōe (listen to composition below).

What, if anything, can be done to prevent autism? A common question and no easy answer, since the causes are unknown. Suggestions such as those offered by the Autism Research Institute (http://www.autism.com/prevention), however, are recommended. They include:

*Six to 12 months before trying to have a baby, improve diet and make lifestyle changes;
*Consume only organically grown grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean sources of protein;
*Switch to green personal care products and cleaning products;
*Have mercury-based amalgam removed from teeth.

Next week: Case studies

Visit the following Web sites to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder:
http://www.autism.com/prevention
http://www.autism-society.org/
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html


Ray Cepeda is Director and Quality Control Supervisor at New Jersey-based ABAskills, LLC, http://www.abaskills.com.
 
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