Cinemadope: Bold Ballet on Screen

As the days grow shorter here in the Valley, we begin to hear whispers of that famous annual December celebration. Children look forward to it for months, and adults go shopping early to make sure they get everything they need before the best stock is sold. I’m talking, of course, about The Nutcracker. First performed in 19th Century Russia, the fan-favorite ballet has been a staple of the holiday season in the Valley for years, and...

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Cinemadope: A Fan Steps into the Spotlight in “Good Ol’ Freda”
Nov06

Cinemadope: A Fan Steps into the Spotlight in “Good Ol’ Freda”

It’s a fool’s game to think that the past can’t be topped, but let’s play it for a moment: can there ever be another phenomenon like the Beatles? Whether you count yourself a fan or not, the band — their impact was never only about their music — set off a sea change in popular music that is still making waves today. In a world where we now have nearly any recording literally at our fingertips, it’s difficult to imagine any one band...

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Cinemadope: Decay Okay
Oct30

Cinemadope: Decay Okay

When my grandfather died, some years ago now, my mother and I spent the days that followed going through his apartment to sort through the belongings he’d left behind, trying to figure out what we should keep and what we could safely shunt along to the garbage heap. It was a daunting but fascinating task; my grandfather wasn’t exactly a hoarder, but he was a man of many and widely varied interests, and his little second-floor nest was...

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Cinemadope: Calling in Sick
Oct23

Cinemadope: Calling in Sick

When we write the history of the last decade, the smartphone will surely loom large. Since 2007, when the iPhone was unveiled, these little packages of silicon and glass have become almost literally an extension of ourselves, attached to the ends of our arms to record, inform, or enhance so many of our moments. We still have some adjustments to make to this new world, to be sure — I long for the day when concerts are not spoiled by...

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Cinemadope: Blank’s Canvas
Oct16

Cinemadope: Blank’s Canvas

In his four-plus decades of filmmaking, director Les Blank (1935-2013) embodied the best of American documentary filmmaking. While his best-known work remains Burden of Dreams (a wild look at the insanity that was the production of his fellow director and friend Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo), his true impact comes from not one film, but from his wide-ranging view of American culture. Training his camera on smaller pockets of...

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