A blog about movies and the Sturbridge area, including The Brookfields, Brimfield, Charlton, Holland, Wales, and Spencer as well as adjacent towns.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

EZTakes Movie Review-A Few Days in September

At the movie site called EZTakes, you can download movies of different genres that you don't usually get to see. You can see the movie reviews I do for them here.

Below is my review at EZTakes of an interesting French offering, A Few Days in September.

The French Are Better Lovers Than Spies- “A Few Days in September” - (No Comments)

By Richard Murphy ~ February 13th, 2009. Filed under: Drama, Film Noir.

Ah, poor Juliette Binoche. Ten years after her triumph as the nurse in the English Patient. Six years after her signature role in Chocolat. Still lovely in her forties. What could be wrong? Well, I suspect that she must be horribly upset that she was cast as Sarah Palin in a movie that came out two years before anyone knew, probably least of all Juliette, who the heck Sarah Palin is. The physical resemblance would be uncanny, but Mademoiselle Binoche tops it off with glasses and makes it even more eerie. Her voice doesn’t carry the Western twang of La Palin, but other than that, sounds like her, Of course, it is surreal in that Juliette gets to play with guns, just like the pistol packin mama from Alaska.

What do I know? Maybe Juliette revels in the resemblance to the Gov. Still the movie has that big bad American tone to it. "A Few Days in September" (French, Quelques Jours en Septembre) takes place in the days leading up to 9-11. Juliette was not really cast in the role of Sarah Palin. Rather, she is a French spy by the name of Irène Montano. She is bringing two young people to meet their father, Elliott (Nick Nolte), her former colleague. Only one of them is Elliot’s biological child and we can see where that’s headed a mile away. Still, it develops pleasantly.

John Turturro with credits like Reggie Simmons in Transformers knows how to seem disturbed. In this movie, if he wanted to solidify his standing as one of cinema’s greatest wingnuts, he proved it to me. The funny thing about this film is that as much as it wants to seem sinister, there is no great conspiracy chasing anyone. It is just Turturro playing William Pound, former colleague of Elliot. He had seen Elliot as a father figure and knows there is a problem. Thanks to a psychiatrist, he is off the deep end. He is dangerous enough all by himself.

Elliott has some crucial information, we are led to believe, about 9-11 to impart to financiers. There is no hint that this great uber spy is trying to save lives with his secret. His last moments are taken up with trying to make up to his daughter for his absence.

Sarah Forestier as Orlando and Tom riley as David play Elliott’s kid’s who are unrelated to each other. They start as enemies and end up, well, you know. Irène works to protect them, even though no one is really after them. No matter, they are both engaging.

Obviously, we don’t know everything about 9-11. The official committee left a lot of questions unanswered. So what? A Few Days in September, as polemic is lame. As a cat and mouse game between two agents with Venice as a backdrop, it has some charm. Turturro as a psycho doesn’t hurt, but Binoche is the best thing about the movie. One thing I learned from this picture, Governor Palin should think about taking up the habit of smoking cigarillos like Juliette.

Click here to download A Few Days in September.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sturbridge Times Magazine, Late Shameless Self Promotion-October Edition

Okay, I usually have the post promoting the new issue up earlier than usual. Unfortunately, there is an unsolved web problem. Better late than never. You still have a few days to pick up the Sturbridge Times Magazine October edition at newstands.

On page 16 is my article, Grazing in West Brookfield, on the work Jim Talvy and Jane Carbone are doing to bring locally and humanely raised healthy grass fed beef to the area.

On page 19, is a review of Soup to Nuts. My daughter and I went down to sample the famous soups and came away satisfied.

My column What Do I know? on page 22 is another bit of evidence of the humility I am so proud of:)

So like I say, it's not to late to pick up an issue. If you don't know where to find one, click on the graphic below.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Crowd at STAR Co-op

The fourth market was held today at the Star co-op. A good crowd came out for the event. Rather than write about it, We made some videos about the participants.

Here Goes,

Honey and Salt is a shop in West Brookfield. Take it from me, the coffee is sufficiently strong.

Sangita Desai from Sturbridge brought her henna and Indian art and designs.

Mark Kaufman from Wild Mountain Beefalo in West Brookfield.

Linda speaks.

Ken Pickren and East Acres Farm and humanely raised veal.

Salli Greene from Alternatives for Health.

Julie and her homemade cards.

We also had John Small who came by and sang for us.

Unfortunately, there was a vendor who had a wonderful display of jewelry and we could not upload her video.

The next market will be Novemver 28th and 29th, after Thanksgiving. Don't miss it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

For a good time, come to the STAR Co-op

Are you looking for local? It's at the STAR Co-op.

The Sturbridge Area Cooperative (STAR Co-op) will have its monthly Farmer/Artisan Market Event featuring local produce, crafts and art, baked goods, and all kinds of cool things going on locally on Sunday, October 25, 2009 at the Sturbridge Marketplace at the Falls, 559 Main Street, First Floor - from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.!

Local music legend John Small will be there for some musical entertainment so come and join us and please spread the word!

Overlook will have veggies, Kari will bring scones and Lamoureux will bring plants. Alternatives for Health is coming. Other local artisans will be there, so you should too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Resurrection of the Casino

This is a little bit out of the Sturbridge area, but close enough to be noted.

Do we need small town movie theaters? After all, if we are going to have a film industry in New England, the flicks will have to be seen all over the country and not just in a six state region. Still, a place where the home team can practice and get in shape is not to be despised.

The Casino Theater in Ware Massachusetts (not to be confused with the Casino Mohegan Sun is trying to build down the street in Palmer) may be the oldest movie house in the country. It started showing flicks in 1909.

I have an interest in seeing a resurrection. I used to take my kids to see movies there until it closed. Granted, we knew it was in trouble as the occassional piece of ceiling fell on one’s lap. I feel sorry for children who do not have the experience of a community cinema as opposed to the multiplex. It is one of my favorite memories of being a kid.

Fred McLennan of Holyoke, a veteran of the theater business, has purchased the place for a nominal fee. I do hope there is support not just in the area, the border of Western and Central Massachusetts. I dream of the Quabbin Film Festival.

For more info: The email address is warecasino@hotmail.com. The Ware Historical Society's page on the subject is here.

Some pictures below from back in the day of what is arguably the nation's oldest movie house.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Sturbridge lacks and why you should support the Star Co-op

I went to the Amherst Farmers Market to sell my honey on Saturday morning. The day was overcast, but the temperature was pleasant. A steady stream of people came by as customers. The farmers market has a pleasant and festive air about and everyone, buyers and sellers and passersby enjoyed the day.

Since I've been writing about Sturbridge, I've often heard that Sturbridge needs a farmers market. What goes on up in Amherst should happen here as well. Well, some people have been trying for a few months now. Melinda and Doug Kirkpatrick have been the moving force behind the idea of a market in the area. They have allowed their law office and studio in the Sturbridge Marketplace to be the venue for the market.

It is a start. If it is popular enough, we could have festive scenes and vendors providing great products weekly instead of monthly as is happening now. Come to the Marketplace on October 25 from 9am to 3pm and see local people providing local products. Click here for more info.

One sad thing to see was the demise of the Jeffrey Amherst bookshop.. I used to browse there after the market. A pleasant old style bookstore. Was it the competition, the economy? Who knows? Its genre is an endangered species.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Darn, I'm going to miss Feast and Fire!

I have a family event in Eastern Massachusetts so tomorrow will not find moi attending Feast and Fire. What is Feast and Fire,I'll let the Merchants of Sturbridge tell you,

The Merchants of Sturbridge present a holiday tribute to Columbus Day. Enjoy great food offerings from local restaurants, (Rovezzi's, Annie's Country Kitchen, Copper Stallion, Cedar Street, and others). Bring a blanket or pull up a lawn chair and listen to live music spanning several generations, as families and children enjoy face painting, bead making, games, and the Moonwalk Bouncy House. Enjoy the ambiance, warmth, and crackle of an old fashioned community bonfire while chatting with old friends or the company of new friends.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two New Links

There are many groups, events and places to link to in the Sturbridge area. Of course, one hopes to get around to all of them. For the time being, here are two.

Where is the closest studio to Sturbridge and environs. It is in Wilbraham. Stonegate Studios is a project of Tony Colapietro. So we have the new media OurTvSpace/OurFilmSpace at the Sturbridge Marketplace and now Stonegate in Wilbraham.

Sturbridge Yoga's Laura Pucci has been part of Star Co-op since it began. She is now giving classes at OurTvSpace. Click here for the schedule.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Missing the Big E already!

Sunday was the final day of the Big E and our family made it there in the afternoon. The crowd was large and the weather lovely. Once close, it was a good wait in traffic, but we finally arrived. We did the rounds of all the buildings and enjoyed ourselves well enough. Excess was the order of the day and we took in all the food we could.Soon after entering, we walked up to the dairy barn. Milk Shakes were ordered after viewing the 600 Lb. butter sculpture.

As part of our training we had foregone eating much before arriving so the shake would have to suffice as we strolled through the building hyping chamois and other things you never needed. Then Farmarama and the horse arena and many other spots.

The production above is the type of thing my kids loved when they were little. Of course it bores them now at their advanced ages.

Finally, we arrived at the Avenue of the States. It was time to begin in earnest.
Tucker Seafood in the Rhode Island building purveys a concoction unique to the Ocean State, Quahog Chili. Add some of their Tangy Bang hot sauce and you are living.

Ah, the Maine Baked Potato with everything. I remember when I could eat two of them. That was a long time ago.

Ben and Jerry's is a great product, but in our current economic climate, I find it overpriced even in the "why pay less" atmosphere of the Big E. Oh well, we moseyed over to another part of the Vermont Building and drowned our sorrows with some of Wolavers' Pale Ale and Oat Stout.

The chocolate covered bacon was better than I thought it would be. I yield to no one in my love for both components, but was reticent to try them together. The verdict, it's okay, but I still like bacon and chocolate separately better.

The Mardi Gras parade was fun. I am so grateful my kids still enjoy it.

At the Big E, anything is possible. Do you feel lost in this world. They have a place where you can find yourself.

There were so other things to see here and it was over so fast. So we shall have to wait almost a whole year to partake of this mania again. I don't know how many more years mes enfants will tolerate going with us. There is always a point in time when accompanying parents becomes less and less fun. Already most things we shared are. Oh well, this year, I hoped for just one more time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Review of Secession Path-short film to be made full length in New England

This is a review that originally appeared elsewhere. The movie is to be made full length. It is hoped that at least some of the filming will take place here in the Sturbridge and surrounding areas.

Secession Path is a movie skillfully made by the team of John Hartman and “Zee” Zarbock. The term bang for the buck gets new meaning as they had a budget of under $2,000. Though it is obvious they did not have the special effects and sophisticated equipment of a major studio, they did a credible job utilizing what they had access to.

Maximilien Robespierre was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the French Revolution, yet he had resigned as a criminal judge to avoid giving out a death sentence during the Ancien Regime. Such is life’s ironies. Doctor David Hornblower did not feel he had a steady enough hand for field surgery so he joined the Confederate infantry to deal death directly.

Captain” David Hornblower, it is safe to say, had a bit more of a talent for self reflection than the man known in France as “The Incorruptible.”

The movie begins with the First Battle of Kinston in December of 1862. The Union expeditionary force based on the coast in New Bern has moved inland. The Confederates, utilizing fabian strategy, attack when it is opportune, delay where they can and retreat as they must. The Yanks, superior in men and materiel, go as far as they dare. They have not yet learned the live off the land, scorched earth methods of Billy Sherman.

As this is a John Hartman film. war is not the answer. I’m sorry to have used that bumper sticker, but it kinda fits. War is the environment here, but John, who plays Hornblower, maybe thinks there is something more than the war at play.

The captain had led his men at Kinston and from the movies action, had handled them competently. He is called to headquarters by a superior officer as his conduct away from the battle has been problematic. He has been partaking of debauchery and arrives for his tête-à-tête hungover.

In the interview, his superior brings up the subject of sedition. Sedition is rarely considered a mere peccadillo as are his other faults. It appears our man has been giving voice to his war is not the answer thoughts in public.

From a managerial standpoint, one would not suggest that the meeting went well for Hornblower. A contrite yes sir, no sir attitude would be called for. The Captain is showing signs of not quite being there. He comes in smelling of the night before. The superior officer thinks he is being mocked, though Hornblower says it is “not with intent, Sir.” In the midst of his meeting, he seems to swoon and fixate on a picture of Christ attached to the wall.

He is given a choice to either return to the medical corp or go on an espionage mission through the swamp to spy on the Federals. Citing the fact that his surgery was not at the level of, say, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, he opts for the swamp.

The Captain sets out with a scout named Kyle. During a rest, Hornblower is asked by his subordinate his thoughts on the war. In a flash forward, he had given vent to Kyle of a some pacific thoughts so you know something had been brewing. They march to the location of the construction site of the CSS Neuse. The Neuse was being built to be part of an expedition to drive the Bluecoats out of New Bern.

The Captain and Kyle grab a guide from the shipbuilding detail and proceed toward the swamp. While walking along, Hornblower hears a train go by, not that there are any trains in the swamp.

As they march, they come upon a detachment of Yanks and engage in a standoff. Capt. Hornblower tries to calm the showdown by treating the enemy’s wounded man. The others, still at arms, are disturbed by a deer wandering and a shot is fired In the melee all are dispatched except the Captain who is severely wounded.

A Union deserter comes upon him with intent to loot the unconscious officer. Hornblower comes to, and stealthily draws his gun. The deserter offers to treat his wounds if he will let him go. Hornblower agrees if the deserter will remove the blade he had been stabbed with. The captain passes out and the reb takes his stuff and reads his orders. The deserter hears the same non existent train and is taken aback. When Hornblower again wakes they struggle and the deserter shoots.

He finds himself back in the office struggling with his superior. Has the trip to the swamp been an hallucination or post traumatic stress syndrome. Maybe it was a conversion experience, for as he struggles he is still fixated on the picture of Christ. Regaining composure, he asks forgiveness and requests reassignment to the medical corps.

The problem with Secession Path is you have a lot of questions after it is done. A half hour is not enough time to tie up all the odds and ends.

The DVD not only has the movie, but another segment called Guerrilla Film Secession’s Path. It is filled with information on what John and Zee had to do to make a movie for next to nothing. Guerilla film making as John puts it, is doing “what you can with what you have.” He had to do a lot of fancy footwork.

I can’t understand why there are not a zillion Civil War films made. There is no dearth of reenactor groups replaying the War Between the States. I mean, have you ever run across people redoing the Spanish American War or the War of 1812.

So, I don’t know where John and Zee are going with this, but there is plenty of scope to expand in keeping with John’s vision to “inspire by leaving the audience with a bright light at the end of an odd and dark tunnel.”

It will be necessary to raise money for the next incarnation of Secession Path. They did so well with so little that one speculates raising millions could ruin them.

As filming will take place here in Nova Anglia, we shall keep you informed of fund raising and filming progress.

For more info: contact zee@unfoldingstorypictures.com. To view a trailer, go to www.secessionpath.com.