June 30, 2013

Took me awhile to get around to seeing Now You See Me, but I’m glad I did.  This is an entertaining caper film with enough magic (and explanations of how the tricks work) to keep viewers intrigued and engaged.  Well-crafted.  Solid performances.  A bit old-fashioned in the sense that it is polished storytelling without a lot of edge, but that is not a criticism.




Congratulations to Adam Stone!

June 29, 2013

Congratulations to my former student (BA WFU then BFA UNCSA) for being invited to join The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!  Adam is an accomplished cinematographer who shot Mud and Take Shelter among other films.

I still remember a conversation Adam and I had when he was an undergraduate student and trying to decide how to pursue his passion for cinematography and am so very proud of his work.  Can’t wait to see what is next…

Lennie and Pearl on MSNBC — Link

June 27, 2013

Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin gave a terrific interview last night on MSNBC with comments on yesterday’s Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and advice on how to sustain a loving relationship over many years.

Take a look:

Icons?  Yes.

If you want more of Lennie and Pearl, check the Living in the Overlap site regularly for a peek at the trailer for the documentary and webisodes.

LITO poster

Lennie and Pearl on TV!

June 26, 2013

Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin will make an appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell tonight between 10-11 p.m. EDT on MSNBC to discuss today’s Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage.

Lennie and Pearl’s 46-year relationship is the subject of the documentary Living in the Overlap ( that I have co-directed with Cindy Hill.

Consult your local listings and check them out!




June 23, 2013

I have only watched a handful of episodes of Walking Dead.  The series just didn’t grab me.  It’s true, I chuckled my way through Zombieland and thought 28 Days Later was entertaining, but I don’t go out of my way to see a zombie movie.

So, it should mean something when I say that World War Z is one zombie picture worth checking out for viewers looking for an escapist, popcorn flick.

To the naysayers who thought zombies had peaked in the marketplace and those saying that the huge amount ($190 million budget) spent on a reportedly troubled production would produce a bomb, the film is performing above preliminary projections at the box office – second only to Monsters University this weekend – and opening bigger than any previous Brad Pitt picture.

But, what of the movie itself?

I went with modest expectations, which were surpassed.  I found the film entertaining, and engrossing except for the very, very end.  The main character’s closing statement seems anti-climactic and a bit preachy in direct contrast to the tone of the film leading up to the conclusion.  What a letdown, but it doesn’t undermine all of the good things about the film – good action sequences, good performances, some effective dialogue and plot twists.

I can’t speak to criticisms that World War Z deviates too much from the book by Max Brooks because I haven’t read it and always believe that films should stand of their own as creative works separate from the forms that inspire them. 

Unlike Man of Steel, World War Z is not too long, not too loud, and not too sterile.  Like Man of Steel, a hunky lead actor is pleasant to watch, and Brad Pitt is a perennial favorite of mine more because he can act than because of how he looks.

World War Z is the best of the big summer blockbusters thus far this season overall, and while I won’t be racing out to see it again (and haven’t been bowled over by any of the big films this summer so competition is modest), I enjoyed it. 

And, the film may have the best line of dialogue so far this year, “Mother Nature is a serial killer.”  Don’t like to think about her that way, but there is a lot of truth there!


June 23, 2013

Jo Maeder’s engaging memoir depends on the sort of unsettled childhood that drives so many fine examples of the genre (The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club come to mind as two I have appreciated), but there is also a sweetness to her journey of self-discovery that reminds me more of my friend Martha Mason’s autobiography Breath:  Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung.

Putting Maeder’s book in such company is high praise from me and richly deserved.  The full title says a lot about the scope of the memoir:  When I Married My Mother:  A Daughter’s Search for What Really Matters — and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo.

What motivates a “not-so-young” New York City DJ to pack up her mother’s huge doll collection, rid her house of decades of hoarded odds and ends, and move Mama Jo further south to “Greens-something,” “Greens-boring,” Greensboro, North Carolina into a home they will share?

The answer is both complicated and simple:  love sometimes reveals the right thing to do with a persistence that cannot be denied.

There are many hilarious passages in Maeder’s memoir – and many tender and poignant points in the narrative – but I am most taken by the nuance that marks the storytelling.  This happens in two important ways throughout the book.

The first is related to craft.

Maeder shifts back and forth in time between real time – getting her mother out of the house to her brother’s wedding, realizing that she can no longer live alone, excavating the house and moving her mother to North Carolina, and caring for her mother during the last few years of her life – and the past as she recalls and contextualizes important things from her childhood with the understanding she possesses now as an adult.  The author navigates and paces the temporal with considerable skill.

The second is related to self-awareness.

With each family secret that is uncovered and explored and with each obstacle Maeder confronts and overcomes related to the house they move into, her mother’s health care, and seemingly exotic Southern culture, the author learns something about herself and softens in intriguing ways that seem authentic and, not incidentally, charming.  Most memoirs are journey stories, and this one is as much internal as external.

The most reader-friendly element of When I Married My Mother is the structure; short chapters let the reader easily dip in and out of the memoir or just tear through it as I did.  The photos that mark the beginning of each chapter are evocative as visual referents and suitably chosen.

As a final note, I appreciate the subtlety with which Maeder challenges her own pre-conceptions about Southerners and Southern culture.  She begins the journey with a sense of the superiority of big city ways and migrates to a position from which she can appreciate both the pleasures of New York and the comforts of North Carolina.  As a North Carolina native, I appreciate that perspective.


Sappho the Cat

June 21, 2013

Check out our new webisode for the Living in the Overlap project.  You don’t have to be a cat lover to love hearing about Sappho, a truly extraordinary cat, but you’ll definitely want to share the link with all of your cat lover friends and acquaintances.

Hope you enjoyed this one!  To check out other webisodes related to the story of Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin’s life together, check out

For your viewing pleasure!