48HFP Greensboro Style

July 19, 2017

You can see the best films of the Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project Friday (July 21, 2017) at 7 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online for an additional fee.

Full disclosure, I served as one of three judges of the films submitted, which means I can speak with some authority about the quality of the work – it’s high – and I’m looking forward to audience reaction at the screening.


There have been some surprises for me through my involvement with the program, namely, the joy so many of the teams have for film, which is evident in Q & A sessions after preliminary screenings and in some of the actual films.

Of course, working together with such a tight time limit – 48 hours! – to produce a 4-7 film that falls into an assigned genre (not known before the drawing right before production begins)  and includes a designated prop, line of dialogue, and character (also not known in advance) is a daunting task that demands camaraderie to pull it off and still have fun in the process.

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July 1, 2017

Del Shores released his campy comedy Sordid Lives in 2000 to showcase three generations of a “trashy” Texas family and neighbors gathered to bury their matriarch amid secrets, shenanigans, and conflict over conservative religious values.

Sordid Lives is cult classic.

Seventeen years later, Shores revisits many of the same characters as they reunite for another family gathering in A Very Sordid Wedding.

Marriage equality and religious hypocrisy are themes that run through the film, and recent political events in America heighten the resonance of certain characters and situations.

As hard-won political rights for members of the LGBTQ community are threatened or even rolled back, I experienced a certain urgency watching A Very Sordid Wedding that I might not have otherwise felt.

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June 30, 2017

Last week, Sara Giustini and I posted our conversation about Master of None then I mentioned on social media that I was FINALLY watching the new season of Orange is the New Black.

Two things came out of that comment:

First, Sara’s reply “I’ll be curious to hear what you think about the new season…” motivated me to delay items on my “To Do List” and binge my way through Season 5 of Orange is the New Black.

Second, media scholar and generally wonderful person Sharon Marie Ross chimed in saying she wanted to know what I thought about the new season. With that comment, I discovered that Sharon was actually one of Sara’s professors!

Small world and all that, but let’s get down some serious talk about the most popular series on Netflix with Sara and Sharon Marie.


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What We’re Watching…Master of None

June 16, 2017

Over lunch recently, my friend Sara Giustini and I compared notes on what we’re watching. It was not only fun but illuminating! Sara and I are both filmmakers and critical consumers of media. As we were about to leave the table, both of us wanted the conversation to continue.

So…here goes!

Mary: There are lots of binge-worthy shows out there — and I never feel caught up — but I did recently watch the second season of Master of None in one sitting. I liked it.

Sara: Master of None is one of my favorites. I absolutely loved the first season, and I enjoyed the second season as well.

Mary: I’m like you. I enjoyed the second season, but I felt the first season was stronger. I absolute LOVED “Indians on TV” for dealing with stereotyping in casting and “Ladies and Gentlemen” for dealing with gender microaggressions. These are such politically-savvy episodes. Honestly, I think I still remember both of them with more clarity than episodes from the second season even though I just watched it. Hmmmmm…

Sara: I really liked the “Parents” episode, too, because Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Brian (Kelvin Yu) interact with their immigrant parents in ways that are revealing to the characters and to viewers.

Mary: I totally agree with you! That one is a very stong episode, too.

8.1 Master of None

Aziz Ansari as Dev in Master of None

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April 12, 2017

Little known fact: I watch Fixer Upper on HGTV.*

Yes, Chip and Joanna Gaines are a bit too perky, and their renovations look a little too similar from one home to the next – tear out the walls and make everything light and bright. And, where do their clients come up with so much money to spend?

On the other hand, some of the transformations are exciting.

Given this context, it was with enthusiasm over the last couple of months that I noticed promos for the new HGTV show Home Town creeping into the commercial breaks I zipped through when watching Fixer Upper.

The premise of the new show is built around the two hosts getting other young couples to return and participate in the revitalization of their hometown.

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March 16, 2017

If you have never seen Persepolis (2007), you have an especially good reason to catch the Looking @ Art Cinema series Saturday morning (March 18 at 9:30) at a/perture cinema.  Even if you have seen it, hearing Joshua Canzona’s commentary and and participating in a guided discussion following the screening is worth your time and effort.

Joshua is a Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies at Georgetown University and an adjunct instructor at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.  I asked him a few questions about the film (and hope our exchange will motivate you to see this movie!).


Mary:  Why did you decide to conclude your series with Persepolis?

Joshua:  The initial placement was somewhat accidental. We knew we wanted to include a film related to Islam since I have an interest in that religion but the relationship between Persepolis and the other two films was not a key factor in selecting the screening dates.

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March 10, 2017

Okay, I know Table 19 is a slight picture. A bunch of “random” people end up together at the worst table for a wedding reception. They share their individual stories and solve some of their problems together (or don’t) in ways that are predictable (or not).

Let’s call it a transitional romantic comedy — it doesn’t fulfill all of the classical conventions of the genre but, then again, it isn’t fully a revisionist movie either.

Still, I enjoy the realistic elements of stories written by Jay and Mark Duplass (I still wish their TV show Togetherness was coming back on HBO!), Anna Kendrick is customarily terrific, the rest of the cast is good, and there were enough funny and touching moments to keep me entertained.

Great picture? No. Engaging enough? Sure. And, you know, there’s something refreshing about seeing people in movies who look relatively untouched.

Thank you, Lisa Kudrow, for aging gracefully.

Table 19