Monthly Archives: March 2014

In the Gallery for April:
FALLS – Paintings by Paul Theriault

Sometimes it’s painting a set, spatter and wash
Or it’s painting a memory, on a stone in the woods with light behind and water ahead

It feels like a bridge falling down, my mind as it moves to reach the surface through my hands

Mostly I try to remember not to paint a fish, but the passage of it’s leap from the water
and to keep everything open down to the bottom, so that shapes and lines can call to each other in time.

The paintings, the eight waterfalls are represented, and they’ll hang together in four days. -Paul

Opening Reception – April 11, 5-7pm

In No Great Hurry – Review (I’m in No Great Hurry To Finish This Film)

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

              In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter, we follow British director Tomas Leach as he goes to New York City to interview then retired color photographer and painter, Saul Leiter, about his career and his life. Saul Leiter, shown in the film in his 80’s, could have been lauded as the master of color photography, but he was never interested in becoming famous. Instead, he liked to photograph in his own way, but is, nevertheless, credited with forming what is known as the New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. The documentary follows Leiter as he deals with the burdens of trying to clean out his apartment full of old works of art, of which hold a lot of value to him,  his dislike on becoming famous in the 80’s, and dealing with a film director, Tomas Leach, who asks him disagreeable questions.

                In No Great Hurry was a great surprise. I’m not familiar with Saul Leiter or his work, but based off this film, he’s seemed like a real nice guy. The interaction between him and director Leach was fascinating to watch. It was like watching the making of a movie, instead of watching the actual movie. The film delved into many aspects of Leiter’s career, including his work, his family, and even showed us some of the artists that influenced him throughout his career.

The film was divided into thirteen different sections. The sections were titled, “Camera”, “Box of Color”, “A Legacy”, “The Ways to God”, “Taking Photography Seriously”, “Staying Still”, “Out Looking for Photographs”, “Doing Something Good”, “Pleasant Confusion”, “Tickling Your Left Ear”, “Sharing Art”, “No Reason to Rush”, and “A Search for Beauty”. Each of these thirteen different sections went into a specific part about Saul’s career. One section, Sharing Art, delved into not only Saul’s art and influence, but also Saul’s relationship with his deceased wife, Soames Banty, whom was one of the few to appreciate his work during his prime. Two sections, Staying Still and Out Looking for Photographs, have us venerating outside of Saul’s house, where we learn that Saul doesn’t want to be remembered or even documented. In the next section, we are actually shown the insides of an art house. Saul clearly had a love for his job, and this documentary shows it perfectly.

Leach’s direction is good. He lets the camera role, and lets Leiter talk, only interrupting him to ask him some questions. He even does several shots on Saul’s cat, which is an unusual thing to do, but in a strange way, actually works. He intercuts each segment with scenes featuring various works of art by Saul, as well as photographs of his family, and him as a young man.

Despite running at a relatively short pace (75 minutes without credits), No Great Hurry was a pleasant surprise. The film really helped to show us Saul Leiter, not just as an artist, but also a person. His interest, his goals, and what he ultimately wanted to do in his life. Saul Leiter’s recent passing in November last year, was sad to discover, but his legacy and influence lives on (as evident by this film) and continues to aspire many color photographers of today.

The Invisible Woman – Review (All Flair and No Substance)

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

               In the beginning of The Invisible Woman, we are treated to a lovely shot of the blue skies. Let that scene set the stage for the rest of the film, as The Invisible Woman is an interesting and beautiful movie to look at. The sets, the design, the direction…it’s all there. The movie’s biggest problem though, is that, despite its runtime, the film is merciless in how long it feels. Fiennes’ second film as a director, after the somewhat “overblown” Coriolanus, is not exactly what I would call a “good movie” but it does have some brilliant performances.

                The Invisible Woman is based off the true story of the relationship between Charles Dickens (played by Ralph Fiennes) and his mistress, Ellen Nelly Ternan (played by Felicity Jones). Set in the 1850s, Nelly Ternan is an actress with limited talent, who attracts the attention of Charles Dickens after she performs in one of his plays. Dickens is tired of his boring, fat wife Catherine (played by Joanna Scanlan), and Dickens decides to take the young Nelly, only 18 years old, as his mistress, along with the cooperation of her mother (played by Kristin Scott Thomas). What follows is a stormy relationship, with Dickens giving Ellen a life she could only have dreamed about. Nelly is, however, unsatisfied with Dickens attempt to keep their relationship a secret, and must decide if what she is doing is right.

                The acting in The Invisible Woman is by no means bad. In fact, it is probably the films strongest asset. Fiennes seems to embody Charles Dickens. The film also does a very good job at making Dickens a very sympathetic and humane person, which is how he was described to be like in real life. The film shows him as a very humble, lovable man, even having a scene where he participates in a hopping race, just so he can have some fun. However, the film doesn’t shy away from showing Dickens’ darker side, specifically with him abandoning his wife because he never truly loved her, or scenes where Dickens loses it (wonderfully acted by Fiennes), in front of Nelly.

                The films co-lead, and real central character, is Nelly Ternan, even more so than Dickens. Played by Felicity Jones, Nelly is very a charming woman. She opens and closes the movie, as the film is told in flashbacks, with the “future” scenes being set somewhere around the 1870s, long after Dickens has died. Jones brings a level of sympathy to the role. Other notable actors in this film include Kristen Scott Thomas as Nelly’s mother, whom gives a good performance but has limited screen time. English actor Tom Hollander plays Dickens’ partner, Wilkie Collins, who is also co-author of the play that the film is based around.

One of the film’s weakest points is the relationship between Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. The relationship goes from being unbelievable to believable, to unbelievable again. I’m not sure whether or not this was intentional on Fiennes and Abi Morgan’s (the screenwriter) part. The film is about the relationship between Dickens and Ternan, and how it eventually fell apart. The chemistry between Fiennes and Jones is quite good, but becomes sad when the two characters start to argue and Dickens become a bit of a “control freak”. One scene, in particular, between the two that I liked was when Charles goes to Nelly’s house.  Jones and Fiennes show very good emotion, although the majority of the scene is very quiet.

                The Invisible Woman is a fine looking movie by cinematographer Rob Hardy. The costumes fit the era of 1850 London, and the film feels like a period piece. The direction by Fiennes is also interesting. The film has a recurring scene where Nelly is walking on the beach over and over again. The implication of this scene seems to be that Nelly hasn’t necessarily moved on from Dickens since the two of them were seen on the beach over a decade earlier. There is also a scene where Dickens and Nelly are walking in the grass that is at first shot in a very distorted with blurred images. The script by Abi Morgan, who wrote The Iron Lady, is dreary and unmemorable. The plot moves at a slow pace, and the film’s story is so-so at best.

The film aspires to be more than it is, but the truth is, there isn’t much to the film to begin with. Good performances, decent chemistry, beautiful set pieces, and some interesting directing choices are to be found in this film, but overall, it was just very average.

Under The Rainbow “Au Bout Du Conte” / French Cinema

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching two movies from France. One of those being The Past, and the other was Under the Rainbow. While The Past was obviously the far superior movie, Under the Rainbow was, in fact, from a technical standpoint, far superior to The Past, as it uses better and more interesting film techniques.  For example, in one scene one of the main characters looks like she is a giant stepping on a car, when in fact she is actually stepping on toy cars, and then there are the various references to classic fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. In essence, I can clearly tell that this a French film from some of the “weirdness” of it, which is quite different from The Past which has more of a “down to earth” approach, perhaps because The Past is French produced and filmed in France, but written and directed by an Iranian, Asghar Farhadi, while Under the Rainbow, which was written and directed by a “real Frenchwoman”, Agnès Jaoui (and French co-writer,Jean-Pierre Bacri).

                I must admit, I’m not the most skilled when it comes to French films, as there are a lot of French films I haven’t watched yet (even some of the most acclaim French films ever made), but what I got out of most of the French films that I have watched is that filmmakers from that country seem to believe in two things: “unusual shots” (much like those found in the French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s), and “strong character development”.  This is especially evident in a recent film like Under the Rainbow, where the film builds upon the idea of the limits of what the audience can believe. The film is a French comedy, so the quirkiness is to be expected, and the humor coming from the situation of the film. The film is at times funny (some of my audience were cracking up), and the best bits being when the characters bicker and argue with each other, although “messy” and somewhat hard to follow. The film is about various characters that are well developed, though some of them are just downright “awful”(unlikeable) in many respects. The film’s most fascinating aspect is its direction.  In one scene, for example, the director did an unusual shot on a piano, making it to look like something it wasn’t, which led me to believe it was going to turn into a horror movie.

                French cinema has produced some various interesting filmmakers, some of whom are considered to be some of the greatest directors who ever existed and have left a big impact on the film industry as a whole.  Directors, such as Francois Truffaut, Roman Polanski (Polish French but born in Paris), Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Cocteau, just to name a few, came from France.  French films, like A Trip to a Moon, and The 400 Blows to newer and more modern French films, like The City Of Lost Children, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, continue to impress.

                In fact, a lot of evidence suggests that it was the French who invented the idea of cinema, or at the very least, cinema became popular because French directors were the first, or among the first to utilize such techniques and successfully make them popular. The quirkiness of some French films dates all the way back to the early days of silent cinema.  French films are very influential, and the future of French cinema is very bright, just as it always has been.

The Past – A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Asghar Farhadi’s The Past is an astonishing drama, full of excellent performances. The film, is at times, very loud, and yet, it can also be very relaxing and calm. The Past centers, originally, on an Iranian man named Ahmad (played by Ali Mosaffa) who is returning to France after four years to meet his wife, Marie (played by Berenice Bejo), and her daughters from her previous marriage, whom he had deserted.  As he arrives, he discovers that his wife is now in a relationship with a man named Samir (Tahar Rahim). Samir is having some problems of his own, specifically that his wife is in a comma after attempting suicide. Marie is also having problems, specifically with her daughter Lucie, who disapproves of her relationship with Samir. As the film progresses, more secrets are revealed, as people come to terms with the problems they are facing.

The Past is a very compelling movie with excellent performances. Berenice Bejo, who plays Marie, gives a very powerful performance as Marie, who may seem on the surface to be very unlikeable, but considering what she’s going through we can sympathize with her as to why she would snap, or at the very least, feel stressed because of her problems. Bejo is very much alive in terms of her performance, and not once does she not show some emotion in her role. She’s also a very good “yeller”.

Ali Mosaffa also gives a strong performance as Ahmad. During most of the film his character is put through one miserable situation after another. Mosaffa shows this very well, as he spends most of the film acting depressed, but he does have moments of happiness as well, they’re just few and far between. He is both very quiet and understandable in this role.

Tahar Rahim who plays Samir, may give the film’s most gripping performance. Samir is also, in actuality, as the film progresses, the main character. Rahim is very subtle in the role. Like all of the characters in the film, Samir suffers one depressing thing after another, yet despite all the odds, he is still very confident, tries to have a positive outlook on life and so on. Rahim’s successful performance is one of sheer strength in terms of emotion.

Pauline Barlet who plays Marie’s daughter, Lucie, is also quite good. She plays a teen who wants nothing to do with her mother. She is understandable as a character and acts like we would expect any teen would. Additionally, Elyes Aguis and Jeanne Jestin are Samir’s children, Fouad and Lea, give some of the best ,natural childrens’ performances I’ve seen all year.

While in terms of directing, The Past isn’t the best I’ve seen all year, there are some other interesting aspects to the film. For one, the film lacks a clear soundtrack, and that is obviously intentional. The lack of a soundtrack helps to heighten the mood of the film, as it becomes apparent that the film is meant to be “depressing”, in its overall tone.

Though I can’t recommend The Past for everyone, since many people might not find the characters in this film to be very unlikeable or might not be able to sit through the more emotional scenes of the film, I can safely say that The Past ranks as one of 2013’s best foreign language films. Excellent performances along with a “bleak but positive mood” help to make this film stand out quite a bit from other films I have seen this past year.

Catamount Names Amy Rebollo New Director of Development

amy rebelloAmy Stetson Rebollo, a native of St. Johnsbury and most recently of Blythewood, South Carolina, has been named the new Director of Development at Catamount Arts.
She will officially begin her position on Monday, April 14.
As Director of Development, Ms. Rebollo will assume the responsibility for spearheading the current 20/20 Vision capital campaign for the local arts organization and also for developing major donations.
Before joining Catamount Arts, Ms. Rebollo was an independent art consultant working with such well known contemporary artists as Laurence Gartel, Joe Andoe, and Ernesto Garcia Cabral. She also has extensive experience in every facet of fundraising for both profit and non-profit organizations.
After graduating from St. Johnsbury Academy, Ms. Rebollo, the daughter of long-time St. Johnsbury and West Barnet residents Doris and the late Dr. John Stetson, received a B.A. in Art History and Applied Studio Arts, as well as a B.A. in Anthropology, from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She has also studied at the School of Linguaviva in Florence, Italy.
Ms. Rebollo has also held positions with the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the Magnes Museum in Oakland, California, and Historic Columbia in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition, she has also been associated with such major retailers as Tootsies and Escada USA.
“I am completely committed to the arts community as a collector, educator, historian and broker,” Ms. Rebollo commented recently, “This opportunity with Catamount excites me because it embraces the community I love as well as the present and future of the arts.”
“Amy has the combination of experiences, Northeast Kingdom community knowledge, personal characteristics and a genuine passion for the arts that we believe will serve Catamount well,” said Linda Wacholder, chairperson of the Catamount Board of Directors.
“We welcome Amy to the Catamount family and feel that her background and vision for the future will help to enrich the arts community and secure a positive future for Catamount and its programs,” concluded Jody Fried, the executive director of Catamount Arts.
For more information about Catamount and its offerings, please visit www.catamountarts.org.

The Act Of Killing – A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

One of the more fascinating documentaries I’ve seen in recent years, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing is an astonishing film. Nominated for best documentary at the Academy Awards, The Act Of Killing is a film that is haunting, honest, and even in some ways, satirical.

Based off the Indonesian genocide of 1965, The Act of Killing is about filmmaker, Joshua Oppenheimer, going to Indonesian, and asking former Indonesian gangsters/death leaders to reenact the killings in various different movie genres of their choosing.  Some of these scenes are obviously inspired by Hollywood films as some of the gangsters admit their fans of actors like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

The Act of Killing is one of the most creative and original films I’ve seen all year, and not just documentaries in general. The idea of making a documentary about recreating important killings is both fascinating and unique, and Oppenheimer clearly had a strong vision of how to deliver such an idea. The film has a message hiding within it (one not specifically stated, but obviously implied, about the wrong doings of murder, and how such an action can affect anyone involved with it.

The people in this film, whom are playing themselves, don’t feel like real people at all, interestingly enough. The performers feel like they are playing fictional characters. At times, I couldn’t even tell if this film was a documentary or a real movie, as it seemed to be going back and forth between the two. Most of the film is clearly staged, but there are sequences during the film that make you wonder if the performers, specifically Anwar Congo, the executioner of 1965 Indonesian genocide, are in on the whole point that Oppenheimer seems to be making with this film.

Oppenheimer’s direction is fascinating to watch. He never appears on the screen, but his voice is heard a few times during the film. There is one sequence in particular in the film where the various “gangsters” are talking to Anwar. The scene features a bad audience making it hard for anyone to understand what their saying. This scene seems obviously intentional on the directors’ part, perhaps to remind the audience that we are watching a movie about the making of a movie, while another shot is of random birds in the dead of the night, which is rather poetic.

To some, this movie could be considered disgusting, but I found it to be magnificent in many ways. With this film Oppenheimer and company have managed to not just make a fascinating documentary, but also an entertaining one.

Like Father Like Son – A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son is a very emotional movie. One that made me feel for its characters. The film is full of great performances, an interesting soundtrack, and a plot that is easy to understand.

Set in Japan Like Father, Like Son tells the story of Ryota Nonomiya, a successful businessman, who is driven by money more than anything else. Ryota is married to Midori, and has a son named Keita. When Ryota and Midori visit the hospital after receiving a call from them, they learn that Keita is not their biological son. Ryota is forced to choose between keeping the child, or doing the right thing and giving him back to his biological parents. Things are especially complicated for Ryota as Midori is still devoted to Keita, even after learning his true origins.

Like Father, Like Son is a very touching film. It is helped by the performances of the actors. Masaharu Fukuyama gives a very “tame” performance as Ryota. When he learns that his son is not his real child, he doesn’t explode. Instead, he keeps his cool, and tries to make the best of it.  His performances are especially helped by the script, as on only a few occasions it seems to require him to be truly “emotional”. Maciko Ono, who plays his wife, Midori, also gives a very strong performance. Unlike most mothers, she doesn’t break down at once after learning that her son isn’t actually her biological son. Instead, she considers the possibilities of what might happen to him. These actors along with the rest of the cast are helped by writer and director, Hirokazu Koreeda’s script, which is very strong.

One of the most fascinating elements about Like Father, Like Son is that this film is mostly devoid of any real soundtrack. The only bit of music throughout the film is that of a piano. The use of a piano in the film is clearly an attempt to make some of the most emotional scenes in the film, really emotional. Their son, Keita, played piano, and there is even a scene where he does a piano recital. The constant use of piano music is clearly supposed to link the relationship between the mother and father and their “son”. For example, one fifteen second scene features Ryota and Midori driving to go see Keita. In this scene, there is no talking, just a shot of the car outside and piano music playing in the background. The piano music feels very haunting in this way, and as a result, the scene becomes emotional.

Although I have had minimal exposure to Japanese culture, I can clearly see that these two characters are real, and not stereotypes of Japanese people. Ryota, for example, clearly goes through a change in character, as he becomes less concerned with money and more concerned about his son. There is real emotion and charm to be found in this movie, and the way director Koreeda guides the family, helps a lot.  Like Father, Like Son is a wonderful film, and one that many can relate to.

A Touch Of Sin Review (Four Characters in Search Of A Hospital)

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

A Touch of Sin opens up with a scene near a rural highway where a truck carrying tomatoes has fallen over. The scene is well shot and we get a feeling that something unusual is about to happen. As the opening scenes progress, our main characters are introduced one by one, and the story to our film begins.

A Touch of Sin is an interesting experiment. Directed by Zhangke Jia, it is set in China. The film tells four different stories of four characters who end up committing acts of violence. I wouldn’t necessarily call A Touch of Sin a great movie, but it is a well-made film and it gets its point across fairly well.

Each of these story segments start with the characters being seemingly normal people, but end up being driven to the point where they commit violent acts. Our first story tells the story of a young man who, after being completely humiliated, decides to take his revenge out on those who hurt him. The second story is about a man on a motorcycle who returns home only to discover that his region has been scarred by high rises and a hydroelectric power plant. The third story is about a sauna receptionist who has just broken off from her boyfriend and is being harassed by a wealthy man who keeps asking her for sex. The fourth and final story is about a young poor man who quits his factory job and ends up working as a waiter in a high-priced brothel.

A Touch of Sin has real messages, more so than any films I’ve seen thus far this season at Catamount Arts. The film shows us what characters do when they are driven to desperation. The film asks us to consider how far our actions should take us, and what the consequences of committing murder might mean.

One of the films biggest flaws though, is that these segments never really interconnect with each other. It feels as if the director, Zhangke Jia, decided to cut this film into four different shorts. The story was also a little hard to follow, as there is a lot going on in every segment, but I was able to hold my interest enough to get the gist of the film as a whole. Some viewers might find the film to be a little bit too graphic, but visually this was one of the most interesting things about the film.

Sin like anything, is something that makes us question ourselves. After seeing the film A Touch of Sin , I certainly did.

August: Osage County Review (You Thought Your Family Had Issues)

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Set mostly in the Oklahoma home of the Westons, a completely dysfunctional family, August: Osage County is a downright, demented, hilarious mess.  After the family’s father, Beverly Weston, played by Sam Shephard, dies, the family gets together at the old homestead, where they all grew up, to pay their respects. For good reason, they are concerned about Beverly’s pill-taking, drugged up widow, Violet, played by Meryl Streep. The majority of the film is about how the various members of the family interact with each other, especially the relationships between the daughters, Barbara, Karen, and Ivy (Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, and Julianne Nicholson) and their mother, Violet (Streep).

               The film is a “drama” and relies heavily on some very strong acting performances, thanks to a talented and widely varied cast. Meryl Streep, as Violet, the matriarch of the family, has a rather “over the top” southern accent, and is, as expected, quite good.  With grey hair, bald spots, and a black wig, she is loud, boisterous, unpleasant, unlikeable, and unsympathetic, exactly as her character is supposed to be. Barbara, one of her daughters, is played by Julia Roberts. Barbara (Roberts) is the only other character with Violet to have any real screen time, and their interactions with each other as mother and daughter are also quite good.  Julia Roberts’ performance is powerful, commanding, and strong. Her character is also unlikeable, but given what we learn she has been through, some of her actions are understandable.

Ewan McGregor plays her husband, Bill, but disappointingly, is not given a whole lot to do. His standout scene is when he argues with his wife and says “You’re a pain in the ass”.  Also in the film is Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), who plays Barbara (Roberts) and Bill’s (MacGregor) daughter, Jean, who is also not given a lot to do. Chris Cooper plays Uncle Charlie, and is married to Violet’s sister, Mattie Fae, who is played by Margo Martindale.  Uncle Charlie (Chris Cooper) is one of the few likeable characters in the film, but in a strange and funny way, and his wife, Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) is a real standout as the superbly boisterous and nagging family member.  Juliette Lewis plays Karen, one of Violet’s daughters, and brings her new fiancé, Steve, played by Dermot Mulroney, to the funeral to meet the family for the very first time. Julianne Nicholson plays Violet’s other daughter, Ivy, and appears to be the least dysfunctional person in the whole family. Her character seems out of place as she is more much reasonable than the others, and is able to point out how much of a control freak Barbara (Roberts) really is. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a mentally challenged, wimpy and awkward character, named Little Charles, and is introduced as the son of Mattie Fae and Charles. He is also known as “the black sheep of the family” and gives a very good performance, despite his ho-hum accent.

               August: Osage County is, in many ways, a “dark comedy”. The film is lush with humor, and much of it comes from the interaction with the characters, specifically Violet Weston, who makes quibbles such as “Is anyone supposed to smoke?”, as well as quotes like “big bite of fear”. Though this film is meant to be a drama, the humor of the film, cannot be denied. The direction by John Wells is fairly generic except for a notable sequence where the characters get into the car with no talking while music plays instead in the background. This is Wells’ second time directing a feature film (The Company Men, 2010) and is better known as an Executive Producer of several well-known television series (eg. Southland, ER, West Wing).

                Overall, August: Osage County is not a great movie, but it does have great performances in it. A lot of people might find it hard to watch, and understandably will not like the characters, but I do not regret seeing this film at all.