Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for December, 2017

Vermeer, Beyond Time – Rich in detail and history of Vermeer’s work and the time in which he lived.

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Vermeer, Beyond Time explores the life and work of one of the most loved, influential, and well-known artists, Johannes Vermeer. Images from his paintings have become part of our collective imagination and are instantly recognizable. KIDS FIRST! Juror Terry S. comments, “Those who are into art and art history and who want to know more about Vermeer’s technique and the time he lived in will particularly enjoy it.” See her full review below.

Vermeer, Beyond Time
By Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of seeing Vermeer’s paintings and scenes of modern day Holland, as well as museum goers viewing and admiring his works in the museums of Europe today.

Vermeer, Beyond Time is a documentary film portraying the interesting life and work  of the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. Today he is admired and loved for well- known paintings such as “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” “The Lacemaker,” “Girl by an Open Window” and others.

Narrated by well-known actor, comedian and musician Steve Martin who weaves a story of the trials and tribulations that Vermeer experienced in his short life. He died in 1672 at the age of 40, destitute and desperate.

What I found extremely interesting and was unaware of, is that after his death, twenty years later, in 1696, twenty-one of his works were sold and then disappeared for 150 years. They were discovered later, in the middle of the 19th century. Admired by masters of his time such as Rembrandt, Peter de Hooch as well as the writer Marcel Proust, he never got to see the fruits of his creative labor.

Born in 1645, Vermeer came from humble beginnings. At the age of 21, he married into wealth and his marriage changed the course of his life.  He fell in love with an older woman very different from him, had 15 children and a mother-in-law who was instrumental in his career. His life was imbued with his family of women.

Yet in his paintings, there is an element of mystery as he was known for silence, solitude and thought in his approach. When one looks at his paintings, it’s as if time disappears. Historians wonder why he painted so few pictures and yet for those known today, people are extremely passionate. His paintings tell stories and represent symbols of a society in Delft, which had a leading economy and was the richest city in Europe at that time. This is known as the golden age in Holland, as people were creating their own culture.

Vermeer had an intense engagement and admiration for women, and his paintings portray them in a refined manner. He painted elegant women and men of learning, and  introduced musical instruments into many of his paintings.

The film explores his techniques and approach in great detail.  One of his paintings created in the golden age of 1657-8, called “Little Street” is discussed as an exercise of the mind. It is suggested that perhaps the artist reinvented reality by imagining and creating a house as the central character, with a woman doing needlework, a servant girl cleaning the yard and a small boy and girl at play.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18 as well as adults. Those who are into art and art history and who want to know more about Vermeer’s technique and the time he lived in will particularly enjoy it. It is rich in detail and history of that time. This film is available now on DVD so be sure to check it out.

The MeshugaNutcracker – Fantastic Musical Comedy for the Holiday Seasona

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Fathom events and Guggenheim Entertainment present The MeshugaNutcracker! This Chanukah musical will play in select cinemas nationwide for a special one-night event on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. This musical comedy features the wonderfully silly sensibilities of the folklore of Chelm (a fictional town of fools) underscored by an invigorating Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” including original lyrics that celebrate Chanukah. Add in dancing dreidels, singing sufganiot, and surprise guest stars and you have the perfect recipe for a holiday outing! Jews and non-Jews alike will delight in this original musical celebrating all things Chanukah. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maria G. comments, “This full-length musical comedy is not afraid of getting a bit silly with its several stories and performances. It is fantastic musical to experience during this holiday season, filled with amazing performances, beautiful costumes and songs that will motivate you to sing along.” See her full review below.

The MeshugaNutcracker
By Maria G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

The MeshugaNutratcker is not your average Christmas musical.This full-length musical comedy is not afraid of getting a bit silly with its several stories and performances. It is fantastic musical to experience during this holiday season, filled with amazing performances, beautiful costumes and songs that will motivate you to sing along. This is a must see family musical that you, like me are sure to enjoy watching.

 

‘Tis the season for celebrating Chanukah in the first ever Jewish centered musical comedy, The MeshugaNutcracker which takes place in the small fictional town of Chelm where you will relive eight distinct stories, all relating to the story of Chanukah. The whole performance captures and compliments the essence of the original songs that celebrate the story of Chanukah. In the new state of Israel, The MeshugaNutcracker recounts the story of Judah Maccabee, the perseverance of the Holocaust and the celebration of the first Chanukah, all while being filled with silliness and glee.

The acting in this musical is Emmy Award worthy and is performed by a group of actors that came together to produce a grand piece. From the producers to the writers to the actors, we see the results of a team of talented individuals that bring this show to life. Written and directed by Scott Evan Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim and Stephen Guggenheim, the musical comedy features the silly sensibilities of the folklore of Chelm (a fictional town of fools), an invigorating orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” and eight talented actors including Jackson Davis, Lynda DiVito, Susan Gundunas, Jeremy Kreamer, Benjamin Pither, Krista Wigle.

Whether or not you partake in the celebration of Chanukah, this two-hour musical will capture your heart in so many amazing ways. My favorite parts are the costumes and production itself. The eye catching and distinct vibrant color of each character’s costume gives them a unique identity. The costume designs are particularly interesting with all the Jewish symbols that are used. The symbols help to embodying the Jewish culture throughout the film. Furthermore, I enjoyed watching the production aspects of the musical and seeing how they transition from different scenes in a matter of seconds. The production team switches from different sets and props in the blink of an eye.

From the phenomenal acting to the original songs, this is the perfect musical comedy to watch with your whole family during this holiday season, particularly if you are Jewish. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This film is being brought to select theaters through Fathom Events on December 19, 2017 so check your local theater for details.

 

Ferdinand – Delightful Animated Treasure

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Ferdinand is a young bull who escapes from a training camp in rural Spain after his father never returns from a showdown with a matador. Adopted by a girl who lives on a farm, Ferdinand’s peaceful existence comes crashing down when the authorities return him to his former captors. With help from a wisecracking goat and three hedgehogs, the giant but gentle bovine must find a way to break free before he squares off against El Primero, the famous bullfighter who never loses. KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Kimbirly O. comments, “Along with the animation, the messages in this film are beautiful. Be yourself is the overall theme.” See her full review below.

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Ferdinand, a book published in 1936 as Ferdinand The Bull, is now a delightful animated major motion picture from 20th Century Fox. My favorite parts of this film are the animation, especially the rain scene, and the casting.

Ferdinand is voiced by John Cena, known as a WWE pro-wrestler! Selecting Mr. Cena for this role is brilliant. His soft and calm voice brings life to a bull who is not like the rest of the herd. He is peaceful, while all the other bulls in the pen long to fight “El Primo,” Spain’s best bullfighter.

Along with the animation, the messages in this film are beautiful. Be yourself is the overall theme. Ferdinand helps his friends along as they seek to find out who they are, beyond their furry exteriors and reputations as bulls, and sometimes, bullies.

Ferdinand, knowing he does not want to fight in the bullring, has an opportunity to run away from ‘Case de Toro’ and finds a new home with a family in a neighboring town. Not only is his new home filled with love and a loving little girl, but it is also a flower farm. Flowers are Ferdinand’s favorite things! The scenes of how he grows up with the little girl and her family are precious and laugh-out-loud funny!

The sweet story of a peaceful bull takes a turn after Ferdinand mistakenly creates a mishap and gets captured. He is mistaken for a beast and sadly, recaptured and sent back to Casa del Toro. As he ultimately gets selected for the ring, the lessons he shares with his pen mates are relatable to everyone.

Like most animated films, all the animals talk and delight with their comical antics. The hedgehogs made me laugh out loud! The most significant surprise, as the film credits rolled, is to learn that one character, Guapo, is voiced by NFL great, retired Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning! Is there anything he can’t do?

Ferdinand is a must-see for the whole family with humor throughout, great music, lessons for all and now, enjoying the adulation of awards season. Ferdinand is nominated for two Golden Globes and four Annie Awards.

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