Weekly Video Picks
The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn (1999)
Craftsmen who are more interested in doing excellent work than in making money are a rare breed, and the communities where they earn their living usually treat them with great respect. Noah Dearborn (Sidney Poitier) is a skilled small-town carpenter who keeps working several decades past retirement age. “What good is wanting to do something without going ahead and doing it?” he says.
An ambitious land developer (George Newbern) has plans to turn Noah's small farm into a shopping mall. When his generous offer for the property is refused, the entrepreneur attempts to have the humble craftsman declared senile so he can grab the land. The psychologist (Mary-Louise Parker) assigned to investigate the case is a close friend of the developer, but slowly she begins to understand the carpenter's ways and the high regard in which he is held by his neighbors. This TV movie dramatizes the virtues of hard work and simplicity with freshness and feeling.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
In times of great social turmoil or natural catastrophe, some people begin to believe they're living in the end times. Orthodox beliefs get set aside, and superstitions and the exploitation of religious fears blossom. The Seventh Seal, one of the Vatican's top 45 films, dramatizes the power of these ideas during the Middle Ages with vivid, symbolic imagery and a series of theological speculations rarely found in the commercial cinema.
A cerebral knight (Max von Sydow) and his cynical squire (Gunnar Bjornstrand) are crusaders returning from the Holy Land, exhausted physically and spiritually. Writer-director Ingmar Bergman (Wild Strawberries) contrasts their loss of faith with the simpler, more natural beliefs of a juggler (Nils Poppe) and his wife (Bibi Andersson). They all join forces with a band of traveling players and come into conflict with the Slaves of Sin, a group of heretical flagellants led by the knight's former theology teacher, who's manipulating the apocalyptic fears of the peasant populace.
The Big Parade (1925)
A new generation is rediscovering the beauty of silent movies, marveling at the way powerful drama can be expressed through physical gestures, facial expressions and epic tableaux alone. The Big Parade is reported to be the highest-grossing silent film of all time. Director King Vidor (The Crowd) creates a vigorous, emotionally involving, anti-war movie by combining stomach-churning, panoramic battle scenes with intimate, personal stories. The violence and horror of World War I trench warfare is realistically contrasted with the romanticized notions of battle on the home front.
Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) is persuaded by his flighty girlfriend, Justyn (Claire Adams), and domineering father (Hobart Bosworth) to enlist in the army. Then Justyn dumps him while he's away. Jim suffers terribly in combat but meets a sweet-tempered Frenchwoman (Renee Adoree) who promises to stick by him. The scene where he takes leave of her to return to the front is one of the most famous tearful farewells in movie history.
— John Prizer------- EXCERPT:
- Feb. 11-17, 2001