'Joaquim de Almeida plays a neuroscientist attempting to help a street singer with Alzheimer's disease in Richie Adams' New Orleans-set drama.'
"The plague of Alzheimer's disease and the emotional toll it takes on caregivers has, sadly, long been a fruitful subject for drama. But Richie Adams' Of Mind and Music is a particularly moving entry in the genre, gaining strength through its undeniable authenticity. The film is based on a novel by Nicolas Bazan, a neuroscientist specializing in the subject, who also co-wrote the screenplay and executive produced. Featuring outstanding performances and making excellent use of its scenic New Orleans locations, the film handles its delicate subject matter with a deeply affecting emotional restraint.
The opening scene alone will tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has experienced the illness through a loved one. Sitting quietly with his elderly mother is Dr. Alvaro Cruz (Joaquim de Almeida), who informs her that he won't be seeing her for the next few days while he attends a medical conference in Paris. She seems to understand, but a few moments later, as he's heading out the door, she asks if she'll see him tomorrow.
"Yes, mama," he replies in a sad, resigned tone. "See you tomorrow."
She dies while he's away, leaving him both grief-stricken and guilt-ridden. He withdraws from work, consoling himself by wandering around New Orleans' French Quarter and partaking of the music both he and his mother loved. There he encounters the street performers Una Vida (Aunjanue Ellis), a singer whose ethereal voice captivates him, and her elderly guitar-playing accompanist Stompleg (Bill Cobbs).
Returning several times to hear them perform, Cruz soon realizes that the songstress is suffering from Alzheimer's and that Stompleg is as much her caregiver as her musical partner. He also discovers that her symptoms are dramatically lessened by music (an idea also explored in the recent documentary Alive Inside) and, motivated by both personal and professional reasons, he offers to lend his assistance.
The intervention proves necessary, as Una Vida's condition worsens, even as Stompleg is preparing to retire to an old age home out of state. Her adopted daughter, Jessica (Ruth Negga), is hostile to Cruz's efforts and has intense personal issues of her own. But she reluctantly agrees to help him locate Una Vida's son, who she was forced to surrender to social services when he was five years old.
Interweaving its moving tale with haunting dream sequences in which Cruz imagines himself as a child with his vibrant young mother, the film is an evocative portrait of love and loss. By the time it reaches its highly emotional final scene, it has long since earned our tears.
De Almeida, often seen in villainous roles, delivers a beautifully understated turn as the grieving doctor struggling to come to terms with loss both intellectually and emotionally. Ellis powerfully conveys the ravaging effects of her character's illness, and the ever-reliable Cobbs is terrific as her loving friend.
With its overall effect further enhanced by superb cinematography and gorgeous musical score, Of Mind and Music is a quiet gem."
Click HERE to visit OF MIND AND MUSIC.
Joaquim De Almeida
A highly esteemed film, television, and theater actor often recognized for his stunning and memorable performance as Col. Felix Cortez in Clear and Present Danger.
His recent films include the major box-office hit Fast Five of the Fast & Furious franchise, “Che: Part 2” starring with Benicio del Toro, and The Death and Life of Bobby Z alongside Olivia Wilde and Paul Walker. Many will remember him as the devastating villain in Season 3 of the popular series 24. He recently wrapped production on Our Brand is Crisis, starring opposite Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton.
Star of the epic BET event series, The Book of Negroes, based on Lawrence Hill's best-selling novel of the same name.
She recently completed production on Get On Up, director Tate Taylor's (The Help) biopic of the singer James Brown. In addition to the fourth season of the hit CBS drama, NCIS: Los Angeles, Ellis was seen in Lifetime's Abducted: The Carlina White Story, a performance that Variety called a "powerhouse.” Ellis earned a SAG Award for her performance in The Help, the 2011 blockbuster starring Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Her portrayal of Mary Ann Fisher in the biopic, Ray, also garnered a nomination for a SAG award.
Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio where his mother was a cleaning lady and his father was a construction worker. As an amateur actor in the city’s Karamu House Theater, he starred in the Ossie Davis play Purlie Victorious. Cobbs was an Air Force Radar technician for eight years. He also worked in office products at IBM and sold cars in Cleveland.
Bill has gone on to appear in such films as, Decoration Day, New Jack City, I know What You Did Last Summer, The Color Of Money and The Bodyguard. He was extraordinary opposite Duvall in indie film Get Low. Other films include Black Water Transit, The Muppets Movie, OZ The Great And Powerful.
"We've been told that life on the streets is all about survival,
but we're doing more than just surviving."
"Prepare to be moved. Shake The Dust is a powerful documentary about life on the streets where hope is fueled by music and movement. Harnessing hip hop with the reigns of breakdancing, a story of incredible perseverance and inspiring perspective unfolds. Stunning cinematography paired with a killer soundtrack sets the stage for the true stories of these young kings and queens of hip hop to be told. Walk (and dance) in the shoes of those who do more than 'survive' on the streets. They inspire." - Allie Merrick
Visit www.shakethedust.org to learn more.
"We know we can't dance our way out of poverty,
but breakdancing fills our hearts with hope."
So, how the hell does one get their hands on 10,000 feet of original 16mm footage filmed over 40 years ago in New Guinea on a search for the lost heir of one of America's most iconic families - Michael Rockefeller?
Listen up as Fraser Heston, successful filmmaker, producer and son of Charlton Heston, fills me in on his fascinating story of recovering and reclaiming this historic footage:
(FYI: This is just the beginning of the unsolved & unscripted mystery.)
A missing scion. A lost film. A dark secret. Director Fraser C. Heston and Agamemnon Films present the story of one of the most compelling unsolved mysteries of the 20th Century: the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961, and journalist Milt Machlin's epic search for the lost scion eight years later. Learn more at www.searchformichael.com.
Ever since I watched the original black and white series of Dark Shadows via Netflix, with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, I've had a 'thing' for vampires. That said, this has been (and still is) on my MUST SEE list. Ever since I met Reza Sixo Safai, one of the Executive Producers for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, I've been craving not only another conversation with him to follow our compelling first exchange, but also to see this 'moody and gorgeous' film, as described by The Hollywood Reporter. If you see it before me, be sure that you do NOT tell me how it ends. I want to find out for myself.
"The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave." -VICE
I very much enjoy the BBC and so much of its programming. Sherlock, in particular, with its exquisite cinematography, masterful writing, clever story lines and depth of charachter development make it a series that is nothing short of brilliant. Cheers to the successful resurrection & reinvention of timeless characters though a talented cast. - Allie Merrick
Yes, I understand it is a TV show. So, why would I post this piece under the 'film' category of the site? Well, it is 'filmed', isn't it? And that is beside the point, as now we are getting off topic. Back to the question at hand. Oh, that's right. I haven't asked it yet. So, here it is. Perhaps we're all a bit 'Holmes' and a bit 'Watson' as well. However, if you were mostly ONE of the two characters, which ONE would you be - Sherlock Holmes or John Watson? Both are equally important to the telling of these tales. While drastically different with personalities that are poles apart, their juxtaposition brings balance. Back to the question once again, which ONE would you be?
COMPOSERS MOVE MOVIES
With music as the fuel for film, from dramatic pauses to dynamic percussion and all matters of melodic instrumentation in between on classical instruments or foreign objects, often it is the soundtrack that provides momentum for a movie.
I attended the Film Composer Forum at the 2014 Topanga Film Festival and was reminded of how composers have the ability to change ordinary moments into extraordinary scenes. A story's tempo can be controlled by a selected pentameter bound by notes and with meter measured by orchestral sonnets. Such cinematic influence comes from what we hear, supporting the story we see. Is the score the soul of a film? I believe, in some cases, it is.
Mediated by a brilliant artist whom I now call a dear and inspiring friend, Maestro Kim Kluge, along with the lovely singer/songwriter, Wendy Smith, the Film Composer Forum featured the following panelists: Mac Quayle (Spring Breakers, Drive, The Lincoln Lawyer), Cliff Martinez (The Knick, The Normal Heart, Gray's Anatomy), Ceiri Torjussen (Live Free or Die Hard, When A Stranger Calls, Hellboy) & Nathan Barr (True Blood, Grindhouse, The Dukes of Hazard).
IN A TENT IN TOPANGA
In a tent in Topanga, each composer shared a clip singular in stye and defined by a statement of their own, resonating in volumes of audible elements. I instantly understood what I had always known but perhaps not consciously realized. Music can buy a storyline time with static visual segments supported by dynamic audible tempo. Transition can be orchestrated by tracks that provide decibel driven transfer from one scene to another. Likewise, a composer's use of constancy can provide a base for a volume of cinematic variables.
Ultimately, it was the voice of Alexander Payne that struck a cord with me when he eluded to the fact that, "Music should invite you to feel something - not tell you precisely what to feel." While auditory suggestions are acceptable, what's heard should offer options for personal, emotional interpretation. He went on to describe how directing a film is all about rhythm, as is the score of the story. It was truly inspiring to hear the account of Alexander and his team, as they shared the 'why' behind the 'what' of the films they brought to life. The pleasure was mine as I listened to stories shared by Alexander Payne (Director, producer, screenwriter - Citizen Ruth, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska), Richard Ford (Music editor - Election, Sideways, Zero Dark Thirty, American History X) & Kevin Tent (Picture editor - Blow, Girl Interrupted, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska).