Author Topic: Around the World in 86 Movies  (Read 27650 times)

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #45 on: February 01, 2013, 04:21:23 AM »
Where we're going next:  Senegal

I only have the one film from Senegal, Touki Bouki, so that's what we'll be watching.  I'm probably being optimistic, but I'm shooting for Saturday or Sunday.  *crosses fingers*
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #46 on: February 04, 2013, 04:54:04 AM »
Where We Are: Senegal
wikipedia



Touki Bouki

Year of Release:  1973
Starring:  Magaye Niang, Mareme Niang
Directed By:  Djibril Diop Mambety
Genre:  Drama, Adventure, Avant-Garde

Overview:
Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety's story of two young lovers who long to escape to Paris is a legend in African cinema. Like their New Wave counterparts in France, young Mory and his girlfriend Anta are alienated from their own society and imagine freedom far from the dusty streets of their hometown Dakar. Living at the edge of the heaving, crystal-blue ocean, their dream city doesn't seem so far away, and the lovers embark on an exhilarating picaresque adventure as they try to hustle the money for their passage. They try gambling but lose; they steal the receipts of a charity wrestling match, but take the wrong strongbox. Finally, they manage to rob a rich, predatory man and escape in his roadster. Flushed with victory, Mory imagines himself riding triumphantly into Dakar like a Wolof prince, and suddenly Paris and all its mysteries are within their reach.

A rueful parable about fear and freedom, Touki Bouki has the restless energy of modernity and all the power of traditional African symbolism. Mory's motorbike is accessorized with a pair of cattle horns mounted on the handlebars, and Josephine Baker's sweet voice leads them on thorugh their journey. But the rift between these two worlds is all too real. Though both Mory and Anta board the ocean liner that will take them to their destination, only one of them will stay on to face the truth of realizing a dream.

My Thoughts:
A powerful and challenging film, Touki Bouki is film for exercising your brain.  It was very good, but a lot of the points of the film are in its symbology.  Africans are the cattle lead to the slaughter of colonialism/imperialism, a white "cave man" living in a baobab may be both the off-color of white images of Africans and the death of the wilderness when he is slain in a motorcycle accident.  It's a film with questions:  Can the traditions of the past reconcile with the press of modernity?  Can we have both?  What is freedom and what is success and how do we obtain it?  Is it better to be nobody in your own land or try for something else in a foreign land? 

I think I might have had an easier time with this if I was more familiar with Senegalese culture, but I still found it to be a very good film and I'm glad we watched it.

For anyone who might consider watching Touki Bouki, I should warn you that the cattle slaughter scene at the beginning of the film is VERY graphic and disturbing.  Also, don't touch this with a ten-foot pole if you aren't up for figuring out symbolic meanings, allusion and non-linear storytelling.  Strictly for foreign film lovers and those who like avant-garde film.

Bechdel Test:  Yes, barely

Overall:  4/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #47 on: February 04, 2013, 04:57:38 AM »
Instead of proceeding logically, as we have in our previous films, we're thinking of just skipping around Africa and watching films as we get a chance.  We'll have more opportunity to watch them sooner if we don't wait to get to the shorter films. 

The way I had planned it we would go to Mali next and watch Yeelen.  However we might go to Niger and watch The Great Match instead.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #48 on: February 11, 2013, 05:24:50 AM »
Where We Are:  Niger
wikipedia

What We Watched


La Gran Final  (The Great Match)
Year of Release:  2006
Starring:  Atibou Aboubacar, Shag Humar Khan, Wirapitang Kaapor
Directed By:  Gerardo Olivares
Genre:  Comedy

Overview:
The Great Match tells the adventurous story of three soccer fans, none of whom have ever met, but who nevertheless have two things in common: firstly, they all live in the farthest-flung corners of the planet and, secondly, they are all determined to watch the TV broadcast of the 2002 World Cup final. The protagonists in this global comedy are a family of Mongolian nomads, a camel caravan of Tuareg in the Sahara, and a group of Indios in the Amazon.

My Thoughts:
First I should let you know that Film Movement lists this film for Niger, Mongolia and Brazil, while IMDB lists it for Spain and Germany - definitely an international co-production!  I'm including it in the marathon here because of the Niger aspect.  It's a funny, fascinating little film about the lengths men will go to for soccer fandom.  It's a colorful look at three very different traditional cultures, with a quiet look at class and politics on the side.  It's a good look at how very different, and how very similar we all are.  Recommended for just about anyone who doesn't mind a subtitled film.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall: 3/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #49 on: February 13, 2013, 06:16:08 PM »
BONUS SHORT FILM!

Where We Are: Kenya
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Pumzi
Year of Release: 2009
Starring:  Kudzani Moswela
Directed By:  Wanuri Kahiu
Genre:  Science-Fiction

Overview:
Focus' Africa First program is an initiative designed exclusively for filmmakers of African nationality and residence, and presents annual awards to the best and brightest from around the continent. After touring film festivals around the world, these Africa First short films are now available for audiences everywhere:

Dyana Gaye's ST. LOUIS BLUES, an invigorating traveling musical; Jenna Bass' THE TUNNEL, a moving story of a young girl in search of her father; Jan-Hendrik Beetge's THE ABYSS BOYS a coming-of-age tale amidst rampant corruption and gang violence; and Wanuri Kahiu's PUMZI a startling vision of the future.

My Thoughts:
Pumzi is a short film, only 20 minutes long, a perfect length to watch over breakfast.  It's also a really great film!  It proves you don't need a big budget or lots of special effects to make smart, intelligent science fiction.  Asha lives in a world where the most precious and scarce commodity is water.  Every drop must be recycled.  The world outside their city enclave is a barren wasteland.  When she is sent a soil sample that is not radioactive and has an abnormally high water content, what discoveries will this lead her to?

While short, Pumzi gives you enough details about Asha's world for you to fill in the details for yourself.  It's a frighteningly realistic choice for a sci-fi setting, considering the recent droughts around the world and the usage and projected future of our water supply.  Aside from this DVD, IMDB says that Pumzi is also available from Netflix.  Highly recommended!

Bechdel Test:  Pass

Overall:  4.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #50 on: February 15, 2013, 01:18:44 AM »
ANOTHER BONUS SHORT FILM!

Where We Are: Senegal
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Un transport un commun (Saint Louis Blues)
Year of Release: 2009
Starring:  Umban Gomez de Kset, Mbègne Kassé, Anne Jeanine Barboza, Bigué N'Doye, Adja Fall
Directed By:  Dyana Gaye
Genre:  Musical, Comedy, Road Movie

Overview:
Focus' Africa First program is an initiative designed exclusively for filmmakers of African nationality and residence, and presents annual awards to the best and brightest from around the continent. After touring film festivals around the world, these Africa First short films are now available for audiences everywhere:

Dyana Gaye's ST. LOUIS BLUES, an invigorating traveling musical; Jenna Bass' THE TUNNEL, a moving story of a young girl in search of her father; Jan-Hendrik Beetge's THE ABYSS BOYS a coming-of-age tale amidst rampant corruption and gang violence; and Wanuri Kahiu's PUMZI a startling vision of the future.

My Thoughts:
Saint Louis Blues reminded me of community theatre.  The atmosphere was fun, the performances earnest but unpolished, the production lacking in any sort of real budget, but an enjoyable, entertaining time nonetheless.  It's obvious all the actors are amateurs, but they're having a good time making this little musical and I had a good time watching it over breakfast.

This is director Dyana Gaye's fourth short film, and it seems she's currently seeking funding for a full-length feature.  While Saint Louis Blues lacks polish and depth when compared to Pumzi, I enjoyed it and Gaye has obvious talent and I wouldn't mind seeing more from her.

Bechdel Test:  Pass

Overall:  3/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #51 on: February 16, 2013, 05:28:27 AM »
Where We Are:  Egypt
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Bab el hadid (Cairo Station)
Year of Release:  1958
Starring:  Youssef Chahine, Hind Rostom, Farid Shawqi, Hassan el Baroudi
Directed By: Youssef Chahine
Genre:  Drama, Suspense/Thriller, Film Noir

Overview:
As shocking today as it was in 1958, Cairo Station is the great Egyptian director Youssef Chahine's masterpiece – a street-level expose of sexual obsession and working-class madness that's as grimy and claustrophobic as its Cairo railway station setting. From its noirish opening scene, in which a scruffy newspaper hawker discovers a rag-strewn living quarters filled with cutout girlie pictures, it's clear that the film has departed from the upper-class realms of typical 1950s Arab cinema.

Chahine moves his camera as fluidly as a sleepwalker through a nightmarish world where, as luggage porters strive to unionize and all sections of society swarm along the tracks, the crippled street vendor Qinawi (played by Chahine himself) feverishly desires a brash, beautiful and utterly uninterested lemonade seller with disastrous results. Combining Italian neorealism, Egyptian romanticism and overheated film noir, Cairo Station was unlike anything anyone had seen on movie screens before.

My Thoughts:
What a great film!  It has everything - great cinematography and lighting, a gritty realistic look, and solid acting from its players, most especially Chahine himself.  In fact, Chahine's performance as Qinawi is stunning.  You have a great sympathy for him while still being repulsed by his sexual obsessions and fearful of his instability.  Other stories weave themselves into the main one (the workers unionizing, Qinawi's boss following a murder story in the paper, a young couple in love forced to part) adding to the tapestry of Cairo Station.  Yet we never lose sight of Qinawi and the tragedy that is his life.  Brilliant, vivid, and dark, I would recommend this to any fans of film noir or Hitchcock. 

Bechdel Test:  Pass, barely

Overall:  4.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #52 on: February 18, 2013, 05:27:39 AM »
Where We Are:  Mozambique
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land)
Year of Release: 2007
Starring: Nick Lauro Teresa, Aladino Jasse, Hélio Fumo, Ilda Gonzalez
Directed By: Teresa Prata
Genre: Drama, War

Overview:
In the midst of Mozambique's devastating civil war, Muidinga, an orphaned refugee, wanders the countryside in search of his mother.  His only companion is an elderly storyteller, and the only guide to finding his mother is a dead man's diary.  Together the storyteller and diary lead him on a magical, and sometimes macabre, journey across war-torn landscapes to find the family he lost.  Based on Mia Coutou's acclaimed Portuguese novel of the same name, Teresa Prata's transporting drama underscores the power of imagination in surviving, and ultimately overcoming, the catastrophe of war.

My Thoughts:
I'm a bit overwhelmed as to what to say.  This is a powerful film.  It has a lot to say about the effect of ongoing war on civilian populations, on the madness of madness of inter-tribal conflict and prejudice.  When the shopkeeper says that the kind of men he likes are those of "no color," it really resonates to conflict around the globe, not just Mozambique.

This is another low-budget film with amateur actors, but the two leads, Nick Laura Teresa as Muidinga and Aladino Jasse as Tuahir, are really good in their roles.  Jasse really brings Tuahir to life.  I was especially struck by the scene where he recalls life before the war, when he worked for the railroad, and how he brings that to life for Muidinga. 

This is, in part, magical realism, and as such can be read in multiple ways.  Tuahir and Muidinga journey in circles, ever-returning to the burned-out bus they first settle in.  Later the bus moves while they remain in it.  It is left to the viewer whether you believe in the magic, or it is simply their hallucination as the events of their lives overwhelm them.  Just as you are left to decide whether the story of Kindzu that Muidinga reads from the journal has happened as Muidinga reads it, or is it something that Muidinga is embellishing or making up.  The ending is equally ambiguous, letting the viewer end the story themselves.

This is a very compelling film, well made despite its budgetary limitations, but given the subject matter not for the tender-hearted.  There's also one scene that would offend most of my friends -
(click to show/hide)
- so let me also say that it's not for the easily offended.  It's a scene that could have been left out, but also makes sense in context.  Your mileage may vary, but that scene made me decide I could never show this great film to several of my closest friends and why I didn't rate the film higher.  Otherwise, recommended.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #53 on: February 26, 2013, 02:55:36 AM »
Where We Are:  Chad
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Abouna
Year of Release: 2002
Starring: Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aquid, Zara Haroun, Mounira Khalil
Directed By: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Genre: Drama

Overview:
From a dusty village in the Republic of Chad, two brothers, Amine and Tahir, set out in a search of their father. Reflecting the rhythms of Africa, ABOUNA is a film rich in culture with a deep understanding of the human condition in general and youth in particular. This devastatingly powerful, magnificently photographed drama is director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's triumphant follow-up to his international award-winning BYE BYE AFRICA.

My Thoughts:
This was a good film.  The overview is a bit misleading, as the film is really about how the boys deal with their father leaving, and more of a emotional searching for him in their lives than a physical searching for him.  The actors playing the two boys are particularly good.  This film is less about plot than it is about character and relationships, and those are the parts that are well developed.  There's also a lot of things that are unspoken and not shown, but must be inferred by the audience.  The film is a plea for families to stay together, to be whole, and for communication within the family.  Questions go unanswered for the boys, especially for Amine, that his anxiety over what he doesn't understand brings him great grief, and that in turn leads to grief in others.  Another thing that must be said is that the film is very well made, despite the obviously low budget, with the lighting choices being particularly distinctive.  Recommended.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #54 on: March 12, 2013, 02:43:49 AM »
Where We Are: South Africa
wikipedia

What We Watched:


We Are Together
Year of Release: 2007
Starring: The Children of Agape
Directed By: Paul Taylor
Genre: Documentary

Overview:
WE ARE TOGETHER tells the remarkable and moving story of a group of children who use music to overcome hardship and loss.  Filmed over a period of three years, it is the story of an orphanage unlike any you've ever seen, where the young singers of the Agape Choir lift their voices to create the home and family they so very much need.

Life has not been easy for 12-year-old Slindile and her siblings living at the Agape Orphanage in South Africa, where most of the children have lost their parents to AIDS.  These toddlers and teenagers squabble and stumble just like other youths, discovering themselves, and craving stability.  Having already borne great hardships, Slindile along with her sisters and baby brother must endure the fact that their elder brother Sifiso has been diagnosed with AIDS and is slowly wasting away due to lack of medical care.  And yet, when they lift their voices in song, something extraordinary happens they overcome their fears, band together as a family, and find opportunities for hope.

My Thoughts:
We've all heard about the epidemic of AIDS in Africa.  Here we have a look at the children left behind.  This is a heart-wrenching story of a family broken up by AIDS but still holding together, still loving and supporting each other.  It's also a story of hope and giving and what people can do for one another.  Worth watching if you don't mind sentiment.

Bechdel Test: Pass

Overall:  3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #55 on: March 12, 2013, 02:51:15 AM »
Where We Are:  Algeria
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Mascarades (Masquerades)
Year of Release: 2008
Starring: Lyes Salem, Sarah Reguieg, Rym Takoucht, Merouane Zmirli, Mohamed Bouchaib
Directed By: Lyes Salem
Genre: Comedy, Romance

Overview:
After working for much of his life as a gardener in his dusty Algerian village, Mounir dreams of improving his family's fortune and gaining a measure of respect by marrying off his narcoleptic sister, Rym, to a "real gentleman."  However, Rym has other plans—she dreams of marrying Mounir's best friend, Khliffa, who has secretly courted her for years.  When Mounir lashes out at village gossip with a fib that he has promised Rym to a wealthy outsider, she comes out of her sleepy stupor to embrace the rumor and press her real boyfriend into action.  Beautifully brought to life by a memorable cast—including director Lyes Salem as the cocky but compassionate bumbler Mounir—this heartfelt comedy suggests that when dreams become reality, it's time to wake up.

My Thoughts:
What a fun film!  After We Are Together we really needed something to pick up our spirits, and this definitely fit the bill.  Salem is simply perfect as Mounir, giving us a great performance as this man who is simply looking for a bit of respect from his neighbors.  Takoucht is also really great as his feisty wife.  It has a great message too, about following through with one's dreams and finding respect comes from within one own self.  Recommended for just about anyone.

Bechdel Test:  Pass

Overall:  3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #56 on: March 12, 2013, 03:00:59 AM »
Where We Are:  Mali
wikipedia

What We Watched:


Yeelen
Year of Release: 1987
Starring: Isiyaka Kane, Awa Sangare, Nyamanto Sanògò, Bala Musa Keyita
Directed By: Souleymane Cissé
Genre: Fantasy

Overview:
Souleymane Cissé is one of Africa's leading directors. He was born in 1940 in Bamako, the capital of Mali, where he now lives. After studying filmmaking in Moscow in the 1960s, he returned to Bamako where he began directing short and eventually feature films. Overcoming the difficulties of finance and distribution that plague African Cinema, Cissé's work has been widely seen and acclaimed in Europe and the United States.

Souleymane Cissé's cinematic vision encompasses both the historical and traditional culture of Africa (specifically the Bambara legends of Mali) and the political and social tensions of modern society. While largely regarded as one of the pioneers of African Cinema, Cissé's work has been largely unavailable on video in the United States.

This adaptation of an ancient oral legend from Mali, is one the most acclaimed and widely seen African films ever made. An Oedipal story mixed with magic, YEELEN is as visually stunning as anything from Hollywood.

Set in the powerful Mali Empire of the 13th century, YEELEN follows the journey of Nianankoro, a young warrior who must battle the powerful Komo cult. Nianankoro's greatest enemy is his own father, a dangerous and corrupt wizard who uses his dark magic to try and destroy his son. Traveling over the arid Bambara, Fulani and Dogan lands of ancient West Africa, Nianankoro eventually comes face to face with his father in a final fatal showdown. Cissé's extraordinary use of landscapes and light produces a unique and striking cinematic style.

My Thoughts:
Based on a legend, this is a film rich with symbolism and style.  Cissé makes wonderful use of the settings of his film, of light and dark, of water, earth, fire and sky.  It's a very African film, and I expect I would have understood it's depths much more were I familiar with the legend.  As it is, it's a window into the world of traditional African beliefs and timeless world myths, a multi-layered story that is both foreign and familiar at the same time.  Highly recommended if you want a film to think about afterward.

Bechdel Test: Fail

Overall:  4/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #57 on: March 13, 2013, 04:27:29 AM »
ANOTHER BONUS SHORT FILM!

Where We Are: South Africa
wikipedia

What We Watched:


The Tunnel
Year of Release: 2010
Starring:  Sibulele Mlumbi
Directed By:  Jenna Bass
Genre:  Drama

Overview:
Focus' Africa First program is an initiative designed exclusively for filmmakers of African nationality and residence, and presents annual awards to the best and brightest from around the continent. After touring film festivals around the world, these Africa First short films are now available for audiences everywhere:

Dyana Gaye's ST. LOUIS BLUES, an invigorating traveling musical; Jenna Bass' THE TUNNEL, a moving story of a young girl in search of her father; Jan-Hendrik Beetge's THE ABYSS BOYS a coming-of-age tale amidst rampant corruption and gang violence; and Wanuri Kahiu's PUMZI a startling vision of the future.

My Thoughts:
This was a really great, really powerful short film about the purges in Zimbabwe in the 1980's.  It's a difficult story too, about the evil that men perpetrate on others.   Highly recommended, very worth watching, but don't expect anything happy.

Bechdel Test:  Pass, barely

Overall:  4.25/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #58 on: March 13, 2013, 04:34:35 AM »
ANOTHER BONUS SHORT FILM!

Where We Are: South Africa
wikipedia

What We Watched:


The Abyss Boys
Year of Release: 2009
Starring:  Travis Snyders, Moegammad Ja'Qoob Isaacs, Brendon Daniels
Directed By:  Jan-Hendrik Beetge
Genre:  Drama, Crime

Overview:
Focus' Africa First program is an initiative designed exclusively for filmmakers of African nationality and residence, and presents annual awards to the best and brightest from around the continent. After touring film festivals around the world, these Africa First short films are now available for audiences everywhere:

Dyana Gaye's ST. LOUIS BLUES, an invigorating traveling musical; Jenna Bass' THE TUNNEL, a moving story of a young girl in search of her father; Jan-Hendrik Beetge's THE ABYSS BOYS a coming-of-age tale amidst rampant corruption and gang violence; and Wanuri Kahiu's PUMZI a startling vision of the future.

My Thoughts:
This was another powerful short film, this time about two boys caught up in abalone smuggling.  The oldest wants to get out, but the younger is still dazzled by the thoughts of the lucrative trade.  It's very realistic, or seems so to me, and doesn't end well for the boys, and the film ought to be shown to any youngster who thinks that a life of crime is cool.  Recommended and well worth watching, but again, don't expect a happy ending.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  4/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Around the World in 86 Movies
« Reply #59 on: March 13, 2013, 04:37:30 AM »
As an aside, if anyone likes short films, I was really pleased with the quality of Africa First: Volume One.  Three of the four shorts are really great films, and even the weakest one on the disc is still above average.  It's a burn-on-demand, which sucks, but otherwise I'm really happy I picked it up and would recommend it to any film lover.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield