January 13, 2016

Palm Springs and Movies: The Perfect Combination

We didn't get to use the table..too cool and wet!
Betty and I are just back from a week in Palm Springs. For the second year we joined friends Mike and Tamara Reddy in this desert community for the International Film Festival. 

Started in 1989 by then mayor, Sonny Bono, the festival is held over an 11 day period each January. An estimated 130,000 people enjoy close to 200 different movies from 60 different countries, screened from early each morning to late each night. We stayed just six days, but that was plenty to get our fix of new films (that aren't named Star Wars).


Snow on the mountains just west of downtown Palm Springs

The weather was cool (actually downright cold at times!)  and on-and-off very wet so we didn't do very many outside activities. Even so, the time with good friends doing something we enjoy made the lack of warm sunshine not a problem. 

The RV was snug and dry, the furnace and hot water heater worked well. Towards the end of the week, the sun came out and Betty took some beautiful photos.

The first movie we saw was so good, I could have made the whole trip just to see that one film and be satisfied. The Carer was an engaging study of a famous actor approaching the end of his life, fighting against aging and its limitations. His latest caregiver is a young Hungarian woman who helps him love again and share his knowledge of his craft. The cast's performances ring true and create characters that you know and care about by film's end.


In a special moment Betty and I got to meet the actor, Brian Cox, who starred as the aging performer. I shook his hand and complimented him on his performance and the power of the film. He graciously thanked me and Betty for our thoughts. If The Carer comes to a theater in your town I highly recommend it. There are a fair number of F-words, but no sex or violence.

Rams was our next film. It is a moving story of two brothers who are sheep herders in rural Iceland and haven't spoken in 40 years, even though they live  within 50 yards of each other. The discovery of a deadly disease forces the destruction of all the sheep in the area and pits the two brothers against each other until dire circumstances force them to work together, and eventually save each other's lives (we think!). Powerfully told and photographed, Rams was a story that stuck with us well after its conclusion.

A Pakistani film, Moor, was the most intense of the films Betty and I saw, and the one that left us torn in our reaction to it. It was a multi-layered, complex story of the destruction of the train system in rural Pakistan and its effect on families. Ultimately, Moor became a lesson in moral decision making and the powerful impact of poor choices on others. Slow to get going, this movie was beautifully shot and edited, and eventually became a memorable experience. 

Next up was The Good American, a true story about a handful of people who had discovered a better way to break codes and analyze intelligence coming from our enemies in ways that could have prevented 9/11. But, politics and money interests meant the ground-breaking work was ignored, then destroyed.

Eventually, the people were investigated and threatened with imprisonment, all for finding a way to protect this country from terrorist attacks. Excellent graphics helped, but the movie was slow paced and predictable. The fact that the best ideas don't necessarily see the light of day should come as a surprise to no one.

Sherpa was the visually stunning, true story, of a 2014 avalanche that killed 16 of the Sherpa guides who were preparing to take a group of climbers to the summit of Mount Everest. Documentary filmmakers were actually present when a massive ice fall killed the men. 

What had begun as a study of the Sherpa lifestyle suddenly became the story of a revolution of the Mount Everest industry. After decades of poor pay and incredibly dangerous work, the tragedy was the final straw that prompted Himalayan guides to demand changes to how they were treated and utilized. The movie was moving on so many levels and was so much more than just the aftermath of a disaster.

Our last film was Heavenly Nomadic. Betty loved its portrayal of the rural lifestyle of a family living in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan, struggling with death and promises of a different life. While a beautifully photographed film, I found it slow and plodding. I must admit I almost nodded off a few times. But, that is what is so much fun about film festivals. Each of us had different take-aways from each of the movies we saw. Time after each film was spent sharing reactions and insights.

We will be back next year for another special time with friends and films.





Betty going Hollywood with snappy hat and scarf

Me, too!

Waiting in lines....and waiting some more



Beautiful outside seating area at a downtown restaurant

No longer a movie house, but a big part of Palm Spring's history
Fascinating water fountain
Pretty walkway downtown
The usual suspects

Until next year

18 comments:

  1. Small world...we look forward to meeting Mike and Tamara at the end of March!

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. You will enjoy them...the energizer couple!

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  2. Looks like loads of fun! Love the pictures.
    b

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    1. It is always enjoyable. Palm Springs has enough restaurants to keep us busy for months!

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  3. I miss film festivals in our rural small town! The idea of making it the central theme of a trip is great! Must look into the possibilities! Enjoyed your reviews. The plus/minus of film comes out full force in a film festival marathon!

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    1. They are fun as a way to experience movies you wouldn't normally get to see. We will go back to Palm Springs next year, attend a few film discussion groups in Scottsdale, as well as the Scottsdale Film Festival next fall. Also, the people who attend are usually a fascinating group to meet during the waits in the lines before each movie.

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  4. Thanks for the recommendations. I've printed out the post, and will be looking for these films at our local arthouse theater. P. S. The two of you are looking very "Hollywood"!

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    1. I am not sure where I can wear the hat in Phoenix, but it is a new look for me, and I like it!

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  5. Nice pics by Betty; she has a great touch. Thought about your RVing while we were here in Daytona Beach. They had two large RV shows, one at the Ocean Walk coliseum, and the other at the Speedway. We learned a ton and saw dozens and dozens of units.

    I have a wife who moved to TN five years ago, when I thought I would never get her out of NY. Now she would even be willing to give up the homeownership gig in favor of a 40 foot or so Diesel pusher on a permanent basis. Go figure.

    Continued safe travels as you two continue your excellent adventures.

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    1. Full timing is something we have discussed, and rejected, as not right for us. There are around one million folks who do live year round in an RV and most seem quite content with the lifestyle. For the adventurous and those without strong family commitments or ties in a particular area it has its attractions.

      I will pass along your compliments on Betty's photos.

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  6. Hi Bob ... I finished watching the trailer for the The Carer...looks wonderful! Thanks for the recommendation. Palm Springs is one of my favourite spots. Mountains and desert all in one!
    Robin

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    1. Based on the subject matter and language I imagine The Carer is destined for art house type movie theaters, but it worth the effort to find. The young woman who becomes the lead character's caregiver is a perfect mix of compassion and steely reserve.

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  7. Looks like everyone had a wonderful time.

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  8. 3 movies I've watched this month: Cloudburst, Learning to Drive and A Walk In The Woods. They aren't new releases but thought provoking. Cloudburst and A Walk In The Woods might be offensive to some with crude language but there's some coming-of-age content for retirees.

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    1. Walk in the Woods is one I want to see. Cloudburst and Learning to Drive are new titles for me and ones I will check out. Thanks, Mona.

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    2. Walk in the Woods is one I want to see. Cloudburst and Learning to Drive are new titles for me and ones I will check out. Thanks, Mona.

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    3. Walk in the Woods is one I want to see. Cloudburst and Learning to Drive are new titles for me and ones I will check out. Thanks, Mona.

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