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“Becoming Santa”–Home for the Holidays

I saw this delectable morsel of an indie film at the Napa Valley Film Festival last month and had a chance to talk with Jeff Myers, the director, for a few moments afterwards.  The backstory is fascinating but the movie stands on its own. “Becoming Santa,” reveals a lot more about the human spirit and generosity towards the tiniest among us than any Christmas tale or Christmas carol out there. ‘Becoming Santa’ is the story of Jack Sanderson, whose father has just passed away, leaving him with no family members to celebrate Christmas.  He is a forty-four year old bachelor who...

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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers–The Most Famous Whistleblower of Our Time?

Nominated for a 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary, this past June marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, which was forced to stop publishing by a cease-and-desist order mandated by the Nixon administration. “The Most Dangerous Man in America” tells the inside story through the narration of Daniel Ellsberg himself, of this game-changing event that ended the Vietnam war and transformed our nation’s political discourse. This documentary is riveting because of the historic footage of Ellsberg, his colleagues, family and...

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“J. Edgar”—Investigating the Investigator

  Based upon a script by “Milk” screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, and directed by Clint Eastwood, “J. Edgar” is a biopic of the controversial FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. In this spellbinding movie, Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Hoover, ages five decades, as he grows from an ambitious young law enforcer to the most powerful, controversial,  and intimidating FBI director the US has ever known.  Even presidents feared him. “J. Edgar” depicts Hoover’s early career (the 1930’s), including raids on Communist “radicals” and organized crime,...

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Napa Valley Film Festival–Is this the next Sundance?

Last week (November 9-13) I attended the inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) with a friend who lives in Calistoga and has volunteered in the festival’s planning.  Over 100 films were presented, many for the first time at any film festival, in 12 screening locations from Napa to Calistoga.  Along with viewing films we had the  pleasure of tasting fine wines from local wineries and delicious food at the welcome party (for holders of Pass Plus and patrons).  In the next two or three posts, I will be reviewing several of my favorite movies from NVFF. While this year marks the 30th anniversary...

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Profile in Scribbles–“All About Me”

I will be reviewing some movies from the upcoming Napa Valley Film Festival in the next few weeks.  But in the meantime, I am posting a recent interview  profiling my background  writing “scribbles” in the newsletter by the same name distributed by my writers’ group, Central Coast Writers.  Some of you have been asking for more information about my future writing plans.  Here it is–“All about me”. MEMBER PROFILE in the October issue of Scribbles, the newsletter for Central Coast Writers  From semiconductors to Buddhism, Diana Paul’s writing subjects reflect...

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“The Mayor of Casterbridge”–A Victorian Drama for Today

Victorian values seem remote — the language is obtuse, the character development Shakespearean in complexity.  However, I adore Thomas Hardy.  As the master of labyrinthine plots, Hardy surprises when the viewer least expects it.  And the BBC/A & E mini-series, “The Mayor of Casterbridge” (2003),  capitalizes on every deviant turn with brilliant acting, cinematography, and contemporary sensibility. Hardy’s novel is immensely captivating in cinematic form.  “The Mayor of Casterbridge” is an astringent tale. The dark and mordant Michael Henchard, mayor...

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