QUICKIE REVIEW: “The Last Blockbuster”

I grew up right around the time Blockbuster started dying. I can remember occasionally going to my local Blockbuster with my family and renting videos, but it wasn’t something we did all that often. With that said, I still have quite a nostalgic kick for the idea of Blockbuster—and video stores in general. For me, video stores are akin to libraries—they’re places you can go to find new films that are curated by people trying to give you a positive experience. And, in that regard, I will always be a little sad about the demise of video stores. Yes, it’s far easier and more convenient to just rent a digital copy of a film from Amazon or iTunes or whatever, but you lose out on that curation, on that sense of community. And it’s this very point that gets highlighted in The Last Blockbuster, a documentary about, well, the last Blockbuster in the world.

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REVIEW: “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” (Sundance Festival 2021)

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Like most Americans born after the 1960s, I grew up on Sesame Street. It was hugely influential on my early childhood development and I still have fond memories of it. It’s one of those shows that seems like it’s always been on. Obviously, there was a time before Sesame Street, but I can’t imagine what that was like. This is why Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, a new documentary that premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, interested me so. How did this monumental show become what it is? Who was behind its creation and how did they pull it off? That’s exactly what Street Gang seeks to answer and it does so both informatively and stylistically. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street is a beautiful, heartwarming documentary. While it doesn’t contain a whole lot of new information, it’s well worth a watch for all who grew up on Sesame Street. (4 out of 5 wands)

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street
Directed by Marilyn Agrelo
“Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” Based on Michael Davis’s best-selling book of the same name, Marilyn Agrelo’s film Street Gang explores how creator Joan Ganz Cooney, original series director Jon Stone, and legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson—among other key talents—joined forces to create a children’s television show that would become a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon. Recognizing that kids were utterly captivated by television, these visionaries set out to harness the power of the medium for good—to offer learning rather than products to children. More than 50 years later, the show reaches over 150 countries around the world, continuing to entertain while it educates.

Drawing on fantastic and funny behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with beloved cast members and crew, the film goes beyond the considerable nostalgic appeal of Sesame Street to tap into the enduring emotional resonance of the program’s core message of affirmation and inclusion—and the promise of preparing the next generation to imagine a better world for us all.

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History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. Continue reading