Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Film Screening: Samsara

Samsara will be shown on Tuesday, April 7 and Thursday, April 9, 2015 in the Somsen Hall Auditorium at Winona State University. The event is free and open to the public.

The title of Samsara refers to a Buddhist idea that humanity is stuck in a cyclical existence of ignorance. Using the Buddhist concept as a starting point, Samsara is a non-narrative documentary that visualizes the whole of civilization including both the triumphs and failures of humanity. Shot over five years in twenty-five countries and photographed entirely on 70mm film, Samsara takes the viewer into deserts, mountains, factories, warzones, temples, prisons, supermarkets, dance halls, villages, and cityscapes. Playing like a visual poem, the imagery in Samsara suggests links between our environment and our behavior, between production and consumption, and between humanity and automation. What the film's visual juxtapositions reveal about ourselves and the world we live in are not always comfortable to view and Samsara is at turns beautiful and ugly, illuminating and confounding, soothing and disturbing. In sum, it is a stunning piece of work that is awe inspiring in its beauty but challenging in its implications.

Find a webpage with more information about the film here.

Samsara was named the best film of 2012 by Sounds of Cinema. 

Samsara runs 102 minutes and is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.

The screening of Samsara is sponsored by the Winona State University English Department, Mass Communication Department, Department of Theater and Dance, Sociology Department, Department of Art and Design, Darrell W. Krueger Library, Winona State University Sustainable Futures Theme, and Sounds of Cinema.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Film Reviews: March 8, 2015

Here is a summary of the films reviewed on today's show:

Focus is a mixed effort. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are a lot of fun to watch and the movie is never boring but the filmmakers botch a promising start with stupid plot twists and contrived character motivations.

The Lazarus Effect may entertain adolescent horror fans whose idea of cinematic terror is Paranormal Activity. But for everyone else, The Lazarus Effect lazily rips off a lot of other and better movies and throws them together in a horror mishmash that doesn’t make sense. 

Thirty years after its release, Re-Animator remains an impressive piece of sci-fi horror. It is a cult film and it is certainly flawed but it’s also got a level of energy and imagination that differentiate it from virtually any mad scientist picture made before or since.

You can find full text of every review on the Sounds of Cinema Review Archive.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Songs Inspired by Movies

Today’s episode of Sounds of Cinema featured songs inspired by motion pictures. What follows are some tunes that didn’t make it into today’s show.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
The metal group Austrian Death Machine is a tongue in cheek tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger. A side project of As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, the band has released three albums and each song is based upon a piece of dialogue from Schwarzenegger’s movies such as “Get to the Choppa” and “I Eat Green Berets for Breakfast.”

Bette Davis
The biggest hit song of 1981 was “Bette Davis Eyes” performed by Kim Carnes. The song paid tribute to the actress, who was best known for roles in movies like All About Eve and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Blade Runner
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is one of the most influential films ever made but its impact goes beyond other science fiction movies. Synthetica, the fifth album by Canadian rock band Metric, was inspired by Blade Runner and the songs made parallels between the Replicants of the movie the artificiality of contemporary pop music. Blade Runner has also been the subject of Moments Lost, a music and visual art project inspired by the film.

Many of the lyrics to Al Stewart’s song “Year of the Cat” were inspired by the dialogue in the Humphry Bogart classic Casablanca.

E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial
Neil Diamond was inspired to write the song “Heartlight” after watching Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial. In that film a boy befriends an alien who is stranded on earth and whenever E.T. becomes stressed or emotional his heart glows.Unfortunately, the song writers didn't secure the rights ahead of time and were required to pay Universal $25,000.

Forrest Gump
Frank Oceans’s 2012 album Channel Orange included the track “Forrest Gump” which references the events and characters from the 1994 movie.

The Grapes of Wrath
Featured on the album Dust Bowl Ballads, folk singer Woody Guthrie paid tribute to John Ford’s 1940 feature film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath with a song about Tom Joad, played in the film by Henry Fonda.

The Red Shoes
Based on a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, the 1948 feature film The Red Shoes was about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and a career as a ballerina. The film inspired British musician Kate Bush who released the album The Red Shoes in 1993. Along with the album, Bush also released a companion short film “The Line, the Cross and the Curve.”

1983’s Scarface made a profound impact on rap music. Throughout the 2000s, MTV ran the popular reality show Cribs, in which a celebrity would take the audience on a tour of their home and virtually every time the show visited a rapper’s domicile he or she would show off their copy of Scarface or a movie poster would be seen hanging from the wall. The influence of Scarface was so far reaching that a new audio mix was proposed for the home video release, in which the 1980s disco tunes would be replaced by contemporary rap music. Scarface composer Giorgio Moroder was on board with the idea but it was shot down by director Brian De Plama. On the twentieth anniversary of the film a Scarface tribute album was released and it included artists like Jay-Z, N.W.A., and The Notorious B.I.G.

Un Chien Andalou
The first song on The Pixies 1989 album Doolittle is “Debaser,” which was inspired by the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou directed by Luis Buñuel in collaboration with Salvador Dali. The film was quite controversial at the time, mostly for its opening scene in which an eyeball is sliced open with a razor. That controversy is reflected in the title of the song.

The 1968 film Wonderwall was a surrealist movie about an eccentric professor who becomes obsessed with a young woman and gradually loses his ability to distinguish between reality and illusion. The film featured music by former Beatle George Harrison and it later inspired the song “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

A lot of the information on this post and in this week’s edition of Sounds of Cinema was collected from this article at