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Here are the four I viewed, with a brief description, listed in the order of my enjoyment of them:
#1) “Florence Has Left the Building,” written and directed by Mirrah Foulkes with cinematography by Jeremy Rouse. Florence is a resident of the Marigold House Assisted Living Facility and she’s not a bit happy about it. In her mind, she is still a sweet young thing and she wants out.
In this 13 minute and 37 second film, two dueling Elvises come to her nursing home Eden to entertain the residents. There is gold Elvis (Eden Falk), red Elvis (Justin Rosniak) and the star of the piece, Florence, portrayed by the great Jacki Weaver, who has been twice Oscar-nominated, once for 2011’s “Animal Kingdom” and once for playing Robert DeNiro’s wife Dolores in “Silver Linings Playbook.” (Best Supporting Actor) Florence plots to make her escape with Red Elvis.
The film is totally relatable and enjoyable. I will be showing it to my college roommate when she hits my house this coming weekend. This one gets an “A.”
#2) “Santa Is A Psychedelic Mushroom” – This film is all about magic mushrooms, or the Amanita Muscaria. It makes a connection between a shaman from Lapland and the Santa story, with flying reindeer, a fat little man in a red suit who comes down the chimney, etc.
Good advice about thinking more about the spiritual side of our lives.
Maybe Santa this year is giving us the gift of reflection?
Grade of “B+”
#3) “The Christmas Gift” -This little gem (23 minutes long) from Amanda Muscaria features a young boy, Marius, who writes a letter to Santa in which he asks for gifts for himself (a locomotive) and for his Mom (a purse) and for his Dad (that the then-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu would die.)
This one required some reading up on the Romanian Revolution of 1989, for me. Here’s the Wikipedia short story:
“The revelation that Ceaușescu was responsible (for the deaths of citizens in the streets of Timisoara, Romania) resulted in a massive spread of rioting and civil unrest across the country. The demonstrations, which reached Bucharest, became known as the Romanian Revolution—the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the course of the Revolutions of 1989. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled the capital in a helicopter, but they were captured by the military after the armed forces defected. After being tried and convicted of economic sabotage and genocide, both were sentenced to death, and they were immediately executed by firing squad on 25 December, 1989.”
This small historical snippet helps explain how the mere mentioning of how the populace wanted the repressive dictator overthrown could cause one to end up dead. Ceausescu had unleashed the military upon the populace in Timisoara on December 17, 1989, and many were killed.
Imagine how upset the father is to learn that his son has exposed him to potential arrest and imprisonment.
Most of the rest of the short film involves Dad threatening Marius with physical violence, which did not appeal to me. Marius seems like a really good kid, and he didn’t deserve the screaming fit. I even wondered whether this was really his biological son, as Dad seemed like as big a tyrant as Ceausescu.
Ceausescu seems to have pretty much ruined Romania during his years in power (1955 to 1989) and the economy suffered mightily.
Most of the rest of the film hinges on how Dad might get the letter out of the post box Marius has placed it in, or how he might damage the mail within the post office box so that he doesn’t get arrested.
The very end of the film has actual newsreel footage of the Romanian Revolution, which, to be honest, I barely remember, although the name of this infamous dictator I did remember.
The acting was good and I could relate to this faux pas on the small boy’s part. I wrote a Letter to the Editor once that similarly parroted my own teacher mother’s feelings about non-certified teachers being allowed to teach in Amish schools in Iowa (she was opposed) and I got the same reaction from my parents (although my high school’s principal called me in to congratulate me on having my letter selected by the Des Moines Register for publication.) I was 16 at the time. My father—the town banker—had a lot of Amish customers and he wasn’t thrilled that I had let his wife’s views on this touchy subject of teachers with no more than an 8th grade education being allowed to teach in Amish one-room schoolhouses.
Grade of B.
#4 –“December in Toronto” – This is a trip to Toronto over 6 days. It seemed like a home movie that some friends had put together. It only runs 6 minutes and 11 seconds.
Not my cup of tea, but I love Toronto at any time of year. It always reminds me of a mini-Chicago, just as Lisbon (Portugal) reminds me of a mini-Paris.
Grade of “D.”