I wonder what the results would be if I posed a question on this movie site’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, asking people if they feel they can be themselves at their place of work. Every time I walk up to a teller at my bank I am always told I qualify for some promotion and debit card. After declining their offer several times I finally had to firmly ask them not to ask me anymore, to have it pop up on their computer screen that I do not want a debit card. Do you wonder if they did not have to stay professional what they might have said to me instead? I know with my job I have to endure customers cursing and bad mouthing my company; yet, I have to remain calm without going off on them. Trust me there have been times where I just wanted to tell the person they were acting like a rectum’s orifice (fill in any curse word); however, I contain myself. Even when there was that one customer who threatened to come to my office to beat me up because I would not release their order until they paid us for their past due invoices, I still remained calm. This explains why I teach fitness and yoga after work; it is my way of getting rid of the day’s negativity. Though there have been times where I have seen a member in class being disrespectful to someone and the real me just wants to tell them to knock it off. The persona I wear at the club doesn’t allow such language so I have to adjust what I say. Unlike the star of this documentary who only acts one way, her way. TONY and Emmy award winning actress Elaine Stritch (Monster-in-Law, Autumn in New York), holds nothing back in this intimate and close-up documentary directed by Chiemi Karasawa (Meet the Midtown Men). I knew only a little about Elaine and her reputation, but watching this film festival winning movie was a real treat for a variety of reasons. Being a big fan of live theater, I enjoyed seeing the backstage doings as well as seeing at her age how she still could command an audience. The attraction for me regarding Elaine is I found her to be authentic. She tells it like it is; which is an attribute that sits high in my plus column for describing a person. Speaking of pluses I found the archival footage used in this movie to be a real bonus in telling Elaine’s story. I do not think one needs to be a fan of Broadway to appreciate the dedication and drive Elaine has inside of her. This documentary also included footage of other actors such as Alec Baldwin (The Departed, 30 Rock-TV) and James Gandolfini (The Drop, The Sopranos-TV) which added to the portrait being painted of Elaine in this picture. Considering her age during the filming some viewers may look at her as being a character; I have seen that type of description used when an older person has dropped their filters. For me I felt I was watching a person who was just being herself at home and at work.
3 ½ stars — DVD
There was a time when I fantasized about running for public office. My platform would have been based on every single citizen getting a decent education. For families that were poor and needed their children to drop out of school to find employment, I wanted to create a fund that would pay the parents to keep their children in school. I have witnessed hateful incidents, where if the opposing parties had a stronger educational foundation, they could have avoided their misconstrued conflict. No matter what type of background a person came from, I felt an education would benefit their life. In this startling documentary a family’s sacrifices had a bigger impact on their children then they realized. In the single largest human migration on the planet, China’s factory workers were able to go home once a year during the Chinese New Year. This film focused on the Zhang family. Married couple Changhua and Suqin Chen were poor, uneducated, from a small rural town. Trying to make a better life for their children, the parents could only find factory work far away from home. The children had to be raised by grandparents since Changhua and Suqin Chen could only come back home once a year. The couple’s yearly trip back home was spent encouraging their children to study hard to get good school grades, so they could have a better life. But how could the children believe two people they barely knew? The first thing that produced a powerful impact on me was watching the hell workers went through in their attempts to travel home. Seeing over 100 million factory workers struggling through an antiquated train system, that could easily collapse from the sheer volume of humanity pressing against it, was mind blowing to me. This doesn’t even include the shock of seeing the workers’ living conditions at the factories. Another aspect of this movie had to do with the cultural changes that were taking place across China. The Zhang’s children were a preview of a more modern China. This film festival and Emmy winning film had an incredible story to tell about sacrifice and hope. Mandarin with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars — DVD