90 Movies in 90 Days: The Elephant Whisperers (2022)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: The Elephant Whisperers
Release Date: 8 December 2022
Director:Kartiki Gonsalves
Production Company: Sikhya Entertainment

Filmed over several years at Theppakadu Elephant Camp in the Mudumalai National Park in southern India, this short documentary follows the life and work of a couple named Bomman and Belli, The couple, who are married during the course of the filming, help rehabilitate lost and abandoned elephants.  The stars of the movie are Raghu, a young elephant who bonds with Bomman and Belli, and Baby Ammu, and even younger elephant abandoned and brought to the camp.

The love Bomman and Belli have for the elephants is strong and the movie is full of sweet moments.  According to the text on the screen they are also the first people to successfully raise an orphaned elephant to adulthood, so they’re doing good work.  Elephants are amazing, seemingly improbably creatures, and it’s such a joy to watch them in this film.

Rating: ***

50 Years, 50 Movies (2021): Petite Maman

I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to watch and review one movie from each year of my life.  The only qualification is that it has to be a movie I’ve not reviewed previously.

Note: Each week I’m choosing a year randomly and then deciding what movie to watch from that year.  You can help by voting in the poll below!  Next week’s year is 1985.


Top Grossing Movies of 2021:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  2. The Battle at Lake Changjin
  3. Hi, Mom
  4. No Time to Die
  5. F9

Best Picture Oscar Nominees and Winners of 2021:

  • CODA
  • Belfast
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Other Movies I’ve Reviewed from 2021:

Title: Petite Maman
Release Date: 2 June 2021
Director: Céline Sciamma
Production Company: Lilies Films | Canal+ | Cine+ | France 3 Cinéma

It’s easy to say this is a simple and quiet film, but that would deny it’s underlying metaphysics or the fact that it involves time travel! The essential sweetness of this movie is evident as it deals with deeper issues of grief, depression, and the relationships of mothers and daughters.

Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) is an 8-year-old French girl whose beloved grandmother (Margo Abascal) just died.  She stays at her grandmother’s house for a few days with her mother, Marion (Nina Meurisse), and father (Stéphane Varupenne) to clean the house out. Nelly’s mother disappears without explanation and that same day she meets a girl in the woods building a tree fort.

The girl is also named Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) and she lives in a house identical to her grandmother’s and Marion’s mother has the same physical disability as her grandmother.  Nelly and Marion look similar.  You can probably guess where this is going.  The sisters Joséphine and Gabrielle do a great job at playing their respective roles and showing the bond that forms between the two girls.  The film is gorgeously shot, and deeply human, and ultimately hopeful.

Rating: ****1/2

90 Movies in 90 Days: Le Pupille (2022)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Le Pupille
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Production Company: Esperanto Filmoj

It’s Christmas time at a Catholic boarding school for girls in Italy during World War II.  Some girls have returned to be with their families, but the orphan children remain under arbitrary and authoritarian rule of the Mother Superior (Alba Rohrwacher).  Serafina (Melissa Falasconi) is the shy, outsider of the group.  After an incident the Mother Superior declares that Serafina is a “bad girl.”  Serafina internalizes this leading to a delicious twist in this film’s climax

This short movie is shot on a warm, grainy film that makes it feel like it’s from another era.  It’s full of imagery that borders on the absurd and surreal.  The title works as a pun, both “pupils” as the term for students as well as the center of the eye.  Many close-ups on the girls’ eyes reveal their inner intentions even as outwardly they obey the sisters’ instructions.  All in all its a fun and  mischievous little movie, and stylistically different from a lot of the other content on Disney+.

Rating: ***

Song of the Week: “Fold” by Bonobo & Jacques Greene

Bonobo & Jacques Greene – Fold

The first collaboration of electronic musicians Britain’s Bonobo and Canada’s Jacques Greene is a fruitful one. The vibes are strong on this hypnotic track.


Songs of the Week for 2023


90 Movies in 90 Days: Killer of Sheep (1978)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Killer of Sheep
Release Date: November 14, 1978
Director: Charles Burnett
Production Company: Third World Newsreel

This slice-of-life drama set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts depicts the everyday lives of working class Black Americans.  The central character Stan (Henry G. Sanders) works in a slaughterhouse – hence the film’s title – but the movie is mostly vignettes around Stan’s household and in the neighborhood.  In fact, there are large portions of the film where he is absent, especially the extended sequences of children playing.

Killer of Sheep adopts the Italian neorealist style with a cast of largely nonprofessional actors to great effect.  It also has some excellent needle drops of classic jazz and soul tracks.  In fact, gaining clearance for the soundtracks was an obstacle to the movie getting a wider release for a long time. I definitely want to check out more of Charles Burnett’s work now that I’ve watched this one.

Rating: ****

90 Days in 90 Movies: Slavery by Another Name (2012)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Slavery by Another Name
Release Date: February 13, 2012
Director: Sam Pollard
Production Company: TPT National Productions

This documentary explores a dark period in American history from the collapse of Reconstruction in 1874 until World War II when the southern states contrived ways for force labor from Black Americans.  I suspect many Americans know of the horrors of Jim Crow segregation, lynching, and even the exploitative nature of sharecropping.  But most of us probably assume that actual enslavement ended with the passage of the 13th Amendment.

And yet the 13th Amendment contained the seeds of what happened next by allowing slave labor by prisoners.  Governments in the southern states began giving harsh penalties to Black people for minor crimes (as well as convictions of people falsely accused of crimes) and then profiting by renting out the prisoners to coal mines, factories, and farms.  Later the state used the convict labor directly on chain gangs for public works projects such as building roads.  It’s an irony that the South modernized and industrialized on such barbaric practices.

Another form of extracting labor in the South is through debt peonage.  Black people who owed a debt to white people were forced to work off those debts.  Again, sometimes these debts were wholly fictional and people were held in peonage long past when their debt should’ve been paid off.  In a shameful incident, the federal government under Theodore Roosevelt killed an investigation into peonage due to the need to retain political support of Southern white leaders.

Like many documentaries Slavery by Another Name features interviews with experts.  But they also focus on a few individual cases of Black people enslaved by convict leasing and peonage and feature dramatic readings of letters and court testimony.  Reenactments can be cheezy in documentaries but I think they’re well done and effective here.  They also interview descendants of the enslaved people and the white people who enslaved them.  All and all, a very informative historical documentary.

Rating: ****

90 Movies in 90 Days: Daisies (1966)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Daisies
Release Date: December 30, 1966
Director: Věra Chytilová
Production Company: Ústřední Půjčovna Filmů | Kouzlo Films Společnost

In this cornerstone film of the Czech New Wave, two waifish young women – Marie (Ivana Karbanová) and Marie (Jitka Cerhová) – determine that the world is spoiled so they will be spoiled too.  What follows is a series of vignettes in which the Maries cause mayhem while fulfilling their hedonistic desires.  This includes A LOT of eating.  Their episodes are intercut with found footage and collages as well as switches from color to black & white and various tints and filters.

This style of film should feel familiar to anyone familiar with music videos, but must have been shocking to audiences in the 1960s.  Like a lot of performance art there’s a message in all of this nonsense that’s not readily apparent to me, but it is clear that they are undermining the notion of femininity. Apart from that, the movie is very funny.  Karbanová and Cerhová have fits of malicious laughter that is just hilarious.  So find your good friend with whom you get into good trouble and watch this together!

Rating: ****

#FridayFictioneers – A Wonderland

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

“Are you sure this is it?”

“Of course, this is the playground of my childhood. Our wonderland.”

“Josh, it’s kind of a dump!”

“Oh Ellen, use your imagination! The walls made it a perfect fort. You wouldn’t believe what we got up to when it snowed. And on hot days we ran a hose up to that window and let it spray the whole courtyard! This was a perfect place to be a kid. My happy place!”

“I guess…”

“So that’s why I brought you here today to ask … um … will you marry me?”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly photo prompt flash fiction challenge on
Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Addicted to Purple blog.  See additional stories byt other writers here!

90 Movies in 90 Days: The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: The Unbelievable Truth
Release Date: May 15, 1989
Director: Hal Hartley
Production Company: Possible Films | Action Features

Audry Hugo (Adrienne Shelly) is a high school senior in the Long Island suburbs who has embraced a fatalistic viewpoint that the world will soon be destroyed by nuclear annihilation.  Josh Hutton (Robert Burke) is a car mechanic (often mistaken for a priest) who returns to his home town after serving time in prison for manslaughter who finds work in the garage owned by Audry’s chauvinistic father Vic (Christopher Cooke).  Can Audry and Josh find love?

That’s the putative plot of the movie, but director Hal Hartley seems less interested in plot and more in slice of life vignettes of everyday people in sometimes improbable situation.  The world melodrama may sound like a dig, but the stiff acting and inconsistent characterization seem to be a feature rather than a bug of this movie. The style of this movie feels oddly like Twin Peaks without a supernatural element (but this came out before Twin Peaks, so maybe it’s like Blue Velvet without the gruesome violence?).  At any rate, this is a fun, definitively 80s take on the art house flick.

Rating: ***

50 Years, 50 Albums (2000): Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

 I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to listen to and review one album from each year of my life, 1973 to 2022, randomly selected..  The only qualification is that it has to be an album I’ve not reviewed previously.

NOTE: My next review on February 2, 2023 will focus on the year 1983.  Help me pick which album from 1983 I will review by voting in the poll at the end of this post!


Top Grossing Albums of 2000:

  • No Strings Attached – NSYNC
  • The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem
  • Oops!… I Did It Again – Britney Spears
  • Human Clay – Creed
  • Supernatural – Santana

Grammy Award for Album of the Year of 2000:

Other Albums I’ve Reviewed from 2000:

Album: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Artist: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Release Date: October 9, 2000
Label:Constellation | Kranky
Favorite Tracks:

  • Storm
  • Static
  • Sleep
  • Like Antennas to Heaven…


Back in the 2000s I had a younger co-worker, who in retrospect wasn’t all that much younger since he was in his early 20s when I was in my late 20s.  He listened to a lot of great music and recommended this album to me.  Despite liking it I hadn’t listened to Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven in quite some time, which is a shame, because it’s better than I remember it.

Of course, it’s not an album one listens to casually.  There are four pieces ranging from 18 to 23 minutes each that have their own movements like mini-symphonies.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor is classified as a post-rock band and this album is a good example of ambient music and sound collage.  It’s probably not the most accessible music, but I find it really beautiful and entrancing.

Rating: ****1/2