Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Film Review: Fixation

Charles A. Smith

Fixation is an adorable film by Alex Trudeau Viriato about bike riding of a certain kind. Fixed gear and track bikes are unique in the way they are made and the way one rides them. First of all, these bikes don't have gears or brakes. So, not only does the rider determine how fast or slow the ride is, but leg strength is required for braking. The bike also never stop pedaling, and there is no coasting. Put simply, the rider and the bike become one.

Viriato's Fixation is a behind the scenes look of the love of this style of bike, its riders, and their love for the design. Many of the young people one sees doing bike tricks are using fixed bikes, sparking an entire movement that is centered around it. And it's not necessarily the style of the bike that's new, so much as it is the differences in attitude and concepts about being on the edge, and setting new standards. Filmed in the west coast, mainly San Francisco and L.A., viewers get more than just a peek at riders doing what they do on every level from bike clubs to racing. There are also some very beautiful shots of those areas.

Fixation is a fun and lively documentary, and Viriato has no doubt pleased bike enthusiasts with this great film.

Film Review: The Beat Hotel

Charles A. Smith

In 1957, the Beat Hotel in Paris became a haven for artists like Allen Ginsberg, the now esteemed writer of the poem Howl, which was once considered obscene to some. In search of a respite from the strict censorship of America in the 1950's, Ginsberg found a small, cheap (and dirty) hotel, which is now famous for the refuge that it offered to its patrons. In Alan Govenar's exquisite film The Beat Hotel, viewers are treated to an amazing historical journey that captures the heart and purpose of a place that allowed the freedom of expression, which has resulted in some of the greatest works of our time. 

Amazingly, Ginsberg was an "occupant" at the Beat at the same time as other writers who were destined for fame like Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso and William Seward Burroughs, who completed his work "Naked Lunch" there. The Beat not only offered them the luxury of sharing life and their art together, it also had an atmosphere of non-judgment that freed their minds to such a degree that they could become the great artists that we now respect them as being. 

The Beat was run by Madame Rachou, who thought that artists should be cared for, and who went out of her way to bring them together in tolerance and permissiveness, freeing them creatively. The Beat continued to be a haven for artists through the early 1960s, and has produced what are known as Beat artists and the Beat generation. It is fascinating to hear firsthand accounts from the artists themselves about the Beat and life inside of its walls. The documentary is insightful about many different art forms:  poetry, writing, photography, and painting. There are brilliant glimpses of what made the Beat artists great, and the methods they used to come up with their various styles. This is a vividly exquisite display of important cultural history about Beat generation art. It is very well done and highly entertaining, and includes shots from British photographer Harold Chapman who also lived there. 

The Beat Hotel is rich in history and may be the best documented film of our time on the subject. Govenar could not have done a more impeccable job.

Film Review: Secret Things

Michele Wilson-Morris

Secret Things, is a Jean-Claude Brisseau film starring Sabrina Seyvecou and Coralie Revel. It is a very seductive tale about power, sex, deception, manipulation, and the roles they play in the workplace. The film is presented in a very exciting format that stimulates the senses and intrigues the mind. These two actresses play their roles to perfection as the story unfolds with brilliant direction, and it's as if the viewer is right there in the room with them. That's just how much Secret Things draws you in.The acting is very good, the plot is thick, and the ending is a big surprise, which is quite nice in today's world of movies where you can guess the ending about 20 minutes in.

Seyvecou and Revel act as teacher and student as they weave their way through problems, coming up with a fail proof plan. But everything is not what it seems in this excellent production. This is a thoroughly entertaining piece of work that shows the way things often work when climbing up the ladder of success, using the art of seduction. Outclassing their prey by far. they are relentless in their pursuits, but soon find an unexpected challenge in the son of the bank executive for whom they work. He takes their seduction to whole new level, resulting in wonderfully tense and suspenseful moments. This is cinema at its best, and I highly recommend the watch.