Special Sneak Preview of “Book-Smithed”


Today, at the annual Smith College Club of Baltimore luncheon, I presented a sneak preview of my documentary, Book-Smithed, about the annual book sale run by this organization. It was a lovely event, and I was grateful for the very positive feedback I received.

I am even more grateful at the wonderful opportunity I was given to work with these amazing women over the past year. They do good work. I am especially grateful to Mary Anderson, the current President of the Smith College Club of Baltimore, without whose participation and involvement this film would not have been possible.

The film would also have been impossible to complete without the invaluable assistance, on camera, of two Stevenson University alumnae: Robin Farrell and Michelle Rossignol. I thank them both from the bottom of my heart.

Here is information on the book sale, and Smith College:

The Smith College Book Sale was started in 1959 by the Smith College Club of Baltimore to raise money for young women who could not otherwise afford to attend Smith. From then until now, the annual sale has raised enough money for a million dollar endowment, which pays for scholarships for two to three Maryland area women a year. This is the story of the women of the sale who work to help other women succeed.

Smith College was founded in 1871 as an academically rigorous single-sex women’s college for young women who would have been qualified to attend the nation’s top universities had those schools admitted anyone but men. Since then, Smith has continued helping young women achieve success.

My film is 20 minutes long, and profiles the history of the sale and the women behind it. While I am not making the actual film available yet – except at events like today’s sneak preview – since I first want to run the film festival circuit, you are nevertheless welcome to watch the trailer.

Tell me what you think, and if you know of any specific film festivals which might be especially interested in screening the film, please let me know!

Best Wishes to All in This Holiday Season!

Merry Lizzymas

May this holiday season bring you great joy!

May all of your experiences, with friends, families, pets, and even enemies, be peaceful and happy.

May you finish the year 2012 doing exactly what you wish to be doing, and may you begin the new year filled with renewed energy and hope.

Let all days be merry, regardless of holiday, and may all companions in your life be as loyal and loving as my own “little heartbeat at my feet.”*

Merry Lizzymas!

*A phrase attributed to Edith Wharton, describing her own (many) dogs.

Netflix Instant Orphans

Howdy from the UFVA Conference in Chicago! I arrived yesterday, spent the night at my friend Savvas’s place, and checked in to the conference today.

I had the great pleasure of eating lunch with Savvas and an old friend, Polly, in Lincoln Square, which allowed me to see a new part of Chicago. After lunch, Savvas and I wandered around and discovered a delightful used bookstore, the Ravenswood. It felt like something out a different time – either that or out of a Harry Potter book. It was filled with delightful nooks into which one could barely fit. I ended up buying this:

It was Hepburn’s first book, and at only $6, was the perfect impulse buy. I can’t wait to read it!

Also in the store was a lovely Greyhound named Arjuna (you can see her photos on the store’s site), and she provided the perfect extra touch of love.

This evening, I walked around the city with my colleague G.T. We had diner at the Billy Goat, which was fun (and weird, given it’s location on lower Michigan, in what feels like a dark hole), although I confess to having no memory of the SNL skit that made it famous.

I am now about ready for bed, and looking forward to a great start of the conference tomorrow.

However … before I do, I wanted to write briefly about a curious phenomenon of our instant streaming, cloud storage age. With films and other media so easy to come by on services like Netflix, with no extra charges or penalties for how much or how little of them we watch, I find that I am much more prone to give up on works that fail to hold my interest after a certain period of time. While I am often glad that I can just move on – perhaps, one day, to return to the abandoned film – I also wonder about what is being lost. Art sometimes demands that we work through our boredom, or work through the  challenge of the piece, to discern the meaning within, and if we just give up because we’re not in the mood for the effort, well, I’m not always sure that that is such a good thing. Of course, much of what I list below is not necessarily “art” …

Here are some of my “Netflix Instant Orphans:”

Henry’s Crime (I watched 55 minutes out of 107) – this movie was just too low-key for it’s own good, although I enjoyed (sort of ) Keanu’s portrayal of a man adrift. But I kept stopping after 5 minutes as my own attention would “drift.” So, for now, I have given up.

Objectified (I watched 47 minutes out of 75) – I wanted this movie to be as engaging as director Hustwit’s Helvetica, and it just wasn’t. It lacks the intensity of focus and purpose of the earlier film. Whereas that movie used a seemingly narrow topic to make insightful comments about design, this movie tried to use the broad topic of design to make insightful comments about … design. It is just too diffuse to work as well.

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ (I watched 13 minutes out of 81) – not sure why I stopped. So far, this seemed like a good documentary. Perhaps I am just not that interested in the topic. I like the book and the movie that was adapted from it, but the mystery of Harper Lee seems not to intrigue.

Stander (I watched 32 minutes out  of 112) – also not sure why I stopped. I thought Thomas Jane was terrific, and I enjoyed the Robin Hood aspect of his character. Maybe it’s because he seemed too unfocused in his anger – perhaps I could keep on watching (one day), and see if he and the movie find greater purpose.

District 13: Ultimatum (I watched 22 minutes out of 101) – I loved the first film (this is a sequel), primarily because of the amazing feats of parkour captured on film. That, and the acting by people I had previously never seen was actually quite good, for an action pic. The camera did what it was supposed to, and I felt as I were watching something fresh. But as soon as I started watching this new film, I knew that that freshness was gone. The new director makes the camera, rather than the action stars, do all of the work, and that is a mistake.

30 Rock, Season 5, Episode 22, “Respawn” (I watched 13 minutes out of 21) – nothing much to say except that it was while watching this episode that I finally realized I had had enough of this series. Done. Too silly, too whimsical without any attempts at relevance to the known universe. Gone is the sharp satire of Seasons 1 & 2. Boo-hoo.    😦

Love Crime (“Crime d’amour”) (I watched 10 minutes out of 106) – who cares about these people? I don’t (and yet I love Kristin Scott Thomas, usually).

Point Blank (“A bout portant”) (I watched 12 minutes out of 84) – I like the French actor Gilles Lellouche, but the setup of this film left me bored and annoyed at how stupid everyone seemed. So I stopped watching.

What are the films that YOU, dear reader, have stopped watching in YOUR Netflix instant queue? And have you watched any of the films/shows mentioned above and enjoyed them more than I did? I’d love to know your thoughts.

And now, I’m off to bed. Long day and long week ahead!

It’s time for my own personal blog – chrisreedfilm.com

Just recently, I spent a little over a week blogging about my experience watching 14 movies in 7 days. I used my Stevenson University blog to post my reviews, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I thought, at the of the process, that it would make sense to separate my Stevenson life from my outside life. Plus, that other blog should, ideally, be devoted to the work of my students, and not to me or my work.

Enter chrisreedfilm.com. I was lucky enough that this domain name was open. When I created my Twitter account, I had chosen @chrisreedfilm as my handle, and had then subsequently chosen “chrisreedfilm” as my Vimeo account name, as well. I already own the domain name christopherllewellynreed.com, which you’ll notice I have now pointed to that same Vimeo account, but chrisreedfilm.com is much simpler (even if there are many other people with the name “Chris Reed” out there, but only one “Christopher Llewellyn Reed”). And thanks to Google Apps, I now also own the email address chris@chrisreedfilm.com.

Of course, if any of you reading this have also read a lot of Milan Kundera (one of my favorite authors), you’ll know that there can be a dark side to this idea that we all have something to say, ergo we should all write it down for others to read. Here is a quote from Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (the first book of his I ever read, and which I read in Russia, believe it or not, in 1988, when it was still the Soviet Union):

“The irresistible proliferation of graphomania shows me that everyone without exception bears a potential writer within him, so that the entire human species has good reason to go down into the streets and shout: we are all writers! for everyone is pained by the thought of disappearing, unheard and unseen, into an indifferent universe, and because of that everyone wants, while there is still time, to turn himself into a universe of words. one morning (and it will be soon), when everyone wakes up as a writer, the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived.”

It’s amazing to think that he wrote that in 1978, no? If you copy and paste that text, you’ll see that the quote is by now widely known (and over-used), but I like to keep it in mind as a warning …

So here I am, on my new blog. I think it would be most appropriate to provide a decent segue from the last few weeks of movie reviews, so here is a pdf of the text and links from those posts.

If you don’t feel like reading all of my rambling thoughts on recent movies, you could, perhaps, listen to an excerpt from the first of my two appearances on the Midday with Dan Rodricks show on WYPR, 88.1FM, Baltimore’s NPR News Station: Midday with Dan Rodricks: 2012.07.20_Batman Massacre

I was only on for 10 minutes that day, because we didn’t do the scheduled show – the massacre in Colorado that morning was of more pressing concern than summer movies.

But on Thursday, July 26, I went back on, and we had a great time reviewing movies, as we were supposed to the first time: Midday with Dan Rodricks: 2012.07.26_Summer Movies

Thanks to all who take the time read this and other posts in the future. I am grateful.