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Film Notes: Jane Goodall Documentary Screens at the Hop

  • Jane Goodall and infant chimpanzee Flint reach out to touch each other's hands. MUST CREDIT: Hugo van Lawick, National Geographic Creative-Abramorama



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, November 09, 2017

A couple of pearls still gleam from the garbage raft of TV trivia that started clogging my soft-tissue database during the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite the persistence and sheer volume of useless information — such as which two actors played Samantha’s husband Darrin in Bewitched (Dick York and Dick Sargent) and which two portrayed cousin Marilyn in The Munsters (Pat Priest and Beverley Owen) — I often look back on two early-’70s episodes of the kind of nature programs that the broadcast networks used to show in prime time, and that you can only find these days on public television and cable.

In The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau series, the French oceanographer grabbed my attention with his journey with a school of sockeye salmon, following them from the Pacific Ocean up a Northwest river to their spawning grounds. To this day, his footage of the salmon gasping for their last breaths after answering their prime directive haunts me.

And in her World of Animal Behavior series, primatologist Jane Goodall changed forever the way I looked at the natures of man and beast with her Wild Dogs of Africa episode. While observing the perils of a wild pup she’d named Solo, Goodall interwove the development of her young son Hugo Eric Louis Van Lawick, whom she nicknamed Grub. Over the ensuing years, I continued to follow her research on chimpanzees and other close relatives of the human species, and then her evolution into a tireless advocate for our wild neighbors and their dwindling habitat.

So I’m so looking forward to seeing the new documentary Jane, which the Hopkins Center will screen in Hanover on Sunday afternoon. For all we know about Goodall from her work and her activism, this retrospective, from Oscar-nominated director Brett Morgen, revolves around footage of her early years of chimpanzee research at Gombe Stream, in what is now Tanzania, that was sitting in the archives of the National Geographic Society for more than 50 years.

While New York Times TV critic Ben Kenigsberg warns that the “insistent score” by composer Philip Glass might turn off scientific purists, he concludes that Jane “will delight those familiar with Ms. Goodall and provide a vibrant introduction for newcomers.”

The 90-minute documentary Jane starts at 4 on Sunday afternoon in Loew Auditorium, at Dartmouth College’s Black Center for the Visual Arts in Hanover. For tickets ($5 to $8) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Festivities

The Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock is putting its comfortable, well-aligned movie theater to productive use this fall, including two screenings at 4 and 7 this Sunday evening of Where the Rivers Flow North, Jay Craven’s adaptation of the Howard Frank Mosher novel about a crusty logger refusing to adapt to modern times. Craven has been touring the movie around Vermont, as a tribute to Mosher, who died earlier this year. Admission is by donation to relief efforts in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Meanwhile, the museum’s eighth annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series is underway, with a diverse mix of documentaries and features, several of which saw limited (if any) release in our neck of the woods, including one-and-done screenings at the Hopkins Center.

Next up in the series, on Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. and 5:15: the Academy Award foreign-film nominee A Man Called Ove. Hannes Hove’s adaptation of Swedish novelist Frederik Backman’s tale follows a retired widower flashing back through his bittersweet memories, at the prompting of neighbors from one of those countries whom the Trump administration would probably deport.

Among the films still to come are:

Festival Express — Screening on Nov. 25, this 2003 documentary recalls a train tour of Canada by the likes of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and The Band.

Kedi — Dec. 16 is the arrival date for this uneven but compelling Turkish documentary about feral cats and the Istanbul residents who love and enable them.

2001: A Space Odyssey — If you’ve only seen Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic on TV (guilty), make your way to Billings Farm on Dec. 31 to experience it on the big screen.

I Am Not Your Negro — On Jan. 13, the museum screens this 2016 documentary about James Baldwin that eschews the usual talking-head format in favor of mixing footage of the author and civil rights activist with the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, reading from Baldwin’s books and letters. This film should be mandatory in every U.S. history class.

The Eagle Huntress — This lyrical 2016 documentary, about a 13-year-old Kazakh girl who becomes the first female in her family to train eagles to stalk prey, screens on Feb. 24.

Once — What better day than St. Patrick’s, March 17, to see or revisit this screen gem, in which singer-songwriter Glenn Hansard plays an Irish busker who falls into an unlikely relationship with a young Czech immigrant. The sublime soundtrack includes Falling Slowly, which won Hansard and co-star Marketa Irglova an Academy Award for best original song.

Admission to each screening in the Woodstock Vermont Film Series costs $5 to $9 for members of Billings Farm and $6 to $11 for others. It’s usually advisable to reserve tickets by calling 802-457-2355.

Animated

The national tour of the 19th annual Animation Show of Shows arrives at Dartmouth College’s Loew Auditorium on Monday night at 7:30. The screening includes 16 shorts from eight countries, nine of them by women. To reserve tickets ($5 to $8) and learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Documentation

Norwich-based director Signe Taylor’s Upper Valley tour of her documentary, It’s Criminal: A Tale of Bridging the Divide, on Sunday afternoon at 2 at Tenney Memorial Library in Newbury, Vt.

The movie follows a class of Dartmouth students in an experiential-learning course helping woman inmates of the Sullivan County jail in Unity to write a play about their experience with the criminal-justice system.

Joining Taylor for the post-screening discussion will be Ivy Schweitzer and Pati Hernandez, teachers of the Dartmouth students, and two former inmates who participated in the play’s creation. Admission is by donation.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Cinema-related news and announcements also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.