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Middleburg Film Festival Review: ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’

'Hitchcock/Truffaut' Screenshot

Photo by Philippe Halsman. Courtesy of Cohen Media Group and the Middleburg Film Festival

Set for release next month, Hitchcock/Truffaut is a delightful, 80-minute documentary directed by Kent Jones. It draws on insights from celebrated filmmakers looking back at a series of meetings that occurred between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut in 1962. Truffaut, a founder of New Wave cinema, requested the interview so that he might “free Hitchcock from his reputation as a light entertainer.” In 1966, he published those conversations in a book.

The running commentary by Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and others is illuminating about their reverence for these two great cinematic giants. However, the center stage remains with Hitchcock and Truffaut in the old photographs and their film footage. The book itself, as one sees in the close-up shots, includes frame-by-frame analysis from many of Hitchcock’s films. But their dialogue has its full impact now by being layered directly over the clips, the way you might expect a film lecture to go. Read the rest of this entry »


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A Fantastic Summer at the Art Museum: ‘Guarding Leonardo da Vinci’

Yes, it’s April 15th, which means your Federal income taxes are due today. On a much more positive note, it’s also the birthday of celebrated Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452-1519. I’m always excited about Leonardo because I studied Art History as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, situated within a day’s drive of our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C. The close proximity is quite nice, as it affords me with the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art on a regular basis. The NGA is the only museum on the Western Hemisphere that houses a Leonardo painting.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washinton, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

The Ginevra de’ Benci, executed in oils during the 1470s, is a rather masterful portrait that still continues to marvel visitors today. It was purchased in 1967 with funds from Alisa Mellon Bruce. I sat down recently for an interview with my co-worker, Toni Engel-Gonchoroff, to explore the impact that Leonardo da Vinci’s work has had on her life. She worked as a museum guard at the NGA, keeping a close eye on the Ginevra during the summer of ’68.

Check out the interview below or via Youtube. I’ve also included a montage of my own artistic endeavors. As an aside, this video was my first foray into the realm of film editing programs such as iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro. In spite of the challenges, it was quite exciting to pull this project together!

As I mention in the video, “Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty” runs from today (April 15th) through June 14, 2015 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The same exhibition concluded last week in at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Va, as well as the Leicester Codex viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum. The Ginevra de’ Benci is part of the permanent collection at the NGA, so there’s no need to hit both Boston and D.C. on the same vacation if you’re on a tight schedule. Finally, this year marked the limited release of  “Inside the Mind of Leonardo,” with Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) as the Renaissance artist. What will 2016 bring for us to enjoy from Leonardo da Vinci?

Thank you again to Toni for agreeing to share her story.

Update on 5/3/2015: I made edits to the interview after I received a response to one of the pending photo requests.

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Film Review: Julian Jones and Peter Capaldi Try a Bold, New Approach with ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo’

Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci in

Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci in “Inside the Mind of Leonardo.” (Submarine Deluxe/History Film/IWC Media)

It’s very exciting to post my review on “Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D,” which opened in US theaters on December 19th. It finally arrived in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, earlier today (in 2D). Julian Jones’ documentary is a bold endeavor to capture the mind of the artist Leonardo da Vinci, who left us with quite a body of work that includes the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. There seems to be a bit of an aura about the man, tied largely to the release of books from authors like Dan Brown. Da Vinci thus has seemed to strike many people in today’s world as a genius, a Renaissance man that towers above others in his time and the great artists of today. Read the rest of this entry »

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News: My Interview Question to Peter Capaldi for ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D’

During an excursion to our nation’s capital, I was pleasantly surprised to see the activity on what I’ll refer to as the “Leonardo da Vinci scene” when I checked my phone. I’ve already mentioned the Leonardo exhibitions in 2015, each of which seem to be well worth the trip if you can get around to it.

However, it’s not often that you can count yourself as part of news developments, as was the case in my situation. The team behind the U.S. release of “Inside the Mind of Leonardo” asked for questions on November 25th, either to put to Peter Capaldi or to discuss behind-the-scenes aspects of the documentary. I sent in the following question:

My question to the (Spin) Doctor. We didn't get any spin in his answer. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

My question to Peter Capaldi, the (Spin) Doctor. We didn’t get any spin in his answer. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Every day, they’ve been posting small clips with the questions they selected for Capaldi to answer. They uploaded the answer to my inquiry just this past Saturday, which you can view here or down below:

I like the point he makes in his response. Your first inclination may be to view the Renaissance as a great period of bustling activity, knowledge-sharing, construction, and so on. Certainly, we know from historical accounts (museums and archives, too) that the workshops and courts were busy. However, it didn’t mean that progress was made on all fronts or that all ideas were readily and quickly accepted everywhere. The geniuses in history often faced an uphill battle on some of the masterpieces or intellectual concepts they were advocating.

I highly encourage you to check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the project and to see what other interesting questions people are submitting. Don’t get left behind on all things Leonardo because there will be a lot of great stuff you’ll wish you had seen!

“Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D” is being released in the U.S. under History Films and Submarine Deluxe. Directed by Julian Jones, it stars Peter Capaldi as Leonardo da Vinci.

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2015: A Big Year for Leonardo da Vinci in U.S. Theaters and Museums

Welcome to another installment of TV Spyglass, the Saturday edition if you will. I just published an article about the new screening dates for the documentary “Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D” (2D at select screenings). It stars Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who,” “The Thick of It”) as Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance artist celebrated for both his scientific studies and artistic talents. The focus is generally on the Codex Atlanticus, one of Leonardo’s many journals.

If you are lucky enough to see the documentary later this month or in January 2015 (or on DVD later?), you may be wondering how to enhance your Leonardo experience. Sorry, I couldn’t help but put a spin on the master’s own reference to himself as a “disciple of experience.” The big question therefore is this: Do I have to travel to Europe? The good news for those of us on this side of the pond is a resounding “no.” Fortunately, I know of four different places where you can go, two of which are in fairly close proximity. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Trailer, Screenings Added, and Updates on ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D’

Last month, I’d mentioned that “Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D” was pushed back in its limited release at U.S. theaters. A number of updates are up on the promotional Facebook page for the documentary’s rollout beginning December 19th. There’s the split face poster with a list of the new screening dates and more cities in the mix, all additions that make the delay worth it.

The other development is that Submarine Deluxe and History films, the companies behind the U.S. release, put out an official trailer, also included below:

Having viewed some other clips about the documentary, I’m not exactly sure what to make of this trailer. The marketing and editing team could have picked better “real world” clips to showcase, instead of aiming for an intentional provocative angle that runs the danger of falling a little flat. I’m referring in particular to the photo booth sequence, which just feels a bit gimmicky here. Slapping a sexy bit here and there in a promo isn’t exactly anything new, an approach that directly counters the purpose of the project: to present Leonardo’s work in a way that’s never been done before.

It’s enough to let Leonardo’s sketches (enhanced with the stereoscopic effects) and Peter Capaldi’s monologues stand alone, maybe with a few more of the majestic and awe-inspiring bird’s-eye views of the Italian landscapes. Leonardo’s detailed sketches and his own words are more than sufficient enough to have impact on audiences. I encourage you to peruse other previews and materials on the project so you can see what I mean.

A few days ago, the “Doctor Who” team posted a video of Peter Capaldi in “Questions from the TARDIS Tin” as part of the DVD launch for the eighth season of the popular show. Submarine Deluxe and History Films seem to have taken a page from the BBC’s game plan (or it’s just a coincidence). It was a very smart move for them to put out a tweet to request questions for Capaldi. The first videos are already up on the Facebook page and a new one will be uploaded every day. It’s very telling to see that Peter Capaldi himself is involved in supporting this venture.

If you’re interested in news about where you can view Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork in the United States, stay tuned to my blog. In one case, you don’t have to wait for a special exhibition from overseas!

To follow the official Twitter page for this documentary, check out @daVinciMovie.

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News: ‘Doctor Who Adventure Calendar’ Released Today; ‘Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D’ Coming Soon

Hard to believe it’s the first day of December, which means 2014 is about to end. And what a year it’s been in the world of “Doctor Who,” complete with a new Doctor! Peter Capaldi is coming back for seasons 9 and 10 but there are so many conflicting reports about whether Jenna Coleman will reprise her role as Clara Oswald. It’s likely that the answer won’t be revealed until the Christmas special. While you wait, you can check out the “Adventure Calendar” which was just launched today on the BBC website. It’s based on the concept of the Advent Calendar, each day featuring a short segment on the behind-the-scenes scoop about the upcoming holiday program.

If you’re in the United States, keep watching out for the special screenings of “Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D,” directed by Julian Jones. Peter Capaldi plays the Renaissance artist and genius, performing his monologues straight from the words of da Vinci himself. There are also plenty of stereoscopic computer effects aimed at bringing to life many of the drawings from the artist’s private journals; hence the 3D platform of the film. With such a combination of concepts, the project seems to be an intriguing and novel undertaking. The new spin is certainly welcome in a world of “straight” documentaries and Hollywood blockbusters that approach history in a dry manner or worse yet, too sensationally (in the name of generating interest or “artistic license”).

Unfortunately, the initial screening dates across selected cities were pushed back from December 5th to the 19th. I’ll be posting an in-depth review of this fantastic documentary when it finally comes out. If you’re not within range of the theaters, there may be an opportunity to attend a screening at one of the upcoming film festivals in 2015. It seems likely that more of Capaldi’s previous work will cross over to our shores, given the popularity of “Doctor Who.” And what an exciting prospect that would be!

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