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Erin Donovan
Portland, OR
Military brat, suburban punk, art rat, city girl, office lady, entrepreneurial ghost, blog enthusiast.
Interests: tacos, coffee, film, boys.
Recent Activity
SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS In a dystopic, but recognizable future Detroit, powerful corporations are primed to “bring back Detroit” with an unexplained plan that will yield 2 million jobs. The only thing standing in the way is that the city is overrun by violence and chaos -- some of it by organized mobsters (led convincingly by two Nineties tv Bad Dads: Twin Peaks’s Ray Wise and That 70s Show’s Kurtwood Smith) as well as legions of rogue junkies, robbers, rapists and murderers. The city (a laughably non-existent presence, directives are given straight from military contractors) hires Omni Consumer... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2013 at Steady Diet of Film
!WAR Women Art Revolution Lynn Hershman-Leeson / United States Lynn Hershman Leeson’s follows up her 2007 hybrid-documentary/narrative Strange Culture with a hybrid-documentary/autobiography. !WAR Women Art Revolution marries her experiences as an artist at the cutting edge of the second wave women’s movement with an intensive history lesson about the use of art as a tool for social change. Using interviews with artists recorded in her home over the course of 40+ years, Hershman weaves archival footage of performances, protests and consciousness-raising groups to celebrate and draw lessons from the movement. While paying direct tribute to their work, she articulates the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2011 at Steady Diet of Film
A Family Portait in Black and White Julia Ivanova / Ukraine Between her (now grown) biological offspring and the dozens of kids she’s taken in from the foster care system, Olga Nenya is now the mother to 27 children. Most of the kids are biracial, their parents were African immigrants who have disappeared, been deported or lost their custody rights within the cruel bureacracies of a post-Soviet burg. Many of them were put into the system at an old enough age to dimly recall their biological parents and for the most part seem to have adjusted to their new family... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2011 at Steady Diet of Film
Government property seizure is a tough cinematic sell. If the rules of society have broken down to the point where thugs, corrupt political officials and/or armed militias are forcibly removing people from their homes there are usually even more viscerally terrifying crimes happening in the foreground that are likely to capture public attention. But when the peace treaties have been signed, the news cameras have left and the garbage is getting picked up each week there are still deep wounds that can leave generations of disenfranchised and embittered people whose ancestors have been stripped of their homes, livelihoods and cultural... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2011 at Steady Diet of Film
Restrepo Within America’s conversation about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan much criticism has been lobbed at journalists who reported from warzones while being embedded with the troops. Critics say a reporter’s chief concern should be objectivity which would (understandably) be comprised when sharing life and death situations on a daily basis. Proponents say it provides an invaluable view of war from the ground-eye perspective of the troops. I tend to fall in the latter category, and feel it’s a far more damning statement about the predicament of journalism that any one reporters’ work is expected (by editors or readers)... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Zombie Girl Emily Hagins had been a cinephile since age 7 and at the age of 12 was determined to make the leap to feature-length director with Pathogen, an original zombie film she penned herself. Growing up in Austin, TX, a hotbed for DIY film-making, she has aww-inspiring parents who, with some mild amusement and exhaustive determination to help her succeed, support her creative endeavors. As with most film-making ventures, the real antagonist in Emily's story, told in the documentary Zombie Girl, is life itself. The bevy of adult mentors who have advised and tutored her along the way are... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Long-time political media consultant David Soll’s documentary debut, presents a brief history of and insight into the renaissance of the puppet arts. Following a vaunted puppeteer as he brings his latest full-scale production together, Soll builds a larger narrative about the trials faced by artists whose work exists on the fringes of acceptable art. Similar to what Amir Bar Lev’s My Kid Could Paint That did for modern art, Puppet provides an excellent primer on the history of puppetry, its key players and the pushes and pulls within their peculiar community. Puppet attempts to understand what it is about expressing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Janus Metz’s directorial debut, Armadillo centers on a Danish Army platoon stationed for six months in rural Afghanistan. As an ally to the United States in Afghanistan, their missions focus on traveling around the hardened countryside and appealing to farmers to inform on Taliban members who may be hiding in the region. Their limited interaction with the local population is not heartening, as locals express fear they will be killed if they are known to be assisting the soldiers. And the constant shell campaigns and forced clearing of their poppy fields do nothing to endear the soldiers to them. It’s... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
With a perfectly timed release to be viewed in tandem with Inside Job, Charles Ferguson’s excellent macro analysis of the root causes of and leftover systemic ills from the 2008 financial meltdown, Alex Gibey’s Client #9 details the fallout for one particular victim of the financial industry’s collective malignancy and capacity for destruction. The former governor of New York turned national joke turned CNN talk show host Eliot Spitzer. Gibney is a fascinating filmmaker, with a bewildering output in terms of both mass quantity and startlingly inconsistent quality. After working for two decades as a television producer, he exploded on... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
A Mother's Courage: Talking Back To Autism It's difficult to avoid comparisons between A Mother's Courage (originally titled The Sunshine Boy) with The Horse Boy (originally titled Over the Hills and Far Away) another recent autobiographical documentary on the stress put on families dealing with Autism. With Horse Boy, Rupert Isaacson documented his family's trip from their cozy Texas suburb to the far-flung provinces of Mongolia to seek shamanic treatments from reindeer herders. Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's Courage centers on Margret Dagmar Ericsdottirs, an Icelandic women from a similarly privileged family who travels to the States to visit different schools and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Rachel Corrie was an American activist who, while protesting the demolition of Palestinian housing developments in the Gaza Strip, was crushed to death by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer in early 2003. Three years later, her journal entries and letters home were adapted by actor Alan Rickman into “My Name is Rachel Corrie” a stage play that continues to be performed today. Now those same writings provide the narration for documentary filmmaker Simone Bittone’s film Rachel. Similar to Bittone’s previous film The Wall (winner of the special jury prize at Sundance 2006), Rachel is a cool, even-tempered film about the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Rebecca Richman Cohen’s debut War Don Don (winner of the Special Jury prize at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival) follows the trial of Sierra Leonian war criminal Issa Sesay. Embracing the complexities of the conflict there and examining how “law and order” might survive, this film portrays the process of seeking justice by blaming a few bad actors for catastrophic destruction as highly artificial. During his trial, Sesay’s defense attorneys tackle the politically dicey task of differentiating the unpleasantness of what transpired in Sierra Leon from the unpleasantness of what happened in other civil wars. Sesay was the head of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Between 1984 and 1994 the Walt Disney corporation experienced a renaissance in their animated films division, a branch of the corporate behemoth that had come to see live-action films, premium cable, theme parks and merchandising as its reliable cash crops. Up to this point feature-length animated films were increasingly viewed as the expensive monkey cafe being run by a bunch of art school weirdos that no one wanted to deal with. Don Hahn, a long-time animator and producer within that monkey cage makes his documentary directorial debut with Waking Sleeping Beauty, a love note to the craft and mythology of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
I’m Still Here, a documentary about the tumultuous life of Joaquin Phoenix that offers Scientologist whackjob Edward James Olmos as its poet laureate and Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Sean John, etc.) as its voice of reason, will be a litmus test viewing experience for people concerned with issues of authenticity, ethics or good taste. After going through the Young Hollywood rites of passage, maturing from child star, to indie “it boy” and eventually into a bona fide mainstream success (even winning a Golden Globe for his role in Walk the Line), Joaquin Phoenix announced in late 2008... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
This week I'm delighted to be joined by Joanne McNeil to discuss Julia Roberts and Eat, Pray, Love. Joanne defends EPL's lack of quirk and we easily agreed on the film's spot-on casting choices all the way down the line. But the topic that really brings us together is trouble with "chick flicks" -- why she loves them, why I hate them, what constitutes "hardcore chick flicks" and which director we would both like to see brought to a military tribunal for crimes against humanity by way of chick flicks. Download here. Subscribe with: Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an upper-middle class Brooklyn refugee who landed in SoHo in the late 1970s and made a name (or nom de plume as it were) for himself as a graffiti artist in the gritty but vibrant art community exploding in pre-Giuliani New York. Basquiat spraypainted oblique poetry and snappy cultural criticisms signing it SAMO (short for “same old shit”) before becoming a full-time paintor. This lifestyle, in the beginning, fully funded by his girlfriend as he was a devout bohemian opting to scrounge for change rather than work low-wage jobs. He quickly became a darling of the art... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Pat Tillman had recently married his high school sweetheart and was a rising NFL star when he famously put his professional sports career on hold to serve three tours with the Army rangers (two in Iraq, one in Afghanistan). During an incident that was that was first described as a shootout with enemy combatants but weeks later re-classified as a ‘friendly fire’ mishap he died after receiving multiple gunshots to his body and head. The details of his death grew even murkier as the Tillman family (along with a retired green beret turned private investigator who acted as a de... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Countdown to Zero is an impassioned, exhaustively researched reminder of the lingering dangers of nuclear weapons. Using a quote from a speech President Kennedy delivered in 1961 before the United Nations to provide the film’s framework for why (accident, miscalculation or madness) how (build, buy, or steal) nuclear weapons could be obtained and used. Combining the efforts of producer Lawrence Bender (An Inconvenient Truth) and director Lucy Walker (whose previous films Blindsight, Waste Land and Devil’s Playground have garnered no fewer than six Audience awards on the film festival circuit) their motives and personal politics are clear. They go about... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers Rating (out of 5): **** A fascinating theme emerges early on in Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith's Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers: that the same circular thinking and one-upsmanship games inevitably will overtake hyper-insulated circles once their belief system come under fire. Whether they be grassroots activist groups, major media companies, the Department of Defense or the White House -- the wheels come off with striking similarity and lead to fantastic collapses. Daniel Ellsberg began as a researcher in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
A lot of thought has been put into exploring the possible science of what makes us happy. A spate of pop psychology pieces have explored the matrix of whether our romantic relationships are equitable enough, how we should feel about children, did we ever develop coping mechanisms for life’s setbacks, do we find our work meaningful -- much of their findings go against the grain of conventional (read: capitalist) wisdom. But all of these theorists agree on one point, as long as our basic needs our being met, money changes nothing when it comes to being happy. In fact, all... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
There are films that take on a mythic levels of importance in their community, the gravity of their reception often owes more to timing and necessity than merit. Some stories reflect so much pain, regret or shame that any mention of the subject in a public way immediately transforms the casual film-going experience into a cathartic purge that in all likelihood has little to do even with filmmakers' intentions. These works still serve a purpose: they give voice to those under-represented in mainstream culture, they open people up to human experiences they may not have even known existed and they... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
The legal edition! Some interesting things happened this week in the thorny world of intellectual property rights. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit overturned the lower court's decision from last year's Golan v. Gonzales, stating that Congress did not violate the First Amendment with the the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The URAA was a trade treaty that restored copyright protection to thousands of books, films, songs and other creative works that had previously been held in the public domain. This outcome is disappointing for a number of reasons, the first being that all of these works will... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Swiss documentary filmmaker Christian Frei's (The Giant Buddas, The War Photographer) third film follows the odd ghost of the Russian space program which became fully privatized in 1991. Originally sequestered in the Kazakhstan hinterland for national security purposes, the program has been cut to the bone and the surrounding townspeople have either shifted to a more agrarian lifestyle, left for bigger cities or created their own cottage industries around for-profit rocket launches. The once great emblem of strength and promise of Soviet power, has been drained of all romantic fervor and now serves as an abundantly ironic icon for how... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
In 2006 director Josh Fox received a letter from a natural gas company offering him a hefty rental fee in exchange for drilling on his family's acreage in the Catskills Mountains. Set in the bucolic parts of Pennsylvania that James Carville once lovingly referred to as the "Alabama" in between the state's major metropolitan areas, natural gas companies have been using a controversial drilling process called hydraulic fracturing ("fracking" for fun) with disastrous results. Chemical leaks and sloppy drilling practices have led to polluted rivers, thousands of dead animals and drinking water so contaminated that it's flammable right out of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film
Rating (out of 5): ** It's difficult to take Yoav Shamir's Defamation in the manner it's intended. Shamir, an Israeli jew, attempts to piece together a light-hearted understanding of the virulent antisemitism his nation's culture, education and news reportage has inculcated their citizenry to believe is running rampant throughout the rest of the world. What he discovers is that many powerful people are applying the "anti-Semitic" label to things that are simply minor annoyances inevitable in heterogeneous societies or outright misguided paranoia. But even as he frames many of these ideas as being over-reaching, or worse yet, being purposely amped... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2010 at Steady Diet of Film