‘Jane’ documentary is a joy to watch

A review of “Jane” might seem an odd choice for a site that focuses on film noir. But here at FNB we also celebrate strong, independent women and anthropologist Jane Goodall, the topic of Brett Morgen’s National Geographic documentary, is certainly that.

Goodall and Morgen appeared on-stage at a lovely screening Oct. 9 at the Hollywood Bowl with live orchestral accompaniment by Philip Glass. The event, which was open to the public, drew celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Judd Apatow, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kate Bosworth and Ty Burrell.

Goodall received hearty applause when she said we humans need to do a better job of taking care of the Earth. Morgen gave a shoutout to his mother because the screening date is also her birthday.

Speaking of mothers, Goodall probably would not have achieved as much as she did had it not been for the steady support of her mom. In the film, Goodall explains that, as a young girl, when she expressed her desire to study animals in their natural habitats, her mother didn’t flinch; she encouraged Jane to pursue her goal. Later, she joined her daughter in Africa and helped out in their day-to-day living.

The world’s top expert on chimpanzees, Goodall spent more than 50 years observing and documenting social interactions of wild chimps in Tanzania, starting under the guidance of Louis Leakey in the late 1950s.

In the early 1960s, Dutch filmmaker Hugo van Lawick shot more than 140 hours of footage of Goodall’s work, documenting it for National Geographic. From this filmic record and original interviews, Morgen weaves together his subject’s fascinating life story, both public and private.

With no college degree, Goodall tells us, her job qualifications were a love for animals and an open mind. (She later earned a PhD at Cambridge University.) As a leggy young blonde, she also courted a fair amount of media attention and not surprisingly caught van Lawick’s eye. They eventually married and had a child.

“A lot of people have extraordinary lives, but not a lot of people can articulate those lives, and even fewer have had that entire life photographed on 16mm by one of the world’s greatest photographers,” Morgen told The Hollywood Reporter.

Morgen, whose other credits include “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” “Crossfire Hurricane,” and “Cobain: Montage of Heck,” seamlessly captures Goodall’s passion and commitment, her gentle pragmatism, her quick wit and warm humor.

“I wish I could embrace every single one of you. I want to thank you for being here,” Goodall said at the Hollywood Bowl. “I hope you had a wonderful time.”

We did, indeed. This wonderful film is a joy to watch.

‘Jane’ opens in Los Angeles on Oct. 20.

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A few of FNB’s fave posts from 2012

Happy 2013, all! Here’s a look at FNB highlights from 2012.

Marilyn Monroe shot by Bert Stern

Top 10 FNB posts (misc.)

Remembering Beth Short, the Black Dahlia, on the 65th anniversary of her death

TCM festival in Hollywood

Interview with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster”

Marilyn Monroe birthday tribute

Marilyn Monroe exhibit in Hollywood

Film noir feline stars: The cat in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”

Famous injuries in film noir, coinciding with my fractured toe, or broken foot, depending on how dramatic I am feeling

Panel event on author Georges Simenon with director William Friedkin

History Channel announcement: FNB to curate film noir shop page

Retro restaurant reviews: Russell’s in Pasadena

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REVIEWS: 2012 neo-noirs or films with elements of noir

Crossfire Hurricane” documentary

Hitchcock

Holy Motors

Killing Them Softly

Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” documentary

Polisse

Rust and Bone

Searching for Sugar Man” documentary

Unforgivable

Wuthering Heights

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REVIEWS: Classic film noir

Anatomy of a Murder

Criss Cross

Decoy

Gilda

Gun Crazy

Murder, My Sweet

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Possessed

Sunset Blvd.

They Drive By Night

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REVIEWS: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Dial M for Murder

The Lady Vanishes

Marnie

Notorious

The 39 Steps

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‘Crossfire Hurricane’ a kaleidoscopic tour of Stones history

Crossfire Hurricane/2012/111 min.

“Crossfire Hurricane: The Rise of the Rolling Stones” the new HBO film by and about the Rolling Stones marks the 50th anniversary of the musicians who went from badass to beloved, from “moronic cavemen” to the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.

The enduring appeal of the Stones stems from superb music, a capacity to reinvent themselves and the forceful personalities of the players – by turns outspoken, irreverent, shy, clownish, sensitive, clever, acerbic, funny and raw.

The Stones’ quick trajectory to fame was, as Keith Richards notes, kaleidoscopic. So is this must-see doc. Images are culled from more than 1,000 hours of film and “Crossfire” zips through the days at lightning speed.

Early on, we see a label (July 25, 1972, a day before Mick Jagger’s 29th birthday) and not much is time-stamped after that. But the chronology isn’t hard to follow, given the film’s tight pacing and focus on the early years.

As narration, you hear the voices (but don’t see the faces) of originals Richards, Jagger, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman (he left the Stones in 1993) as well as Mick Taylor, who replaced Brian Jones (Jones died July 3, 1969) and was with the band until 1974, and Ronnie Wood, who replaced Taylor in 1975. There are no talking heads, i.e. rock critics, industry types or pop-culture commentators.

Drawing on more than 80 hours of new interviews with the band, “Crossfire,” directed by Brett Morgen, is the Stones talking about the Stones. They discuss their nearly-overnight success and chaotic early tours (“A chemical reaction seems to have happened,” says a young Jagger in an archival interview), the genesis of Jagger and Richards’ song-writing collaboration, the decline and death of Jones, the 1967 drug bust at Richards’ Redlands estate and subsequent run-ins with the law over drugs, the disastrous violence at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969, their days in the South of France recording 1972’s “Exile on Main Street” and their transition from “the band everybody hated to the band everybody loves,” as Jagger puts it.

Richards sounds craggy and wry. Charlie doesn’t remember much and sees himself as a loner, not truly a part of the band somehow. Jagger’s intelligence and charm is just as fresh as they were in his first interviews – a motif throughout “Crossfire” is the extent to which Jagger’s live performances can be likened to that of an actor’s craft. There is also never-before-seen footage as well as previously unheard versions of Stones’ songs and rare live performances.

Collectively, the Stones seem to have two Zen traits that in addition to heaps of talent, chemistry and supremely lucky timing, have held them in good stead for five decades. They exist in the moment and they’re authentic, whether they’re composing in a makeshift studio, performing at a stadium or just plain debauching, Keith’s specialty. They also don’t appear to take themselves 100 percent seriously. That could be why so many people around the world have loved them for so many years. In addition to being wildly entertaining, they act as an inspiration – to be creative, to be oneself, to question authority, to enjoy life, to swagger.

“When we got together,” says Wyman, “something magical happened.” A half-century later, the magic shows no sign of stopping.

“Crossfire Hurricane: The Rise of the Rolling Stones” will play several times on HBO and HBO2 through Nov. 29. (It debuted Nov. 15.)

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