Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
"Heart of a Dog" (2015 release; 75 min.) is a non-fiction movie by musician/performance artist Laurie Anderson. As the movie opens, we see a cartoon-animated Laurie Anderson inform us that "this is my dream body" and that in her dream she gives birth to an adult dog whom she calls Lolabelle. It's not long before Laurie starts reflecting on her dying mother, 9/11, SIDS, and a bunch of other things.
Couple of comments: Laurie Anderson, best known for her minimalist music such as "O Superman" from the early 80s, is no stranger to movie making. Here she takes two particular tough periods in her life, the decline and death of her rat terrier Lolabelle and the decline and death of her mother, to weave a collage of images and montage of sound, supplemented by Laurie's spoken words in which she explores "the connection between love and death" (Laurie's words) and everything in between. One might call it a stream of consciousness, except that Laurie is not rambling in the least. Let me tell you. it makes for one amazing movie experience. It's like being in a dream. if not a trance, where things somehow become a lot clearer. Let me also mention that I was vaguely aware of the movie, along the lines of: "that's the documentary about Laurie's dog", and I almost did not watch the movie for that reason. As it turns out, the movie devotes only about 10-15 min. to the dog, and the movie is not even a documentary. So it was a complete misconception on my part what this movie was about (and to be honest, the movie's title only reinforced that misconception). Last but not least, Laurie's husband Lou Reed (who passed away in 2013) isn't mentioned a single time, but an excellent song of his, "Turning Time Around", does play over the movie's end titles. Please note: you don't have to be a fan of Laurie Anderson to appreciate this movie (but it certainly doesn't hurt if you are).
"Heart of a Dog" showed up out of the blue and without any pre-release buzz or advertising at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati last weekend. The early evening screening when I saw it a few days ago was not attended well (three people, including myself), and I noticed that it will drop out of the theater after today. That's a shame, as this is a remarkable movie in many respects, and by all means deserves a wider audience. If you are in the mood for something very different, all the while realizing that is a deeply personal essay and film from Laurie Anderson, I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Heart of a Dog" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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