Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy

In 2001, filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer introduced us to Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, a man who finds both his material and inspiration in nature, in "Rivers and Tides." Sixteen years later, he revisits the man in "Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy."

Laura's Review: B+

It is not entirely necessary to have seen "Rivers and Tides" in order to enjoy this followup, but it does help put things in perspective. Goldsworthy continues to use the landscape around his Scottish home for his work, but now he also employs others for larger scaled works around the world and his now grown daughter Holly acts as his assistant. The film opens in Brazil, Goldsworthy using a beam of light within a rustic stable to catch the earth he throws into the air. He admires the handmade clay floor in the owners' home, then adjusts their methods for his own work. We see a team chainsawing hatch marks into a multi-limbed downed tree. A team moves it indoors where Goldsworthy applies a smooth clay coating. You think it's finished, admiring the transformation, but Goldsworthy isn't done, Riedelsheimer's shot dissolving into the completed artwork, a crackling of the surface transforming it once more. Goldsworthy goes to Morecambe, England, where he got his start, visiting ancient rock cut tombs. These will inspire his own lying stone, one of the many places he creates a 'shadow painting,' a type of reverse snow angel Goldsworthy creates all over the globe by lying in the rain. In New England, he marvels at the 'ghost' walls that run through forests which have overtaken what they once contained. He builds a new one, but his is below the ground and split down the middle, allowing him to walk down its center. He is commissioned for works in San Francisco, St. Louis and southern France. But Goldsworthy is most compelling in Dumfriesshire, the land he's known for years. He 'crawls' through a hedge's midsection, his body forming geometric angles amidst the jagged branches (we'll also see him pop out of a leafy hedge on an Edinburgh street like a lost member of Monty Python). He commemorates trees fallen to Dutch Elm disease, 'painting' them with yellow leaves as he tells us about his intense relationship with the color. He attaches reeds across limbs, the soundtrack's shredding violin strings the aural equivalent of the spiky emotion he evokes. Sixteen years have seen changes, Goldsworthy having separated from, divorced and losing his wife. He's also remarried and a father once again, his life mirroring the loss and rebirth of his ephemeral work. Riedelsheimer is the ideal collaborator, his slo motion footage of workers chiseling rock not only a documentation, but an extension of Goldsworthy's art. Even better, the filmmaker gives us the momentary illusion of seeing the world through Goldsworthy's eyes. Grade:

Robin's Review: B-

Rob Reiner directs freshman screenwriter Joey Hartman’s interpretation of the pivotal event in American history – the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965. The film begins with JFK and Jackie’s arrival at Love Field in Dallas with Lyndon and entourage following behind. The atmosphere is electric with the arrival of the country’s first couple, but tragedy, we all know, looms. Flash back to before the 1960 election and Johnson is waffling about whether or not to declare his candidacy for president, opposing Kennedy. But, the JFK juggernaut plows through the Democratic National Convention and he readily wins the nomination. Then, Kennedy, against the advice of his brother, Bobbie (Michael Stahl-David), offers LBJ the vice-presidency. Johnson, against the advice of his closest advisors, accepts the offer. Told that the role of VP is virtually powerless, Johnson replies, “Power is where power goes.” “LBJ” follows the pattern of “current” time – the day of the assassination and the fight for the Civil Rights Bill – and flashbacks to show the man, LBJ, his public bluster and private insecurities. The filmmakers hit the right LBJ notes – like his famous habit of using the bathroom with door open and advisors outside – and delves into the feud that Johnson had, from the start, even before the election, with RFK. Woody Harrelson, in heavy LBJ makeup that works from a distance but is too inanimate in close-up (those LBJ jowls and baggy eyes), does a decent job as the man in conflict, personal and public. His relationship with Lady Bird (Jennifer Jason Leigh) helps to show Johnson in three-dimensions as a man both strong and vulnerable. Leigh, with a subtle performance, is superb as the steadfast First Lady. The supporting cast is first rate and a Hollywood list of veteran character actors – Richard Jenkins as powerful Republican Senator Richard Russell gets the best moments with LBJ - and all make their real life characters believable – a good thing since they are real life people. The filmmakers pay close attention to period details – the reenactment of the assassination is spot-on realistic in look and feel – and the production captures the time. “LBJ” is a good, not great, depiction of the man and the moment.