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Mudblood: A Film About Quidditch
J.K. Rowling invented quidditch as a spoof of posh English athletics—a supernatural sport with the arcana of cricket, the genteel physicality of rugby and the speed of polo. In 2005, students at Vermont’s Middlebury College transposed fantasy into reality by actually playing quidditch. No one flies (but broomsticks are held between the legs) and the snitch becomes a tennis ball in a sock. This documentary investigates the once fantastical sport flourishing on U.S. campuses.
“Opry Video Classics”
The Grand Ole Opry migrated to television in the ’50s. The eight-DVD set of performances culled from the 1950s through 1970s encompasses the shift from black and white to color. Instrumental soloists received a share of the close-ups along with the singers; many of the songs were remarkable despite the aw-shucks presentation. It’s hard to top Hank Snow’s “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” for emotional devastation. Major stars are here, including Lynn Anderson and Johnny Cash.
Upon meeting in 1915, painter Dora Carrington and author Lytton Strachey didn’t care for each other at all. But in Carrington (1995), the tomboyish painter and flamboyantly gay writer become friends and fall in love. With Emma Thompson in the title role and Jonathan Pryce in a memorable performance as Strachey, Carrington explores the complexity of sex, romance, fidelity and jealousy across the boundaries of sexual preference. “People in love should never live together,” Strachey said.
Actor-director Leslie Howard (best remembered for his role in Gone with the Wind) decided to have a laugh at the Nazis expense with Pimpernel Smith. Filmed in 1941 as Britain was under siege, Pimpernel Smith stars Howard as an absent-minded Cambridge don who runs rescue missions inside Germany, spiriting captives out of the camps and into freedom. The Nazis are depicted as transparently deceitful bunglers but Howard also pokes fun at English manners and American cluelessness.