Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.
“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.
At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.
Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.
That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.
What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.
It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.
The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.
Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.
“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”
He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a stray, america, animals, barkhad abdirahman, bonding, clashing, cultures, dirty, dog, dogs, forbidden, god, homeless, islam, lost souls, minneapolis, mosque, movie, musa syeed, muslims, pets, refugee, religion, somali, somalia, stray dogs, strays
The true story of how a street cat named Bob changed the life of an alcoholic street musician in London came out in book form three years ago .
Now the movie version is coming — in which Bob is played (mostly) by Bob.
James Bowen’s autobiographical book telling the story of his struggle with addiction and of his life on the streets, in homeless shelters and in supported housing sold millions of copies.
Its focus was on the bond he formed with Bob after the cat found his way into Bowen’s room in a subsidized housing complex.
The pair went on become inseparable, winning fans across London.
Luke Treadaway stars as Bowen, a street musician overcoming a troubled childhood.
But in most of the scenes featuring Bob, that’s the real Bob you’ll be seeing.
The film is scheduled for release in early November.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a street cat named bob, addiction, alcoholism, animals, bob, book, busker, cat, cats, changed, homeless, james bowen, life, luke treadaway, movie, musician, pets
If you can’t handle the dog dying in a movie, you might want to avoid A Dog’s Purpose.
Because one does, repeatedly. Then again, he comes back, repeatedly.
Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose is the story of one canine soul who, when his time is up, passes into a new canine body, bonding with new owners and learning, along with them, what life is all about.
If you don’t look too closely at the premise (that dogs upon dying are reincarnated as other dogs), if you can handle watching more than one dog leave this earthly existence, and if you have the Kleenex handy, you might enjoy it.
It is told from the dog’s perspective, with Josh Gad providing the voice of Bailey, who goes through several bodies and owners before ending up — or so it seems — back with the child (all grown up now and looking a lot like Dennis Quaid) that he started out with.
Small world, huh?
(Speaking of coming back, the film features Peggy Lipton, who nearly 50 years ago, became my first true TV love as Julie on “The Mod Squad.” That program also featured Clarence Williams III as Linc, which isn’t relevant to this story, but I wanted to link to Linc. OK? Solid.)
Directed by Lasse Hallström, A Dog’s Purpose is scheduled for release in January of 2017.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, animals, book, books, bruce cameron, death, dennis quaid, dies, dog books, dog movies, dogs, josh gad, movie, movies, novel, peggy lipton, pets, reincarnation, w. bruce cameron
A Staffordshire bull terrier mix described as “Britain’s loneliest dog” has been rescued after spending nearly her whole life in shelters — and given a role in the next Transformers movie.
Freya, who has epilepsy, was found as a stray when she was about six months old and has spent nearly six years in Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre in Liverpool, according to the Hollywood Reporter.Director Michael Bay, after reading about the dog’s plight in The Mirror, says he will give the dog a role in the next Transformers movie and try to find her a home.
“If not, she will come to my house,” said Bay, who also owns two bull mastiffs.
Bay, the director of “Bad Boys,” “Pearl Harbor” and “Armageddon,” is making the fifth installment of the action series, “Transformers: The Last Knight.”
“To have this publicity is not just great for the Freya but the other 40 dogs we have,” said Debbie Hughes of the rescue center. “We have had Freya since she was found as a stray six-month old puppy who nobody ever claimed. We just hope she gets a home. She is a very loving dog.”
(Photo of Freya from Fairfields Animal Rescue Centre)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, animals, britain, director, dogs, epilepsy, freshfields, loneliest dog, michael bay, mix, movie, pets, pit bull, rescue, shelter, staffordshire bull terrier, stray, transformers, uk
Hard to tell if they were spellbound by Laurie Anderson’s music or just very well trained, but an audience of six dogs seemed to be listening pretty intently during her performance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Wednesday.
The performance artist has held two concerts for dogs since 2010, an idea she says came about while speaking with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
She performed for thousands of dogs at a festival in Sydney, Australia in 2010. Earlier this year, she threw a similar concert in Times Square.
After being interviewed by Colbert, Anderson performed with a cellist and a percussionist as the dogs watched and listened. (The performance starts at about the 3:30 mark of the video.)
The performance began with “a section of lithe, elegant plucking that moved deftly into dissonance and scraping before coalescing into a rumbling, stirring close,” Rolling Stone reported.
Anderson’s recent film, “Heart of a Dog” — in which she reflects on the deaths of her mother, husband Lou Reed and her dog — is scheduled to debut on HBO April 25th.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, hbo, heart of a dog, laurie anderson, movie, music, music for dogs, pets, stephen colbert, television, the late show
This animated short was shown at more than 180 film festivals and won more than 50 awards in the two years after its release in 2014.
Now the makers of “The Present” have posted it on Vimeo for all the world to see.
Jacob Frey and Markus Kranzler were students at the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, when they worked on the film together.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 15th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, animated, animation, awards, boy, disabilities, dog, dogs, film, film festivals, Jacob Frey, Markus Kranzler, movie, pets, short, the present
This may be the most entertaining bit of morning “news” show television I’ve seen in a long time.
I’d like to give all the credit to Gary, Carrie Fisher’s French bulldog, whose droopy-tongued, deadpan facade nearly steals the show.
But Fisher, on the show last week to promote the new Star Wars film, deserves some, too.
She’s absolutely hilarious.
Even easy-on-the-eyes Good Morning America anchor Amy Robach (sorry, but it’s a relevant point in this case) is tolerable, taking it in stride as Fisher chides her for being so young, thin and beautiful.
As Gary sat in a chair next to Fisher and watched — his tongue hanging out for the entire interview — the actress explained she leaped at the chance to recreate Princess Leia (now General Leia) in the new Star Wars film (The Force Awakens).
Then again, she added, actresses of her generation generally do jump when a role with some substance comes along.
“I’m a female in Hollywood over the age of let’s say 40 … or then we could also say 50 … You don’t have to be asked if you want to work at that age,” she told Robach. “You’ll see someday.”
“I’m over the age of 40,” Robach responded. “I hear ya.” Robach (and don’t we all want some of what she’s drinking?) is 42.
After viewing a snippet from her screen test with Harrison Ford for the original film, Fisher admitted she doesn’t like watching herself on the screen so much these days — but said that she has no problem viewing younger versions of herself.
“No, that’s ok, I’m 19, why wouldn’t I like that? You like it less as you roll along. I can’t say that to you, but people who are normal, who have other genes, they don’t like it as much … Not that you have an advantage with the DNA jackpot or anything.”
It wasn’t your typical star on TV promoting a new movie — but then again, just as Gary isn’t just a dog, Fisher’s not just a movie star.
She’s an author and screenwriter, and has been outspoken about her past drug problems and her mental health issues. In fact, she is pretty outspoken about everything. “I think in my mouth, so I don’t lie,” she told Robach.
Fisher joked that she brought Gary along because his tongue matched her sweater, and because he had screened the movie.
“The tongue wasn’t out of his mouth before he saw the movie … It will happen to everyone,” she said. “It’s worth it though. That’s how good it is. You won’t care that your tongue is out of your mouth like that.”
Gary, in addition to being her beloved pet, is actually a therapy dog who helps Fisher cope with her bipolar disorder.
You can keep up with him on Fisher’s Twitter page.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 7th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: acting, actresses, age, amy robach, bipolar disorder, carrie fisher, carrie fisher's dog, french bulldog, gary, good morning america, hollywood, mental health, movie, movies, princess leia, star wars, the force awakens, tongue, video