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Keturah Stickann
Assistant director, San Diego Opera, 2008 season

John Carney’s Once is one of the best depictions of the creative process I’ve ever seen. I love its sincerity, and I really love its soundtrack.

Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, is a wonderful valentine to dysfunctional families everywhere. Perhaps my love for it reveals more about me than it should.

Sally Potter’s Orlando is a brilliant and beautiful interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s book. I’m fascinated by the way it questions our perceptions of time and gender, and by Tilda Swinton’s impeccable performance.

(Ireland) 2006, 20th Century Fox

Little Miss Sunshine
(USA) 2006, 20th Century Fox

(England) 1992, Sony Pictures

Michael Proft
Projectionist, Hillcrest Cinemas

A Great Day in Harlem is a documentary about the making of a single photograph of a large group of jazz giants perched on the steps of a Harlem brownstone. It’s a serious photo of a joyful yet chaotic reunion moment. The DVD offers extras that are longer and more detailed than the feature. The film itself is a valentine to any jazz fan.

Straight No Chaser is another documentary focusing on the life, performances, and appeal of the late, great Thelonious Monk. There aren’t so many “talking head” interviews with his friends reminiscing, but rather fly-on-the-wall scenes of Thelonious himself, ordering lunch, choosing what tie to wear, or just waiting to go on stage. And then there are the performances — rare, candid, and sublime.

A Great Day in Harlem
(USA) 1995, Homevision

Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser
(USA) 1988, Warner Home Video

Beth Weidinger
Coordinator, after-school anime and manga club

Mushi-Shi is an exquisitely animated tale of a mushi-master wandering through rural Japan helping people. What are mushi? Primeval entities/spirits that exist somewhere between our world and the next. Always captivating, this anime elicits wonder and sometimes horror.

I’m not a fan of Steven Spielberg, but I have to give him credit for producing two of the best American cartoons to hit the tube: The Animaniacs and its spin-off, Pinky and the Brain. The Animaniacs offers inspired lunacy as Wacko, Yakko, and sister Dot wreak havoc on everything from Apocalypse Now to Godzilla. Pinky and the Brain revolves around two lab mice — “one is a genius, the other insane.” The genius sounds like Orson Welles, and every night he plots to take over the world. Where else can you find hilarious references to Moby Dick, Freud, and the genius of Desi Arnaz’s three-camera shooting? Narf!

Mushi-Shi, Vol. 1
(Japan) 2006, Funimation

Animaniacs, Vol. 1
(USA) 1993, Warner

Pinky and the Brain, Vol. 1
(USA) 1995, Warner

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