My friend Elizabeth Fackler-Sinkovitz asked me to review her latest book: "Grand River Highway; One Woman's Journey To Autonomy published by Sunstone Press in October 2015. What an honor! She was the 2009 Winner Best Historical Novel in the New Mexico Book Awards for her book "My Eyes Have A Cold Nose" and is the author of sixteen other novels.
And here it is:
A Review of: Grand River Highway; One Woman’s Journey To Autonomy
By: Rosalyn Stevenson
Fackler-Sinkovitz has written a memoir that tells her life in simple language that belies the emotional impact of the vignettes she has remembered that piece together a life. She has created a sweeping story of a female child, precocious sexually, with a dreamy independence that separates her from family and friends, but which drives her without hesitation to self-actualization as a writer and as a person.
I wonder about authors. Why do they write? Why do they have to? I wonder about their personal lives. Do they smoke? Do they drink? Do these things help them to think and to express? I wonder about their weaknesses and their humanity.
I want writing that is gutsy, authentic and that speaks to my humanity, says yes to my own experiences and then elucidates what I have not been able to put into writing or speak of myself. I want “Yes, that is how is it is, and you, Author, have said it.” Even the most far out fiction has to have Truth in it, or we, the reader, give up and say NO.
Fackler-Sinkovitz has delivered this in her memoir: Grand River Highway: One Woman’s Journey To Autonomy.
We may have forgotten that the 1960’s produced a generation of women who instinctively and collectively renounced male dominance, monetary concerns, and societal group shaming and sexual repression. Fackler-Sinkovitz tells it like it was for her, and this honest telling radiates memories into the mind for those of us who also grew up in these times.
Pot, LSD, sex, fleeting sexual liaisons, intimations of re-incarnation. It is all here. And honestly told, it takes us back. We dream remember. We remember the strange rapture and the silent mind gone into space. Space we walked into as resilient, wiser children. Female children who have had such little voice.
Read it, and remember. Or learn.
Sympathy For Delicious (Movie 2010)
By Rosalyn Stevenson ©
Delicious is a cripple, a bitter man scrapping along for survival, living in his car, taking meals at a homeless shelter, unwashed, unclean, unlucky. In the past, he had been a “scratcher”, a techno musician, who lived for his music.
One day, after visiting a faith healer who dramatically overlooks him, he is suddenly zapped by a state of Grace and finds to his bewilderment that he can now heal others.
Struggling for survival, and getting little help from the priest who uses him to advance his own goals, Delicious, further embittered and desperate, turns to blatant public exploitation of his gift through a grungy rock band he has joined. Consistent with so much of today’s cultural vulgarity, they publicize their shows as “Heal-a-palooza”.
Grungy, dirty, greasy, drunken, drug soaked, sleazy underground people…..NOT the stuff of transformation? NOT your typical Sunday school images of Christ like glory? No, but in today’s world, where IS Grace to hover and then infuse?
How many humans today really have the glowing, squeaky-clean life of idealist propaganda? Not many.
This movie says that there is Light in the gutter as well as at the end of the tunnel, and it comes from Grace, a thing that cannot be bought, earned or bargained for. It is a Divine Gift.
A Review of the Film Knots
The New Mexico Filmmaker's Showcase is showing so many good films, but my favorite is “Knots” ” written and directed by Albuquerque, New Mexico resident Dennis Foulkrod.
A man and a woman with past romantic involvement accidentally find each other again on a precipice overhanging a Grand Canyon like abyss where certain death awaits them if they make one wrong move.
The dialog between them is a kind of bantering barter to reclaim their lost love. Even as death looms as a very real, even probable, possibility, jealousy and misunderstanding nevertheless dominate their parlaying, as they quiver inches from a fatal fall.
In so many real relationships “Knots” of this kind threaten the lovers though their hearts long for life giving love. It is the visual metaphor and ironic approach in scene and dialog that makes this attempt at resolution between two people so interesting and fresh. It is to the director’s credit that he never lets irony slip into camp.
The acting, especially by Justin Ramsey, is strong and a testament to another of director Foulkrod’s skills -- that of bringing out what he wants and needs from an actor. This was, as Mr. Foulkrod told me during a chat at the showing of the film, only the second acting experience for Ramsey. In this light, his performance is even more admirable.
Foulkrod divulged to me that he had first met Ramsey when he (Ramsey) was working on another film as crew. Foulkrod said he had liked how Ramsey interacted with other crew members, and said he knew he wanted to direct him in a film.
The acting of both actors, Ramsey, as Dean, and Elisa Vasquez as Sandy, creates a believable tension, even as the verbal bantering reveals a human need for resilience in even the direst of situations. Vasquez creates a beautiful but cold-hearted creature that we feel for because of her horrible predicament, but can’t quite trust.
The photography and computer graphics depicting the ledge and the sheer, terrifying, drop off down the face of a rocky cliff had me holding onto the edge of my theatre seat, muttering: “Please don’t let them fall.”
This film had enough quirky strangeness to it that I felt that anything could happen.
As this film is still being shopped to other film fests, I won’t go on about the ending. Let’s just say it is a big unexpected surprise, one that might leave you dangling, or maybe is just the perfect metaphor for the “Knots” in a relationship where jealousy and suspicion just will not pack up their baggage and go home.
This film made me feel I had just viewed something that seemed to be a kind of metaphorical, ironic, and amusingly unsentimental poetry in film mode,…..something right up my alley artistically, even as it is also a tense yet romantic comedy. It also left me wondering when we will get to see a full-length major film by director Dennis Foulkrod.
©Rosalyn Stevenson (All Rights Reserved)
Following are notes and credits emailed to me, at my request, by Mr. Foulkrod:
“Knots was written and directed by Albuquerque resident, Dennis Foulkrod. Having written the screenplay he then teamed up with his friend Cary Brooks and the two did all of the pre-production planning. The movie would be filmed on top and over the side of a cliff so there was a lot of work to do.
With a plan in place Cary began designing rigs and shot lists while Dennis dug into finding actors and a suitable location.
Elisa Vasquez, from Denver CO, was cast in the role of Sandy. This would be her second time with a lead role in one of Dennis' films, the first being "DETOURS" in 2010. Los Alamos resident, Justin Ramsey was cast for the role of Dean. The fact that there was a lot of distance between director and cast limited rehearsals to online video calls. This meant the two actors would not actually meet until the first day of filming. A risky decision but they were able to establish a chemistry rather quickly during the first day of filming. After Justin was cast we learned that he was an excellent rock climber. What a bonus, he took the project to a whole new level.
An excellent location in Waldo Canyon, just outside of village Los Cerillos was selected for the shoot. It had all of the sets needed and combined with Mother Nature gave us all we could have hoped for to tell our story.
Meanwhile Cary was busy planning the cinematography side of things. Most of the story takes place on the side of a cliff so there would be a lot of pre-planning that had to coordinate with the extensive post production and computer generated work that would be needed to pull this off.
Joe Allgood was brought on board to operate the second camera. Michael Williams was added as set medic and sound technician. Rounding out the small crew was Angela Ollison who would handle set photographer, continuity and hair and makeup. Being that the crew was small meant that everyone had to fill in quite a few more jobs slots as well. The very small crew and almost no budget made the completion of this an incredible accomplishment.
Although not on set, Kincie Byrd was in charge of wardrobe design and craft services and William Diggs kept us fed as caterer.
The movie was shot in four days in 2011. There were a few pick-up shots added as needed during the editing process, which was completed in the fall of 2014. It was a huge undertaking that required an enormous amount of work from Dennis and Cary, mostly Cary who provided his talents in editing and CG. (Cary rocks)
The musical score was provided by Cary and JJ Raschell under the direction of Dennis Foulkrod. We do pretty well with the team collaboration thing.
The closing song "WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?" was written by JJ Rascell, lyrics by Dennis Foulkrod. It was performed by JJ Raschell and Dennis' daughter, Bridget Lee. Another fun bit of collaborating.
I should add one more nugget. I have a strong fear of heights and bits of vertigo when I am up high. Strange that I would write this story, huh?
Here are the credits as they appeared at the end. Dora Montoya let us use her property and Erin is Cary's wife and Lily and Caleb are his kids. The movie is being submitted to festivals so it is not online yet; therefore no link.
Elisa Vasquez as Sandy
Justin Ramsey as Dean
Mr. Wiggles as himself
Written and directed by Dennis Foulkrod
Cary Brooks: cinematography & camera operator; film, sound, music & dialogue editing; sound design; visual effects; compositing; rotoscoping; color grading
Joe Allgood; camera operator; grip
Angela Ollison; continuity; camera assistant; hair & makeup; still photographer
Michael Williams; boom operator & sound recordist; grip; on-set medic
William Diggs: catering
Kincie Byrd; wardrobe; craft services
Justin Ramsey; technical/safety advisor and rigging coordinator for (cliff scenes)
Music: “What’s Wrong With Me?” Written by J.J. Raschel & Dennis Foulkrod; lyrics by Dennis Foulkrod; performed by J.J. Raschel & Bridget Foulkrod copyright ©2012 Dennis Foulkrod
Musical score discovered and performed by Dennis Foulkrod, JJ Rashell, and Cary Brooks with Erin, Caleb & Lily Brooks: Very Special Thanks
Dora Montoya; Special Thanks
Filmed on location in Cerrillos, New Mexico.”