The Biggest Little Farm

Directed by documentarian cum farmer John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm is a must-see. The film documents two dreamers, John and Molly Chester, who decide to leave L.A. when their barking dog causes their eviction from a cramped apartment to start a traditional farm in Moorpark, CA.

Even though, they have no farming experience, the Chesters somehow find enough investors to sponsor their endeavor. They buy a 241 acre farm that’s been devastated by drought. How on earth will they grow anything, especially when their dream means eschewing current farming practices.

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Of course, like all movie heroes, the Chesters soon realize they need a mentor. Enter Alan York, a funky expert in traditional farming who advises them on how to turn this Grapes of Wrath-style Dust Bowl into a lush, productive farm.

Watching the farm get greener and the home to chickens, pigs, sheep, cattle and more is so satisfying. But of course, farming isn’t easy. Coyotes, birds, and pests of all kinds attack their fruit and livestock. When things get really tough, an added crisis is that their mentor Alan dies. How on earth will the farm survive?

The nature cinematography is stunning. The Chesters and Alan are engaging as are the many young volunteers who work the farm. There’s plenty of suspense in this life or death struggle. I got attached to the various animals and was certainly rooting for Apricot Lane Farms success.

I wished the film showed more about who invested and how much was needed. That reality would have added interest and probably drama. Throughout the film I wondered how the farm was getting by. We’re told how many eggs and later fruit they sold but how much they earned was a mystery.

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Apricot Lane Farms. ReferenceUSA, Retrieved 10/7/2019

It seems that Apricot Lane Farms has tours. A regular tour costs $30 and a VIP tour is $120. The tours sell out.

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Pull Up a Seat Challenge

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You can see more seats, chairs, couches, thhrones, ottomans and such by clicking here.

Care to join the fun?

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For this weekly challenge Xinfu Mama will make a post every Friday morning. To play along:

Create a post with a photo of places one sits or might sit, or art about sitting, and maybe a little background or story about the spot or a picture of the view.

  • Add a tag “Pull up a seat”.
  • Add a link to your post in the Pull up a Seat comment section, either by writing a comment with your URL or by creating a pingback.

Cover Girl

I learned about Cover Girl from 4 Star Film Fan, here you can always discover wonderful film classics. Starring Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly an, Eve Arden and Phil Silver, Cover Girl shows Hayworth as Rusty Parker, a captivating beauty and talented dancer who performs in her boyfriend, Danny McGuire’s Brooklyn club. Silver is a comic and the pair’s buddy. Rusty is down to earth but when she hears about a magazine contest she becomes curious about the big time.

Mix ups and show tunes ensue. Danny hopes Rusty will stay in Brooklyn. Briefly he stands in her way, but soon figures Rusty doesn’t really love him if she’s so impressed by the Manhattan set. Of course, Rusty wins the contest. It turns out that the sponsoring magazine is run by a man who fell in love with Rusty’s grandma, who turned him down, married an ordinary piano player and led a happy life.

The emotions were convincing. You hope that Danny will declare his love and that Rusty doesn’t settle for the high life rather than try love. I enjoyed the joking and friendly traditions Hayworth, Silver and Kelly’s characters share. Some numbers ran a little long, but the dancing was solid. I particularly enjoyed Kelly in a scene with his conscience who tries to advise him. You just don’t see such scenes carried off well nowadays.

Cover Girl’s a fun film well worth your time.

Wright’s American System Homes

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Yesterday I went to Milwaukee where I toured two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System Built Homes. In the early 20th century, Wright wanted to design beautiful, affordable homes. He designed a number of components for houses and the idea was that the buyers could choose which parts they wanted in their house.  The house above is 800 square feet and has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and small dining area.

A non-profit in Milwaukee bought this home and restored it. On this street there is a duplex by Wright and another Wright home, which is now a VRBO accommodation. There are pictures online and I’m not a fan of the white, modern kitchen. The house above has been completely restored and I could live there happily ever after, though I’d like a different stove.

When built, these homes were priced on par with comparable houses at $3,000 circa 1916.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Duplexes

On the tour we learned about how Wright partnered with Mr. Robinson, a builder. Wright left for Japan and allowed Robinson to start building. While Wright was away, Robinson changed which materials would be used in the homes, swapping Wright’s materials for cheaper ones. They weren’t shoddy, but weren’t up to Wright’s standards.

Down the street was a duplex that this non-profit has purchased. Now the first duplex is about to be restored. It’s bare bones now, but still interesting to see. I plan to go back in a few years when it’s finished.

There are more of these American System Built Homes throughout the Midwest. Our docent believes there are several that are covered up with siding and the owners may not know their significance.

All that Heaven Allows

The trailer promises “torture and ecstasy.” Maybe we get some.

I don’t mean I didn’t enjoy All that Heaven Allows (1955) starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson as a November – June romance, but the movie does swerve into the melodrama lane as the ad suggests.

The movie opens with wealthy widow Cary (Wyman) getting urged to attend a party by her friend Sara (played by Bewitched’s Agnes Morehead). Cary’s got to fend off loneliness after all. Sara later urges Cary to get a television set as that’s a good companion. At a country club party, Cary and the audience are bored by the snobbish guests who idolize convention.

Then young and handsome Ron enters Cary’s life and soon they’re in love. A gardener by trade, Ron prefers a simple, outdoorsy life. His friends admire his down-to-earth value system. As time goes by, Ron proposes and Cary wants her friends and college age kids to know about her relationship.

A beautiful middle-aged woman and a young man?! This pair sends shockwaves through the town. Cary’s friends are vicious towards Ron. Her children through adolescent tantrums. What are you thinking? Do you know how this looks?

Cary has to choose between her secure past and a romantic future.

The film took on a fresh situation. Questions like does Ron want children? aren’t addressed as the main theme is the effects of snobbery and convention. Sometimes the dialog was laid on thick and wanted to tell the director “I know what you’re driving at so you don’t need to be so obvious.” All in all, I was pulled into the story and happy to stick with it.

High Society

Starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holme and featuring Louis Armstrong and his band, High Society (1956) follows in the footsteps of the 1940 Philadelphia Story. Here socialite cum snob Tracy Lord (Kelly) is about to marry the straight laced George. Her baby sister protests and puts in many a good word for Tracy’s ex-husband Dexter (Crosby). Tracy’s appalled. She could never consider returning to the even-keeled, kind Dexter who betrayed her by using his musical talents for jazz rather than classical music.

Yes, she’s that snobbish.

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What style!

She’s about to marry George a drab businessman who looks good in a suit. Yet tabloid journalists played by Sinatra and Holme appear to get the scoop on this high falootin’ wedding.

What? Why?

Well, Tracy’s given the choice of either enduring the cheap coverage of her wedding or allowing the rag to publish a scintillating exposé on her father who ran away with a showgirl. Reluctantly, Tracy allows the tacky reporters in to save her mother from shame. She’s not completely selfish or clueless.

As you’d expect, Dexter still loves Tracy and Mike from the tabloid soon falls for her, while George’s buddy-duddy side gets increasingly pronounced.

With some good singing and dancing, High Society entertains. It also puzzles. Aside from her beauty, what does Tracy have going for her? Dexter was married to her and is presented as a man who’s perceptive so he would know her beyond the superficial. He’s still in love with such a snob, a snob who hates jazz because she sees it a crass. That wouldn’t matter much, except jazz is Dexter’s art. Hmm.

I was struck by Crosby’s cool guy persona and Grace Kelly’s perfect silky hair and elegant outfits.