Lutah (Bhavnani, 2014): USA

Reviewed by Kathleen Amboy.  Viewed at the SBIFF.

 Lutah Maria Riggs was a consummate architect, responsible for the design of Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre.  She attended SBCC and began her professional career under the direct tutelage of George Washington Smith.

George Washington Smith is a distinguished name in the world of architecture, most notable in the Montecito and Santa Barbara area.  Smith’s work embraced the Spanish Colonial Revival style, which gives the town its unique Mediterranean look- white stucco walls with arches, and the traditional Spanish tile roof.

After graduating from Berkeley, Riggs moved back to Santa Barbara and joined Smith’s firm around 1920, thus becoming the first female architect of the town.

Spanish Colonial Revival was considered a Modernist movement – which is a modernized look at the past.  The style has a less is more approach with the plain white walls, and deep set windows.

George Washington Smith and his wife opened their hearts and home to Lutah, making her their surrogate daughter.  Smith and Riggs traveled and worked together extensively for the next ten years, until his death in 1930, in which she then opened a firm of her own.


Posted at 6pm on 04/14/14 | 1 comment | Filed Under: Documentary, Films, Santa Barbara Film Festival 2014 read on

Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, 2013): USA

Reviewed by Daniel Chein. Viewed on Netflix.


This is the second film I am reviewing in a series on Oscar nominated runner-ups for Best Feature Documentary, now available for instant streaming via Netflix. Aside from the 2014 Academy Award winner 20 Feet from Stardom, Cutie and the Boxer is the only film from the short list that is not related to some kind of war.

Cutie and the Boxer is a biographical documentary about two Japanese artists living in New York by director Zachary Heinzerling. The film presents a candid portrait of Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko Shinohara, both of whom immigrated to the US hoping to break into the art scene. Ushio is known for making “action” paintings using boxing gloves and sculptures of deranged motorcycles made out of cardboard. Despite having exhibited at prestigious art museums internationally, Ushio finds himself unable to transcend the barrier from a successful artist to a renowned one, quoted as being “the most famous of the poor

Posted at 11am on 04/09/14 | 2 comments | Filed Under: Films read on



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