Film Feed

Empire of Light

The first of at least four films paying tribute to old movie theaters, The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971) involves a relationship between a middle-aged woman (Cloris Leachman) and a teenaged boy (Timothy Bottoms).  Sam Mendes has updated the story to a tourist town on England’s South Coast in the 1980s.  Stephen (Michael Ward), who is Black, is trying to get into college when he takes a job at the local movie palace, whose upper floors are shuttered.  He begins an affair with co-worker Hillary (Olivia Colman), a mentally fragile, middle-aged woman, whose love-life consists of having sex with their married boss (Colin Firth) in his office.  Stephen frees Hillary from that bad relationship, but his own with her has no future, either.  Shattered when Stephen breaks off their sexual liaison, Hillary must find her way to a more appropriate friendship with the ever-loyal Stephen, who is forced to face down discrimination and violence on his way to being accepted into college.

The film moves slowly, punctuated by two loud and jarring episodes: Hillary’s breakdown upon Stephen’s withdrawal from their affair and the attack on Stephen, in the theater, by a group of skinheads; both involve the violent smashing in of doors.  Parallels, in fact, structure the film: Hillary’s two affairs; the “family” of theater workers, frequently shown sitting around the table in their break room, and Stephen’s small family, also shown sitting at their kitchen table; Hillary’s dead but formerly philandering father and her boss; Stephen’s absent father and the projectionist’s confession that he, too, had run out on his wife and son.  These parallels anchor the story and, along with its evocation of goodwill and tolerance, keep it from floating away on the tides of Hillary’s mercurial personality even as its strength comes from the uncompromising depiction of her instability













The Best of Sandy and Rocky

  • 035 King of the Universe
    Sandy was a year old when he came to us in 2013 as a scrawny stray with one misshapen eyelid. A few months of hearty eating transformed him into a sandy-haired beauty, extraordinarily gentle and extremely fond of cuddling and schmoozing. About that time we adopted three-month-old Rocky, mischief-maker and comedian-in-chief. Where Sandy never saw a lap he didn’t like, Rocky never passed up a box or a bag if he could possibly get in it. When, in 2015, our permanent move to Mill Brook House enabled the cats to go outside, Sandy proved himself a fearsome hunter while Rocky fell in love with wild turkeys and domestic chickens. Sadly, at the end of his first outdoor summer, Sandy disappeared. Days of calling, searching and alerting neighbors turned up nothing. Devastated at first, Rocky eventually recovered his moxie, and he continues to romance the chickens across the street, play pirates in the claw foot tub, and fall asleep on the hand-hewn beams in the attic. This album commemorates our “cat years.”

Charlemont at 250

  • 027 Balloon Rides
    This year marks Charlemont's 250th Anniversary (incorporated 1765). See photographs here and read more at: For permission to reproduce any of these photographs, please contact Steven Sternbach:

Shelburne Falls' Bridge of Flowers

  • C014
    The Shelburne Falls trolley bridge, connecting the villages of Buckland and Shelburne, was built in 1908 to carry freight and passengers on a 7.5 mile line to Colrain. With the advent of the automobile, however, trucks began hauling freight, and in 1927 the company that built the bridge went bankrupt. Turning the abandoned bridge into a flower garden was the brainchild of Antoinette and Walter Burnham, who, with the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club, raised $1000 for loam, fertilizer and plants, and made this unique, historic landmark a reality in 1929. Then, as now, all the labor to start the garden and keep it going was donated. This album is a month by month chronicle of the ever-changing spectacle the bridge presents to tourists and residents every year from April to September.

Western Mass.

  • 018 Charlemont Fairgrounds Grandstand
    Steve can be reached at


  • MassMoCA, Exterior
    The photographs in this album record exhibits at MassMoCA in North Adams, MA, on January 1, 2011. All of these photographs are copyrighted by Steven Sternbach; for permission to reproduce them, contact the photographer at
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