Thursday, March 09, 2017

Some Movie Reflections (A Little Late)

But better late than never?

Sure, why not?

I loved Moonlight.
That an indie film made it to the Best Picture is almost too much to believe. That it was about the coming of age of a gay man makes it even more surprising. That that gay man is African American. Beyond belief. The acting was amazing; the plot was an interesting take on the development of the main character. Very well-deserved Best Picture.

La La Land was overrated,but still of good quality!
I enjoy musicals and some have been magnificent. (Chicago and Sound of Music come to mind.) This one was definitely well above average. The "jazz" theme was right up my alley.  At the same time I was not impressed by the stars' so-so singing and the way Hollywood is always so ready to pat itself on the back. I was afraid that a movie about a white jazz musician would overpower four other excellent movies with Black stars. I'm glad it didn't.

Hidden Figures was powerful. I left this one crying with joy for what these women were able to do only 50 years ago. While there were scenes clearly meant to ease my white guilt, such as knocking down the bathroom sign, it gave a chilling vision of what racism can do to individuals- and how those individuals can overcome it. I found myself reaffirming the absolute need to address continuing issues of systemic racism and white, male privilege.

Fences was a tour de force in bringing a stage drama to the screen. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis inhabited these characters like no other. They knew them intimately and allowed us to see their lives, strengths, weaknesses, and above all else, their humanity. I am a fan of stage drama and was pleased to see the power with which they managed to translate this to the screen without using a lot of different movie techniques- just enough to put movement into the life.

Lion was my favorite of the year and a close runner-up in my book for Best Picture. The first half with the young actor moving across India was mesmerizing. The epic nature of the journey, a real journey to boot, was beautifully portrayed. Dev Patel has come a long way since Slumdog Millionaire and has become a top-notch actor. He has chops! This was the real tear-jerker for me. What a wondrous movie.

I didn't see Hacksaw Ridge, but am grateful that Mel Gibson gave us a story of a conscientious objector war hero. I am going to see it on DVD. One does not have to carry a gun to be a hero, even in war. Maybe the violence was a little over the top, as some have said, but I have a hunch that any war violence will appear over the top and not even get close to the terror, tedium, and trauma of the real thing. War is hell. Sometimes some people are able to bring some life and presence into it.

I also hope to see the other nominated movies. They sound as intriguing as the ones I have seen. In short, it looks like it was another good Academy Award season. Too bad we have to wait so long for the next one.

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