Thursday, August 11, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

HE NAMED ME MALALA (2015)
When this documentary about Malala Yousafzai was released last year, I saw most of the reviews were playing that internet game of "More Woke and Informed Than You" and went on and on and on about how Malala doesn't need a "puff piece" and all that because, you know, we get it. But I think calling this doc a puff piece misses the point of it. What I liked about this movie is that it doesn't deal in legendarium and mythmaking, turning Malala into a symbol. It tells the story of a teenage girl and her intellectual, proud father, and why they felt education was important, even (or especially) in the face of suppression. Malala tells us about her life before she was shot by the Taliban and how she and her family live as expatriates now. Malala's story is an important one, but it's also important to remember that outside of her bravery and her willingness to stand up for what she believes all women are entitled to, she's a person. The humanity that's on display here is as essential to understanding what happened to her as all of the speeches. Showing Malala's interest in athletes and her own difficulties in school isn't a puff piece; it's a part of who she is. As usual, I feel like most of what passes as criticism online today just misses the point. ****

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie as three friends in their early thirties who get together every Christmas. This is their last hurrah before settling into their adulthoods, and they're finally getting into a legendary secret party they've been chasing for eight years. It's a reunion of JGL and Rogen with their 50/50 writer-director Jonathan Levine, and like that movie, it has some genuinely emotional stuff, some genuinely funny stuff, and some stuff that doesn't really work but at least tries. It is nice seeing a Christmas movie that seems to really love Christmas without getting preachy about it. And I appreciate the message about friendship and how you make your own family in the world as you grow up. Fun Miley Cyrus cameo, but Michael Shannon as a mystical, enigmatic pot dealer was my favorite thing. I feel like this is the kind of movie I would have absolutely loved in 2009 but am a little over these days. So... I don't know, it's fun, and there are things I dug in it, and I don't feel like I wasted my time at all. But I'll probably never watch it again. Gonna go with ***.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I TOTALLY agree with your Malala review.