Friday, May 12, 2017

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week. But on Friday, because I forgot to do it yesterday.

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (2017)
Fascinating story, made into an almost unwatchable movie. I wish they'd made a documentary, because the story of Lacks and her stolen cells and how they gave birth to the modern biomedical research industry is an important story. This is the story of a Black woman and her family, exploited to advance the cause of science and turn medicine into a multi-million dollar business. And it has all of the worst aspects of a White Savior story, giving us Rose Byrne as a hapless, not particularly interesting, awkward white woman who is also a dogged reporter who wrangles this Black family and all of their weird quirks and resentments and blackness in order to tell their story for them. It's insulting to the intelligence and very frustrating, because everyone is a cartoon character and it's impossible to take seriously. *1/2

DON'T BREATHE (2016)
Three young people attempt to rob the house of a blind veteran (Stephen Lang). When they're interrupted during their burglary, things get violent, but not particularly tense. Fede Alvarez directed, and it's mildly better than his woeful Evil Dead remake, but it's not particularly engaging, and some of the twists it takes for shock value are pretty ridiculous. **

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017)
I don't love talking about the MCU so much online, because this has become another Pop Culture Institution that we all have to make Profound Observations about, and too often they're of the I'm Too Smart to Get Taken In By Actually Liking Anything variety. If I'm being honest, stuff like that is a big part of the reason why I haven't been blogging much this year. What I said on Sunday's Song of the Week post is more or less my reaction to the movie. I loved it; it was an emotional experience, a great build on the character dynamic established in the first movie, and I look forward to seeing it a few dozen more times in the next few years. The new high water mark for me with the MCU, and just a movie I adored so much. ****

3 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I suppose I gave the Lacks movie, which I just happened to see when I was in Syracuse, more of a pass because I've read chunks of Skloot's book, and she really was, and is, a HeLa advocate. And Oprah wasn't so...Oprah. Still, it had the episodic feel of a TV movie.

SamuraiFrog said...

I ended up reading a lot about the reality of it afterward, because I was so unnerved by the movie, and I am a little annoyed that Rose Byrne came off so awkward and a little like a "scatterbrained reporter" type. It's such a fascinating and important story, and it felt so reductive. I didn't even mention it in my review, but I was disappointed, too, in Courtney B. Vance's performance as the lawyer, having just witnessed him put so much humanity into his portrayal of Johnnie Cochran, a man the media sold as a cartoon character 20 years ago.

Roger Owen Green said...

Check out this interview: http://www.blackeconomicdevelopment.com/excerpt-the-immortal-life-of-henrietta-lacks/