Thursday, July 20, 2017

Film Week

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

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (2015)
Great documentary that uses Francois Truffaut's invaluable book about Hitchcock as a launching pad to discuss Hitchcock's impact on filmmaking and the artistry that went into it. I know I'm not alone in considering Hitchcock the greatest director of all time, so hearing guys like Scorsese and Fincher and Richard Linklater gush about him was fun for me. ****

BABY BOY (2001)
I didn't really notice this as it got released, but I think it turned out to be one of John Singleton's best films. Tyrese Gibson stars as an aimless bike mechanic who starts hustling stolen goods, drifting through life with two different kids by two different women (one is Taraji P. Henson) while the adults in his life try to push him to grow up. I'm sorry, but I'm going to default to quoting Ebert again, because otherwise I'll probably just end up paraphrasing him: "Baby Boy is a bold criticism of young black men who carelessly father babies, live off their mothers and don't even think of looking for work. It is also a criticism of the society that pushes them into that niche [...] [it] doesn't fall back on easy liberal finger-pointing. There are no white people in this movie, no simplistic blaming of others; the adults in Jody's life blame him for his own troubles, and they should." The emotions and the performances are so raw that they elevate the film, particularly Ving Rhames. ***1/2

THE BRONZE (2015)
Melissa Rauch co-wrote and stars as a former Olympic bronze medalist in gymnastics, drifting aimlessly and living off of her local celebrity. She ends up coaching a local Olympic prospect, and we watch as this aggressively unlikable and self-obsessed person actually finds herself giving a shit about other people. I'm surprised to see just how badly this movie was reviewed. I don't know why this one got singled out as bad while a piece of garbage like Napoleon Dynamite was so beloved by critics, but this is why I don't pay attention to critics. I found it compelling and funny. ***1/2

I SAW THE LIGHT (2015)
Nigh unwatchable biopic of Hank Williams that spectacularly fails to make him interesting. Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen and Cherry Jones are all fine actors, but the movie is so unfocused that it's hard to care about what's happening, and it doesn't capture what is so appealing about Hank Williams that people still listen to him. *1/2

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Song of the Week: "Let the River Run"

My 41st birthday is tomorrow, and the first gift I received this year was a Carly Simon CD from Roger, so here's my favorite Carly Simon song. I knew who Simon was as a kid because my Dad always had a thing for her, and I liked the song "Coming Around Again," which had hit MTV two years before (and which I posted as a Song of the Week in 2015). I was 12 or so when this one came on the radio, written and recorded for the movie Working Girl, which is still a great movie. This one just filled me up in a way that still makes me feel good. Thanks for the gifts, Roger!