Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Movie Reviews

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Yesterday Diane and I treated ourselves to a double feature thanks to the timely delivery of films by Netflix. Yeah – we still do it the old fashioned way, getting our rentals through snail mail instead of simply streaming them directly to our TV. It works for us, and helps keep my old employer in business. It is a leisurely way for us to watch great and terrible films, the latter of which we often give up on at some point and stop watching. We did that with Being Lewelyn Davis just last week, while being totally enthralled by Dallas Buyer’s Club. Both were critical darlings and Academy Award conversation pieces – I get the one, I do not understand the other. 12 Years A Slave was a worthy attempt at depicting a horrendous chapter in American history, but watching it I felt disengaged instead of engaged. I’ve gotten a closer connection to the characters from documentaries. It is seen as an important film, and well it may be, but somehow it is not involving on a personal level – at least not for me. I felt great sympathy but little empathy, little emotion, as if I, like the main character, were merely walking through a series of horrific situations and events instead of living them. yet this was named best film by the Academy for 2013. Last night’s double feature was of two films which were likewise in the running for best film. Either would have been a better choice. Philomena is a tour de force in quiet rage, with Judi Dench brilliant as always as a woman whose toddler son was sold away from her fifty years before, and now she has the help of a journalist to try to find him. The story is told without calculated tearjerker moments, but keep the Kleenex handy – there is so much raw emotion in the 95 minutes the film lasts, that you might need the whole box. And stick around for the extras – co-author, producer and co-star Steve Coogan offers an enlightening discussion about how the film differs from true events, and how his own agenda creeps into the script. It is honest and offers balance. The second film is also based on true events: Saving Mr. Banks. In 1961 the author of Mary Poppins travels to Hollywood to collaborate with the people at Disney Studios, including Walt Disney himself; her main aim is to protect her characters from being overly Disney-fied. But underneath her concerns is a back story involving her childhood and her relationship with her father. Both stories interweave in a delightful, often poignant, often funny story punctuated by great performances all around. These two movies may be chick films, and it is true that my tear threshold is pretty low, but any Mom or Dad or anyone with a spoonful of sensitivity would love these films, so enjoy!

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