I liked SELMA. And I thought it suffered a bit from the usual standard biopic pitfalls of not digging more deeply into the complex areas inherent in its story and characters, as well as not trusting actual events to be powerful enough of a story to not have to alter history to create extra drama or to paint a more “desirable” picture. That said, I still found the film effecting and it stayed with me longer than either THE IMITATION GAME or THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, the other 2 biopics from last year made in a similar mold.
For me, these kinds of linear tellings of stories with historical beats that need to be hit always feel too manufactured. Which isn’t to say they don’t have impact or are not good films. Many are, and this one is. But there’s a deeper level of human experience, the human condition, that these types of films never quite manage to reveal for me. More often than not, this begins at the script stage. These films often feel like the events themselves were strung out in a line with index cards and the characters’ personal struggles inserted to up the drama instead of revealing and exploring the many layers and complexities of the human beings and their struggles being portrayed. For me, the film MR. TURNER was the only biopic I saw from last year that transcended this issue. Perhaps because the filmmaker/writer, Mike Leigh, knows that it’s the characters’ inner journeys that dictate the “events” that unfold and not the other way around.
Continue reading “Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?”
Having just watched J.C. Chandor’s latest film, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, I was yet again reminded of how easily terrific filmmakers and layered storytellers get tossed aside in the face of all the brouhaha that are the Oscars.
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a terrific film with complex characters that don’t offer simple answers to difficult questions. It is also a film I was told by a number of friends to “pass” on. That’s what I was also told about Chandor’s ALL IS LOST. I almost missed both films and I am SO thrilled that I didn’t as both hold places in my favorite films of their respective years. You can read my review and commentary on ALL IS LOST here.
Continue reading ““A MOST VIOLENT YEAR.” When Good Films Are Passed Over”
Is it wrong that I hold films up to a higher standard than the average awards ceremony? That’s a good thing, right? Film as an art form and as entertainment (they are not mutually exclusive) is something that is immensely important to me. This is why I am forever disappointed when awards season rolls around and mediocrity is celebrated as greatness on a grand scale. That’s not to say some deserving films don’t win, or great performances get recognized, but over all, the results seem to celebrate playing it safe as opposed to striving for something unique. Sameness and familiarity is oftentimes the word of the day. Always exceptions, yes, but sometimes even those exceptions seem to be instilled with a lowest-common-denominator bias.
In my imagination, I hold European awards ceremonies to a higher standard. But the BAFTA Awards remind me that my imagination is just that. To start, here’s a list of the BAFTA winners and nominees.
Continue reading “BAFTA, like the Oscars… Unable To Raise The Bar. Again.”