Brief comments on film by Amy.
Some old, some new. Domestic films and foreign too.
La La Land — I spent months avoiding conversation in which people were even casually referencing this movie because Jim and I missed seeing it in the theaters and I hated the idea of anything being ruined given that so many people were telling me it was an amazing movie. We finally got to see it as a family and while Andrew was disappointed in “all the singing” (apparently we failed to warn him beforehand that it was a musical) it was a great experience…until it wasn’t. I don’t believe in spoilers so I will just say that everything that works to make this movie enchanting culminated in me leaving the theater more angry than I think I have ever been upon exiting a movie that I knew was good. Script, acting, design. All masterfully done. Which is why I am so angry. Still. For the most part my anger centers around the writer’s choice of endings, but there were also plausibility flaws that just annoyed me. Again, don’t want to ruin it for anyone especially since others didn’t have the same reactions as I did. Definitely worth seeing. Just be prepared to self-medicate on some Rocky Road ice cream and good old-fashioned venting afterwards. See it for yourselves and then we can talk.
Manchester by the Sea — Wowsers. Where to even begin to describe this film. All adjectives seem to fall far short. This was one of those films that wiggles its way into your brain and heart and has you thinking and talking about it for days and weeks afterwards. Unbelievably powerful performances from Casey Affleck and the rest of the cast. Seriously, can we just all agree to blacklist Ben in favor of Casey for everything except Batman? Besides the acting, one of the aspects of this film which impressed me the most was the editing. The story is not presented in chronological order, but in a way that builds suspense without being a distraction. The language is intense throughout and scenes of teenage sexuality, though brief and more disconcertedly awkward than erotic in this case, strike me as entirely unnecessary. Emotionally draining, but I highly recommend this one.
Dr. Strange — Once we got over Benedict Cumberbatch speaking with an American accent, the family really enjoyed watching Dr. Strange together. I must confess a weakness for all things Marvel with a few notable exceptions, but thankfully Dr. Strange was no such exception. Witty but heartfelt, entertaining but also thought-provoking. Well worth the seemingly hundreds of dollars we spent on popcorn and drinks for the kids.
Gleason — I have been wanting to watch this documentary for a while and finally got a chance one night recently while babysitting our newborn puppies. Former NFL player Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS (or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) in 2011 and Gleason chronicles the highs and lows of Steve’s and his wife Michel’s journey through treatment, family dynamics and life in the public eye. While Steve is certainly to be commended for his persistence and his desire to bring awareness to the struggles faced by those with ALS, what I appreciated most about this film was his and Michel’s willingness to be authentic and real regarding the challenges they faced. Filmed over several years, you rejoice as they welcome their first child, Rivers, into the world while simultaneously your heart breaks as Steve loses his mobility and eventually his ability to speak. A story that is both tragic and inspiring, I would imagine that Gleason has to be a source of comfort to those facing similar trials and to anyone who desires to see the word “hero” redefined.
13 Reasons Why: So much has been written about this series that I will keep this review brief. Don’t watch this show. In the interest of staying relevant, I began this show which, as I am sure most of you have heard, revolves around the suicide of Hannah Baker, a newly transferred high school student who encounters one bully and tragedy after another. I was appalled at the exploitation of this character’s pain not to mention the gratuitous portrayal of sexual assault. One of the most disturbing messages of this show is that being a parent who deeply cares about your child and attempts to remain connected with them during their teenage years is pointless. Truly a tragic show.
Stranger Things: The Spiegel clan, minus Maggie who is easily frightened by everything but sharks and the Beatles, gobbled this series up. The only downside was having to wait for everyone to be free in order to watch together, but it was well worth the scheduling headache. Well-cast, though Winona Ryder as a struggling single mom did take a little getting used to, this science fiction series set in 1983 was completely addictive. Can’t wait for the second season to come out in October and should probably start coordinating everyone’s schedules now.
Sherlock Season 4: Not sure what to say about the latest season of one of my favorite shows. The kids and I eagerly watched the previous episodes in order to whet our appetites for the latest season. Think our time would have been better spent rewatching our favorites from past seasons rather than watching Season 4. Besides being extremely dark and sometimes confusing, it felt a lot like a remix of previous storylines with the characters merely being shifted around. While we certainly would sit down to watch a Season 5, it will be with an edge of skepticism. Once bitten twice shy, my dear Watson.
Abstract: This is a great series for anyone interested in the arts. Beautifully done, it brings together the art of filmmaking and the 3-D arts brilliantly. Featuring world renowned artists including illustrators, architects, and more, you don’t have to be “artsy” to get drawn in. An excellent viewing experience for the whole family.