Monday, December 14, 2009

You can't forget, but how do you forgive?

Directed by Jim Shridan

As a person who thrives on the alternative, I surprise myself when I’m initially disappointed by an unpredictable storyline. I almost like it more when I leave the theater thinking, “What the hell was that about”. It gives me a chance to let is soak in and fester in my phyche . When I saw the previews for the film Brothers, I assumed it would be a melodrama about the relationship between the brothers much like Legends of the Fall (1994). Instead, the film is about how circumstances reshape a new version of yourself and learning how to live with those decisions you make. While watching the movie I was comparing the film to Stop-Loss (2008) a film that also depicts solders needing to face their family after war.

This is a basic story of good brother turns bad and the bad brother turn good, but this isn’t where the story lies. I think the reason why I was first disappointed IS because I wanted to see the characters pay for their actions, but there is nothing predictably dramatic and there is no moral of the story. Instead, the film documents what happens when you have to live with yourself for the decisions that you made. It’s a pretty simple but profound concept.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bay Area Love

Medicine for Melancholy
Directed by Barry Jenkins

I stumbled across this movie and was excited to see what this new director had in store for me. At a glance, this film is very simple boy meets girl story. It takes place a day after a one-night stand as two strangers correspond over the course of a day. Jenkins captures San Francisco single life perfectly by creating characters who have interesting conversations and an intimate connection within a shallow relationship. The conversations between the two characters are dialogs every black person living in the bay area has had at least once. Issues of gentrification, inter-racial relationships and bay area culture were all talked about, but it was manner in which the conversations unfolded is what made the film interesting. In between the dialog were long periods of silence where cinema-photography gave you a tour of San Francisco, while the characters reflected the personality of the bay area. If you haven’t lived in San Francisco you might not appreciate all of the subtleties of the dialog, but for someone who has lived here for almost five years it was like looking in the mirror
I look forward to seeing Jenkins next project.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The wait is finally over…

Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Directed by Lee Daniels

Precious is a film about an abused overweight 16-year-old black girl with two children and her incredible heart-wrenching journey to push through. It’s easy to have compassion for this story but Daniels’ ability to make you love, hate and respect the characters makes this movie a success.

I love this film, because it wasn’t a cliché. The main characters are round and complex, played by exquisite actors. There are scenes so uncomfortable it makes you cringe but not too long to the point that it’s vulgar. I was prepared to cry throughout the whole movie, but instead it was broken up with humor and creative dream sequences. Precious is a perfect example of a story so personal it touches on many aspects of society and the human condition without being preachy or disrespectful.

Lots of variables come to place when a film of this caliber is able to reach mainstream audiences. Not many studios are looking for a depressing movie about a girl who gets raped gets pregnant and contracts the AIDS virus. Lets not forget that she is black, overweight and poor. A story filled with ugly social stigmas doesn’t scream blockbuster success. The brutal honesty of the film can only leave the viewer feeling a sense of respect for the journey weather you can relate to it or not. The ability to grab audiences with truthful hard-hitting storytelling without alienating the viewers is a testament to the filmmaker.

I have waited a long time for a film like this. Many films with all black casts get turned into stereotypical depictions of right and wrong instead of just telling the truth. I can only hope this is a beginning of a new genre of black cinema. Thank you Lee Daniels!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't get suckered into the Tim Burton Producer credit!

9 (2009)
Directed by Shane Acker

I went into this movie with low expectations and I still left disappointed. I usually like man vs. machine stories, but this just didn't hold my attention. Starting a storyline at the end of a disaster is intriguing, but in order to do that, something else has to happen, a new species, another form of life, something! Perhaps I didn't care enough about these characters because I spent the whole time wondering what the hell they were.

Even though the storyline was week, the visual aesthetics of the film was stunning. The level of detail and creativity were remarkable but this is the kind of movie you put on mute to watch. Perhaps they show it at your favorite bar!