PG-13 for Van Wilder-with-a-sense-of-maturity hijinks. There's a lot of urination jokes. There's some crass language. It feels more rebellious than it is. PG-13 might be the most accurate MPAA rating for this movie. While there is nothing that really raises eyebrows that I can remember, besides sophomoric humor, the real issue is the constant --almost flippant --attitude toward suicide. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Rajkumar Hirani
I have a really big confession. Like, really big. While I've watched Indian cinema before, I haven't ever seen a straight-up Bollywood film. You would think with the fact that I'm probably the guy who has seen the most movies that you know (unless you are in my film circles, where I'm the guy who has seen the least and how dare I have a blog?) that I would have seen a Bollywood film up to this point. I mean, I get the genre, kind of. I've addressed stuff like Slumdog Millionaire, which is almost an homage of the genre. But I haven't watched a pure Bollywood film. Part of it is that it is all so intimidating. I know that I would have to scour through a lot of dreck to find the really good stuff and I'm already kind of cynical about the whole forced musical element anyway.
So why did I watch 3 Idiots? I mean, it isn't horrible. But I can safely say that I hadn't heard of it before. My last birthday, I got a scratch-off poster with movies. Just by opening it, I realized I had watched most of the list, both American and International. But then there were four movies that I had never heard of. And they all happened to be Indian films. These weren't movies from The Apu Trilogy or Monsoon Wedding. This was a movie that I even had a hard time finding to ensure that I was talking about the right movie. Now what I'm basically writing about is my own ignorance. One of two things happened. The first option is that I'm wildly ignorant about Bollywood cinema and I feel insecure enough to blame the person who made this poster. The second option is that the person who made this list is a huge Bollywood fan and he really wanted to put some of the more popular Bollywood films on this list. Or maybe it is both. Who knows?
My take on this movie is going to be from a Western perspective. I acknowledge and own my own ignorance. Who knows? Maybe by the time I completely fill in the poster, I might have a more informed opinion. But 3 Idiots feels like an attempt to mimic the Western Hollywood sensibility while maintaining elements that would appease the Bollywood audience. Immediately, I felt like there were elements of (500) Days of Summer mixed with the raunchy comedy of Van Wilder. It wants to be a little bit of everything. It wants to be stupid and goofy and deep and heavy all at the same time. Does it work? It works better than I thought it would, but that's not exactly saying much. Fundamentally, the movie wants to be inspirational. For all of its whimsy, the movie is kind of aiming for a Dead Poets Society element without all of the hard work and pathos needed to get to that moment. I'm going to refer to Aamir Khan's character as Rancho for the bulk of this blog just for simplicity's sake. Rancho's story is the same thing that we've heard time and again. He's the anti-establishment genius. There are times that he reads as autistic and times that he comes across as a rock star. Perhaps the filmmakers really want him to be whatever the plot needs. When he enters, he seems completely anti-social, mimicking Rain Man when he builds something to electrify urine. But he also becomes this guy who makes raids on the administration building and helps make plans to switch speeches on the rich cocky stereotype who can't speak the language.
But the big thing about the movie that kind of gets under my skin is the film's message about suicide. I'm not sure if this is something that activated a real memory or gave me that sense of false memory, but the movie reminded me / brainwashed me into thinking about the suicide rates in India, especially at the university level. One of the recurring motifs in the film is characters committing suicide. The first of the suicides is handled well. It is a curveball. In the midst of this zany comedy, a student who couldn't quite hack his final project ends up killing himself. It's this smash cut to the reality of a situation. The juxtaposition of the singing to the reality of this dead student who was overwhelmed with stress was a powerful tool. The quick blame for this suicide falls to Virus, who is quickly established to be the primary antagonist of the film. And that is a valid appraisal. Had Virus actually taken into consideration the student's psychological needs and reasonable request, that student could have readjusted his priorities and finished the project in a reasonable timeframe. But does no one blame Rancho even just a little bit for his decision. Like, I can't go beyond negligence. But Rancho really wanted to surprise the kid. But at no point did he consider what kind of mental stress that could have been on his shoulders. Rancho had no guarantee that he could have repaired the drone. During that time, the student was convinced that he would be booted out of school. A human being would have said, "Hey, let me help you fix this" instead of offering a surprise. It's a really weird choice.
But it is the second suicide attempt that really bothers me. All of these suicides tended to be in response to Virus's trigger-happy attitude towards booting students from his school. But Raju kind of actually deserved it. He urinated on Virus's door for fun. He got drunk and woke up in a class. All of these things are valid reasons for expelling someone from an institution. Yeah, Virus takes things to a college comedy level with the joy he gets from expelling Raju. But all things even, Raju kind of deserved it. (Raju's story, by the way, is really weird.) So Raju attempts suicide and this is where the tone gets bizarre. One suicide in a movie is shocked. I suppose two suicides could be chalked up to foreshadowing, but I don't really get that sense here. But that second suicide is treated like a joke. The first one has this impact when it is on a tertiary character. But Raju is one of the titular 3 Idiots. When he attempts suicide, it should be a bigger deal than it is. Instead, the movie goes into all of these goofy subplots about tricking Raju out of his coma, including forcing another of the idiots to marry Raju's sister. It's all very uncomfortable and it kind of killed part of the movie for me.
But in terms of fun, yeah, the movie's got it. Is that the point of Bollywood? Is it steeped in making sure that a movie is constantly entertaining? It almost feels like it is based on vaudeville than anything else? It has this really sweeping story about these characters. Sure, the movie is almost three hours for a comedy (which I understand is very typical for a Bollywood film), but it still maintains entertainment all the way through. But there are also some things that really read as a soap opera. Anything involving medicine was absolutely goofy, especially when it came to delivering a baby during a monsoon. It's just that every element of this movie really begged me to shut off my brain and accept the absurdity of it all. To a certain extent, 3 Idiots almost solidified my expectations of what a Bollywood film was supposed to be. It never really got to the proper level of vulnerability, but it also wanted the payoff from being this sweeping and epic film. Did I enjoy it? Okay. Sure. I didn't hate it. But I also struggled to say it is a good movie. It's got a lot of good moments and things that I enjoyed. But it also lacked maturity in almost any way.
PG-13, but that's, again, a bit of a stretch. This movie is so innocent that we actually woke up our nine-year-old to watch it. Then, our seven-year-old got jealous and we let him watch it as well. The most questionable stuff in this movie is a grandmother who swears in Korean occasionally and kids having to deal with the problems that come with aging. It's PG-13, but I would 100% let kids watch this movie. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung
Just to show you how tiny my readership has gotten: I gained seven readers yesterday and it was a massive spike.
Oh man. How is it that the year that we weren't really supposed to have Academy Awards that we get a whole bunch of really good movies? Also, is A24 only able to make the most intense R-rated films or feel good movies about families making it in America? I kind of love this. For a long time, I was relishing that A24 was making these really over-the-top / gorgeous genre films that established horror as viable cinema. But then I started getting bored with A24. I didn't need things to be completely bleak all of the time. And I know that A24 never really shied away from non-horror cinema. It's just that a lot of those movies didn't really get the word of mouth that the other movies did.
It's nothing new to tell the story of the American Dream. Heck, I teach an American literature class and every book --unintentionally, mind you --I teach somehow is a commentary on the American Dream. Maybe we don't actively talk about the American Dream as much anymore. After all, Chung set his film during the Reagan administration, which feels more "American Dreamish" than 2021. But Chung kind of subverts expectations with this interpretation of the American Dream. By no mean does Chung imply that racism in America is over. There is some mild commentary about racism, mostly coming from the reactions of children to a sense of otherness. They never really experience active racism so much as ignorance and eventual acceptance. The more I think about it, that might be the major difference between the Reagan Republican presidency and the Trump Republican presidency. Both are --and this is me being more than generous --about pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. But with the Reagan administration, it was so aggressively about immigrants trying to take America away from white people. So Minari celebrates the potentiality of America. I'm a little bummed that my initial analysis of the movie focuses on the goodness of white people, but it does seem to be a thing in the movie that could be confused with white knighting, but definitely isn't.
I don't really see this movie as a White Knight film. Will Patton is the heroic white character in the movie, but he's not exactly seen as the white man who has it all together. If anything, the movie portrays the typical white American as kind of good-natured, but buffoonish. He comes across as a religious zealot which reads as full on goofy, yet lovable. Yeah, sometimes I wish that religious devotion wouldn't come across as crazy pants, but I get in the times that we live in, that choice holds water. But he's this guy who really doesn't make the person of color succeed. Instead, Paul is a great voice for Jacob to sound off his frustrations. Paul is an innocent. He's invested in Jacob's farm because he's nice to a point of naivete. His role in the greater tapestry of the film is how darned simple he is, especially juxtaposed to the complex Jacob.
It's because Jacob is so conflicted that we watch a movie like this. Okay, we really watch for the sake of Soonja. But Jacob is both the protagonist of the piece and a spectator. Chung has two very intimate stories swirling around each other. We have Jacob, who is a father who has a dream. His dream forces him to drift further away from his family. Meanwhile, David has to learn to embrace his distant Korean background with the aging Soonja as the representative of that culture. With these intermixing stories, Chung gets to the point of the theme: Americana is real; it just doesn't look like we think it looks.
Jacob has moved his family to the middle of nowhere. John Steinbeck paints the beginning of a farming career as a ranch with chickens and, of course, rabbits. Chung paints the beginning of farming as a field that nobody wants with a trailer that looks like a death trap. It's not baseball and apple pie idealism that Jacob carries with him, but the stick-to-itiveness of Korea. It's hard work and stubbornness. There isn't a rooster or a sunrise in sight. There's no Cheerios box on the table. Instead, Jacob is dirty and surrounded by Paul, absurd looking at all times. Similarly, he both bonds with his son and distances himself from his son with this farm. It becomes not just a matter of survival in America, but a point of pride for him. After all, not only will his family starve if he is unable to make his crop grow; his wife will leave him as well. That is the phantom over the horizon. And that's where Chung's curveball really works.
Soonja seems to be the element that should be tearing husband and wife apart. When the husband's mother-in-law moves in, it almost acts like a confirmation of all of Jacob's fears. Monica wants to return to Korea and weaving the Korean lifestyle into David's life seems to be the thing to get that ball rolling. But Soonja, for all of her bad habits, actually kind of ends up being the most supporting element to Jacob's dreams. It's not like she gives him a free pass. She definitely makes him work for it. But watching David and Anne has represented the synthesis of two cultures coming together. David becomes more Korean. Soonja works to be more of the traditional American grandmother.
But Chung isn't about writing fairy tales. Yeah, there's a remarkably beautiful ending to the whole movie involving the titular minari. But we're forced to deal with the realities of aging while all of this goes on. Soonja's stroke almost shifts the entire film to a story of balancing priorities. The fact that Jacob and Monica's life just isn't put on hold because of Soonja's stroke is extremely telling. It isn't even really selfish that they don't devote all of their emotional energies to Soonja's rehabilitation. Instead, it's a game of Jenga. The entire tower is going to tip faster and, as an audience, we wonder what element is going to fall first. It's all very impressive.
I adored this movie. I absolutely loved it. I would be very happy for it to win. I mean, there's going to be jokes about Minari following up Parasite as a Best Picture winner, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Not rated, but it 100% would be rated R given half-a-chance. It's all about drinking too much for the entire film. Some of it is glorifying alcohol (which I'm sure some people would fight me on) and the other scenes show the dark underbelly of alcoholism. There's language and sexual content. One of the characters is having an affair. The movie also regularly dances around suicide. Also, there's some wildly inappropriate interactions with students.
DIRECTOR: Thomas Vinterberg
So I find myself writing less on vacation. That's LIKE a vacation from writing, right? At one point, when I was considering stopping this blog, I made the deal that it was about quality, not quantity. As part of that, I started to write less and found myself happier. But I'm back to writing these tanks that often get rambly. Basically, I'm stating that I'm going to forgive myself whatever happens. Sure, my readership is in the toilet. (My numbers are hilariously low right now. It's almost like I'm writing about a lot of movies that people hadn't even heard of.)
When my wife saw the trailer for this movie (she's always on the quest for the Academy Awards with me), she thought it looked way too depressing. Me? I'm a big fan of movies like this. It's a funnier The Lost Weekend. I've never been one to drink. I actively dislike drinking most of the time. The only time that I ever partake is on fancy dates where they have very impressive drinks. In my head, it is the equivalent of ordering a meal that displays the talents of the chef. And even then, I drink very little if for cost alone. Vinterberg's world of Another Round is a culture where alcohol is part of life for both youth an adults. The Danes live a drastically different life from me. Drinking at work is still frowned upon, but the idea of students thinking of their teachers as people who drink isn't exactly that bizarre.
Starting there alone, this movie becomes almost a nature documentary. I get to watch this whole different world from the safety of my home, imagining what my life would be like if alcohol was just part of the norm. And for many Americans, it totally is. But there's this very specific setting that Another Round lives in. I can't help but bring my own background to bear when writing about a film like this.
The central conceit is really very interesting. Vinterberg is aware how absurd the conceit is. The premise is that there is a philosopher that believes that the human blood alcohol level is too low for anyone's health or productivity. To counteract this burden, the protagonists choose to drink to maintain a peak blood alcohol level. Like I stated, I'm sure that Vinterberg probably doesn't wholly subscribe to this belief. I can see the Fight Club crowd intentionally misunderstanding the message that Vinterberg is throwing down. But I can see why more in the case of Another Round than with Fight Club. With Fight Club, David Fincher allows the audience to see the consequences of a life built around the philosophy and rules of Tyler Durden. It becomes the most toxic lifestyle, ultimately leading to this crisis that nearly kills the unnamed protagonist. With Another Round, Vinterberg takes Martin to both polar extremes. Martin leads both is best and worst life as a drunk. When Martin drinks according to the initial experiment, his life actually seems pretty rad. He pulls himself out of his mid-life depression and teaches like a man on fire. He reaches these kids and becomes a favorite teacher. He's reminded of his passion for his studies. He becomes a better husband and father. Vinterberg makes lo-key alcoholism seem rad. It's only when Martin goes past the initial edict of drinking that his life falls apart.
All this brings me to the very confusing conclusion. Vinterberg brings Martin to a place where many characters aren't allowed to go. Martin borderline burns his life to the ground with his drinking. He discovers that his wife has been cheating on him. He goes from being laser focused to just a sloppy drunk. His friend commits suicide. In a moment of sobriety, Martin seems to discover the toxicity that enters his life. But his friends don't equate their drinking to the suicide of a friend. They continue drinking. Vinterberg makes these guys look fairly pathetic in this moment and the message seems to be that people have a hard time really seeing their own vice. But it is in this moment that Martin is given another chance. His wife is willing to give the marriage another chance. His students think of him as cool. They have all done well in school. So that ending comes across as both positive and wildly depressing. All of the famous shots of this movie come from the absolute end of the film, by-the-way. Mads Mikkelsen dancing in a circle with a champagne bottle? That's the conclusion of the film. And it makes drinking look really sexy. Despite the fact that Martin ruined his life through booze, it makes me want to drink and I hate drinking.
And then there's the part with the nervous student. This is one of my students, by the way. This is the kid who is so darned talented and so darned smart that his own success seems unsustainable. There's this really dark moment where the teacher replaces his water bottle with a bottle of vodka. It isn't secret to the kid. That was the plan. Knowing that the kid had nerves, the plan was to sneak some booze to take the edge off of the presentation that he was giving for his final exam. The kid goes from not being able to say a word about Kierkegaard to being able to sound quite knowledgeable about the topic. Vinterberg makes this entire moment seem gross, but ultimately a logical success story. I wonder about this moment. It has me wondering what is going on with Vinterberg and this choice. Me, sitting there enjoying the safety of my own home, scarfing down popcorn and enjoying the high horse that I constantly ride, sees this kid as the most intense alcoholic that ever existed. From his perspective, he isn't functional unless he has booze in his system. He has equated alcohol with freedom. Yes, the booze helped him pass the test. But he also has practically self-medicated himself into a rudimentary task. That psychosis of educational superiority isn't being dealt with; it is being suppressed by alcohol. When he gets older, he'll need more and more just to get through the day. And yet, as an audience, we applaud when he finds himself successful in his final exam. Maybe it is the American in me, but I seriously thought that scene was going to end with with the teacher getting caught providing alcohol to a kid during a test, not with a success story.
When I watched this, I was shocked by how muddied the water was with the message. After all, this is a condemnation of alcoholism, but it isn't one way or the other. But that's what kind of makes this movie somewhat special. It's about complications. It's not an after school special. It's messy and rough. Yeah, these are characters who should probably be getting some therapy. But it also is interesting to see these characters succeed in moments that seem overwhelming for them. Again, I'm not a drinker, so I have the benefit of never having to worry about being that way.
Because I am the greatest man alive, I shouted from my very high horse.
Not rated. For a movie fundamentally about elder abuse, the movie is really very tame. The movie dances around some pretty innocent flirtation, with the notion that perhaps one of the residents in the nursing facility might have untoward intentions towards the protagonist. It can get mildly depressing at times, which should be taken into consideration. But the tone is light, so don't really worry. Not rated.
DIRECTOR: Maite Alberdi
It's kind of like a cute old James Bond who discovered that he was like James Bond in his eighties.
Part of this whole movie kind of feels fake. That's really cynical of me, but the movie reads more like an elaborate prank show than it does a formal documentary. One of my hidden treasures is Windy City Heat. I know that it isn't a movie that is discussed in a lot of circles, but it is the result of a long-running prank on a socially-bizarre gentleman named Perry Caravello. He's given a series of missions, Perry digs himself into this story that is both heartwarming and depressing at the same time. The Mole Agent, I hate to say, kind of has a very similar feel to it. Part of me thinks that this entire film is absurd. Is there a detective agency that contacted a documentary crew and said that they should get this old man to investigate this nursing home? Was there a nursing home that really wanted a documentary filmed at their location? I mean, I read up on this movie in The Guardian (just now, because I didn't want to dig myself too deep) and this is a documentary that took a very different turn than expected. But it all feels rather...engineered.
But I have to write with the assumption that everything that I watched was authentic. What kind of comes out of this is a really small documentary that's actually very heartwarming. I started this by saying that Sergio is this James Bond-like hero. Sergio is this guy who was raised to be a proper gentleman. In a world filled with functioning adults, Sergio is under the radar. He is just average. Now, there's a depressing undercurrent to this idea. In a world like a nursing home, Sergio comes across as this heroic figure. He's an Adonis, given liberties that the other members of this society don't. I would do the whole "Men want to be him; women want to be with him" thing, but it seems like there are no dudes in this nursing home. Sergio quickly rises to the role of Most Eligible Bachelor, despite the fact that Sergio is kind of dealing with his own stuff. From what I read on the Guardian, the movie is successful because of the surprises, and I suppose that is the most interesting part of the movie.
As with-it as Sergio comes across, juxtaposed to the other residents, he's still an 83 year old man. He has the problems of an 83 year old. He is mourning the death of his wife. He misses his family. He also seems incredibly lonely. There's something about Sergio that conveys the notion that he hides his loneliness because that's the way he was raised. In terms of his psychology, Sergio sees this overwhelming sadness that comes from end of life issues with the people around him and deciding to take care of the people around him. He has boundaries. He's not going to indulge the attention of a woman who has planned their marriage, but he's not going to embarrass her either. He instead befriends those people who have no one else in their lives. Sergio condemns the audience of the film, demanding that they visit their aging loved ones instead of blaming institutions for problems.
And that's what Sergio kind of sells in this story. He has this confrontational, but respectful relationship with Ramulo. But Ramulo is so removed from the world of nursing homes. Ramulo is so used to seeing the worst of people. He gets paid handsomely if the nursing home is failing the client's family member. He can't help but hoping for the worst case scenario. But Sergio comes from a world where the world is filled with good people. He wants this scenario to work out positively. And Sergio instead finds problems that he can start to solve. He finds the value of talking to other people and dealing with their neuroses as a peer, not as an institution. Because it seems like the workers at this nursing home are trying their best. Maybe it is because of the cameras and I have to acknowledge that I'm pretty cynical about a lot of things. But Sergio, as a member of the community, can make a far greater impact than those throwing big parties. Yes, there should be big parties. Yes, it is sweet that the workers do things to help the residents get through the day, but it really feels like a drop in the ocean. There are some residents who have real problems. But Sergio is filled with so much empathy that he can't help but infect others.
So, is it a great movie? The actual direction is pretty meh. It seems a little contrived. But the accidents that happen over the course of the movie are actually very heartwarming. I liked it, even though I acknowledge that it isn't a great film. Sergio himself and the residents of this nursing home are the ones that intrigue me, not the movie itself. Yeah, I should give the movie credit for shifting focus. So it ends up being heartwarming, if not flawed.
TV-G. It's got the same problem that Bambi does. Yeah, it can be G-rated all day long. It can avoid questionable content for a wholesome experience. But you know why I'm not excited to watch this particular TV-G movie with my kids? It's because nature is a cruel mistress who makes us fall in love with her only to torture us with death an predatory moments. And My Octopus Teacher has lots of those. TV-G.
DIRECTORS: Pippa Erlich and James Reed
It's 10:15 at night. I'm on vacation. I've been driving all day long and I told myself that I would continue writing. My wife is getting work done and I knew that I had to write about My Octopus Teacher. I checked my notepad and it wasn't there, but I knew that it was due pretty soon. If I managed to write this blog before, I'll be very upset. Part of that comes from the fact that I was really jazzed to watch My Octopus Teacher with the way that Netflix hyped it up and then got really bored with the movie as a whole.
But there is one thing that I really wanted to write about it. It's the same thought that has been running through my mind from the moment I got into the movie. I really need to talk about how Craig Foster's problems aren't valid. I heard somewhere that therapists regularly stress that everyone's problems have merit. For example, while I never have to worry about some of the lower levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, such as food or shelter, my anxiety and occasional self-destructive eating habits are very real. That being said --and I should remind my readers that I am a terrible person --Craig Foster needs to cool it on the justification for this project. See, I knew that this was about a man's study of a single octopus based on the trailer. That was a perfectly reasonable film study. Heck, I'll go as far as to say that his topic is fascinating. But the bulk of the movie is about how Craig Foster learned how to heal and bond with his son because of his relationship with this octopus.
I call shenanigans, by the way. Let's go with the one that really bugs me: how this octopus helped him bond with his son. It's low hanging fruit. Foster is having this midlife crisis where he feels distant from reality and from his family. So to do something about it, he decides to go swimming in the coral reefs every day to give himself some perspective. That's a very lovely life. Mazel. But Tom, his son, is barely in this documentary. There is so much footage of him going out into the water alone. I get that there are things that the camera isn't picking up. I get that. But this really doesn't feel like a bonding experience with his teenage son. This feels like a rich guy going swimming every day and sometimes his kid is there. That's far from an attempt to bond with your kid. I get that an experience with an octopus might bring two people together. Heck, that's actually the movie I want to see. All that being said, whatever bond happened with his son is almost incidental. It happened because of Tom, not because of an octopus.
And the second thing? Most people shouldn't give themselves a year of free time to swim everyday. That's called retirement. That's not something that the majority of the human race can experience. Craig Foster must have such a comfortable level of income that he can decide to document his swimming experience well into his escape and call it a movie. Because that was one of the things that he stressed when he was making the documentary. He found the courage to pick up the camera again and start making movies because he found peace within himself because of his relationship with this octopus. It's not the thing that's exactly going to ingratiate you to me. You decided to run away from the world and go swimming by yourself because you were stressed out. But the thing is, Craig Foster was documenting real people with real problems. I just don't get it.
And because of the sheer pretentiousness of the whole documentary, I couldn't view this thing as a nature documentary. I wanted to enjoy it as this really small scaled doc where the filmmaker just happened to learn something about himself over the course of watching this octopus battle predators while being a predator in its own right. I wanted to watch about the beauty of the grotesque. But instead, I kept watching how the filmmaker kept on getting in the way of a story that was telling itself all throughout. Foster himself gets these amazing shots of this octopus doing these insane things. He gives this animal human like traits. He makes it really become something to root for, even though it is bizarre and inhuman. But it's all of Foster's justification for being there that kept bumming me out.
So I left the movie very much like Foster left the reef: saddened and let down. There was something beautiful on screen. Maybe it isn't Foster's fault. I am coming down on him way too hard. I just never really believed his tale. I don't know if that's the right wording. I believed that Foster believed these things. But I also know that I will never have the luxury to go escape to an aquatic wonderland while my kids raise themselves. I am blessed to be sitting on a place for vacation and writing at 10:30 at night. But I don't claim that this is work. I claim that this is just something that I do and I enjoy. It is relaxing and stressful at the same time.
Rated R for language, especially in context of race. Because this was a play, a lot of the script is entirely surrounding dialogue. But if I had to think back on the language, there's nothing that is really in the realm of vulgarity. There is some disrespect of other cultures, with a focus on religion. But overall, the movie is fairly tame for an R-rating.
DIRECTOR: Regina King
Normally, when I'm off of work, I tend to give the blog a little bit of a vacation. It's so funny that I have a harder time writing these things away from the constraints of works, but it really does become a greater challenge. It's not like four kids creates a huge amount of chaos (this last sentence isn't true in the least), but the idea of not working on a set schedule makes it really hard. Also, there are a ton of small interruptions, so if this thing comes out all staccato, please bear with me.
Yeah, I want to see this on stage. It's this weird thing that happens when I watch an adaptation of a play, I'm so curious to see how the stage version of the play actually works out. But this one makes a lot of sense. Yeah, King takes advantage of the format and moves her characters out of a single setting. But I really do think that this is one of those bottle stories. The entire thing could take place inside the one hotel room, right? But I can see that not exactly working in the context of a film, especially one that has some Oscar buzz around it. Yet, part of me is far more curious to see how this story plays out when these characters are locked in a single surround. I also have to consider that I'm placing an unfair request on Regina King. The quartet, at one point, needs to go on the roof because they believe that they are being bugged by the FBI. Maybe the stage design reflects a more spartan, black-box design. Regardless, I don't know why I started off with this as the most important thing. I told you that this blog would fall apart.
It's so interesting to see these four people together as one single story. Again, this is loosey-goosey based on a real event. Really, as far as I understand it, this is based on a famous photo of a photo. The photo is of Malcolm X taking a photo of Muhammed Ali (then known as Cassius Clay), Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. Like many of us, I'm sure the playwright wondered what these giants of the time could have been discussing. The entire play is centered around this idea. But there has to be a lot of fiction behind this historical fiction. After reading about Jim Brown's history post-this moment, I mean we have to consider that he might not have been on the up-and-up as this movie portrayed. But Brown's characterization in this story might be the most outsider. People have low expectations of Brown compared to every other person in that hotel room.
It's just odd that Malcolm X was portrayed the way he was. Since the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer, I've been fascinated with Malcolm X. I watched Spike Lee's biopic based on his autobiography, the film entitled Malcolm X. From a white suburban perspective, I was always --probably passively --raised to distrust Malcolm X. He was always Magneto in my narrative. King was always the hero; X was always the villain. While I'm still a staunch pacifist and probably disagree with some of Malcolm X's teachings, I have definitely learned to respect him for so much of what he did. All this is a lead-in to discussing the characterization of Malcolm X.
Malcolm X, in On Night, is both the man of legend, but also remarkably human. As much as I loved Denzel's portrayal of this man, Kingsley Ben-Adir almost shows a different man. X is as much of a zealot as he is known for (in the most important way possible). Everything to him is the cause. He's never not being Malcolm X, the leader of a movement to take back power from the white man. But there's a certain tiredness that Ben-Adir imbues his Malcolm X with. Because good storytelling involves flawed characters that don't always have the right answers, Malcolm X is shown the flaws in his idealism. It is through the juxtaposition of Malcolm X to Sam Cooke.
Cooke is an interesting character. It's Leslie Odom, Jr. who is up for the Academy Award. Don't get me wrong. He does a very impressive job, but it is so interesting that it isn't Ben-Adir or Eli Goree for their portrayals that flummoxes me. Anyway, I gotta stop getting distracted. It's Sam Cooke, who wants to figure out what it means to be a successful Black man in America during this time period. The same themes would end up being in The United States v. Billie Holliday, which I'll get around to very soon. Cooke hates to think that he is less of Black man because he hasn't suffered. And Cooke comes across as extremely sympathetic. He doesn't deserve to have his humanity and his identity stripped from him because he isn't militant. But we also get Malcolm X's perspective: Sam Cooke should be using his exposure for the greater good.
And these two are fighting for the soul of Cassius Clay. We know from our perspective that Cassius Clay would become Muhammed Ali. That's a given. But his personality doesn't align necessarily with the Nation of Islam. Clay was infamously known for being a braggart. (Side note: I just checked Facebook while Weebly was down and saw that a very conservative boomer tried manipulating Malcolm X's words against progressives. Gross.) So how did Cassius Clay go from being this very carefree character to being this vocal pacifist who is tied into the Nation of Islam? And I kind of love that it comes from this dichotomy between Malcolm X and Sam Cooke? Both of them have very different philosophies and there's this fictionalized version of Joe Brown translating it all for Cassius Clay. It's interesting. I mean, it's mostly fictional, but it is interesting.
But is it an amazing movie? I don't know if I'll ever go that far. It's a great story and it would make an absolutely fascinating play on stage, but maybe film isn't the best place for this. It feels all a little rushed. There needs to be some silence and I think that the film is really rushing some of the beats that actors would probably take given an audience and locked in blocking. The film is by no means bad. It's just that I can really envision this being a far more powerful piece on the stage.
Yeah, it took me the whole day to write this. It's all over the place. I'm not sure what I covered and what I didn't cover. But I can leave with the knowledge that One Night in Miami... is more of an actors' wonderland than an amazing film. It is good, but it just has some room to figure stuff out.
PG-13. For the most part, there is nothing objectionable in the documentary. Fox mostly keeps it together for the camera, stressing the fact that she can work within the system and avoid confrontation to make change. But at one point, she just breaks down and she allows herself the freedom to say a stream of expletives. The movie deals with the racial inequality of the justice system which should be addressed to all ages, but this one might be over the heads of younger viewers. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Garrett Bradley
One of the major problems with my binge watching Academy Awards is that I feel like I've watched so many movies since watching Time. I know it was only, like, last week that I watched this. But I remember being pretty moved by Time...at the time. (I didn't mean to do that.) It's really unfair to take this blog as the only point of reference for this movie. If you are reading this because you don't necessarily want to watch the film, I recommend that you do. It's pretty solid. I don't know if it is life-changing. But it is a very vulnerable film about a topic that probably doesn't get the attention that it deserves.
Time absolutely has an agenda. Before you start hardcore backpedaling out of this blog, realize that all art should have an agenda. I know. Controversial, right? Great art wants to change the world and that is something fundamental about amazing storytelling. Documentarians also come in with an agenda and Time wants to stress the problems that are associated with the criminal justice system, especially in cases involving the Black community. I don't know if I was fully aware of how bad the problem was when I wrote my blog on 13th by Ava DuVernay, but Time kind of acts as a sample case for how the criminal justice system affects the real world in a microcosm. The film focuses on Sibil Fox Rich and her attempt to free her husband, Rob Rich, so he can be a father to his children during some time in their childhood.
What is interesting is that it is a commentary on the criminal justice system while being this redemptive arc for Sibil. The movie never denies that the crime was committed. It never even questions the verdict of the trial. The Rich couple did rob a bank. However, the movie really takes a hard stance on the sentencing of Black men. The crux of the film hinges on the idea that the sentencing for a bank robbery goes from five years to 99 years. The idea that a family truly doesn't know the potential sentencing of someone based on this wide array of punishment is what throws the Rich family into turmoil. And from Sibil's perspective is the dangerous idea of hope. After the five year mark, Sibil really does believe that this is the year that her husband comes home.
Sibil is a mother of many children. She is carrying twins while Rob is in prison and these twins often provide a context for how much time has passed. While I'm sure the more cynical reading audience might roll their eyes at the twins names, Freedom and Justice, I found myself moved at the meaning of the names. Justice is pronounced "Just Us", as in "It's just us now". Sibil is fighting this battle herself. She has many children who need a father. And she doesn't seem quite angry in this part of the story. The movie follows Sibil coming to terms with her own involvement in the crime and the amends that she has to repay. But what becomes very clear is the knowledge that the family suffers as much as the inmate.
And Sibil ends up being this amazing mother by herself. She uses her own story to motivate and inspire her children and others. This shouldn't be a piece of evidence to stress that a father wouldn't have made their lives better. But it always seems like an uphill struggle for the Rich family. Everything is a challenge when it shouldn't be. And it is because of the motivation of Sibil and the kids themselves that they ended up so well-adjusted. But I think the movie and society may view the family as atypical. The boys became focused on civil rights and politics because they wanted to change the system from the inside. But it is through Sibil's strength and courage that the boys are able to maintain a life that seems daunting. She has this willpower that is rare.
Yet, I can't help but think of Sibil's culpability in this whole thing. Again, I'm speaking from a point of white privilege. Sibil did assist Rob in the bank robbery. She met with the people she robbed and had a real conversation about making amends. Sibil goes in front of her entire church and confesses her crime and acts for absolution. But I don't understand Sibil's sentence. Is she given clemency because of the kids? Was the court aware that at least one parent, perhaps the one with lesser liability in the crime, needs to care for these children ahead of the state? Yeah, this is a film about injustice and I do believe that Rob was given an unfair sentence considering that he wasn't a professional bank robber. But I also have to acknowledge that Sibil was granted this amazing gift of having her kids, despite the crime she committed. I know. This shouldn't be the message that is getting out there. Instead, I should be obsessed with the Rob element of the story. But my brain is my brain. I still want to fight the good fight, but I don't know if I have a leg to stand on when it comes to that element of the story.
Time is an important movie. It seems like this document out of history. Because Sibil documented so much of her life post-conviction, we really have a full view of what happened in this story. Is it the most damning attack on the justice system? Probably not. Still, if you want to see how the ripples of an even lives day-to-day, Time does that.
PG-13. It's a war movie so you have to deal with some of the horrors of war. Again, as an aggressive pacifist, these are the things that kind of trigger me. But for a war movie, the movie focuses more on the honor of the soldier / seaman rather than the brutality of war. The movie does make the Nazis to be rather scary, which I'm very okay with. The language is very mild. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Aaron Schneider
I take it back! There's a war movie that is only an hour-and-a-half and that is wonderful. Do you know how many more war movies would be on this page if they had a runtime of an hour-and-a-half? There's something so darned pure about the movie. It's not like we were lacking on the character stuff. It's just that there wasn't this attempt to cover an entire war. Instead, what Greyhound presents is a story of fear at sea with such focus of vision that the story, despite being light on direct characterization, presents the tale of humanity and the fight for survival.
I mean, I'm preaching it pretty hard. I should probably pump the brakes. But I'm a cup-of-tea in right now and I'm riding high on caffeine, so this movie is the cat's pajamas. I ran a half-marathon to this movie (almost --I really ran a half-marathon to Zack Snyder's Justice League. But I didn't stop running for the entire film and that felt pretty great as well). Perhaps the movie bleeds a little bit too much in to patriotic propaganda at times, but I like the fact that we don't get Das Boot from the other perspective too often. Das Boot is basically the same film from the German point-of-view, but there is a very different tone to the film. Both movies rely heavily on the function of suspense to tell a story and I really appreciate that. But there is something horribly bleak to Das Boot that will make it a cinematic classic, while Greyhound's optimistic and noble tone will perhaps make it forgotten shy of its production design Academy Award nomination.
But the biggest question that this movie really had me asking: who is Tom Hanks? I find Tom Hanks to be remarkably charming. I think in another blog --and I couldn't tell you for which movie --I wrote about how I want Tom Hanks to be my dad. I hope the blog was for a Tom Hanks movie or else that would be really awkward. But he's the kind of guy who always gets criticized for being part of the Hollywood elite. I don't believe that there really is such a thing. I really believe that conservatives tend to minimalize anyone who criticizes anything that they believe in. But Hanks keeps on playing these prayerful, solemn, and humble people and he's really good at it. Just as a preview of the upcoming News of the World blog, we watched that movie last night and my wife commented that she didn't think that Tom Hanks was that great of an actor. I don't know if I would go that far. I think that Tom Hanks has a niche thing going on and that niche is excellent. Like Anthony Hopkins usually has his thing that he does over and over again, Tom Hanks keeps playing these parts where he is the gentle giant who fights these extraordinary odds time and time again.
Captain Krause is an interesting character. I know that he's based on a real dude and I know that I can't really trust adaptations in biopics to find out what the real dude was probably like. After all, A Beautiful Mind exists and that guy was a monster in reality. Also, Tom Hanks also played Captain Phillips in the titular role and apparently that story was completely mistold to make Phillips this daring hero. But Hanks apparently really likes courage-at-sea movies and he creates Krause as someone I really respect. It's this guy who does the right thing at all times, but is constantly doubting himself. Yeah, the movie is about survival and survival in an almost horror like environment. The Germans are torturing the American sailors with mind games and the Americans are completely overwhelmed. There's this captain who is way above his head and is expected to fail. We see his confidence falter and waver as the story progresses. And I think that Krause is the kind of guy who sees himself as the wary leader. He has greatness thrust upon him. He probably views himself as a failure while the observer sees him in a place of command.
That's why, I think, that we have have the little slip ups. The movie has a lot of jargon. If there's anything that bores me more, it's a movie filled with jargon. I get that movies should aim for degrees of verisimilitude, but jargon gets to be very boring. I know that my wife probably wouldn't really dig this movie because jargon tends to just be noise. It isn't really dialogue. It's the equivalent of a sound effect in a war movie. Moving certain degrees and talking about stuff like ballast (I don't even know if that word was used in this movie) isn't about character. But it's when Krause gets things wrong that we find out about character. There aren't a lot of moments where Krause has the time or the opportunity to talk about his mental resolve. There's a little bit of that, but it's pretty sparse. But it is when he calls people the wrong name, we starts seeing those cracks in his characters. When he's shouting out jargon and orders, there's no real way to say if he's right or wrong for the layperson. Perhaps sailors and those who otaku about military history might be able to see if he's smart or foolish with his commands. But for the rest of us, it is in the fact that he doesn't eat. It is in the fact that he keeps calling people the wrong names. It is this weight on his shoulders that is relatable. Because we can imagine being a sailor under his command in that moment.
When he makes those mistakes, we identify not with Krause, but with those people who are on the receiving end of the orders. As much as Krause is trying to survive this ambush by German U-Boats, Krause seems more intent on ensuring the men under his care survive to fight another day. It's not about pride at any point. If anything, Krause could probably use a dash of pride to level himself out. Instead, we feel the fear of those sailors. The most experienced of sea captains would have a hard time in the predicament that they find themselves, let alone this first time captain who seems to be making silly mistakes here and there. Yet, those silly mistakes are red herrings in the grand scheme of things. Krause never really makes a mistake in his actual soldiering and leadership. These mistakes are not signs of incompetence, but rather exhaustion and responsibility. And to bring it back full circle, that's why an hour-and-a-half are perfect for this movie.
Because the movie is about one thing: Krause and his confidence. As much as this is one giant external conflict (Greyhound's convoy versus the U-Boats), the knowledge that Krause is dealing with the world on his shoulders and maintains his cool in overwhelming crisis is what we should care about. Instead of panning out to the grand scope of the war, we instead can find an inspirational tale from this guy who beat the odds in a small, seemingly unimportant convoy. This little guy saved a lot of lives and never really pointed it out. There are these very brief scenes that don't take place on the boat. We get this flash back to normal civilian society, knowing that he has a love waiting for him at home. Instead of deep diving into this story, these moments simply act as juxtaposition for the continual war footage. Yeah, you easily could write this movie off as one giant war action sequence and I really couldn't fault you for that. But I see indirect characterization and a reluctant hero more than I see strategy.
I don't think I'll ever really watch it again unless someone wanted to watch it with me. It's a good movie that affected me the way that it should have. But I also get the message. It's a Tom Hanks movie, through-and-through, and that usually means something inspirational.
Rated R mostly for language. I mean, sure, you could rate it R for violence. But this movie feels equally grizzly to Zack Snyder's other entries in the DCeU and those guys are all sporting a family-friendly PG-13. No, Zack Snyder really wanted Batman to drop the f-bomb Frank Miller style, so now I have to leave this for the adults to watch a movie about a guy who dresses in a rubber bat-mask. R.
DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder
If you asked me in 2016 / 2017 that I would some day be rooting for Zack Snyder's version of a Justice League movie over Joss Whedon's version of a Justice League movie, I would 100% not believe you. Seriously. I was ride-or-die Joss Whedon and I safely knew that Zack Snyder was one of the worst directors working in Hollywood once the travesty that was Man of Steel came out. As much as I criticize people who hate-watch movies, I would hate-watch anything that Zack Snyder came out with just so I could complain about it. It was all pretty toxic. So when people started whining about the Snyder Cut, I was ready to hate watch all four hours of the movie just to prove that Zack Snyder couldn't fix such a bad movie.
But you know what? I have to eat crow. While I still want a clean reboot of the DCeU, I have to admit that Zack Snyder's Justice League isn't just better, but it is actually pretty good. Now, am I going to completely backpedal my thoughts on Zack Snyder, who has his name on this version of the movie an offensive amount of times? No. As much as I'm tempted to go back and to give Man of Steel another watch, I realize that he still really sucks at Superman. The reason that his Justice League mostly works is because most of the movie isn't Superman. I'm going to get the whiny thing out of the way first because I want to talk mostly about why this is more than simply a Director's Cut of a bad movie. Zack Snyder has stated in interviews that he really doesn't like Superman. While I appreciate Tom Taylor's work on Injustice, I always liked Injustice as an Elseworlds tale as opposed to what we should see as Superman. Zack Snyder and Tom Taylor both have the same idea: if you broke Superman in just the right way, he would be come this absolute despot.
But I always viewed Superman having more in common with Captain America than with Thor. In terms of punching and violence, Thor and Superman would be the grudge match. But Superman and Captain America both have the attitude of "I could do this all day." They continue to take hits both physically and emotionally and get up when they should stay down. Zack Snyder doesn't see Superman that way. He sees him as the most emotionally fragile person on the planet, a god who would turn on us given the smallest provocation. He really stressed this in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I know that the message of that film was that Bruce Wayne was wrong about that theory, but Justice League kind of confirms Batman's paranoia about the alien. Superman is meant to be the best of us. He would fight for us even if he had no powers. That's the point of him. Zack Snyder's Justice League has him as someone who has to be coaxed into goodness and that people have to walk around pins and needles for. That's no good.
But the rest of the movie is actually kind of genius. I hate to say it --mainly because the quality isn't QUITE as good --but Zack Snyder's Justice League might have been Avengers: Endgame before Avengers: Endgame came out. Again, there's a big caveat there. Endgame is one of the greatest payoffs to a series that I'll ever experience. It's absolutely brilliant and Justice League isn't exactly there or well-deserved. But there are a lot of the same beats. As opposed to Thanos getting all of the Infinity Stones over the course of two movies, Steppenwolf and Darkseid are hunting for three Mother Boxes. If all of these are unified, the earth would be remade in the bad guy's image. It's the same story, but Justice League technically got there first. I don't ever want to admit that, but it is true.
There's also something where you can see Christopher Nolan far more in this movie than in the past. I always felt that the Snyder movies in the DCeU were in the shadow of Christopher Nolan. They were gloriously cinematic, but completely hollow in storytelling. Snyder --and I still believe this to be true -- is terribly broey and cool a lot of the time in his storytelling. But the one thing that a four-hour runtime allows for is a sense of nuance in the characterization and storytelling. This means that Whedon's version has a couple of things going against it. First of all, it is a SparkNotes version of a much longer story. I know that my wife commented that I just watched a four hour version of a movie that I knew sucked. Yeah, but now I know that it sucked because it was like reading a summary of a book as opposed to reading the book. Snyder might actually need to have a decently long runtime to get away from his big epic setpieces. While I still got a little bored at the fighting scenes, I was far more okay with them because they all felt kind of earned.
But the big thing that the movie taught me about filmmaking is about the dangers of script doctoring a movie. One of my biggest complaints in the DCeU was always a matter of tone. These were these giant movies about superheroes and they were bleak as heck. No one ever smiled. There wasn't a healthy relationship to be found in the Snyder movies. So when Whedon was brought in to tell jokes, I thought it was a good idea. Honestly, some of my favorite moments from Whedon's version of the movie was when Superman was being funny and light. Like, I like the idea of a Superman / Flash race to finish the film. But with those scenes removed, I realized that it was trying to put sweet with savory and neither of them worked together. Snyder had a pretty good movie that worked in spite of having a dark tone. While there are jokes in the movie, they seem far more organic and downplayed than the outright gags that Whedon put in his film.
But the smartest thing that Snyder did, besides really make the DC Universe feel alive and fleshed out in his cut, was allow the characters who didn't have tentpole movies of their own to stand out. The movie is really about Flash and Cyborg. Aquaman was already slated and probably filmed by that point. So when Flash and Cyborg become the center emotional core of the film, it made sense. Yeah, I'll probably never love Ezra Miller's Barry Allen, despite the fact that he has some of the best lines. But I do like the idea of the two kids of the stories being the ones who have to figure out how to get things done. One of the dangers of a Justice League is that it always seems to be a Batman or Superman problem that the others are lending support to. But with the case of Zack Snyder's Justice League, we have the story of Victor Stone and how he is the reluctant hero. We have Barry Allen, who doesn't know what to do with his life. And these two characters, the gravedigging characters, are the ones we care about the most. They get the most new footage and they are the ones that we relate to. As much as I love Diana and her awesomeness returned in this version, I applaud the characterization of the Flash and Cyborg.
And this movie made me really like Snyder's Batman a little more. Yeah, I still don't love the constant use of guns for that guy. It's, like, one of his two things. That's it. But Batman now has completed this redemption arc that, admittedly, might be undone in the Knightmare Reality at the end. But he seems like he went on a bigger journey than Superman, who started the whole DCeU in Man of Steel.
It's a really well made four hour film. I didn't hate watching it at all. Yeah, Superman still sucks in this canon. But at least the rest of the movie has a lot to offer.
Not rated. I was going to say that there was nothing of concern in the movie, but there is some very mild nudity. I don't think I've ever written the term "mild nudity", but there is a victim of a fire who does a nude photo shoot. I don't think you really see anything that would be considered offensive, but it is in the movie. I also think that there is some mild language. The documentary also focuses on death, so keep that in mind. Not rated.
DIRECTOR: Alexander Nanau
Why is it always on sleepy Mondays that I get stuff like Collective? Like, I have a lot of thoughts about Zack Snyder's Justice League, but here I am talking about a documentary that made my wife fall asleep about halfway through. There are some really well made documentaries this year and Collective, unfortunately, isn't one of them. I have no problem with the subject matter. The subject matter is fascinating...for a short. So I'm stuck on a Monday morning, after only getting about three hours of sleep, writing about a movie that I watched a million movies ago, that really should have been half an hour long. If I call it quits a little early today, just be aware that I tried my best and I'm very sleepy.
Collective's marketing department needs to chill a bit. The disc said something about the scandals keep getting deeper and deeper. And for a while, I really believed that. The opening infodump involved the story of a nightclub that caught fire, killing way too many people for what had actually happened. That's the starting point. Since we didn't know the details of what happened, the first quarter of the movie was shocking. Through a series of investigative articles by a sports magazine (which may be the most telling thing about Romanian media), the newspaper finds out that the victims of the fire shouldn't have died not due to lack of proper fire safety, but due to Romanian hospitals being death traps. The major bomb in this whole thing is that the chemicals used to sterilize rooms and instruments were being diluted to save money. We're not talking about slightly diluting products, but the stuff that they were using was so fundamentally ineffective that it would have been safer had the victims never been taken to the hospital at all.
This is the first fifteen minutes of the doc. And from that perspective, that's a fascinating first fifteen minutes. But the rest of the movie is the equivalent of watching the natural paperwork go through. Perhaps that's a harsh assessment of the film. Collective almost runs for two hours. It's not the longest film in the world, but it certainly ain't the shortest by any stretch of the imagination. And over the next hour-and-a-half, the movie does eventually tie this hospital's practices of cost cutting to government corruption, which totally needs to be addressed. It's just that...it isn't done through leaps and bounds. It's through the slow, mundane meetings of government officials. It's from the perspective of the new Minister of Health in Romania discovering how crappy his job is. It's about people being up in an uproar and then forgetting about the uproar, but some people don't forget? It's got this message that is kind of muddled by the way that he documentarians forget what the point of it all is.
And if I was Romanian, this is something I should be angry about. While the film covers the reaction of the people, it really is centered about what happens behind closed doors. Listen, I probably would have made the same choice. Given the opportunity to follow the minister of health through this process seems like an opportunity of a lifetime, the story should be about the victims and how they view bureaucracy. The movie almost completely loses its emotional resonance once the victims of the fire are relegated to the B-or-C-plot. There's nothing more like a cold shower than ignoring the grass roots movement to change things and focusing on a guy who feels impotent in his position. Nanau tries to bring in an element of humanity into the piece with the now maimed model and how she is the public face of this tragedy. But it really does feel like an afterthought that isn't fully explored. This image of this burned woman publicly displaying her injuries should be powerful, but it comes across as "Don't forget this element too".
Nanau also might not be the perfect voice for this piece. I know that is harsh, considering that I haven't seen his other documentaries. But Nanau pretends to be a guy who stumbled upon this while rubbing shoulders with investigative journalist Catalin Tolontan. Tolontan is definitely the hero of the piece. But Nanau came in clearly once this was publicly broken. However, instead of acknowledging that this was his process, Nanau clearly seemed to ask Tolontan and his staff to pretend like they were discovering this information while the documentary was being made. Acting in a documentary that is supposed to be cinema verite is super clunky. It really pulls you out of the story. I believe that Nanau is present once the film shifts from Tolontan to Vlad Voiculescu because, as awkward as Vioculescu is, there are miles between faking reality and the clunkiness of having a camera in your face the entire time. It's so bad, guys. Like, I get that there's a good message. But presenting the information like this is just completely lacking authenticity.
I think I might close up here. Anything else I write is just for lengthening my blog entry, which probably doesn't really serve anyone. It's a documentary that absolutely needs to exist. The work of Tolontan and his staff, despite being the staff of a sports newspaper, should be celebrated and heralded. But the way that this information is presented doesn't really hold the emotional weight that it should. There is corruption in the Romanian government that keeps being encouraged by the same things that happened in the United States for the past four years. It's what happens when we question the media because it doesn't align with our political mindsets. But there is definitely a better way to tell this story than Collective.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.