It’s hard to convince the world wide web that you are a “film critic” when you’ve only seen two movies in one month. Yet that’s what happened folks. Between doing school, and watching tv shows, I didn’t have the time to commit to a movie very often. So without further ado, here are the two movies I saw this month.
Wow. Where to begin on something like this? Lion is by far the greatest movie I have seen this year. Maybe better than anything I saw last year. Up front I feel like I should say that this is NOT a film to show kids. It is rated PG-13 for a reason. The mature themes of this movie, coupled with the heartbreaking reality of the street children in India, makes this movie for older teens and adults only. But if you like movies that are based on true stories, this movie is for you. It tells the true, and remarkable story of a man who got lost and could not find his home in India when he was a young boy. He ends up in an orphanage where he is adopted by an Australian couple. Once he is an adult, he begins to use Google Earth to try and locate his biological family. This movie is superbly made in every way. From the directing, acting, editing, and the locations, all contribute to make this a masterpiece. While it is not a fun, or relaxing film, it is one which showcases the power of cinema. In just two hours, you feel a call to action to help the many street children of India. The movie’s website lists existing charities that are in India who help with the very issues that the man experienced in real life. This is why Hollywood thinks they are so powerful. IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE! Whether we like it or not, film is a powerful tool than can persuade better than almost any other medium.
I know many families who have adopted who came to my mind while I watched this movie. The film does such a great job of examining the process from both the child’s, as well as the adopted parents point of view. If watched at the right age, I can see this film being very healing to adopted families. On a very light side note, make sure your subtitles are on. When my family and I began watching the film, we did not have them on, and missed out on a lot of translated dialogue. We had to rewind the film to catch up on all we had missed.
Dance with me, Henry.
Major tonal shift!!! I am not sure if I have ever said this on my blog or not, but those who know me, know I am a HUGE Abbott and Costello fan. Since I was very young, my family has watched Abbott and Costello movies. Out of the 36 films that the duo made, I have seen 32 of them. (And watching them all, is almost always at the forefront of my mind.) However, until this month, I had never seen their last film. But I finally found a way to watch it, and I settled in to watch the curtain fall on my favorite comedy team. A comedy team who has influenced my style of comedy, my desire to make films, and even just a desire to make my friends and family laugh. My one brother and I even used to recite the who’s on first? Routine. However, I am not so blinded by my love for Abbott and Costello, that I cannot recognize when a film of theirs is bad. And this one is…bad. I had heard that in their last three films, the magic is gone. And that is true for Dance with me, Henry. What strikes me about this particular A&C film, is that the world had clearly moved on from Abbott and Costello. In their prime, they were kings of the box office (E.g. Dwayne Johnson, or Scarlett Johansson.) but by the time 1956 rolled around, the public had grown tired of the duo, Universal had let them go, and personal tragedies and health issues had taken away their energy and youthfulness. While they used to have the biggest musical acts in their films such as the Andrews Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald, Abbott and Costello’s characters in Dance with me, Henry are old curmudgeons, put off by the new wave of music. In a rare turn, Costello is the one who is thinking clearly, and Abbott is the one who isn’t thinking clearly and ends up getting them in trouble. It’s a switch that doesn’t work. Abbott had to be clever, and cunning. This time he is a wimp, and apologetic, and it does not serve the duo well. Costello tries a more subdued role which works sometimes, but is mostly just sad. Like seeing a childhood friend who doesn’t smile anymore. Whoever MGM put in charge of putting this film together, they did not get what made Abbott and Costello great. This film tries to reimagine them in a way that doesn’t work. I also can’t tell whether this film tried to be serious, or it was just lacking in jokes. In the end, you are better off watching just about any of their films from 1941-1950.
If you recall in my post last month I moved three movies (instead of two) to be considered for best film of the year. This ended up working really well since I am not adding Dance with me, Henry. Lion is the one of the two that deserves to be added later. In fact, if the year was over today, Lion would win my best film. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it. It will tear your heart out. In a good way.