Category Film

The Tragi-Comedy of “The Big Short”

Seeing the movie adaptation  of “The Big Short” last night transported me back to a decade ago, when I made a regular habit of leaving my road bike in the garage and hopping instead on my upright city bike to cruise my hometown. Cycling is much like walking in giving you slices of life and peeks into windows and garages to take a measure of Americana. The slices just go by faster.

I can distinctly remember the internal commentary going on in my mind at the time as I moseyed in leisurely fashion through typical middle class neighborhoods of well-appointed tract homes, of the three-and-four-bedroom variety, with double garages on relatively small lots. They were workers’ homes, “owned”—at least until the banks stated reclaiming them—by plumbers and teachers and shop owners and radiology techs...

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Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse and Its Cover-up: A Review of “Spotlight”

“When you’re a poor kid from a poor family and a priest pays attention to you, it’s a big deal. How do you say no to God?”

That’s the trap door that thousands of children—young boys mostly, but plenty of girls, too—fell down through over only-God-knows-how-many years, centuries, even, of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, a particular historical epoch of which has been captured so stirringly in the movie Spotlight, currently in theaters.

The question posed above comes from one of the priest’s victims who operates a survivor’s support network that has long been mostly ignored by the media.

The movie follows an investigative journalism team for the Boston Globe that in 2002 pursues an appalling story of widespread sexual abuse by Boston-area priests...

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Amy Winehouse’s Cry From the Depths of Creation

At one point in the current documentary (Amy) of the gifted and tortured singer Amy Winehouse, she was so deeply submerged in her partly guttural/feral, partly ravishing/seductive treatment of a song, digging into it with such resonant and startling ferocity, that I exclaimed to myself there in the dark of the theater, “My God, that voice is from the depths of creation!”

True enough, but the surpassingly sad part of that voice is all the pain and self-torture that it was built upon, quite aside from the God-given gifts of raw vocal power it had been bequeathed.

For truly, Amy Winehouse’s voice and career and downward spiral of a life stand as an unanswered cry against the multiple and relentless outrages of existence, all the forces that seem to line up with special anticipation and glee when a soul at once so sensitive, talented, raw and ultimately, fragile, presents itself to us.

There are plenty of ...

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Selma and McKinney and the Long Jagged Road to Equality

Experienced the most curious juxtaposition of “movies” the other day. In the morning, a phone camera video of a white police officer with his knee in the back of a prone African-American teenage girl in a bikini. As two boys run toward the scene in what looks to be an almost instinctual gesture in defense of the girl, the officer pulls his gun from his holster and runs them off before going back to subjugating the girl, who is lying face down on the grass, her hands cuffed behind her.

No great production values and short duration, but a scene of undeniable impact.

In the evening, home with the daughter, I suggested we consider renting a movie. She immediately piped up, “Have you seen Selma? I’d see it again!” She had watched it in her history class.

I hadn’t seen Selma, one of countless movies that make it onto my loosely held list that never quite make it off that list before their very exist...

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It’s Life, Just Life: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”

Nothing much happens in Richard Linklater’s finely wrought film, Boyhood. No stabbings or shootings, no kidnaps or car wrecks designed to set the protagonists’ lives on a post-crisis course and get audience members’ guts churning. Linklater disdains virtually every conventional narrative technique out of Film 101’s playbook, going light on the trauma and minimalist on conflict.

And what he winds up with is one of the most absorbing movies in years.

Boyhood’s two hours and forty-four minutes of running time effortlessly depicts multiple lives as they play out over an actual nearly 12-year-span in various Texas locales. Meaning Linklater followed a real-life rather than movie calendar in assembling his main actors on an intermittent shooting schedule between the years 2002 and 2013.

It’s a daring and brilliant device, allowing us to watch the actors literally age in front of our eyes, sans elaborate ...

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