Saturday, January 26, 2019

Three Films Make A Post: In the heart of every victim is a hero and he'll tear apart a city to prove it.

Wild (2014): In part, Jean-Marc Vallée’s film (based on a memoir)about a woman making a thousand mile plus hike through the US wilderness to conquer her personal demons is certainly made of the material of self help books, but there’s also actual emotional weight in Reese Witherspoon’s performance, in the way Vallée tries to make the rhythm of her days in nature visible, in the beauty as well as an amount of danger (usually in the form of threatening men who never quite get around to doing something to Witherspoon but also make clear that they very well could which is a thing we male parts of the audience should take a good look at) the film finds by the wayside, and in the film’s general lack of preachiness. I also rather admired the way Wild shifts into flashbacks that feel as associative as actual memory, suggesting something true about the way memories come to the surface of our minds.

Go for Sisters (2013): This is probably not the best or “most important” film John Sayles has ever made, but there’s so much unhurried beauty, and such a clear eye for the ways cultures and people intersect in border regions that it’s still impossible for me not to find it rather on the brilliant side. On paper, the plot could make a thriller, but in practice, this is a road movie about friendship, class, and borders that lets its dangers and crimes happen as just another thing coming up by the wayside.

This approach doesn’t feel slow or lazy but has a relaxed beauty mirrored in wonderful performances by LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Edward James Olmos and various others. Like quite a few of Sayles’s later films, this feels like a product of someone who has a lot to say about people and the very specific world they inhabit, and shares it thoughtful, without grand gestures. I imagine Sayles to be a very good listener.

Begin Again aka Can a Song Save Your Life? (2013): This film by John Carney is a bit of a Hollywood feel good film about the saving graces of music featuring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, but it comes about its positive feeling the honest way: by accepting the bad shit and thinking about ways to get through it. That some of these ways might not be a hundred percent applicable in real life seems neither here nor there – this is a film that cherishes hope, music and friendship so much it’s not a lie but a promise. It also has a better ending than you’d expect or fear.

Carney knows and understands music much better than many directors making films about musicians, so there’s a lot in here about the way songs and life intersect, the impact a song can still have on a life (and not just of those writing them), as well as the sheer joy of music. The music the characters make is also just right for them as well as the film. This is the kind of movie that really can make someone happier and more hopeful for a bit. At least this someone.

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