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Oscars and the Future

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Oscars and the Future

In January, I wrote about five movies that I thought deserved Oscars. Of these, Bohemian Rhapsody won several and Green Book won Best Picture. All five were rooted in truth and gave us the stories of remarkable people who had the courage to do something about their beliefs in the tough culture of their time. True stories beautifully made are powerful.

Now that Oscar night is in the past, let’s take a look at Hollywood’s effort to streamline its celebration of itself. We welcomed the absence of a master of ceremonies. We were spared the bad jokes and boring patter that helped make the evening impossibly long. Keep going!

When a movie unfolds in a culture as troubled as ours is now, the fun evaporates and arguments boil. Consider the new accusation that Green Book is a naive look at the history of racism. This is the story of the growth of trust and friendship between two men – an accomplished black pianist and the tough white guy he hires as his driver for a trip through the south. It is a story of a developing friendship rooted in truth and if it is naive in some ways, it is a beautiful tale in others. Let yourself love it.

But a bigger problem looms. The passage of time and cultural change have raised complex problems that may invite troubling solutions. Netflix spent millions to publicize the successful Roma while controlling the details of its limited release. This is the giant warning signal of the future. Will movies be released only on television? Many families are already staying home because of the cost. Will big business money use television to bring the end of movie theaters, of family nights out, of the fun of movie dates among young people?

At least the Hollywood years have unfolded in the hands of movie loving people. When the money begins to come from business people instead of Hollywood moguls who are flawed but experienced movie makers, what will be the flavor of what we see in our home screens?

Will we be at home with phones ringing, eating food in brightly lit rooms, watching movies in mini chaos? How long will it be before no one remembers the fun of sitting in the silent darkness of a theater full of strangers reacting together as one of the good ones unfolds?

Perhaps the home-grown chaos of eating, playing, and hobbies will be followed by the building of small theaters for people who want to gather with strangers in a quiet place. Maybe the fancy new theaters should just lock their doors until people get sick of watching in home grown chaos. For the moment, let’s salute the makers of Green Book who made a movie most of us have loved. It is an eccentric beauty of a story of friendship and we watched it in the magical peace of a crowd of strangers who wanted to be just where they were .

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Oscars and the Future
Word Count : 501
Date : March 3, 2019

Oscar Preview

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Oscar Preview

In a fairly dull movie year, five go straight to audience hearts and stay there. Here they are in case you want to see them before the Oscar nominations come out.

Green Book, a true story from 1962, is a rare blend of comedy and tragedy delivered in very sophisticated ways. Concert pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) lives in splendor atop Carnegie Hall and hires a man to drive him on a concert tour that will end in the deep south. The driver is tough guy Tony Lip (Viggo Mortenson). Watching their trust grow as they drive through the tragedy of Southern racism is truly a piece of art.

The Wife gives us Joan (Glen Close) and Joe (Jonathan Pryce) as they leave for Sweden where Joe will accept the Nobel Prize. Joan has spoon fed him for years (he’s a man of the ‘50s and she is a wife of the ‘50s). She is a writer too, but he has won the prize. Her anger at her position boils over and spurs Glen Close to a performance that delivers the isolation of a deeply intelligent woman. The audience is absolutely silent, stunned by her performance.

Bohemian Rhapsody is an original piece of magic that captures hearts. All four bandmembers pour their originality, talent, and energy into performances that swell as they sing around the world. In an astonishing performance, Rami Malek creates Freddie Mercury as a superb musical explosion. Writers and directors concentrate on Malek’s extraordinary performance rather than lingering on problems that surface. The band’s chaotic musical brilliance captures its audiences.

A Private War is surely the surprise stunner of the year. Rosamund Pike creates a portrait of Marie Colvin, a dedicated reporter determined to deliver to the world the tragedy of the erasure of millions of people in the Middle Eastern wars. Pike studied Colvin’s voice and way of moving on TV recordings and creates the reporter in a way so compelling that audiences are stunned. Both reporter Colvin and her interpreter Rosamund Pike – one who lived it, one who captures her experience – are a compelling piece of history.

RBG is an intricate portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that lets us follow her from high school to the Supreme Court. This documentary becomes a rare capture of a public person because of Ginsburg’s willingness to play herself, in her 80s, in the film. Carrying Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard Law Review, and distinction in all she does, she fights for the recognition of women and their rights and changes the world for women as she does it.

All five of these true stories give us the substance of some remarkable people living in the culture of their time who had the courage to do something about their beliefs. Intelligent in deep ways and willing to put themselves on the cultural battlefield they are the ones in our country who did something about their passions. Is there anything more exciting than watching strong people create change?

Film Critic: Joan Ellis
Title: Oscar Preview
Word Count: 501