Sunday, February 1, 2015

Selma & other best film nominees

Best film of 2014?

Selma directed by Ava DuVernay.  

Early on it shows the little girls at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963, clattering down a stairway, dressed in their Sunday best.  Then a blast rocks the church and the movie theater.

That's just the beginning as intimidation and violence unfold.  

Oprah Winfrey tries to register to vote but is turned away because she can't name the 67 judges in Alabama.  

Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson lock horns over how and when to promote a voting rights act in Congress.

The march from Selma to Montgomery is attempted and turned back twice.  

White pastors from Boston who have come to march with the black Americans for their right to vote get beat up onscreen by the KKK, saying, "You want to know what it is to be black in Selma?"

James Reeb dies from his beating, as the black demonstrator Jimmy Lee Jackson had died two weeks earlier.

Yes, there's controversy over whether Lyndon Baines Johnson is fairly portrayed.  I like the answer of critic Mark Harris: LBJ is not made out to be a villain, just a president whose priorities and tactics differ from MLK's.

I liked The Theory of Everything a whole lot, but it didn't make me twist and turn and suffer the way Selma did.

Actually, I felt pummeled by Selma.  It was one wrenching event after another.  What I can't figure out: what I was doing in 1964-65 that I don't have more memory and understanding of all this.  I guess I was more involved in being sweet sixteen.

Boyhood should have been cut by about one third.  It's fascinating to watch the characters age, but the last hour or so gets pretty sappy, full of philosophizing that should be deleted.

Two Days, One Night is depressing.  Everyone Sandra talks to has a worse financial situation than the previous person.  She herself is recovering from depression (causing a sick leave of several months), and she makes a suicide attempt during the weekend.  

I went partly to hear the French dialogue, but by the time Sandra repeats her request for the 14th time ("Please give up your annual bonus so I can keep my job"), I had it memorized.  Boring.

After hearing John's explanation for the dire outlook, I forgave the film, though.  He said it's a depiction of the European economic crisis--how things are for the average person in Greece, Spain, France, and other nations.  I need to know about how people over there are coping with their economic realities.

I hope to see The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I'm going to pass on Birdman, Whiplash, and American Sniper, unless someone comes up with a reason why I should go to see them.

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