Race is at the forefront of American culture today. Despite decades of obvious societal evolution, many Americans still believe the country is in the throes of institutional discrimination or is at least headed in that direction again, which is really quite absurd and sad. Even people my age, who are far too young to have been actual victims of Jim Crow laws, feel this way.
Hollywood has reacted to this disturbing trend with many racially-based “message” films and television shows over the last few years. Not that I blame them; it’s a good business strategy to tap into the current cultural zeitgeist, no matter what the topic is.
Some of these films have done a very good job of illustrating the evils of the past and how we can work past them (Hidden Figures, Selma). Others are designed to reopen old wounds, prevent the healing of decades-long resentments, and/or signal smug, selfish, and unearned moral superiority (Detroit, Get Out, Dear White People). The former is helpful in the conversation; the latter is not.
The new film Green Book is firmly in the former category. It’s an absolutely wonderful bit of storytelling, one that is definitely on my list of the top 10 films of 2018. The film’s sincerity and good humor leap off the screen and fill one’s heart with hope, giving some much-needed perspective about just how far we’ve come as a society in the last 50 years as well as a sobering dose of positivity for the future.
This story, about a refined black piano virtuoso and the friendship he forged with his uncouth white driver in 1962, captured what is truly necessary to change a person’s heart and mind away from terrible thinking – and it isn’t through violence or the passage of draconian laws. It is truly the way of Christ.
When it was released in 2012, Wreck-It Ralph was a revelation. It seemed that Walt Disney Animation Studios had entered into a new renaissance of quality animated films (with the exception being Frozen). Wreck-It Ralph was fun, clever, had a heaping amount of logic in its world-building, and contained some very important themes about life and purpose.
Its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, has failed at almost every aspect of what made the first film great.
Funny and clever only sporadically, Ralph Breaks the Internet sucks the heartful soul and sound internal logic from the original film while galavanting in a bright, shiny world of non-stop pop-culture gags and one-note jokes. Bringing in modern cynicism and politics didn’t help this film, either. This is very sad for me to report, as I am a big fan of Disney animation and loved the first film.
But despite all of its flaws and leaps in logic, Ralph Breaks the Internet did touch on another deep point about the nature of life and humanity. I just wish it was in a better movie.
While this Tuesday is Election Day in the United States, it’s also a new Blu-ray Tuesday! Sick of all the election news? Treat yourself to a couple of great home releases. This week, a superhero family and a silly old bear come to Blu-ray. And there’s an excellent release that happened last week, but I’m including this week.
Here are my picks for November 6, 2018.
The tiniest team of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come home this Tuesday. In addition, an animated masterpiece finally makes its way into high definition.
Here are my picks for October 16, 2018.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a big fan of director Paul Feig. The films of his I have seen have come off as funny in parts but are more often derivative, overly crass, lazy, and in the case of his 2016 reboot/remake/whatever of Ghostbusters, stupid and downright insulting. So my hopes going into A Simple Favor were not high.
However, Feig did something I wasn’t expecting with this film. He actually surprised me…and for that I applaud him. A Simple Favor is an intriguing mystery that keeps the viewer engulfed in the story until the very last scene. I liked it quite a bit. It isn’t the best movie of the year, but it was entertaining and worth my time.
Like all good stories, A Simple Favor reveals much about the nature of humanity. The characters grapple with temptation and the consequences of their questionable actions. The temptation to do wrong is something to which we all can relate – especially because it is driven by our eternal adversary.