Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
I was astonished two years ago with the disturbing “Take Shelter”, but this time Jeff Nichols was not capable of maintaining me a hundred percent clung to “Mud”, his third feature film. Ellis is a sensible 14 year-old kid, who is passing through difficult times with the imminent separation of his parents. One day, he and his friend Neckbone, went to a deserted island, across the Mississippi river, to search for an old abandoned boat that has been placed on top of a tree. For their surprise, they found a famished man called Mud living there. Wanted by the police and by some thugs who wanted him dead, Mud asks for the kids’ help after telling them his story of love and crime. The old question arises: is the story true or false? The adventure never lost interest, but some excessive situations made the story fall into a sort of triviality. Ellis’ appetite for punching faces was in some cases absolutely ridiculous. The pace didn’t help too, and visually the film didn’t cause much impact for the eyes. The exception to these issues was the final shooting, which was very well done, putting intensity on the screen and adrenaline in our veins. “Mud” showed some moments of sincerity, especially those depicting the relationships between parents/sons, and gave a respectable vision of coming of age and the complexities of love associated to it. Being perfectly watchable, I felt it needed more agitation in the story and the suppression of some unnecessary scenes, to become more appealing.
Any Day Now (2012)
Directed by: Travis Fine
Set in the 70’s, “Any Day Now” depicts the struggle of a gay couple to gain the custody of a Down syndrome boy whose junkie mother had been arrested. Despite of some noticeable issues, especially in the story’s development, the film succeeds in gaining our sympathy for the cause. This is achieved through very solid performances, especially from Alan Cumming, and from the anger we feel from observing the negligent attitude of the boy’s mother. The biases were evident in many occasions: in a scene with a police officer, at work, at school, and in courtrooms, the latter with very laughable interventions from lawyer and judges. The couple’s differences were highlighted, with the low profile and sobriety of the law expert Paul (Garret Dillahunt), balancing with the expansiveness of Rudy (Cumming) whose dubious artistic talent only served the purpose of putting more sentiment in the final moments. Inspired on a true story, “Any Day Now” revealed an inevitable tendency for melodrama, but compensates with some honesty and a sense of true feelings. I could not help feeling sorry for the sympathetic young boy Marco (Isaac Levya), in Travis Fine’s most interesting film so far, a real champion of audiences in Festivals such as Chicago, L.A., Seattle, and Tribeca.
Directed by: Brian Helgeland
42 is a biopic about Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player hired to play in a major league team, breaking the color barrier that prevailed since 1880′s. Robinson became an official player of Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, fighting in silence against racist prejudices, both inside and outside the team. His exceptional skills, sporting behavior, and effort put in the field, ended up winning the respect of team mates, managers, reporters, and general public. The film also focuses the importance of his wife Rachel, but great part of its time is spend on provocations, threats, and discriminations related with the racial segregation, as well as assorted episodes from several games that remained forever in the history of baseball. This is the fourth feature film from helmer Brian Helgeland, who seems to have won the heart of American audiences, but unfortunately did not touch mine. The approach was banal and nothing new or unanticipated was added to make it interesting. I felt that Helgeland’s main concern was to impress us with the racial theme, forgetting to spend some time building the character itself. 42 depicts Robinson’s life in the most conventional Hollywood tradition, using the same old formulas and manipulations that most of us are fed up. Its noble intentions and a couple of rousing moments, could not make Jackie Robinson’s fantastic achievements seem so special on the screen.
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