Tag Archives: Water

Oscars 2016 Best Picture Summary: Part 3

Most of you have already seen my first summary or even my second summary. This last summary will have a look at the last three Best Picture nominees I saw. They were Lion, Hidden Figures and Hell Or High Water.

film-lion

Dev Patel plays Saroo Brierley, an Australian searching for his family back home in India in Lion.

LION

Lion is one of those films which came out of nowhere to surprise everyone who has been lucky to see it.

We have seen many against-all-odds stories in the past. This is something because this is a true story of something that really was against all odds. It wasn’t just about making it happen but also of the family relations Saroo has developed over his lifetime. What will happen? Will he leave the family he’s always known? Is the family he’s searching for still alive? The best quality of this story is that it keeps us intrigued and hoping Saroo reunites, but also has us concerned of what will happen after.

Another quality of this story is that it does not forget the cause of the problem. Saroo is seen as the lucky one who was able to reunite with his family after all these years. However throughout the film, especially at the beginning, we see the cause of the problem. Saroo was unsupervised when he boarded the express train. The language barriers caused problems. Even Saroo’s mispronunciation of Bengali words caused problems. The train stations of Calcutta are loaded with stray children ready for abductors to prey on, and station police looking the other way. Even the missing posters advertised before his adoption were no good as his mother is illiterate. India failed Saroo and Saroo succeeded thanks to Google Earth and his fierce will. The film at the end lets people aware of the problem; 80,000 children go missing in India each year. The film’s website informs people of how they are making a difference in aiding to protect children in India.

This film is an accomplishment for the Australian film industry. I don’t know if Australia has ever had a film nominated for Best Picture before. This is director Garth Davis’ first ever feature length film. Bet you wouldn’t believe that. Luke Davies did an excellent job in adapting Saroo’s biography into a winning screenplay that keep the audience intrigued and hoping for the best in the end. Dev Patel’s performance as Saroo was the highlight as he did a great portrayal of a young man who’s angry on the inside and knows what he needs to do. Nicole Kidman was also excellent as the mother who appears grateful on the outside but has some inner hurt waiting to come out. Young Sunny Pawar was also very good playing the young Saroo. He was cute but he didn’t take it overboard. He played his part well. The film also featured top notch cinematography from Greig Fraser and excellent original music from Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka.

Lion is an excellent film featuring a story you won’t forget. A surprise contender this year and a worthy one.

hidden-figures

Hidden Figures is the story of three African American women working for NASA who broke new ground and brought down racial barriers.

HIDDEN FIGURES

It’s good that we have a film like Hidden Figures to tell us about a piece of history that we never knew about.

The film comes at the right time as it deals with a lot of situations that are relevant in our world. This may be set in the early 60’s and revolves around a moment in space history but it has a lot of situations relevant to today. One is of workplace racism. It’s not as bad now as it is then but there are still a lot of unsolved problems. The second is of technology being so good, it can replace workers. These three women had iron wills. They knew they had potential, they knew they had what it takes and they wouldn’t let racism or the threat of modern technology stop them from reaching for their achievements.

The year of 2016 was a crushing year. It was a year that constantly reminded us that there was still a lot of racism to overcome. Despite the improvement over the decades, it was able to show its ugly head with low employment rates and police beatings. This is a film that reminds us that racism can be overcome. When you look at it, the women were doing this all during a turning point in the history of African Americans. African Americans in Virginia had less rights than they do now and discrimination was perfectly legal. Back then there were still separate washrooms for colored people, separate library books for white and colored people, and police beatings during civil rights marches. The women overcame these barriers and they opened doors for other colored people for generations to come.

This is only the second film Theodore Melfi has directed and written. This is the first feature-length script Alison Schroeder has written. Does come across as like something you’d get from Hollywood, but it’s not a weakness. It does all the right moves. Taraji Henson was great as the protagonist Katherine Goble-Johnson, but the show-stealer was Octavia Spencer. She was not only good at playing a woman who wouldn’t let technology kill her job, and the jobs of 30 other black women, but she was a colorful scene-stealer too. Janelle Monae completes the trio as one who just wouldn’t say die to her ambitions. The male actors were mostly supporting roles but Mahershala Ali was the biggest one as Jim Johnson, Katherine’s new husband. The mix of Motown music mixed in with the original score from Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch also added to the spirits of the movie.

Hidden Figures showcases a little-known fact about a big moment in American space history. It’s also the right uplifting movie needed at this time.

hell-or-high-water

Hell Or High Water is about two Texas brothers on a robbing spree and a policeman (played by Jeff Bridges, right) trying to chase them down.

HELL OR HIGH WATER

I missed Hell Or High Water when it first came out in the theatres in August. I admit I was caught up in the summer fare and I overlooked it. I finally saw it recently and I’m glad I did.

One thing is I miss seeing is crime comedies. You know, the dark comedies featured in crime stories. This film has a good amount of comedy to it with their failures at robbing first. Even the situation where the brothers rob the Texas Midlands Bank and pay the mortgages they have with the bank off with the robbery money is full of surprising irony. It’s not even the robbery spree that has all the comedy. There’s the comedy when the rangers visit the places they question. There’s even comedy with that hard waitress at a restaurant they eat at: “What don’t you want?” The comedy doesn’t last as the story gets darker later on. However it does end on an ironic note as the now-retired Officer Hamilton does meet up with Toby Howard, perfectly free, and inquires of the robberies he and brother Tanner committed together.

One thing about this crime drama is that it has a lot to say. We have two brothers–Tanner who appears to have no redeeming values and Toby who’s as cool as a cookie– robbing various branches of the same bank. You see signs advertising debt relief. You hear from people– both family and people the brothers run into– talking of their own economic hardships. You see the indigenous people, who are still referred to as ‘Indians’ with their own outlook on things. Mostly negative. Looks like this story has a lot to say. Even hearing Alberto Parker say that he believes the true criminal is the Texas Midlands Bank does get you thinking. Maybe it’s the Bank that are the true robbers around here.

This is actually the first American production from Scottish director David MacKenzie. He has a reputation back in the UK with films like Young Adam, Hallam Foe and Starred Up. His first American production is top notch and really delivers as both a crime story and an offbeat Western. This is also an accomplishment for writer Taylor Sheridan. Already having made a name for himself in Sicario, he delivers again in what is actually his second feature-length script. Of all acting performances, Jeff Bridges is the one that was the best. He delivered a top job in character acting from head to toe. He was completely solid in character. Chris Pine was also good as the brother Toby who’s smart, tries to play it cool and possibly the one person in the world who could see redeeming qualities in brother Tanner. Ben Foster was also a scene-stealer as Tanner who a complete ruthless loose cannon who appears to have a bone to pick with everyone over anything and possesses a false sense of invincibility. Gil Birmingham was also good coming across as the wise partner who plays it cool. The country music in both recorded format and original from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis fit the film perfectly.

Hell Or High Water makes for an intense thrill ride that’s big on thrills but also takes you to the heat of the moments. The story even gets you thinking. Now why did I miss it during the summer?

That does it. My final summary of the Best Picture nominees for 2016. After seeing Hell Or High Water, that makes it 16 straight years of seeing all the Best Picture nominees before Oscar night. My predictions for the wins coming on Saturday.

 

 

VIFF 2011 Review: Shorts Segment – Water

The Vancouver Film Festival has been known to show a lot of feature movies during its 16 day run. What they also show is a wide variety of short films, especially those made by Canadian directors. The shorts exhibited range from those with an established reputation to those just starting out. For airings of Canadian shorts, the VIFF had four segments titled off of the earths four natural elements; Air, Earth, Fire and Water. The first shorts segment I saw was the one titled Water. All the shorts in the segments had something to do with water either as a metaphor, part of a scene or as a central theme. Each had their own style and/or their own story to say or play out.
 
For this year’s VIFF, I wanted a good mix of films to see: Canadian, foreign, documentaries and shorts. This was the first segment of shorts I saw. I’m happy. At the beginning of the segment, I was expecting this to be showcasing works of ‘the filmmakers of the future’ as shorts are often known as. What I saw here, I was a bit surprised:
 
Wait For Rain – This is an amusing comedic short. People who work at a sales business waiting for rain for their plant in a world where fresh water is rare. James is always the last to get rain for his plant and thus the least suucessful. One woman is interested in him and his plant while he’s interested in another. Amusing quirky love story that plays out humorously form beginning to end.
 
Steam – This is a more serious short. A middle aged man struggling with something he’s always felt as a burden. Now he learns to accept himself. It seems odd to go from a cute and funny short like Wait For Rain to Steam but Steam is a good short in its own right where one is kept intrigued by the drama.
 
Snowbound – This is the most shocking short of the bunch. A 13 year-old girl learns she’s pregnant. She can’t tell her boyfriend. Her mother finds out accidentally. What does she do? In the end, she makes a decision that will leave all shocked.
 
Swim – It’s four minutes where you see a man swimming in an area of Lake Ontario. But what makes it is the narration form the filmmaker. He tells of a childhood memory that still haunts him. He would later repeat that same dare on his boyfriend years later. More of an introspect or a reflection than a drama played out.
 
Le Rocher – Another short that’s not a piece of drama played out. Instead it’s a showcase of places and spaces from both Canada and Europe. It’s meant to show the relation of both. Mostly a collection of landscape filling. If you like scenic films, you’ll like it. If you came to the shorts segment expecting all shorts to be dramas like I did, you’ll leave confused.
 
Blood/Sweat/Tears – At first the two people in the crashed car all alone on the street  look dead. Then they become conscious and arguing. It all starts out with the two arguing by themselves, then amongst a crowd of onlookers and then the woman is taken away while the man is out shouting. Interesting story about troubled love. Also interesting is that’s it’s of a single-car crash with no other car, no street light, no nothing causing it. I think the crash was meant to be a metaphor of the relationship.
 
Bone Wind Fire – This is another intimate short. This is of the lives of three of the greatest North American painters: Emily Carr, Frieda Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe. What it’s focus is on the nature of where they lived and how it played out and inspired the paintings they created. Awesome cinematography. You really get a feel for the nature.
 
And there you have it. The seven shorts that comprised Rain. I’m sure anyone that came to saw it might find at least one they liked. One thing is that it taught me a lot about short filmmaking. Not everyone who creates a short puts a story or a drama on film. There’s more creativity to it. Glad to see it shown in this segment. As for the fiilms, some shorts may catapult directors into something bigger in the future. Some may lead to other filmmaking jobs in the future. And some may continue to do shorts. Only time will tell how they do.