January 2021


Four Movies in a hectic life.

Sorry about my blog silence, but life’s been super busy at work.

In addition, my free time has been super packed with activities, to the point that whenever I’ve had down time, typically I’ve taken naps, read books, or otherwise vegged out.

That said, I did squeeze in four movies in February, all of which were great in their own way, three of which are nominated for Oscars, including best picture.

The first movie I saw was La La Land. Make no mistake, I think this film will win the best picture award, not because it is the best picture but because Hollywood loves an insider film that exploits insider jokes and allusions. That’s not to say that I think La La Land was a bad movie, but rather that it’s an OK movie, geared for insiders. It was a nice escape for a couple hours, but it wasn’t something that really affected me in either the short or long run.

Next up was Manchester by the Sea, which I think ought to win the Oscar for best picture. It’s hard for me to imagine that any of the other films nominated are better done: the characters were believable, the story engaging, and the visuals excellent. I found myself caring deeply for what was going on in the film and it was a film that I found myself pondering over the next several days.

While in the Netherlands, I saw Lion, the based-on-a-true-story film about a 5 year old boy who got lost in India and was subsequently adopted by an Australian family. Years later, using Google Earth, he identifies his hometown, which he returns to in order to reunite with his birth mother. I’ve seen the film and read the book – both are moving and, in their own ways, tearjerkers.

However, the film ended up annoying me: during the closing titles we see video of the actual Saroo Brierley with his two mothers. Not do diminish Dev Patel’s fine acting, but he is both substantially taller and much whiter than the actual man. It’s not clear to me why the hero of the film had to be so much taller and so whiter than the real person: surely there’s a fine actor who looks a lot more like the real Saroo than Dev Patel. Ultimately, it is a good film, but it is not a great film.

The last film I saw in February was Call Me by Your Name – which is about a 17 year old American boy who falls in love with a 24 year old man, while at his summer home in northern Italy. Here’s the funny thing: immediately the opening titles faded into a villa somewhere in northern Italy in 1984 and three lines of dialogue were uttered, I suddenly realized that I had actually read the book years ago – I actually found the book on my shelves as soon as I got back home. The film was two hours well spent, with it capturing the essence of the book extremely well.

It also had the hottest sex scene I’ve seen in a movie in a long time: Elio, the 17 year old, is killing time by eating peaches – he digs his finger into the peach, pulls out the stone, then he idly reaches into his underwear with the peach, using the peach to get off, before putting the peach on his side table and dozing off. Oliver, the older boyfriend, comes into the room, wakes him, realizes that Elio has used the peach, and…. Let’s just say that it was a good thing that I didn’t need to stand up at that point in the film because I was excited.

Call Me by Your Name was released in 2017, so it is not eligible for an Oscar this weekend, but I hope it is on the list in a year. But I have my doubts. Hollywood is too conservative to appreciate a love story of this nature.

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