May I humbly suggest you check out these films?
Movies that emerge triumphant from Sundance often end up disappointing in the wider world (I’m surprised there’s isn’t a clever name for this phenomenon) and I’m afraid that “Fruitvale Station,” the Grand Jury Prize-winner from this year’s fest, is another example. This ripped from the headlines story is absolutely heart-breaking, and I don’t think the director needed to spend the first hour of the film setting up the main character as some kind of flawed saint to make audiences feel angry and outraged at the end. However, I want to encourage people to see it – it’s well-crafted and mostly well-acted – and a great place to start a conversation about how the desire to see art change the world can potentially degrade its actual impact. You might also be one of the many people (like every one at Sundance and @jennykcrw) who vehemently disagree with me.
I must say, the film does take on a new relevance in light of recent events in Florida. But, like most of the discussion surrounding the trial, I’m not sure it deals head-on with the really relevant issue: how does subtle and often unconscious racism* continue to infect our society? I think people of conscience are already incensed at the injustice put in the spotlight once again by Trayvon Martin’s death. Perhaps better understanding can be found in USC Professor Jody David Armour’s ”Negrophobia & Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs of Being Black in America.”
I have to admit that I haven’t yet made it all the way through “The Hunt,” and contrary to what you might think, that’s a testament to the movie. Director Thomas Vinterberg (“The Celebration“) and star Mads Mikkelsen bring their considerable skills to the kind of story I find totally gut churning (good guy falsely accused of heinous crime) and the result is a film with real Oscar potential. Unless the end (which I haven’t yet seen) devolves into flying, laser-wielding robot farm animals or something. And even then…
I imagine that “The Deep” is a reflection of the culture from which is comes – a mythic tale told quietly. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a heart-stopping story: a fisherman tries to survive after his boat capsizes in the freezing Norwegian Sea – and it’s a true. Iceland’s selection for Best Foreign Language Oscar last year (it made the short list) features a main character that’s such an ordinary guy (think Jeff Garlin with no sense of humor) that you can’t imagine that they made a movie centered around him…and that’s kind of the point.
Also: If you’re excited about his controversial new film “Only God Forgives,” you might be interested Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” triple feature at the New Beverly July 12-14th. There’s also “Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp” at the Cinefamily and don’t forget all the outdoor movies happening around LA this summer!
* This is not just a question for whites. Jesse Jackson is famously quoted as having said “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”