My brothers can always count on me, I’m not good for much but they can always count on me to not be good for much!
A handful of movies this week, but I’m happy with the haul,
My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story (2009, Mark St. Germain, United States Of America) **1/2
A sweet little documentary, but it lacked a certain something to be more than just a sweet little film. Honestly, I feel there was a better doc in the form of a film that focused exclusively on Didi Conn and her son Danny Shire’s relationships with dogs as an autistic child. That segment of the film was fascinating, as was the brief portion of the documentary that focused on rescue dogs. Still, My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story is a sweetly made documentary that I as a dog lover enjoyed a fair amount. There are some interesting stories within the film, but it never gets over the only sweet hump.
Rise Of The Guardians (2012, Peter Ramsey, United States Of America) ***1/2
2012 sure has been a fascinating year for animation, and Rise Of The Guardians is yet another great and thoughtful work of animation. The comedy bits are funny, the story is simple and yet layered in the way it implements its theme. The characters are well acted, and the animation itself is gorgeous. But, most important is the climax of the film and the character who takes down the bad guy. In a movie about the power of dreams and how dreams are something we should never let go of it was important that the ending went down the way it did. I loved that break from traditional “the main hero saves the day” storytelling. Rise Of The Guardians was a fresh film, that looked gorgeous, was a lot of fun, and made me think, such is the way with great animation.
You Can Count On Me (2000, Kenneth Lonergan, United States Of America) ***1/2
I’ve always found myself at odds with the way that the tides work. They flow gracefully one moment and the next they crash up against the rocks as if they have some point to prove. I’m no Bill O’Reilly, I understand the science behind how the tides work. But, I’ve always struggled with their seemingly contradictory actions of gently lolling and violently smashing. You Can Count On Me is a movie that operates on the same principle as the tides. Its characters aren’t easily defined and they often act contradictory to how they have acted previously. This makes them more human, more complex, and just like the tides, more fascinating. Kenneth Lonergan’s film is a character study full of fascinating characters. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo are sublime as a brother and sister pair who can’t get everything right. It is the rough around the edges nature of You Can Count On Me that gives the film a special air. This isn’t a film with all the answers, and it knows that some of the answers it provides will be displeasing. But, just like the tides You Can Count On Me flows along in gentle lolls just as much as it does in violent waves. From the acting, to the direction and the well written story You Can Count On Me is a contradictory film that works because of the honesty found in its contradictions.
Black Narcissus (1947, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, United Kingdom) ***1/2
This film from the duo of Emneric Pressburger and Michael Powell, commonly referred to as the Archers, certainly impressed upon me. There are many themes that form the root of Black Narcissus. Religion, colonialism, sex, and the idea of the “uptight British” and their aversion to “local savages” are given a thorough once over. The film is lovingly framed, and the colors pop off the screen in a way that creates a somewhat surreal environment. The performances are equal parts restrained and over the top. All the elements lead to a culmination where one character loses her mind, or at least it seems she does. In my view Sister Ruth is the only sane one of the bunch who is slowly pushed over the edge by the disparate British attitudes of strictness and brazen aloofness that the two important figures in her life showcase. Black Narcissus is missing a little something that I can’t quite elocute or put my finger on, but it’s still a great film nonetheless.
A trio of great movies this week, but there can only be one winner. You Can Count On Me left a huge impression on me, and the more I think about it the more I love the film. For that and many other reasons You Can Count On Me takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!