Absolute pleasure to watch “Under the Shadow”

Wife M, Daughter L and I watched Under the Shadow last night.  On the surface level, it was a scary movie (although not too over-the-top scary) that got scarier and creepier.  But on a deeper level, like “Moonlight” and “Get Out” and “Babadook” I loved its message.  We have a mother who was an aspiring medical student before leaving school to join her revolution; because of that she can’t pursue her dream (ostracized) later.  Her husband, instead of fighting for her, says “maybe it is for the best.”  As the movie goes on, and the Djinni take over the buliding, she becomes more isolated as a mother.  Her husband is gone, her community slowly leaves, her workout tape is gone, her medical book is locked away then sacrificed for her daughter’s doll, she is told by her husband she is incapable of making her own decision (to stay) then when she decides to leave rather than leave she must stay (“if you love me”) and help her daughter find her beloved doll.  When she escapes all this at last by breaking down the wall with her daughter, the book and the doll stay behind, indicating you can run but you can’t ever escape.  

Oh my goodness, what a message this is to be a woman in a man’s world.  What a powerful (but entertaining) movie.  

Brilliant.  Why wasn’t this nominated for an Oscar??

Absolute pleasure to watch “Under the Shadow”

Thoughts on the Movie “Manchester by the Sea”

Wife and I saw a movie last night.  We walked through the melting snow under a chilly but clearing sky to watch a movie down in Ballard as part of our journey to watch all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars.

I loved (!!) “Manchester by the Sea.”  I’m a sucker for serious (sad), slice-of-life films where people are working very hard to try to overcome something in their life. The story was touching, the characters interesting and the performances amazing and it’s not too over the top on anything.  Also, I loved how it somewhat slowly revealed the past pain.  At one point, I was actually thinking it would be my pick for movie of the year.  But ultimately “Moonlight” is still my pick of the year.

What could have been better in Manchester by the Sea (while emphasizing I loved the movie, and in fact wish it were a book so I could read the book 🙂 )?

Depth.  I love films that add depth.  What makes Citizen Kane great is all the depth to it, i.e. the plot devices added in the background, certain pictures hung a certain way, etc.  I love looking for things like that in film, like in Moonlight how after the character said he’d been called “Blue” once as a boy you could see all the blue in the background.  I kept looking for things here, but I didn’t leave certain they actually meant something (other than the obvious, such as Winter and Spring).  For example, the clock states “12:31” – I was thinking perhaps that was foreshadowing that he had 3 kids and now will have 1 (Patrick) again; Patrick crosses the street and there is a “No Parking On This Side” next to the graveyard and was wondering if that meant something like they will pull themselves out of their misery but am not sure that was true; when Lee was bouncing the ball then passed it to Patrick and said “Let it go” but Patrick chased him down with it, I thought that might mean something but am not sure it did.  The only thing I can wonder is that perhaps the movie — which ended at the beginning of Spring — was showing there was hope for their future but I can’t be certain that is true.  Anyway, there might have been things but I didn’t see them, which is a major difference between an enjoyable story/movie and a great one, for me.

Cinematography.  La La Land absolutely pops off the screen, and Manchester was in a beautiful setting and spent time showing us the shots, but the visuals didn’t pop like Moonlight or La La Land.

Anyway, my two cents.  But I loved that film!!!!



Thoughts on the Movie “Manchester by the Sea”

Did not like the movie “Lion”

Saw Lion at Sundance Theater with Wife M.  

The theater was *packed*, with all showings sold out and loooonnnnnggggg lines at the cocktail bar.  But it also added to some of the fun, and we met a nice woman a little older than me while we waited, and talked about our favorite movies of the year (all agreed that it is Moonlight, so far) and the shock of Trump’s decision to ban muslims from the country (another woman turned around and said she couldn’t believe that this is the modern US doing this).  Our new friend made the comment how awful it must be for Trump’s wife to have sex with him, how she must just closer her eyes and remind herself that it (sex) will soon be over and she now has all that money 🙂

The movie Lion was disappointing. It started out with a great premise — here was a poor family in India whose young son steps on a train that takes him 1000 miles away – it is something I can picture happening and what is worse picture the horror of everyone involved.  

But sooooo much of the movie is formulaic and predictable.  And half the movie is the man wallowing and clicking on the computer while his codependent girlfriend tries to keep him grounded.  At least 10 minutes of the film is watching the boy speed on the train (we got it after a minute) and another 15 minutes is shown with the man clicking on the computer in misery, as though watching a man search Google Earth really can be all that interesting.  Finally, the symphony music plays the entire film without a break.

What is disappointing is the movie could have been so much more.  As Wife M said, what if it were told from the mom’s point of view?  She is poor and loves her family, and one day her two boys don’t return home from searching for food – every parent’s worst fear.  Then she gets word that one of the boys was found dead (the worst!!) and the other has not been found (torture).  So she spends the next 20 years praying every week, riding the rails whenever she can to search for her son.  In the meantime, because she has two less mouths to feed, she can now afford to send her two surviving children to school for better lives (what a bittersweet moment the graduation must have been).  Then, after all realistic hope has been lost for 20 years, her boy arrives again as a grown man.  Goosebumps!  And could have been an inspiring movie for those poor paretns of missing children.

I get why people cried in the film – it is a tear jerker when the mom and boy are reunited to symphony music in the background — but the movie pales in comparison to Moonlight and was not a great investment of 75 bucks for movies, parking, etc.

Did not like the movie “Lion”

It’s Academy Award time!

Wife M and I have been our annual hobby of watching all the Oscar Nominated films.  Below is this year’s nominees, as copy-and-pasted from Huffington Post.  So far, my votes:

  • Moonlight, Best Picture
  • La La Land, Best Director (I can’t imagine pulling off a musical, plus cinematography)
  • Trevante Rhodes, Best Actor, Moonlight, Not nominated but I don’t care.

Best Picture
”Hacksaw Ridge”
”Hell or High Water” – Loved this! Held my interest, great performances, great theme.
”Hidden Figures”
”La La Land” – Loved this!  Touching, stars were great, beautiful cinematography.
”Manchester By the Sea”
”Moonlight” – My choice. Great performances, theme, symbols; touching story.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”  Great!
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”  Great!

Best Actress

Emma Stone, “La La Land” Great!
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, La La Land” Great!
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight” Great!  Couldn’t believe it was same Miss Penny.
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges,”Hell or High Water” Great
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Adapted Screenplay

”Hidden Figures”
”Moonlight”  Great!

Best Original Screenplay

“Hell or High Water” Great
”La La Land” Great
”The Lobster”
”Manchester by the Sea”
”20th Century Women”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, Denmark
”A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm,  Sweden
”The Salesman,”  Asghar Farhadi, Iran
”Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, Australia,
”Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, Germany

Best Documentary Feature

“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

Best Animated Feature

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
”My Life as a Zucchini”
”The Red Turtle”

Best Film Editing

”Hacksaw Ridge”
”Hell or High Water”
”La La Land”  Thought this was great. Some beautiful dissolves.
”Moonlight” Great

Best Original Song

 “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land Beautiful
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La LAnd Beautiful
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Best Original Score

”La La Land”

Best Cinematography

“Arrival,” Bradford Young
”La La Land,” Linus Sandgren  Wow!!!
”Lion,” Grieg Fraser
”Moonlight,” James Laxton Wonderful, but La La Land was one of the best I’ve seen.

Best Costume Design

”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
”Florence Foster Jenkins”
”La La Land”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“A Man Called Ove”
”Star Trek Beyond”
”Suicide Squad”

Best Production Design

”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
”Hail, Caesar!”
”La La Land”

Best Sound Editing

”Deepwater Horizon”
”Hacksaw Ridge”
”La La Land”

Best Sound Mixing

”Hacksaw Ridge”
”La La Land”
”Rogue One”
”13  Hours”

Best Visual Effects

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
”The Jungle Book”
”Doctor Strange”
”Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them”
”The BFG”
”Kubo and the Two Strings”
”A Monster Calls”

Best Short Film, Live Action

“Ennemis Intérieurs”
”La Femme et le TGV”
”Silent Nights”

Best Short Film, Animated

“Blind Vaysha”
”Borrowed Time”
”Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

Best Documentary, Short Subject

”4.1 Miles”
”Joe’s Violin”
”Watani: My Homeland”
”The White Helmets”

It’s Academy Award time!

Loved the movie “Moonlight”

On Friday we went to the movie Moonlight, and saw it at the Sundance theater, where we can have a cocktail and a pizza with our movie.  I loved that movie, and here is why:

  • The performances.  From top to bottom, amazing.  All were great, but I really loved the performance of the grown up Shyrell(?, the main character), who did a great job of being street tough and hardened one moment then seeming vulnerable and that lost little boy again the next minute, mostly in his expressions and mannerisms.
  • The characters.  I loved them all, including the character Blue, the best friend and even the drug addict mom and her speech at the end.
  • The symbolism.  There is a great line, where the drug dealer tells the boy how when he was younger an old woman started calling him “Blue” because he looked blue in the moonlight.  “Do you still go by Blue?” the boy asked.  “You can’t let anyone else tell you who you are,” the man said.  The rest of the movie, I was noticing the spots of blue everywhere.  My favorite was when the mom was bathed in red light as she yelled, then that red light turned to blue when she closed the door – wow!
  • The feelings.  I felt sadness when I realized the drug dealer had died.  I was touched by the way he’d reached out to the boy, and so was touched when I realized he was dead.  The whole movie was touching.
  • The subtle way the movie was pulled together.  When the drug dealer told the boy you can’t let anyone tell you who you are when the boy asked if the drug dealer went by “Blue,” then when the boy asked the drug dealer if he (the boy) was gay and the drug dealer said the boy would just know one day if he were or weren’t, then when the grown up friend came out putting on the blue sweater – I was amazed at the subtle way the director put that all together without putting it in our face.  Amazing.

It was a wonderful movie.  One that I continue to think about two days later.


Loved the movie “Moonlight”