THE BLIND SIDE
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Kathy Bates
Rated PG-13 For one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.
I generally am not a fan of modern day football movies. The last good film that I saw was likely 1993’s Sean Astin vehicle “Rudy” (which also featured a very cool guy and actor Charles S. “Rock” Dutton). Sure there have been many films since then: “We Are Marshall”, “Remember the Titans”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Facing the Giants”, “Leatherheads”, and “Hometown Legend”(sorry Jimmy!). But they all are very clichéd films. Very formulaic. Played out plot-lines, with forgettable performances. Each time, I feel I am watching a reboot of “Rudy”, or ‘“Hoosiers” with football’. None of them are as original or memorable as films such as 1925’s “The Freshman”, “Brian’s Song”, “The Longest Yard” (The original 1974 version, natch), “All the Right Moves”, “North Dallas Forty”, or “Lucas”. Which is why I went into “The Blind Side” with extreme hesitation.
I am happy to report back that I found “The Blind Side” thoroughly enjoyable. The story is that of Michael Oher, who went from a troubled and parentless childhood to professional offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens after being taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family. One night, Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock, meets Oher, and for some reason decides to help him. The whole family takes an immediate liking to Michael, and Leigh and husband Sean decide to let him stay with them, pay for his education, help him find tutoring, and raise him as their own alongside their two children. While most of the acting is simply OK, it’s the performance by Sandra Bullock that elevates this film above the aforementioned films. For the first time in many years, audiences got a glimpse of a woman who CAN ACT! The perfect southern accent, the soccer mom portrayal, the genuine care for Oher, all are played with perfection. It became very apparent to me why Bullock had been receiving the accolades and awards. And secondly, newcomer Quinton Aaron gives a perfect performance as Michael, a man devastated by his harsh past and unable to relate to those around him. The fact that this film tackles racism, although subtly, certainly adds to the films ability to stand apart from the other more clichéd fare. The focus of the film isn’t the sport. It isn’t the team. It’s the character. And it’s the love for human beings less fortunate than ourselves that certainly is resonating with audiences in the current financial climate.
Rating = **** / 5
PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘PUSH’ BY SAPPHIRE
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz
Rated R for Child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language
Disturbing? Check. Uncomfortable? Check. Dark? Check. Vulgar? Check. Excellently made movie with stellar acting to boot? Check. I was enthralled by the story of Precious Jones, a viciously abused and pregnant overweight teen from Harlem, as it was a film like no other this year. The young girl, who suffers from verbal and physical harrassment by her mother (excellently portrayed by a Golden Globe-winning Mo’Nique) and incestuous rape by her father, enrolls in an alternative school, where she must battle unimaginable barriers to succeed in life. I was astounded at the performances by Mo’Nique and Gaboruey Sidibe in this film. I was repulsed at the things I witnessed on the screen, which doesn’t happen often for me. I was taken in by the performances in a way that left me feeling like I just witnessed one of the most disturbing documentaries of the year. I was equally caught off guard by surprisingly top notch performances by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz as well.
As anyone who knows my taste in films, I like a film that portrays its characters in a believable way. That goes from everything from actions the character takes (their behaviors must be befitting their lifestyle/career choice) to language (hearing Michael Corleone constantly use the “F” word is consistent with his lifestyle) With Precious, I had no complaints in such regard. I was taken in and left feeling sorrow for the young woman on the screen. In fact, it came as little surprise for me to learn of the recognition this film garnered upon its release. Disturbing though it may have been, it was a film that surely will get director Lee Daniels another film or two to add to his stable. Let’s just hope the next one is a little more uplifting!
Rating = **** / 5