REVIEW: “LOVING” (2016) Focus Features

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“LOVING” tells us the long overdue, true story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga).
The story takes us through the years of what their lives were like while going through the some of the process of their plight to just want to be legally married in 1958’s deeply segregated southern state of Virginia. This was a time and place where this wasn’t legal nor could inter-racial couples even date.
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This story is silent, yet strong in its portrayal of the real-life interracial couple at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia. It’s moving at times and loudly states the facts bluntly: love is love is love ~ and that should be enough.

And yes, while it can be quietly brilliant and amazing at times, it does have holes in the story that could have been filled. Mildred is portrayed at the beginning as being a doe-eyed, non-speaking, almost non-existent part of the beginning of this young relationship that in 1958 would have had racial consequences and problems within both communities. None of which is really shown at all until the last 20 minutes of the film when Richard finally finds a brick wrapped in paper on his car seat, mind you not thrown, just lying there. They missed some opportunities to really show us what the racial hardships might have been instead choosing to almost make the legal battle look far too easy with their lawyers Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll) and Phil Hirschkop (Jon Bass) on whom the casting here might have been a bit of mis-step for me (not to mention their clunky and too “cutesy” dialogue).
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What IS so very important about this film, and a big factor that not just everyone, but specifically why young people need to see this so they understand what our country was like back in the day. For gay people who have struggled to love whom they choose, they need to see that their struggle was not unique and needs to be supported. And that the bible was also used against interracial marriages. And yes, that struggle is struggle and unless we want the clock turned back, so we can “make America great again”, we must be ever vigilant.
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The most poignant and beautiful point of the film came for me towards the ending, in scenes that were so quiet, yet so powerful, showing that even though they were faced with obstacles set over and over in their path, they were resolved to show that their love and union was unaffected by those outside forces, and continued to move through everyday duties such as mowing the lawn, their children playing, doing the dishes, on the very day no less, that they receive the phone call that simply changed everything. It simply touches and yet rocks you at the same time.

The performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga while well done, once again, we have in an Edgerton, an Aussie and Negga who is Irish/Ethiopian, trying to pull off down-in-the-back-bayou southern Virigina accents which yes again, can be outrighted spotted in parts. (Side note: Truly, when was the last time we actually heard Edgerton speak in his regular accent? I can’t even remember if I have at this point). And truly, no matter how small the role, I love when Michael Shannon as LIFE magazine photographer Grey Villet shows up in anything.
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If you want high dramatics, this is not your movie. I left the theatre feeling overwhelmed by the need to vote for our next U.S. President and make sure it is someone who will appoint progressive and unbiased Supreme Court Justices. I think most will understand that feeling, especially with so many people’s rights hanging precariously in the balance right now as it did then.
If you are looking for a touching, loving story that truly reflects so much on today’s times and the change that was accomplished by this one law that didn’t just change their lives, but the lives of millions of people around the world with whom it still affects today, this is your film and a film for all to see and truly reflect on.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Thursday, October 27, 2016 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup
NOW PLAYING IN THEATRES NATIONWIDE

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REVIEW “HACKSAW RIDGE” (2016) Lionsgate

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Let’s start off by acknowleding that “HACKSAW RIDGE” is not for the faint of heart. It’s incredibly violent in its war scenes as it tells the story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic that refused to carry a weapon as not a ‘conscientious objector’ but as a ‘conscientious participator.’ This, until now, untold story of Doss, is one that will stick with you long after the film is over.
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Of course you wonder going in can Mel Gibson redeem himself after so much has been made of his lack of judgment, drunken rants, and his anti-semitic rhetoric and in essence, being blackballed these last 10 yrs. as yes, though he is perfectly capable of doing so, it’s a long climb up.

Turns out it would be hard not to do with this story. The film starts in the sober times of WWII around 1944, Desmond Doss, the son of Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving), an alcoholic Army man who served in World War I and is suffering from what we now know is PTSD. Doss & his family, while patriots, are also devout Seventh-Day Adventist’s. His brother, Harold Doss (Nathaniel Buzolic) joins the Army leading Desmond to join also, against their father’s wishes, in the fight against Japanese in some of the final battles of WWII.
Doss is in love with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer, a nurse’s aide who is scared that she’ll never see him again, especially after the persecution he is sure to face when he refuses to touch a gun in training camp and is facing being court marshaled for this refusal by his commanding officers, Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) & Captain Glover (Sam Worthington).
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From there we move onto who Doss actually becomes as he proceeds during the stand-off at ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ to show his true being and save as many lives as he possibly can while dodging bullets and hand grenades, all without a gun. There are moments you want to scream at him “Just pick the damn thing up” whereas at other you are with him 100% for not doing so. Not being religious myself, it would be hard not to realize both sides have their points which anyone, whether religious or not, can understand and decide on their own.

My only and very few beefs were: The beginning had a lot of fluff & cheesy-ness to it. Second: While I realize Mel is an Aussie, but to put so many Aussie & Brits as leads in a southern film trying to do southern accents, just doesn’t always quite go up to par and here was the same. As decent as most of the acting is, it’s still very detectable that they don’t have the accents down pat. We also at one point, lose the brother. He literally get’s up from dinner, and we never see him again, nor do we know what happened. Lastly, the supporting cast is truly amazing here and bring so much to this film, although the age-range of the actors might have been off some. They were starting off at playing young 19-22 yr. old’s and frankly almost all look quite a bit off that range including Garfield himself.
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As for the rest, truly I must say I don’t think anyone does battle scenes as well as Mel Gibson does. Again, It’s extremely violent and graphic as well, real war actually can be. I had to turn away a few times, but the story Gibson puts up there of all of the terribleness of war is just so well done. I was brought to tears when they quoted “During peacetime, sons bury their fathers, during war, fathers bury their sons.” It got me.

Conclusion: Many will walk into this film wanting to dislike just because of Gibson, most of them will walk out knowing they just saw a really good film.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup Group
Nationwide Release: Friday, November 4, 2016