Setting aside for a moment the quease-making notion that I just put good money into the hands of that miserable homophobe Orson Scott Card, I need to tell you about Ender’s Game. What I mostly need to tell you is that you should avoid it.
Ender’s Game is a boring, messy, unengaging and emotionally unconvincing melodrama about an unlikely teen who’s mercilessly groomed as chief alien killer by Harrison Ford and Viola Davis. (I never for one single second got what they saw in Ender Wiggin to make such leaps of faith in his warrior abilities.) There’s just nothing less satisfying than watching someone else on Playstation, and this feels like two looooong hours of it. Twists? There are a couple to up the ante from time to time. But they feel mechanical and ultimately manipulative. And they just can’t save the film from the bone-aching, fun-sucking, soul-destroying dullness. Incidentally, Duffey Lake in BC is the gorgeous backdrop to Ender’s Earthen home.
OK, hands up if you hated The Help? Go on. Did you find it offensive that Hollywood can only present black experience filtered through the prism of a white narrator? Really? You did? Well, you know what? – and I’ll try to say this nicely: you are a moron. You may have a genuine grievance elsewhere in filmed entertainment and media, but in this case you are completely wrong wrong wrong. No, ye Naysayers, The Help is an important film specifically because it is not set up as “An Important Film”; it’s not a black story or a white story, it’s the story of us, of ALL of us, who’ve witnessed or experienced or ignored or abetted the disempowerment of some by others. It’s about the triumph of the human spirit – human spirit, not black spirit or white spirit – in the face of those who would diminish us, and it’s about how we find love and common decency across the divide. I loved it. Completely.
And though it’s actually a complex ensemble piece, no one, and I mean patently absolutely NO ONE on this planet, can fail to have been moved by Viola Davis’ truly exceptional star turn as the maid Aibeleen who’s finally given a voice and some respect. Indeed, for all the hype around Meryl Streep’s Thatcher, it’s Viola Davis in my book – from the trudge to the steely restraint to the towering warmth – who acted her off the damn screen. Davis was robbed, robbed, of the Oscar. Emma Stone’s in the movie too, and you forget that she is, SOOOO good is Viola Davis. Jessica Chastain is great, Olivia Spencer, great, Thingy Howard, great – Tate Taylor: great great (hot) great. But Viola Davis: magnificent.
The Help shot in Mississippi, in the cities of Greenwood – great vid here from the Greenwood CVB – Clarksdale, and Jackson – including, famously, gaining access to the Governor’s Mansion for a handful of the key scenes.
I’m not, generally speaking, a huge fan of politicians. My encounters with them – real or fictional – always leave me feeling a little bit tainted by all the spin and hypocrisy. State of Play, then, (starring portly Russell Crowe and flobby Ben Affleck) buys neatly into all of my wildly pre-conceived notions of political conspiracy and personal sleaze: hence I loved it.
Based on an old Beeb mini-series, the movie is a taut thriller about a curmudgeonly reporter who tries to protect his college roommate. That roommate now happens to be a congressman who’s heading a committee uncovering massive graft – and who happens also to be screwing his secretary. Twists, turns & thrills aplenty are driven relentlessly forward by a truly stellar cast (Rachel McAdam stands out).
And as the charmin’ly genteel southern home of all that Vice and Corruption, Washington DC is almost a character in itself. Even the Watergate Building plays a part. I found myself wanting to visit – which, given my opening gambit of this post, seems almost perverse.