Posted by Ken Burke On January - 21 - 2015 0 Comment

126899_galAmong the good things about being an unpaid film critic blogger is that I don’t have to meet deadlines, write my reviews to a prescribed length, or submit to someone else’s idea of how my postings should be edited; however, among the bad aspects of this (including that “unpaid” part) is that when other areas of my life keep me busy with their needed tasks I don’t always force myself to find the time to properly promote what I’ve written.  Such is the case with my latest detailed review, which was posted a few days ago but is just now being brought to your attention in Popculture Galaxy, completely missing the opportunity to praise Selma prior to the national remembrance honoring Dr. Martin Luther King instead of stumbling in two days late.  However, that may be indicative of the fate this film will suffer at the upcoming Oscar awards for 2014 film releases because—despite its well-deserved honors from the film criticism establishment (99% positive reviews from Rotten Tomatoes [the sourpusses of 154 reviewers are Michael Sragow of Film Comment Magazine and Gary Wolcott of the Tri-City Herald], an 89 average from the Metacritic analyses)—it failed to receive what many feel are appropriate Academy Award nominations for lead actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay; it did make the 8-finalists cut for Best Picture (not a likely winner there, given all the attention going to Birdman and Boyhood) and Best Original Song (“Glory,” probably its best chance for a trophy, to match the similar honor at the recent Golden Globes ceremony).  Nevertheless, I couldn’t be more encouraging for you to see this marvelous tribute to the brave men and women who lived in or came to Selma, AL in the spring of 1965 to challenge the absurd restrictions put in place by Southern voter registrars to prevent Black citizens from exercising their Constitutional rights.  This isn’t just hagiographic history but instead a well-nuanced dramatization of how true American heroes constantly turned the other nonviolent cheek to their brutalizing oppressors until long-overdue justice was finally served, as shown powerfully, successfully in Selma.

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The other two films to call your attention to with this bit of opening considerations for further reading and viewing include one which was an Oscar hopeful, Human Capital, Italy’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film competition—although it didn’t make it to the coveted position of being among the five finalists—and one of the most mind-bending time-travel-based sci-fi stories you’ll ever see on screen (if you can find it; despite being advertised as a January 9 opening here in my San Francisco area I’ve yet to find a listing for it so I was lucky to have seen it at a press screening a couple of weeks ago), Predestination, based on a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein short story, “’—All You Zombies—‘” which you may already be aware of (if not, I can’t say much more about this one because the whole premise and its surprising revelations are ruined if you know too much prior to seeing it for yourself).  I’ve grouped these two because they both operate with the strategy of there being objective information about what’s going on in these plots but it’s revealed slowly from multiple perspectives as these narratives unfold, so, except for a couple of characters in each film who know everything about the events we’re only partially witnessing most of the time, no one in these stories has the full perspective they need, and neither do we, providing a lot of dramatic tension around what could have happened but all we have to go on for quite some time are assumptions that may or may not be true.  In Human Capital we know that someone was accidently killed in the first few minutes, although it’s a long time before we know who did it and why, yet we learn quite a bit about greed and intra-family tensions along the way.  In Predestination there’s an attempt by a time-traveling secret government agent to prevent a massive terrorist attack in 1975 but that’s all I dare reveal at this point.  Both of these are well worth your time, although the latter one will necessarily require a lot of suspension of disbelief on your part to fully make it work.

Comments on any of this may be left here, at my review blog site, in the LinkedIn Movie Addicts and World Cinema Critics discussions, or sent directly to me at kenburke409@gmail.com.

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