This week’s “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolver Podcasts, we discussed four incredible films in theaters now, each a possible #Oscars2017 contender, including “Lion” and “A Monster Calls.”
A few more notes from Gary on these two thoughtful, and thought-provoking films below. To listen to the show, follow the link here and click “Episode 29.” And, be sure to subscribe through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music or IHeartRadio.
And, get your tickets now to join us at The Dallas Arboretum on January 26 for our “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” preview event of the 89th annual Academy Awards. We’ll pair special wines with the top nominations of the year, and Gary will give a full run down of his predictions for this year’s winners. Tickets and details here.
The Film: “Lion”
“Lion” is a well-made, Oscar contending film that tells the true story of a 5 year boy from India, who runs into the night with his older brother, ends up falling asleep on an abandoned train, and wakes up 1000 miles away on the streets of Calcutta.
Saroo is played with honest devastation by Sunny Pawar as the boy either hurtles or runs away from all types of predators until he is adopted by a kind-hearted Australian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham) and sent to live a much more privileged life “down under.”
As an adult Saroo is played on a high level by Dev Patel and through encouragement from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) he begins to match his memory with goggle earth, and wouldn’t you know it, he thinks he has found his boyhood village by engaging technology.
“Lion” is directed with confidence by first-time South African film maker, Garth Davis, telling an emotional story with just the right amount of empathy and tone. His ending to “LIon” is a satisfying celebration of forgiveness and patience.
Movies like “Lion” are difficult to make because they often ignore the brain by going straight to the heart. “Lion” is different by delicately balancing what makes you think alongside what makes you cry.
After all, this is a true story written by Saroo Brierley and that alone gives it’s emotional impact tremendous weight.
The Film: “A Monster Calls”
I’m not sure this intensely beautiful PG-13 film is for kids or adults, but the original intent of, “A Monster Calls,” written first as a novel by Patrick Ness in 2011, was for children. The book also won numerous children’s book awards for it’s author and illustrator.
13 year old, Conor O’Malley, is emotionally unraveling because he’s dealing with the terminal illness of his mother played-well by, Felicity Jones. Conor is bullied at school, angry at home, and as he retreats upstairs to his artwork, an enormous destructive tree monster appears in his bedroom window, voiced menacingly by Liam Neeson.
There is something special about this film, which uses live action along with watercolors to tell it’s multiple stories leading to a 13 year old confession that few adults ever achieve.
It’s emotionally complicated, even messy, nothing ties up neatly, and director J.A. Bayona is in familiar territory. He directed the gut wrenching tsunami survival movie, “The Impossible,” with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.
As a movie about loss and grief I find, “A Monster Calls,” to be both challenging and refreshing. It made me think and feel as much for the family members as it did for Conor. It played with my own dark sided imagination and left me alone to my own conclusions.
Which begs the question, “Why do you go to the movies?” If you are going only to escape and feel good then, “A Monster Calls,” will be a particular challenge.
If you go to engage and embrace the art of story telling on a higher level, both artistically and emotionally, then by all means, buy a ticket, and don’t be surprised if you see me in the lobby.