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WHAT MAKES A MOVIE GREAT?
While summer blockbusters aren’t exactly my cup of tea, now seems like the perfect time to bring up my love of cinema. The first movie I really remember affecting me was “The Godfather.” I was only 12 or 13 at the time, but my parents thought I was mature enough to come to the theater to see it with them. From then on, I was hooked on dramas, especially gangster movies.
in “American History X” or Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting.” Yes, Academy
Award-winner Rami Malek proved to be a great chameleon, becoming a picture-perfect Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But his
performance never rose beyond the level of an impression. It just feels like he wasn’t given the freedom to make the character his own. Now, some may argue that when portraying a real-life figure, especially someone as iconic as the frontman of Queen, an actor shouldn’t be given leeway in their characterization. I have two issues with this. First, performances like Jamie Foxx’s take on Ray Charles in “Ray” prove the value of letting an actor explore a historical role and add depth to it. The second issue is that dramas, even historical ones, aren’t documentaries. Often an earnest portal by an actor, regardless of historical perceptions, can ring truer than a well-researched impression. That’s ultimately what I find most valuable about films: They can get at truths you can’t find in a textbook or documentary. I love movies that raise questions I haven’t considered
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become better at recognizing what I appreciate and what is lacking in a given film. My passion for talking about this has gotten me a reputation among my friends as a tough moviegoer. In fact, a fellow attorney who shares my appreciation for good films will usually call me up to talk shop about the latest Oscar contenders and compare notes. For example, I largely agree with the Academy Award winners this year. My two favorite movies of 2018 were “Green Book” and “BlacKkKlansman.” While very different in style and tone, both tackled extremely difficult subject matter masterfully. The acting in “Green Book” really made the story work — the chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali make for poignant moments and interactions with genuine humor.
Meanwhile, “BlacKkKlansman” represents Director Spike Lee at his absolute best, providing a fast-paced, cutting political commentary that doesn’t pull any punches. However, I don’t feel like last year had any performances that were truly groundbreaking. We didn’t get any truly transcendent performances on the level of Edward Norton
and that are as thought-provoking as they are entertaining. The fall movie season may still be far away at this point, but I can’t wait to see what works of art 2019 brings. –Paul H. Young
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