Bridge of Spies (Movie Review)

Fun fact: Eastern Bloc states were always coloured in various shades of dull, depression-inducing blue.

Before beginning this review, I should point out to any impresionable folks who may read my stuff that when I implied that, at the end of my Deadpool review, I gave that movie a rating of 10/10 because 20th Century Fox paid me to do so, I was totally joking. The rating is the least important part of the review to me, and  I would never compromise my journalistic integrity or whatever by accepting money and other rewards from studios, even studios owned by the benevolent genius that is Rupert Murdoch.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be stuffing the Best Picture ballot box with votes for The Revenant, easily my favourite picture of the year. And after doing so, I will absolutely NOT be taking a ride in my private jet with the FOX logo plastered on its side, accompanied by a harem of hookers and mountains of blow.

That’s ridiculous.

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Quick Oscar Thoughts

Let the rampant whining from fanboys begin.

It’s an important milestone in any movie fan’s life when he or she comes to the realization that the people voting for the Oscars are little more than old white men jerking off other old white men. That doesn’t mean he or she can’t enjoy the ceremonies, and the nominated movies, but, you know, let’s maybe not take the opinion of a group composed mostly of out-of-touch all that seriously.

 

Never forget.

With that said, I still enjoy bitching and moaning about the movies, because literally nothing gives me more joy than bitching and moaning about trivial shit.

And yes, like last year, I will watch and review all of the Best Picture nominees this year. I’ve already reviewed The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road and Spotlight, and I need to get to watching The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Revenant (Which I should see this weekend, with any luck) and Room.

With that out of the way, it’s time to make some observations about the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards.

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Spotlight (Movie Review)

 

“We’ve come for all your Oscars.”

From directing one of the worst shitbags of the year (Look for him somewhere) to directing what looks to be the Best Picture frontrunner at this point in time. Thomas McCarthy has had a strange year, hasn’t he?

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Is Boyhood Really a Modern Masterpiece???

Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness! Yummy! Yummy!!!

It’s been nearly a month since the Oscars, and by now, regular people have already moved on with their lives, because they are well-adjusted human beings. However, because I’m the furthest possible thing from well-adjusted, I’m still beaming over Birdman winning Best Picture, even though it’s been awhile since the freaking ceremony, and the Oscars don’t mean a damn thing anyway.

As I’ve been skimming through some post-Oscars reaction stuff (In Mid-March? I repeat, what the hell is wrong with me!?!?) I’ve noticed that a lot of people (Forgive me, I couldn’t give you an exact percentage, because I don’t have THAT much free time) seem to be upset that Birdman won, the major complaint being that, while Birdman is a great movie (I wholeheartedly agree), it doesn’t hold a candle to the once-a-generation marvel that is Boyhood, the slice-of-life movie by Richard Linklater.

That, I have a little trouble believing.

See, despite all the hype surrounding it, and all the terrific reviews that the film has gotten ever since its premier at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I still don’t see it as much more than just a good movie that, unfortunately, doesn’t hold up that well under actual scrutiny (Not “Oh, it took twelve years to make?!?!?! PRAISE LINKLATER!!!!”)

“Linklater makes Truffaut look like an asshole!!!” -Jay Bauman

So, in the interest of putting this movie to rest, I’ve decided to go a bit beyond my actual review of it and give a few reasons why I think that, while certainly not the worst movie you’ll ever see, it doesn’t hold up. As one of the few people on Planet Earth who’s sat through the movie four times (Once for my review, once with my parents, once with my brother and once in preparation for this post).

Before really getting into it, I should point out, for the umpteenth time, that this is just my opinion. If someone was really moved by Boyhood, or thought that it really was the best movie of this century so far. If you think that, terrific. I just don’t see what the big deal is.

1. Nostalgia doesn’t make a movie good, nor does it hold up very well over time. 

This is kind of a minor point, but this movie does lean a little bit too much on getting that warm, nostalgic feeling from the audience. I’m sure I don’t need to explain this, but nostalgia does not make a movie good. Not only that, but it also serves to date the movie, so future generations may not connect to it as much as our generation apparently does. As somebody who grew up in around the same time period that the movie was set in, I don’t mind as much as I probably should, but still, the lingering shots of old Apple computers and nods to Harry Potter and the fucking Star Wars prequels aren’t going to help the movie in the years to come.

Again, not a huge complaint, but not something that sits well, either.

2. The “12-Year” gimmick: Cool technical accomplishment, not a great indicator of quality. 

According to most people, the biggest thing this movie has going for it is the fact that it was filmed over twelve years, and while I see a little bit of merit to that argument (Specifically, that Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette managed to keep their characters interesting for one week of filming once every year), I don’t know if that really makes the film that much better. This may be the first time a non-documentary film takes this approach, but we’ve still seen people grow up before our eyes on screen before. There’s actually an entire genre of television dedicated to it. You may recognize it, it’s called “sitcoms”.

I know, I’m uncultured, but it’s true, isn’t it? During, shit, I dunno, Full House, we actually saw those characters grow up before our eyes and develop as human beings.

For better or for worse.

Oh, shit, what about For Better or For Worse!!!???

So, yeah, as far as I’m concerned, while it was a clever decision, and it was mostly executed alright, it doesn’t really elevate the film all that much. Besides, I don’t really think that most of the credit for the whole “twelve years” concept should go to Richard Linklater, but whoever was in charge of editing all that goddamn footage into a coherent movie. Really, what was so impressive about Linklater’s direction? Seriously.

“Uh, did you not hear me mention it took twelve years to make?”

3. The main character isn’t very interesting. 

It’s not always necessary for movies to have particularly interesting protagonists. The science fiction, fantasy and action genres can attest to that. The reason that those genres have  so many blank slate protagonists is so the audience can insert themselves into the role. Someone with a very basic personality like Neo in the first Matrix (A very basic character) is a whole lot more fun to watch than he would be if he was given more than the most basic of motivations to do what he does, because if that were the case, the movie may still be enjoyable, but Neo would be a lot harder to step into the shoes of, if that makes any sense.

Mason Evans, Jr is this kind of protagonist, and it doesn’t particularly work in the movie. This character is not particularly interesting, and for a movie like this, he really should be.

See, Boyhood  is the very definition of a slice-of-life movie. These kinds of movies live and die off of the character being engaging to watch. Especially when the movie is nearly three hours long. His character arc is: Small child quietly observes everything, pre-teen quietly observes everything, whiny teenager who observes everything while also occasionally waxing bullshit philosophical. This does not exactly make for emotional investment. Seeing him grow up before your eyes doesn’t make up for his nondescript personality. I’ve known people for twelve years in real life, and I’m still indifferent towards them. Why the hell should I feel any different about this bland, boring character?

4. The wrong character was the protagonist. 

So, yeah, Mason isn’t that compelling of a character. However, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s characters were very intriguing. Besides the fact that the performances were great, these characters are genuinely excellent and likable. Ethan Hawke is trying to stay genuine even as he’s being forced into the conventional life that he didn’t want with Patricia Arquette. Do we get more of that? No! We do get more of Mason falling out with his high school girlfriend, though! How fucking riveting! Patricia Arquette’s character also has potential! She seems attracted to unstable or even dangerous partners! She’s desperately trying to get a foothold on her life! Do we see more of that? Noooope! What the fuck do we get ?! Mason hanging out with a bunch of skeeves, breaking wooden boards, obviously! Fucking ENTHRALLING!!! Clearly, this movie is the goddamn Citizen Kane of our age!!!

5. At a certain point, the writing just becomes super terrible. 

You may have noticed, but I’m kind of a stickler for good writing in any medium. And, being a teenager, I would say I’m a pretty good judge o realistic teenage dialogue. And, folks, this ain’t it.

The first third or so of Boyhood is actually pretty great, but I feel like, right when Mason hits junior high, Linklater, the same guy who wrote Dazed and Confused, mind you, completely forgets how to write dialogue for teenagers.

I defy anybody who likes this movie (Which includes me, mind you) to defend these lines as realistic an actual teenager, or, hell, an actual person, would say.

“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

What?

“Hey, welcome to the suck.”

Every time I’ve heard that line, I’ve projectile-vomited.

“You know Jim, you’re not my dad.”

There has got to be a less cliched way to convey that sentiment.

So, yeah, maybe we should think twice before elevating Richard Linklater to God status?

if those lines didn’t convince you…

“You know that goth girl that wears a lot of Hot Topic? Well, she and I used to be best friends but we aren’t anymore because she thinks I’m a preppy, but I still like her. Anyway, she cut herself, and now she’s in the hospital, so I’m going to go visit her. Have you read the Twilight books?”

Admittedly, I’m paraphrasing. Still, though what the FUCK?!?!

My 2014 Oscar Predictions

Many tiny, tiny men were forced to give up their lives after being randomly selected for being made to stand in an uncomfortable upright position and having liquid gold poured on them. Their sacrifice will not go forgotten.

Ah, the Oscars! The award show where the old, rich, out-of-touch white men of Hollywood engage in the biggest circle jerk of the year and hand out golden, vaguely phallic trophies in order to congratulate each other for making pretentious, artsy films that the average moviegoer didn’t even think about before the eve of the ceremony!

God, do I love the Oscars. It’s right up there with my birthday, Christmas, Blue Jays Opening Day, Game 7 of the World Series and Edmonton Comic Expo Weekend in my rankings of my favourite days of the year. For somebody who loves movies as much as I do, it’s so great to see these movies that I’ve grown so attached to in the last few months that I’ve been scrambling to watch them. It’s nice to see them all gathered together where all of them can be celebrated for the joy they’ve brought to people.

And by “all of them”, I, of course mean “Boyhood“.

So, without further ado, let’s get my official predictions out of the way!!!

(Keep in mind that I haven’t seen 100% of the movies. Merely a lot of them. Don’t blame me, blame school.”

That, and the fact that I’m not allowed out of my house anymore after the unfortunate incident at a nearby Dairy Queen.

Visual Effects

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees! And people say we monkey around…”

Winner: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

If I were in charge: Interstellar

Interstellar didn’t impress me as much as it did others in terms of story or plot coherence, but I can’t deny the visual majesty that Nolan’s space epic had. That said, when Dawn wins, I will not complain at all, because Apes On Horses.

Film Editing

TWELVE YEARS!!!! THIS TOOK TWELVE YEARS!!!! ITSOAMAAAAAAAAZZIIIINGGG!!!!!!!”

Will win: Boyhood

If I was in charge: Boyhood

Yeah, as burnt out as I am on hearing people call Boyhood the Citizen Kane of our era or some bullshit, I can’t deny the wonderful editing job done in the film.

Costume Design

Dear lord.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

If I was in charge: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Makeup and Hairstyling

And this is what happens when you party with Benecio del Toro.

Will win: Guardians of the Galaxy

If I was in charge: Guardians of the Galaxy

Cinematography

Gravity‘s got nothing on this.

Will win: Birdman

If I was in charge: Birdman

Emmanuel Lubezki. That is all.

Production Design

The symmetry alone, Jesus Christ.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

If I was in charge: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Sound Mixing

Theeeeenn, he swore profusely at me, Pa rum pa pum pum….

Will win: Whiplash

If I was in charge: Whiplash

Man, I’m not exactly being much of a contrarian, am I?

Sound Editing

Oh, there we go.

Will win: American Sniper

If I was in charge: Birdman

Original Song

Will win: “Glory” (Selma)

If I was in charge: “Glory”

Original Score

Just for the record, I would have given the prize to either John Powell or Joe Hisaishi for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, respectively.

Will win: Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything

If I was in charge: Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game

Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary- Short Subject, Documentary- Feature

I didn’t watch any of these. Why? I’m really, really lazy, in case you guys haven’t noticed.

Foreign Language Film

Are her eyes following anybody else? Just me? Okay then…

Will win: Ida

If I was in charge: Leviathan

Animated Feature Film

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

If I was in charge: How to Train Your Dragon 2

While I still think that Dragon is the best animated movie of the year (Yes, even better than The LEGO Movie), I highly suggest any fan of animation to check out The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. You’ll thank me later, trust me.

Adapted Screenplay

Will win: The Imitation Game

If I was in charge: The Imitation Game

Original Screenplay

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should win: Birdman

Supporting Actress

Yeesh, now that kids’ eyes are following me.

Will win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

If I was in charge: Patricia Arquette

Again, I’m not a huge Boyhood fan. That said, I think I would’ve liked it more if it focused more on Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.

Supporting Actor

Will win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

If I was in charge: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Actress

“What the fuck am I watching?!?!”                    -Julianne Moore, seen here puzzling over Inherent Vice.

Will win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

If I was in charge: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Admittedly, I haven’t seen Still Alice yet, but with all do respect to Julianne Moore, I don’t see how her performance could be better than Rosamund Pike in the movie that is the biggest Best Picture snub of the year.

Actor

Yeah, no way I’m joking about this photo. I’m not a total asshole.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

If I was in charge: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

The sentimental part of my brain wants Michael Keaton to win, as Redmayne’s still young, and we don’t know if Keaton will ever be nominated again, but I know in my heart of hearts that Redmayne was probably better.

Director

Meh.

Will win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

If I was in charge: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

I LIKED BOYHOOD, ALRIGHT!?!? I JUST THINK IT’S KIND OF OVERRATED!!! AM I REALLY SO WRONG IN THINKING THAT?!?!

Picture

You know you want it.

Will win: Birdman

If I was in charge: Birdman

My gut actually says that Boyhood is gonna take it, but winning all the Guild Awards is pretty promising, so maybe Birdman has a realistic shot at winning the big prize?

American Sniper is going to sweep the awards now, just because I said that.

American Sniper (Movie Review)

Well, this is gonna be an absolute joy to watch!

I love Clint Eastwood, but I can admit that he hasn’t exactly been on top of his game lately. After the greatness that was Gran Torino, the legendary actor/director hasn’t had that much success, at least critically (I’ll give you Invictus, that was actually pretty great, but Hereafter, J. Edgar and Jersey Boys all kinda sucked).

His big political statement hasn’t exactly helped matters, truth be told.

His latest movie is American Sniper, the story of the late, much-celebrated sniper Chris Kyle, someone who has been quoted as saying that “[he] would like to shoot people with Korans”. In terms of avoiding political controversy, this was probably not the way to go.

American Sniper

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz,  Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan

Written by: Jason Hall

Based on: American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice

Genre: Biographical war drama

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Fake Baby

Plot: Searching for a higher calling outside of his lucrative career as a rodeo cowboy, Texan Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), seemingly finds his divine purpose when he is horrified by the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya. Enlisting in the army and eventually becoming a Navy SEAL, he shows a considerable amount of ability as a sniper. He is shipped off to Iraq after 9/11 (Because…Reasons…) and becomes the deadliest sniper in American military history, killing upwards of 160 enemy combatants. However, killing that enormous amount of people doesn’t normally result in a sound mental state, and sure enough, Kyle’s military career, and the resulting PTSD symptoms start affecting his relationships with his wife (Sienna Miller).

Look, this is a super controversial movie, and there is absolutely no getting around that. I’d be remiss to not go into at least some of the controversy surrounding this movie. That said, even considering the divisive nature of the film, it’s fairly easy to forget that, in a lot of respects, this is a super well made movie.

I fully admit that I went into this movie not expecting to like it and yeah, I kind of didn’t, but even I’ll admit that this movie shows a lot of potential. The cinematography looks like that of your standard Iraq War movie, which is appropriate considering, y’know, that the movie’s about the damn Iraq War. It also sounds terrific, as is par for the course with a lot of war movies, and is most likely going to win some sort of Oscar for sound editing or sound mixing, or whatever (I still don’t understand the difference between those two, frankly).

The sound and atmosphere really help contribute to this super intense atmosphere that Eastwood has always done a very good job of creating. You don’t exactly expect a lax atmosphere from a movie in which a small child is being aimed at through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, at one point. Eastwood’s technically skilled direction takes the inherent intensity that comes with a movie like this and multiplies it twentyfold. It’s a flawed movie, but it was never boring, and in the end, that may do it for some people.

Something else that I would have be a complete idiot to skip over without praising is Bradley Cooper. Now, I am a Bradley Cooper fan, let’s get that straight. The first movie I ever saw him in was The Hangover, and if you would have told me way back in 2009 that he would go on to be nominated for three consecutive Academy Awards (As well as voice Rocket Racoon) after that (Brilliantly hilarious) movie, I probably would have laughed in your face. And then shot you in the kneecap. I was a pretty hardcore 12-year old.

I was basically Hit-Girl. Except, you know, a guy.

If he does win the Oscar, I’ll still be pissed off, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his performance is pretty outstanding. From the 100% authentic sounding accent that one would swear had been lifted off of a bona-fide god-fearing Texan without having warped it into something stereotypical and cartoonish.

Like so.

All around, Cooper sells Chris Kyle as a likable, humble human being. You know, when he isn’t referring to the Iraqis as “savages”, but more on that later.

The action in American Sniper is also very good, as one would expect from a Clint Eastwood movie. It kind of ties into that “intensity” crap I was rambling about earlier. However, this is where some of the flaws in the movie start rearing their ugly heads. See, while the action scenes are very well done, it kinda looks like somebody drew the line for the budget at realistic-looking blood. Instead of that, they used the shitty, cartoony looking CGI blood that one would expect from Kick-Ass, or something.

Boy, I’ve been referencing that movie a lot lately. Weird.

Yeah, it worked in Kick-Ass, but in a movie that’s supposed to be gritty and ultra-realistic, CGI blood is super distracting. In fact, it kind of fucking sucks. What the hell, Clint!?

Also, while the actors do genuinely good jobs, with the obvious highlight being Cooper, the characters that weren’t Chris Kyle are either insultingly given the shaft in terms of character insight (*Cough* Sienna Miller *cough) or are really underdeveloped. Kyle’s fellow soldiers definitely fall into the latter category.  At no point did I really feel any genuine camaraderie between them and the main character. I mean, I get that they were supposed to be friends, but it doesn’t spend enough time showing them just hanging out with each other and forming genuine connections. For all its flaws, the movie feels very brisk, I wouldn’t have minded a couple more scenes of Kyle socializing with his comrades.

I guess we get some semblance of a connection when we see Chris’s reaction to them getting shot in the face. Not the worst, I suppose, but it could have been handled a lot better.

Also, there’s supposed to be a rivalry of sorts between Chris and some Iraqi sniper. It’s really dumb.

If only my complaints would end there. If fucking only.

So, American Sniper is not really an anti-war film, but it, for all the accusations of jingoistic nationalism thrown at it, is not really a pro-war film either, or al least tries not to be. That’s a pretty sound creative decision, considering the film is supposed to be a character study of Chris Kyle. So, how does it stack up as a character piece?

In that respect, it is a complete and utter fucking failure.

I’m pretty sure you’re getting sick and tired of hearing this, as his criticism has been bandied about plenty since the film’s release, but Chris Kyle was an objectively bad person, as the quote I mentioned in the intro would suggest. How exactly does one hear one of his many quotes mentioning his liking for killing Iraqis (Just look it up, it’s not exactly tough to find) and try to give off the illusion that this is essentially a good guy we’re dealing with? I would expect this from somebody who has maybe only heard about him in passing as a war hero, but not from a motherfucking biography of the man!!!

Yeah, he does call the Iraqis “savages” at a couple points, but he’s portrayed as a good guy so often that to hear him casually dehumanize an entire country is rather disturbing and out of place (It wouldn’t have been if they’d have decided to, I dunno, show Chris Kyle for the person he was instead of the flawed anti-hero bullshit they came up with. You could make the argument that he saved a lot of lives, but a) So did the enemy sniper, but that doesn’t make him any less of a hateful character, and b) that still doesn’t excuse such a cleaned-up version of what could’ve been a very interesting character. It doesn’t totally ruin the movie, but it does deal some pretty serious blows to its credibility.

Overall: There are worse war movies out there, but that doesn’t make this ultimately wasted attempt any more of a letdown.

Rating: 5.5/10

Oh, Jesus, I didn’t even get into the Fake Baby.

If you guys want to read a shorter, less profane review of American Sniper, head over to fellow WordPresser Polar Bears Watch TV where he (She?) delivers a pretty great review in about 1000 less words.

Selma (Movie Review)

Oh hey, Tim Roth plays a sleazeball, who would’ve thunk it?

Honestly you guys, any lead-in blurb that I’m thinking up is kind of pushing the boundaries of good taste, and I already did an anti-cop joke in my Kingsman review, so yeah. This is Selma.

Selma

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Produced by: Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

Written by: Paul Webb, Ava DuVernay

Genre: Historical drama

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson, Giovanni Ribisi, Lorraine Touissant, Stephan James, Wendell Pierce, Common, Alessandro Nivola, Keith Stanfield, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Oprah Winfrey

Music by: Jason Moran

Plot: In 1964, the fight for Civil Rights in America is intensifying, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) is right in the thick of it all.  The latest issue to rear its ugly head is the blatant neglect of the right of to vote that is guaranteed to black citizens in more backwards parts of the nation. When putting pressure on President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) doesn’t amount to much (As LBJ has a lot of stuff on his plate, such as the Vietnam War and combating poverty), Dr. King decides to take matters into his own hands, organising a massive, peaceful protest march from Selma, Alabama to the State Capitol in Montgomery, much to the dismay of the segregationist dickhead that is Alabama governor George Wallace (Tim Roth).

Out of all of the movies in this year’s Oscar class, Selma Is definitely the most topical of the bunch. You could argue that American Sniper‘s (More or less) anti-war message is also relevant, but it’s also not a great movie, and I’ll talk more about it later. What with the Trayvon Martin debacle and Ferguson being fresh in our minds, it’s hard not to feel the gravity of the situation, especially when the fantastic “Glory” song plays through the credits. We’re not here to talk about the relevance of the movie, though, we’re here to talk about quality. And, as is the case with all news vaguely related to minorities, I’m legally obligated as a reviewer to say that it was great.

Because cowardly PC critics never, ever, ever negatively review movies from black people. Never.

In all seriousness, Selma is a great movie. Is it the best movie of 2014? No, and it’s not even really that close. Is it the most important movie of 2014? Quite possibly, although in terms of measuring the depths of stupidity that the human race has fallen to, I would argue that Left Behind is a better indication of where we are as a species.

While Selma generally does everything well, with terrific cinematography, well directed scenes and a solidly written and fleshed-out script, the biggest thing the film has going for it is the supremely talented cast. While the fact that this movie was produced by and stars Oprah Winfrey in a supporting role kind of makes me roll my eyes and give out an exasperated sigh, but seeing her in the movie (Portraying activist Annie Lee Cooper) kind of makes  you remember that she’s an Academy Award-nominated actress, god complex and all. Another solid performer popping up is Cuba Gooding, Jr., believe it or not, and he’s quite solid himself, bringing up the question of why in the world he doesn’t get more work.

Oh. Right.

Carmen Ejogo is a name that I had to look up, but she gives a spirited performance as Coretta Scott King (A role she actually played before in a 2001 TV movie, believe it or not). Tom Wilkinson is great as LBJ, Common is solid as (Nowadays disgraced, for good reason) James Bevel and so is Orange is the New Black‘s Lorraine Touissant as Amelia Boynton Robinson. Heading over to the “dickhed” end of the spectrum, Tim Roth is deliciously evil as Governor George Wallace. I guess you could argue that he doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table in terms of character depth, but he’s a segregationist. I think the portrayal of Wallace as a pigheaded shitstain is pretty apt, don’t you think?

(It should be noted that Wallace later recanted his views and apologized to the black community and made a record number of black appointments to state positions. Take that for what it’s worth, I guess)

However, the heart and soul of Selma resides with English actor David Oyelowo (The asshole from Rise of the Planet of the Apes), who is completely spellbinding as one of the greatest men of the 20th century. There was a lot of outrage when he and Jake Gyllenhaal were snubbed for Best Actor nominations, and I was just as righteously pissed as anybody. I found that the best part of his performance was the humanity that he helped instill into the character. It would’ve been easy to portray him as a stoic badass, but Oyelowo knows that this is a human being he’s portraying, and no human being is 100% infallible.

In fact, this whole movie does a pretty spectacular job of humanizing Dr. King. Though history frequently portrays him as this immaculate bastion of a man, he had his flaws. He didn’t always have total faith in his cause, or in his ability to go about things the right way. Hell, he had a weakness for women! The FBI tried to blackmail him! He was an objectively flawed man, but he was still a hero, and his portrayal in Selma reflects that perfectly.

Now, in the way of flaws, there are some historical inaccuracies. Now, I don’t usually nitpick these kinds of things, as they’re usually done for some reasonable artistic reason. However, I feel like I should point out that as much as I dislike President Johnson, he wasn’t actually the one who started surveilling Dr. King. It was Bobby Kennedy who authorized it and J. Edgar Hoover who executed it. Granted, LBJ went along with it, but isn’t that kind of strange creative decision to show Johnson ordering Hoover to start spying on Dr. King? Am I alone in thinking that? Eh. At least they got Hoover’s personality down. Specifically, raging dickhole.

Oh, hey, Dr. Connors!!!

I realize that historical dramas tend to be on the talkier side. History wasn’t all sex scenes and explosions, unfortunately. However, there were several scenes in the movie that did go a bit too long for my taste. It wasn’t the worst, per se, but it did get to the point where I felt that the emotions conveyed could’ve been communicated in much less words. Ah well. Better to be too talky than an underdeveloped mess.

You’d think I hated this movie by now, but I don’t, I swear.

Overall: Honouring Dr. King without being overly reverent, Selma is an important film that commands respect.

Rating: 8.5/10

Ugh. One more of these fucking movies to go. Talk about burnout.