Friday, July 11, 2008

Three great films seen this week, none blockbusters but one a bust

These three films dealt with serious topics in a candid and realistic way that was not always comfortable and not meant to be.

"The Great Debaters" --- while by no means a big hit for a movie with the star Denzel Washington, and directed by him as well, this one easily covered its $15 million budget with a gross of $30 million. This is well done history, sympathetically and convincingly told, history that should stay current.

"Stop-Loss" --- films about Iraq are apparently not something that the movie-going public can handle at the moment. Financially, this critically acclaimed film was a complete bust with a $5 million gross far from covering its $25 million cost. Step outside of politics, one side or the other just forget it, and look at what a great film this is about people caught up in something outside of their control or imagination. Some of the performances are special, especially Australian Abbie Cornish as a young and feisty Texan. If you choose, get the intended message too.

"Starting out in the Evening" --- limited release film starring Frank Langella that had a budget of $500,000 and now has a gross of $900,000, a little film for sure by market standards. This story of an aging professor and writer on the cusp of entering compromised old age has scenes of nuanced brilliance that are heartbreaking and real. Subtle, literate and powerful, this may yet achieve wider exposure.

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