Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I’ve seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I’ll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.
So, here is what I watched this past week:
Out in the Dark
This Israeli film follows a Palestinian psychology student and an Israeli lawyer who meet and fall in love in a secret gay bar in Tel Aviv. Complications ensue as the out lawyer doesn’t quite understand the dangers his closeted lover faces with his militaristic brother and traditional mother living on the other side of the fence.
Politics play a heavy role in the film, briefly discussing the feelings on both sides of the Palestine-Israel divide about how to achieve balance, while the love of two men and the prejudices that go along with it threaten the safety of both and that safety threatens their relationship as a couple. Director Michael Mayer mounts with co-writer Yael Shafrir mount a beautiful and moving tale of forbidden love and the ramifications of homosexuality in a foreign land.
Ably acted by Nicholas Jacob who plays the Palestinian and Michael Aloni who plays the Israeli, Out in the Dark is a brilliant piece of gay cinema that plays out incredibly well. Highlighting the dangerous situation a lot of homosexuals face around the world is an important part of the growth and development of other cultures as they embrace modernism. A film like this is a brave piece of artistic expression, simplistic in its construction, but profound in its revelations.
What should have been a bigger hit for director Ron Howard, Rush is a compelling look at the bitter rivalry of two Formula 1 racers as they compete for the title of World Champion while battling inner demons.
For years, I’ve suspected Chris Hemsworth is hiding raw talent behind his good looks and Howard draws that out of him as James Hunt, a cocky Formula 3 driver hoping to be spotted by a talent scout and make it into the world class Formula 1 circuit. When he’s almost upstaged by a cockier, but less amiable Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), the rivalry fuels a series of events that lead both to re-examine and re-adjust their lives.
Bruhl is a more accomplished actor than Hemwsworth and does a terrific job opposite him, but both are on even footing throughout the film, carrying their various beats, winning and souring hearts as they go. Howard seems to be on a career rebirth after his superb Frost/Nixon, focusing a great deal on substance while infusing the fast-paced editing with detail. Peter Morgan’s screenplay is impeccably researched and keeps the film grounded in reality while the film’s various twists and turns fall at unusual points in the story and make for a thrilling adventure into a type of racing that isn’t as popular in the United States as it is around the world.
His Girl Friday
Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant use their capable skills at rapid-fire dialogue to Howard Hawks’ stage-bound adaptation of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page.
Russell and Grant play divorced newspaper workers, he a top editor and she a crack reporter. In spite of still being in love, the two separated over personal differences and Russell’s Hildy Johnson is about to get remarried to Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), a man who treats her well, but lacks the exciting life of a print journalist.
Hawks’ film takes place largely within a cramped correspondent’s room at the city’s mayoral office as Grant plots to ruin Russell’s marriage plans and attempts to leave the city by train while dealing with an important story of a harmless man who accidentally kills a police officer and is destined for the gallows. As political corruption threatens to end his life, Hildy and Grant’s Walter Burns go to work trying to craft the news story that will sway a town and convince the governor to issue a stay of the execution.
Russell and Grant are perfect in their roles, but the farce throws in a lot of drama that doesn’t seem particularly necessary, but remains witty and engaging. Were it not for the two stars, the film might not have had the pacing and gravitas it needed to survive on its own merits.