In cinemas this week – Mommy, The Salt of the Earth, Black Sea, X+Y and The Longest Ride.
Mommy – A feisty widowed single mom finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her unpredictable 15-year-old ADHD son. As they struggle to make ends meet, Kyla, the peculiar new neighbor across the street, offers her help. Together, they find a new sense of balance, and hope is regained. The BEST film yet from Quebecois wonder kid Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways and Tom at the Farm – #12 film of 2014), this is a risky film of technical audacity, enormous emotional resonance, and outstanding acting. This was my #2 film of 2014.
The Salt of the Earth – For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project, which is a tribute to the planet’s beauty. Sebastião Salgado’s life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano, who went with him during his last travels, and by Wim Wenders, himself a photographer. I was floored by this film – review at the link.
Black Sea – A suspenseful adventure thriller directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald, centering on a rogue submarine captain (two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law) who pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As greed and desperation take control onboard their claustrophobic vessel, the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other to fight for their own survival. I like Kevin Macdonald’s films and this looks Sunshine in a submarine, which makes it immediately appealing.
X+Y – This heart-warming and life-affirming story follows the unconventional and hilarious relationship between student and teacher – whose roles are often reversed – and the unfathomable experience of first love – even when you don’t understand what love is. This screened at TIFF immediately after one of the films I watched, and while sheltering from a storm I spotted Asa Butterfield on the red carpet. I believe this is a really heartwarming story. Part of my weekend viewing plan.
The Longest Ride – Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and feateful connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love. Another one?
Weekly Recommendation: Potentially one of the strongest cinema weeks of the year – even with the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation – if Black Sea and X+Y live up to their…potential. Mommy is amazing. 5 stars. I still find it hard to come up with the words to describe that experience at Sydney Film Festival last year. Salt of the Earth, nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, has a very limited release but well worth seeking out a session.