1/30/15 Film update
Specialty films opening this weekend include Black Or White (area theaters), Mr. Turner (River Oaks Three), and Amira & Sam (Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park). Also note that various programs of Oscar Shorts open at the MFAH and the Sundance Cinemas Houston, plus the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park will be showing Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language 3D (Saturday, January 31, and February 1 and 4). Mr. Turner is the keeper, while BOW and A&S have their upsides and downsides.
Amira & Sam meet perhaps not so cute. He’s a Green Beret recently discharged, working as a doorman in Manhattan. She’s an Iranian illegally in America selling DVDs on street corners. This isn’t a relation you want to cuddle up to, yet the two protags somehow make the journey fulfilling by finding a common ground to relate while the world around them splinters.
Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi as the titular leads are interesting actors whom we should see a lot of in the future. One iconic set-up has the couple seated with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Try though it might Amira & Sam is too heavy to maintain flight.
Black Or White offers Kevin Costner as a widower who goes to court to fight for custody of his granddaughter. The young girl is mixed race and Costner is estranged from the father (André Holland who also plays Andrew Young in Selma). This is a message movie and the entire affair lives or dies with a tremendous court sequence in the third act.
Costner and Octavia Spencer have the best lines (and stares) but other characters are left to dangle on the sidelines with little motivation, no good lines or anything more than medium shots.
Mr. Turner (not a sequel to Turner and Hooch) features Timothy Spall as the famous 19th century romantic era painter J.M.W. Turner. To say the film is painterly doesn’t even begin to describe how beautiful it plays.
Turner the character whores his way through life and his personal life is in shambles. But when he’s painting every stroke of his brush is a masterpiece. Many of the tableau settings evoke the artwork that Turner is known for. Production design and cinematography are simply brilliant. One of the best sequences depicts Turner tied to the mast of a ship during a snowstorm so he can witness first hand what such a turbulent tempest looks like.
- Michael Bergeron