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another pair of quickies

Posted by martinteller on October 26, 2014

[WARNING: This contains a rather large spoiler for Crooklyn]

Last night it was my fiancée’s turn to pick a movie, and she chose One True Thing.  She didn’t think about the fact that it was about a woman dying of cancer, and how that mirrored my own recent loss.  Keep in mind that I wasn’t that close to my aunt and I wasn’t in deep mourning, nor did the film dredge up a lot of painful associations (not that I’m not saddened by the loss of my aunt, I’m just saying it wasn’t this thoughtless oversight on my lady’s part).  As for the film, I thought it was quite well done.  It avoids grandiose scenes in favor of subtle character moments, with excellent performances by Meryl Streep and William Hurt (playing an unappealing character who he manages to keep human) and even Renée Zellweger.  The framing device isn’t all that effective, and in my opinion the ending would have been much better if it had gone a different way, but there are some revealing insights into strained family dynamics.  Rating: Very Good (81)

Today it was my turn to pick, and I chose Crooklyn because I’d recently bought the DVD… completely forgetting that the mother in the film also dies of cancer.  What an odd and haunting coincidence.  Both films also showcase a tight-knit community, although it’s more front and center in Lee’s movie (and I didn’t think of this either, but both are also by African-American directors).  There are conflicts on the block, but they’re handled with a sort of nostalgic affection.  I would say it’s the warmest of Lee’s films, you just love everyone in it.  The performances by the child actors are exceptionally good, especially Zelda Harris in the lead.  I do think the movie is too unfair to Aunt Song (Frances Foster) and her dog, and the “squeezed” camera in the suburban Virginia section makes its point very well but is ultimately too distracting.  But for the most part I really have a lot of love for this movie, a beautiful portrait of childhood in the city and the fun and trouble that goes along with it.  Plus the surreal touches (that scene with RuPaul is bananas) and unbelievably killer music.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a film with a better soundtrack.  Rating: Very Good (86)

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6 Responses to “another pair of quickies”

  1. mountanto said

    Damn. That’s a hell of a coincidence. I’ve seen 4 movies in 3 days and have so far managed to not run into that particular plot element, not that I think it would be much of an issue. I still need to see Crooklyn (I knew the mother died, I just wasn’t sure how), but my backlog is something beyond belief at the moment.

  2. Wendell said

    The warmest of all Lee’s movies is an apt description of Crooklyn. I also have a lot of love for it and I’m glad to see someone else does, too. Great post.

  3. We’ve been going through all of Spike Lee’s films and recorded a podcast on the first decade. One section of our discussion was around how great Crooklyn is, and especially that bonkers Ru Paul scene, which is a strong contender for my single favorite moment of his first ten films. I don’t see myself revisiting it too much but I’m glad you also found it to be a similar kind of warm blanket.

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