Welcome back to my Home Movies! This week, a documentary about Gabby Giffords and the latest Mark Rylance vehicle are duking it out for top honors. Also hitting shelves today? Why, another Criterion selection, of course! Read on for more…
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down
Biographical/political documentaries can sometimes feel repetitive, even if the subject changes. Luckily, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down has such a strong emotional center, that never threatens to be the case. In my review here on the site, I had this to say about the doc:
The story of Gabby Giffords crosses party lines. After all, if you can’t feel sympathy for her situation, despite being a member of a different political party than you, you’re beyond saving. So, the new documentary Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is starting off from a solid place, to be sure. At the same time, goodwill only goes so far, so it’s essential that the doc also compels on its own merits. Luckily, Giffords as a human being is so inspiring, and her story depicted so frankly yet tenderly, that it’s easy to enjoy this film. Now, the movie isn’t inventing the non-fiction wheel, but if this sort of biographical flick is your thing, you’ll find your heart more than warmed.
Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down will work best if you have some knowledge of Giffords and her story, but even if you don’t, it’s all here. That’s the charm of a doc like this. The filmmakers, who specialize in this type of thing, take a well-known individual and focus on them in a new way. The more you know about her, the more you’ll be surprised by what you end up discovering.
The Phantom of the Open
Anything starring Mark Rylance is worth seeing in my book. So, it’s not surprising that The Phantom of the Open caught my attention. Rylance as a bumbling golfer? Yes please. It’s a fun little flick, too. My review here on the site includes this opening:
Mark Rylance, without question, is one of the best actors working today. The epitome of a character actor, he rarely gets chances to be a leading man, so when he does, it’s something worth celebrating. On the surface, casting him as a golfer in a sports film seems like a waste of his talents. Then, when you realize he’s playing real life golfer (well, “golfer”) Maurice Flitcroft in the biopic The Phantom of the Open, it makes more sense. Unsurprisingly, Rylance is great, elevating an amusing movie with a charming performance that yearns to make you smile. It won’t set the world on fire, but it certainly does entertain.
1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story (TV)
Blue Bloods: The Twelfth Season (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “A sublime work of personal vision, the debut feature by the Mexican Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir is a hypnotic documentary immersion in the world of Ethiopia’s Oromo and Harari communities, places where one commodity—khat, a euphoria-inducing plant once prized for its supposedly mystical properties—holds sway over the rituals and rhythms of everyday life. As if under the influence of the drug itself, Faya dayi unfurls as intoxicating, trance-state cinema, capturing intimate moments in the existence of everyone from the harvesters of the crop to people lost in its narcotic haze to a desperate but determined younger generation searching for an escape from the region’s political strife. The director’s exquisite monochrome cinematography—each frame a masterpiece sculpted from light and shadow—and the film’s time-bending, elliptical editing create a ravishing sensory experience that hovers between consciousness and dreaming.”