Films That Have Touched Me So Far This Year

I have always loved film primarily because through it, I continue to experience things I never have before, but also because it makes me feel powerfully, in ways life doesn't always do - that's not a bad thing, who wants to continuously live the ups and downs of cinema! There is no genre I don't like, maybe just Horror as fear is not an emotion I open my heart (or my nerves) to. 

This year four films have marked me so far: Enough SaidShort Term 12, Fruitvale Station and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.

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Enough Said is an 'indie' romantic comedy, thus making it a little deeper and darker than your average RomCom, as it not only touches your heart but it hits a nerve too. It is written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, and stars the late James Gandolfini (who I've had a big crush on since The Sopranos - god that twinkle!) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who have an unappeasable onscreen chemistry; the supporting cast is also excellent, Catherine Keener and Toni Collette make for exceptional sub-plot manipulators. Enough Said tells the story of two middle-aged single parents, Eva and Albert, who by a somewhat chance encounter, get a second chance at love, that is, if their insecurities, children & previous mariage baggage, don't get in the way first. Louis-Dreyfus' Eva really leads you on an emotional roller-coaster of her own creation, resulting in cringeworthy misunderstandings which are both amusing and traumatising for all involved (that includes you, the viewer). It is an all round perfect movie: superb actors who bring to life their characters by laying out their vulnerabilities; Holofcener's script and direction never feels heavy, even when the subject sometimes is; and one can only be enchanted by the visually expressive and warm toned LA backdrop. 

Short Term 12 is one of those films that really reaches deep and makes you feel things only a therapy session can! I know that that may not be what a lot of people want from their cinematic experience but it's something I cherish as priceless (unlike a visit to the shrink - $$$). Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and staring the expressive & feisty Brie Larson (from The United States of Tara fame), Short Term 12 is a compelling story set in a group home for troubled adolescents who have been abandoned by those whose role was to protect them, and who instead are being taken care of by a group of similarly troubled yet devoted young adults who take it upon themselves to provide the best care they can for these hurt souls. I loved this film. I don't want to harp on about it as I cannot do it justice but watch this clip which tells you all you need to know.

Fruitvale Station, written & directed by Ryan Coogler, is based on the highly political shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland by the transit police on a subway platform in the early morning hours of New Year's Day, 2009. This film relays a story of a great injustice, of prejudice against African Americans and of police brutality which is still too common in the United States. By leading us through the 24hrs prior to Oscar Grant's murder, Coogler brings Grant to life, giving us who didn't know him personally, a very hopeful and poetic view of the 22 year old and his struggles to be a better man, son, father and husband to those he loved. This hope is continuously abashed as unlike those onscreen, the audience know how the 'story' ends. Michael B. Jordan gave a first-rate and heartfelt performance, well deserving of the acclaim he received; as to Ryan Coogler's film, he makes you really feel the injustice and the loss of Grant by romanticising and deifying him which achieves the result targeted but also leaves you wondering whether that is who Oscar Grant really was.  

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is a brilliant documentary because Elaine Stritch was a brilliant woman. Elaine Stritch passed away yesterday at the age of 89 - she embodied the caricature of a Broadway actress: ballsy, beautiful, sarcastic and forever iconic. The documentary, directed by Chiemi Karasawa, meets with Stritch at 87, while she prepares for a solo show, is contemplating her retirement and her own mortality. Elaine takes us through her daily life in all her flamboyant honesty, showing us the good and the bad, with not one bit of self-pity or apology, as she struggles with old age, diabetes and memory loss. I sat watching that movie, in awe of this bold, self-aware woman, often in tears and/or in fits of laughter. You owe it to Elaine to watch this film and take note of her message: be yourself and never apologise for who you are.