As we enter into awards season, I wanted to first pass along some words for an actor, singer and legend who passed away yesterday. I didn’t even know that David Bowie was sick, let alone had cancer. I had heard about his new album that just came out. Then this morning I see the news feed that said that he had died. He was an incredible talent, and had a nose for the fashion and being on the cutting edge. His catalogue of songs is impressive with early tunes like Space Oddity and Young American and Heroes (talking about people kissing at the Berlin Wall in East Germany). But then morphed into Ziggy Stardust and then later the Thin White Duke. Then in the 80s he changed once again to the yellow suited guy who sang Modern Love, China Girl and Let’s Dance. He left a lasting legacy, and his music will go on and on (although my kids are hard pressed to know who he is). RIP David Jones…funny you changed your name to avoid confusion with The Monkees’ David Jones who pre-deceased you, and few will remember like you. You also starred in films like The Hunger, Labryinth, and the Man Who Fell to Earth.
January 11th, 2016 Bowie memorial
On to the films of the week. I saw Pawn Sacrifice finally and this gave me more insight personally into my own family than speaking to me as a film. This was a film that I had wanted to see with my step-father. He is a renowned chess player from the 50s and was a Canadian Junior Chess champion. He won the US Junior Championship in 1954. He represented Canada as well. I saw this on my own, but he had seen separately. Bobby Fischer was his junior in age, but was shown here with all his eccentricities. He was a strange and beguiling man. From a young age, he was catered to, and he was demanding and bossy. His Dad was no where around and Mom was not a stable provider. But he had a gift with chess. An amazing gift to see the board and make amazing plays. The Russians ruled the sport, and took a team approach. Fischer noted this and then refused to play. Later as this movie shows he was the centrepiece with the matches with Boris Spassky. It was Cold War TV, at a time in 1972 which also brought about the Canada vs Russia hockey series. Finishing on my step-father, he played against the “second” of Fischer’s who is played by Peter Sarsgaard who had turned to the priesthood. Step-father beat him. Anyway, this movie is not great, but it shows how difficult it could be to manage and be around Fischer. It also shows that he recognized his value to the sport, and by refusing to play and participate, he could get compensated (as he rightfully should) for showing his talents. The Russians were all State supported. The Americans were privately funded. In the end he won the Spassky match and was world champion. There is an element of madness in those with great talent. Certainly in the chess world it seems but in many facets of life. I am glad that I saw this. As it was more personal for me, this likely doesn’t translate well for others, but was interesting nevertheless.
I did see Joy as well, and Jennifer Lawrence wins for the Best Actress in a comedy. This wasn’t really a comedy at all, but then again, neither was The Big Short nor The Martian. I found this bio-pic slow to start with the early days and dysfunctional family elements almost a parody on a real family. It was a caricature of what real might be like. Yes, Hollywood and movies do that anyway but it was just strange here. Virginia Madsen as the mother was just bizarre, and De Niro as her Dad was also just odd. Later when there is a moment of decision, he buckles and does what no father should ever do – although it reminded me of Silver Linings with the Dad after the Eagles game when the fight took place. The second half where the business things start happening is where this movie gets better and Lawrence shines. There is a pivotal scene in a hotel which I think was brilliantly done and a sophisticated negotiation strategy. Lawrence plays it to perfection. And ends up getting even more than the expectation. This was not big screen at all for me, and I was glad I saw it on my smaller screen. It is not as satisfying as Silver Linings with the same cast (mostly) and Director.
As for the Awards, I need to see Revenant which won and even Leo too.
I was saddened that Alicia Vikander did not win, but happy for Brie Larson, and Kate Winslet. Also pleased for Matt Damon and The Martian which is my top pick of the year so far. I did not see the awards. Oscars are next.