The Oscar’s are coming! The Oscar’s are coming! Each year I try to watch all the best film nominees along with each of the best actor nominees. I’ve Bombshell, Richard Jewel and Harriet left. Our annual trek to TIFF Bell Lightbox for the shorts did not happen this year but that’s ok.
Someone had to watch Judy so I took one for the team and sat through it. I recall as a “yoot” (thanks My Cousin Vinny and every Jamaican) going to the Capital Theatre to go see Mommie Dearest. Looking back, it seemed an odd choice for a bunch of giggly teens but Judy put me in mind of this film as both are the story of broken starlets from the glamorous days of Hollywood attempting to stay relevant and raise a family. I use the term raise somewhat generously. Anyway, Judy tells the story of Judy Garland, a has been middle aged divorcee mother of two trying to stay drunk and eek out a living to keep a roof over the heads of her children. The movie opens with their eviction from a hotel for non-payment forcing Judy to leave the kids with her ex and begrudgingly accept a singing gig in London where she still has some popularity. It would be some of her last times on stage. Renee Zellweger, I think, gives the performance of her career here to the point where I wondered if Judy was truly such a twitchy odd little thing worthy of my pity. Now, don’t mistake my praise as endorsement of this yawn fest but if you go into it solely to observe Zellweger dazzle and sing, one can get through. The movie uses flashbacks to Judy’s childhood in Hollywood where she was quickly given uppers to keep her on set for eighteen hours a day, introduced to bulimia and denied any normalcy of relationships with adults. Perhaps this explains the Beebs. Renee gets my vote for best actor in a female lead this year but the movie should have gone straight to video.
For Sama is nominated for best documentary. For Sama tells the story of a Syrian family as they endure the war raging in their country. This film was profoundly moving for me as it was not some glitzy highly edited piece. It’s shot as a diary with a handheld by a young mother for her new baby Sama, so she could understand what took place in her homeland and how it effected her family. A young university student, Waad, married a young doctor and they moved into a modest apartment to begin their lives together. Then the bombs came. And then the gas. Their home destroyed and the neighbourhood abandoned they moved into the safety of the hospital where her husband worked. Then they started bombing the hospitals. In the middle of this chaos Sama was born and with her, hope and determination. The footage of their lives is raw and compelling and comes without the warning for the tiny glimpses shown here on our local news. Frontline aired For Sama on PBS where it is still available for viewing at www.pbs.org. I promise that if you start it you won’t be able to look away and perhaps it will help to bring us all a bit closer together as human beings.