This week I managed to get to see the final Best Picture nominated film on the listing for me. JoJo Rabbit is on the face of it a silly title and the movie poster with the pictures of Hitler and the swastikas with more a vaudeville feel didn’t really make me want to see this. Alison though had encouraged that this was still worth seeing. So I ended up taking my youngest son to go see it. We both enjoyed it.
The premise is a simple one, with a young boy living with his mother (played well by the nominated Scarlett Johansson) in Nazi Germany in the mid 1940s when the war had turned and things weren’t looking as rosy for the Third Reich. JoJo is a 10yo boy who is a Nazi through and through. He has a fascination with Hitler, and Hitler comes to him and speaks to him directly in his imagination. He attends a Hitler Youth Camp, and does other things expected of young boys of his age. He isn’t popular with few friends. His mother seems to be quite busy, but he doesn’t seem to know with what. She is more a free spirit and looks ahead to days when the war is over. Things happen and I won’t delve further into the plot. Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson play supporting roles as Nazis, and Rockwell in particular is very good. Taika Waititi who is the writer, director also plays the flamboyant and moody Hitler. The find in all of this is the young boy Roman Griffin Davis who is excellent. He shows the naivete that one can expect from a 10yo, who lives in a very black and white world, filled with winners and losers. But someone who realizes over time that there are elements of grey that creep in and shape his life. There are moments that are funny, with a couple good laughs and others that are more serious, as it should be considering the subject matter. The title although appropriate for me takes away from quality of the movie itself. Like Ford v Ferrari we both enjoyed this film and would encourage others to see it. I don’t think it will win the Best Picture but that shouldn’t take away from the enjoyment.
I finished Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix. There were a couple episodes that were slower for me and not as engaging, however overall I liked this Season a great deal. When I saw the nominations for Golden Globe for Tobias Menzies, playing Prince Philip, I wondered about it, as I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed with his character in Outlander, for which I had only seen a few episodes. His episode with his mother was very good, and there is a sequence in the Moon Dust episode where he speaks with priests that I found to be powerful. He brings some sympathy to a guy who generally comes off as a pompous entitled ass. I didn’t warm to Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret after the marvelous Vanessa Kirby played her when she was younger. Olivia Colman too didn’t measure up as well as Claire Foy who was simply excellent. Yet the young man who played Charles was very good. Throughout the season you can see how the Windsor family, and principally the Queen Mother played crucial roles in shaping the lives of the younger generation, which is especially true of the young Charles. The Queen gets somewhat of a pass in manipulating the young future King. But the foundations are there as you see his relationship not only with Camilla (who was frowned upon by Philip and Queen Mother) but his connection with former King Edward VIII. How much of this is accurate is unknown by me. I suspect the Royal family may watch, and I would expect in the least the Harry and Meaghan have seen it to learn something. It is well acted and well done overall. Worth the time spent.
Finally I was encouraged to watch Stephen King’s The Outsider on Crave. It is a psychological thriller and begins with a gruesome murder scene of a young boy. A local teacher who coaches the baseball team (played by Jason Bateman) is the teacher. It seems to be a relatively open and shut case, with witnesses and obvious camera footage. But then cracks appear in the case, and it becomes more and more confusing. The story moves forward. I will let it unfold as I have only watched three episodes. So far I am engaged. We’ll see where this goes.
For the Oscar awards themselves, I first want to recognize and salute my brother Scott who won the Oscar pool. In a year that was “off script” in many ways he came through and won this year. We had 11 participants and Alison came in second, just one point behind Scott. It’s fun to watch how it unfolds, where in a case like this year, someone rightly guessing which Animated Short wins, decides who wins the pool. Well done.
History was made last night as Parasite dominated the big awards, with Best Director and Best Film, along with Best Foreign Film. In total four awards. What distinguishes this film, which I will note is NOT for everybody, from a quality film in the past couple years like Burning, or Shoplifters. But never mind, I think it is a good idea that world cinema get acknowledged and that subtitled films do get more love. Congrats to all those involved in Parasite and bringing it forward.
The acting categories to me were pretty much decided long ago without much debate. Now after seeing JoJo Rabbit I think that Scarlett Johansson deserved the win, but maybe that comes from me not wanting the portrayal of a blood-sucking family lawyer getting the nod. I think Laura Dern wins because more people can relate to that and feel that pain. Brad Pitt was really good, and he made that movie better than it was. The unfortunate thing for me about last night was having to listen to the Best Actors on stage deliver painful, elongated nonsense. We heard them at the Golden Globes blather on both Jacquin Phoenix and Renee Zellwegger. Then with an Oscar in their hands they do the same thing; Phoenix especially who if you note, thanked no one. No one. He spouts off about why do humans get to decide what happens on this planet and take baby cows from screaming mothers. Oh my!! Stop! The short answer is, Buddy, top of the food chain. Full stop. But if it really is such a concern of yours, do feel free to give away all your millions to buy some cow sanctuaries. A cow hotel and resort perhaps. I would make it my personal mission as a member of the Academy to ensure that you never had that platform again. Some may say, well Marlon Brando was just as eccentric. He was. But then he stopped showing up! Perfect! Zellwegger who was delivering words, but whose face never moved was at least a little more humble. Still, I don’t want to listen to you, in a movie I have no interest in seeing. By all accounts, it’s dreadfully dull. Other movies like 1917, and JoJo and Ford v Ferrari all got some Oscar love. In the end, it really wasn’t that strong a year. No films really stand out, and I think this will be a year that will fade away into the memory banks like 1956 28th Academy Awards (I’ll let you look it up!). You search back through the years, there is usually one or two standout films that stand the test of time (and don’t always win the awards). But this year is done, and we can move on. I’ll be back next year with another contest and hope we have some memorable films then to talk about.