Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Film #28: Blind Side: A Post-Racial Movie?

Again, to give me revenue, pleeease click here: www.examiner.com/x-3877-dc-film-industry-examiner.

Still have watched zero films in 2010 in hopes of keeping up my films in 2009:

The Blind Side:
The Blind Side is one of the beneficiaries of the expanded field having rode sedimental appeal, a star performance, and a respectable box office draw to an Oscar nomination for best picture.
The film tells the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager who became an NFL player and college graduate with the help of a loving family (played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw).

The story runs into the same problem as Invictus in the sense that by being true to the events as they happened, there is a lack of conflict. In Invictus, Morgan Freeman says, "hey everyone, I want to cheer for the rugby team" and Matt Damon says "sure" and everyone else says "ok, let's all cheer for the rugby team." That's what actually happened in history and there's no shortage of heartwarming moments but there's definitely a lack of dramatic tension.

Similarly, in the Blind Side, I might have expected, due to the fact that the story takes place in Central Tennessee and a white family is taking in a black teenager that it would be story largely about racism. In real life, however, Leigh Ann Tuohy was remarkably colorblind and so was her husband and the movie doesn't dare contradict that. A couple confused relatives and a suspicious NCAA infractions investigator is about all we get for a reminder of racial tension in the deep south, but hey, it's the post-racial era, what can we expect?

Unlike Invictus, however, this is a picture that works. The drama is authentic but it also engages because it's centered around a struggle that takes many forms and stages: the central figure has to learn to open himself up, to trust, to succeed on the field and in the classroom, etc.

As for the acting:
Sandra Bullock has a strong consistency to the way she approaches the character. The real-life woman is somewhat of an enigma in her motivations and Bullock makes it believable. Bullock won an Oscar for this role but I would have just given her a nom. Streep gave a better performance in my opinion.

Quinton Aaron is amazing and had as much of a role in carrying the movie as Bullock. He has such presence (partially because of his size) but appears so uncomfortable with that presence at first and gradually transform into it.

And wow, Tim McGraw. I once dated a girl who had a humongous crush on Tim McGraw and I was not only jealous of him because of the way she'd talk about him, but I also didn't think much of him: it seemed like he was trying too hard to create this cowboy image. I now see he has the ability to shed that and reinvent himself.

Kathy Bates shouldn't be so heavily advertised because her role basically amounts to a cameo.

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