Jan 04

Outsiders and Underdogs: 12 Films from 2017

Featured below are 12 feature films seen this past year that I believe are worth your while—especially if you identify with outsiders and underdogs. The first eight, having already been reviewed on Minding Therapy, are listed by and linked to their post titles.

“Maudie”: How Her Folk Art Bloomed from Within

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: “…can barely contain the sheer volume of capital-A Acting in this biopic focused on one of Canada’s best-known painters, a self-taught ‘outsider’ artist before that phrase was in vogue.”

“The Big Sick”: A Rom-Com with True Issues

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: “Hilarious and heartbreaking with no clear trajectory, frequently catching viewers off guard, it’s a rom-com of both heart and brain about a couple tested by illness and clashing cultures.”

“The Glass Castle”: From Best Selling Book to Film

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “It makes you feel what it’s like to be tiny and dealing with an all-powerful tyrant who is not only crazy but knows he has absolute license to be crazy, and enjoys that license. In this way, Walls’ story is not unique. Indeed for many of us, it dredges up memories.”

“Stronger”: Post-Traumatic Injury and Recovery

Scott TobiasNPR: “Stronger is an answer to inspirational dramas that treat the afflicted like the city of Boston treated Bauman after the bombing, as a victory lap instead of a human being.”

“Marshall” Your Forces: “Stand Up for Something”

Matt Zoller Seitz, rogerebert.com: “It pays attention to issues of racial, religious and gender discrimination without wavering from its main objective: giving us an entertaining film about a couple of guys who are in way over their heads.”

“Wonder” Movie Furthers “Choose Kind” Movement

Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice:So maybe this little movie about a kid with a facial disorder isn’t really about a kid with a facial disorder at all, but about whatever you and I choose to see in it.”

“Lady Bird”: Pre-College Teen Navigates Her Identity

Guy Lodge, The Guardian: “In her bright, awkward, ambitious, insecurity-riddled protagonist, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, Gerwig has fashioned a heroine reflective of a wealth of outsider identities.”

“Three Billboards”: Female-Centric, Female-Reviewed

Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, especially with that title, might seem to present itself as an idiosyncratic character study of a woman as she launches a David vs. Goliath face-off against her town, but it’s an equally fascinating mirror to the unsavory ways society instinctively behaves when a woman dares to disturb the status quo. That when a woman speaks up, no matter how justified she might be, the reflex is to silence her again.”

Hidden Figures

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: “This movie adroitly portrays the sheer waste and inefficiency of racism and misogyny. Just think how much has been lost, the movie suggests, over centuries of depriving ourselves of the brains, talents and leadership of more than half our population?”

Lion

Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune: “[Dev] Patel, given a leading man role, easily grows to fill the needs of this complex and conflicted character, a man caught between two worlds, two cultures and two families.”

Dani Di Placido, Forbes: “At heart, this is a story of outsiders and misfits struggling against the system, that feels all too appropriate today, where we’re still having furious debates about the right of others to be themselves.”

Call Me By Your Name

Dana Stevens, Slate:

In the end, the viewer doesn’t worry for Elio’s long-term emotional well-being because…we know exactly who this kid is, what he desires, and how much he is and isn’t ready for. He captures the gawky neediness of adolescence, but also its exuberant flights of intellectual, emotional, and sexual self-discovery. Elio has things to learn from Oliver but also things to teach him, and watching the two learn from each other—up to and including the hard lesson of how to let go—is one of the great cinematic pleasures of the year.

Oct 19

“Marshall” Your Forces: “Stand Up for Something”

His name means justice. Tagline for Marshall, about Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

As described on Rotten Tomatoes, new film Marshall has a star-studded cast and “is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer, Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad). Together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and Anti-Semitism.”

The soundtrack features the timely and trending hit “Stand Up for Something,” by Andra Day and Common, that’s already inspiring people to commit to meaningful causes. Watch the music video below and then check out #StandUpForSomething to add your voice.

I stand up for compassion. Andra Day

I stand for peace. Common

Here’s a trailer for the film, which recently opened in a theater near you:

Selected Remarks from the Film Critics

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:

Though Marshall‘s script engages in a certain amount of fictionalizing, the basic outlines of this case, far-fetched and right out of Erle Stanley Gardner though some of it may seem, did actually take place.

And while the film is constructed from top to bottom for maximum popular entertainment, it is unwilling to let us leave the theater without reminding us that these battles are far from over.

Close to the end of the credits, the voice of the real Thurgood Marshall (who died in 1993) is heard on the soundtrack, talking about not taking civil rights gains for granted.

‘There are movements by the different branches of this government that are set to push back,’ he says, uncannily prophetic. ‘Only now it’s being done, you know, cleverly.’

Brian Lowry, CNN: “…a 75-year-old story imbued with modern-day resonance.”

Richard Brody, New Yorker: “…(T)he movie urgently dramatizes the threat of racist violence that poisons personal relationships and judicial proceedings alike.”

Peter Keough, Boston Globe: “In this time of intensifying, acrimonious racial division, maybe what we could all use is an old-fashioned courtroom drama that extols the virtues of justice and equality.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, rogerebert.com: “It pays attention to issues of racial, religious and gender discrimination without wavering from its main objective: giving us an entertaining film about a couple of guys who are in way over their heads.”