Welcome to “Flipping the Script,” a monthly column where I will reconsider recent films that have been panned, frowned upon, or simply under appreciated. I believe that movies should speak to us on a deep, personal level, and this column will consist of films that have done that for me despite widespread derision or apathy. Join me on my noble quest for cinematic redemption!
13 Reasons Why, Netflix’s hit new show, is an impossible endeavor. Adapted from the #1 New York Times bestselling young adult novel by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why revolves around a suicide and prominently features cyberbullying and sexual assault. For many, the subject matter is deemed too weighty; for others, the “teen drama” genre is dismissed as insubstantial. But these seemingly contradictory elements combine in a way that makes the show all the more important. For all of its flaws – and the internet proclaims that there are many – 13 Reasons Why succeeds in bringing certain issues into the open, promoting discussion in order to de-stigmatize. Through a staggeringly talented cast of young actors, the show also offers a more authentic look at the teenage experience (as opposed to, say, anything on the CW) that should be embraced by current teens, former teens, parents of teens, and pretty much everyone else, too.
Miss Hokusai, now out on DVD and Blu-ray, is a film that is notable as much for its own meta-history as it is for the story depicted within. From Production I.G., the anime studio responsible for the beloved Ghost in the Shell series, and award-winning director Keiichi Hara, Miss Hokusai presents the true story of the prolific Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (also known as Tetsuzo) and his lesser known but just as talented daughter O-Ei. Though the film doesn’t adhere to any sort of traditional plot structure – which can make the pacing feel rather slow and disjointed – it offers compelling character portraits of a historical figure who rightfully deserve a larger spotlight.
Welcome to “Flipping the Script,” a monthly column where I will reconsider recent films that have been panned, frowned upon, or simply under appreciated. I believe that movies should speak to us on a deep, personal level, and this column will consist of films that have done that for me despite widespread derision or apathy. Join me on my noble quest for cinematic redemption! This month we go on the search for the Third Star!
The best kinds of movies provide emotional context to the thorniest political, ideological and philosophical issues that plague us as a species. Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Desierto, Jonás Cuarón’s Spanish-language feature, tackles one of the most topical concerns of the current United States administration: illegal immigration. By laying out the issue in narrative form, Cuarón adds a relatable, human face to a contentious concept, and delivers a thriller of a cat-and-mouse chase along the way.
For such a groundbreaking story, Jeff Nichols’ Loving, now available on DVD and Blu-ray, is notable for its silence. Although the quiet solemnity of a sparse script served Nichols well in the case of his other 2016 critical darling, Midnight Special, the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision invalidating laws that prohibited interracial marriage may have required a bit more dramatic build-up. Fortunately, Loving’s two lead actors – Ruth Negga, nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and the chameleon-like Joel Edgerton – elevate the movie through their characters by tenderly tapping into the steady strength that defines their humanity.