CHARACTER CHIAROSCURO: Little Accidents, Appropriate Behavior and Son of a Gun


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Warning: SPOILERS
Three movies have opened recently that are driven by characters studies, even in the case of the one that is also driven by a prison break and robbery of a gold refinery. It’s not a bad way to start the new year, even if one of them, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t work on any level.
little accidentsLittle Accidents takes place in a small town that depends on coal mining for its existence. When a cave in leaves a sole survivor, he gets caught between two factions: the miners who want him to blame the company so they can be sued for compensation, and the miners who want him to say it was an accident because if the mine owners are held at fault, the mine will close and there’ll be no more work.
Meanwhile, the teenage son of the mine manager continually bullies the son of a miner who has died. When a fight ensues, the miner’s son accidentally kills the manager’s son and hides the body, causing a city wide search.
Finally, the wife of the manager, upset over the disappearance of her son and her suspicion that her husband was responsible in some way for the cave in, finds her life slipping away from her.
The three characters, Amos, the survivor; Owen, the miner’s son; and Diane, the manager’s wife, slowly find their lives intersecting as they become involved in some way with each other: Amos and Diane have an affair while Owen does yard work for Diane while Diane begins to treat him as a surrogate son and Amos becomes a kind of father figure to Owen.
Little Accidents is written and directed by Sara Colangelo and is one of those small movies that are rich in depth of characterization. The people are leading lives of quiet desperation, but Colangelo shows them such understanding and sympathy that you can’t help but be deeply moved in how they work through the difficulties that have suddenly shown up in their lives. Continue reading

WHAT HAPPENED TO ONE THROUGH FIVE: Big Hero 6 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
big heroI’m sure you’ve heard the old joke, the one about the guy who said, “I’m not going to see Henry V because I haven’t seen the first four yet”?
Well, don’t worry, fair filmgoers, Big Hero 6 is not a sequel (though believe me, to paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson, there will be sequels). It’s more an origin story of a group of X-Men like super young adults set in a city named San Fransokyo (so called because it’s an alternative future where Japanese immigrants rebuilt the city where I left my heart after the 1906 earthquake).
Big Hero 6 is a fun and satisfying enough animated movie, especially in the first half where it tends to show a bit more heart and emphasizes emotional resonance over the more prevalent action oriented approach of the second half.
True, it’s fairly familiar and almost Disney paint by number. I mean, c’mon, you gotta know that a mother or father or mother figure or father figure to the central character is going to die early on because, well, it’s Disney, and the only thing that studio likes more than making animated movies that rake in a ton of money is trying to traumatize pre-teens in the first fifteen minutes of their films (unless it’s about a dog, then they wait until the last fifteen). Continue reading