Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January 21st, 2019

by Sam Juliano

My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the Whale Rider. I’m not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward, all together, with all of our strength.”   -Whale Rider (2002)

Two of the past year’s most distinguished and critically-acclaimed movies chronicle the incalculable bond between a young man and a horse.  The stirring British-made independent drama Lean on Pete,  features a motherless 15-year-old boy living in Portland, Oregon, who lands a part-time job caring for horses for a hardened and callous jockey trainer at the local racetrack.  He develops a soulful connection with a five-year-old quarter horse named Pete, but after the stallion begins losing and faces extermination, young Charley takes off with Pete and in tandem they set out on a treacherous cross-country journey together. The film’s center is the extraordinary connection between Pete and the silent Charley—who, in his emotional outlook,  and on screen voice-over conversations with the stallion evoke a profound spirituality.  In the American made The Rider a troubled and physically maligned former rising star on the rodeo circuit stages a comeback while falling hard for a new horse, but must endure the same heartbreak as the young boy in Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s children’s literary classic The Yearling.  Yet, the breathtaking 2018 picture book jewel If I Had a Horse by Gianna Marino bears the most metaphysical and epic connection with an older classic film, 1979’s The Black Stallion, directed by Caroll Ballard, a film of horse-to-human camaraderie like no other especially an underwater montage showing the legs of the two as they splash in the turf, but perhaps most unforgettably an extended sequence, an uninterrupted shot depicting the boy’s snail-paced approach and the horse’s skittish movements forward and in retreat, which film fans young and old might recall looking at one of Marino’s first double page tapestries of the young girl holding out an apple for her imagined equestrian companion.  He might be shy like me.  In fact, Marino’s magnificent burnished red opening widescreen canvas parallels The Black Stallion’s celebrated shot of boy and horse on the extreme opposite edges of the image. (more…)

Read Full Post »

by Sam Juliano

Martin Luther King Day 2019. Here’s invoking this great American on his annual day of tribute.  The majority of schools in the nation are closed.  A promised snowstorm in the Metropolitan area turned out to be a bust

For the first time since I began crafting “Best of the Year” film lists four decades ago I have declared a Number 1 tie.  Though I initially resolved to resist this temptation I finally concluded there is a natural kinship between my co-champions.  First off, both films are wholly extraordinary, stirring human dramas, beautifully acted, filmed and written and united by an amazing thematic similarity, one my blogging friend Bill Kamberger thought beyond remarkable in that both films can in one sense be defined as “horse” movies.  Both films, one British and the other American focus in strong measure on the relationship of a young man and a horse amidst domestic turbulence.  There are numerous differences in these films, which I plan of discuss in a follow-up post when I provide capsule reviews for all my selections, but at their hear, they share a vital connection.  My original attempt to divide them in the numerical listing just didn’t seem fair as I really don’t like one over the other, and I’d love to honor this fantastic if bizarre occurrence.  One of my two choices, the American made independent has won major awards, while the other has still been recipient of superlative reviews.  I’ve watched both films six times now, and I am comfortable with posting this first ever tie.  As a result my Top 25 Best Films of 2018 with now include twenty-six (26) films, as I prefer to list the film that follows this tie starting with Number 2, (rather than Number 3 as some would prefer).  After my Top 25 (really 26)  I have posted thirty-three (33) films I do like quite a bit, but just not enough to include in the numerical listing.  One film from the Tribeca Film Festival (which I attend in full force each year) made the Top 25 in the final position and five (5) others from that festival made the runners-up scroll. (more…)

Read Full Post »