I thought this final Mill Valley Film Festival preview would be exceptionally large. But two films I requested never arrived, and another lacked subtitles. So, I’m only reviewing three movies, one of which you’ve probably already seen.
And, of course, they’re in order from best to worst.
In Spanish version with English subtitles. I have seen the movie, but not with this soundtrack.
This beautiful journey into Mexican traditions of the afterlife (via big-budget Hollywood, of course) manages to be serious, emotional, and fun. Young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) belongs to a family of shoemakers who hate music. But music runs deep in the boy’s soul. On the Day of the Dead, he accidentally goes to the other side, even though he’s still alive. To come back, he must learn a lot about life in general and his family in particular. And, since Pixar made this movie, his journey is also funny, suspenseful, exciting, and visually stunning.
The single festival screening will happen at the Rafael, on Sunday, October 7, at 11:00am. The event includes face painting, food, and live mariachi music.
A- Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin
I rarely read fiction anymore, but this PBS documentary on the important fantasy novelist brought me back to the days when I devoured sci-fi. Using extensive interviews with Le Guin, her family, friends, and admirers, filmmaker Arwen Curry tells and showed us how she changed a very macho genre into a female-friendly and an intellectual one. Curry keeps the film visually interesting by animating both scenes from her work; she also brings book and magazine covers to life. One thing really surprised me: Her anthropologist father, Alfred Louis Kroeber, worked closely with the native Californian Ishi; Le Guin’s mother, Theodora Kroeber, wrote the book Ishi in Two Worlds.
Leon (Marcus Rutherford) is black, 19, has dropped out of college, and is training to be a boxer…maybe. He lives with, and takes care of, his alcoholic mother. Despite his considerable muscles, he avoids conflict and goes through life looking frightened. You can’t avoid rooting for Leon, but he never fills out as a character and has no arc. Meanwhile, race riots are flaming through his East London neighborhood. Everyone in the film acts like a black stereotype; but that’s okay because the white characters act that way, too. The title Obey doesn’t make much sense.