A Shock to the System
What a drastic shift in style and substance Nobel Son is for director Randall Miller, who previously this year gave us Bottle Shock, the somewhat quiet docu-drama about the triumph of the wine industry in California. In direct contrast, this film is a loud, grotesquely humorous, and noirish kidnapping thriller with more plot twists then you can shake a stick at. Fortunately, that’s just how I like them. This is really only the jumping off point for Nobel Son which turns into that classic kind of film noir in which every character has their own motivation and somewhat loose morals. This leads to enough backstabbing, betrayal and misrepresentation to keep your head spinning right up to the mostly unexpected conclusion.
A Music History
Cadillac Records is what I like to refer to as an iTunes movie: meaning, that as I walk out of the theater I cannot wait to get home so I can download some of the great music I just heard. Yes, I pay. In this case, I purchased the complete album. The movie focuses on a part of music history that often gets lost among the ranks of Elvis, Motown and the British invasion, but is no less important. In fact, it may even be the most important part of rock and roll history, and the story is very well told by director Darnell Martin and her cast and crew. These are interesting personalities, many of whom probably could be subjects of their own musical biographies. I’m especially intrigued by Etta James. Was her father really… no, I won’t give it away for anyone who hasn’t heard.
Barely Enough Light
I honestly can’t think of a decent film inspired by a single painting. I can, however, think of several outstanding films inspired by an artist’s body of work: Pollock, Shine, Amadeus, Ray, and Bird come easily to mind—as do others of good repute that I have not seen. The best such biopics are those in which the level of the filmmaking artistry rises to the level of the art which inspired the film. Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage is a film which, for better or worse, rises to the level of its inspiration—but no further.