I am drawn to hero movies and hero TV programs.
Some TV programs have leading actors who are obviously meant as God. CSI Miami, for instance. The character of Horatio Cane, played by David Caruso, is staunch, impeccably honest, loyal, tough, and not full of himself. He is a model for all his young underlings. There are shots of him looking into the distance, his red hair blowing in the wind, with that little half smile of a job well done. He never, ever does anything morally suspect or wrong. He is totally dependable as a character. He risks his life for his friends, he silently takes the heat for difficult situations, he does good deeds that will never be repaid and in fact are often anonymous. Caruso is perfect for this role since his natural expression is blank, as befits a strong, silent hero not given to displaying emotion.
A movie high on my list is Gran Torino. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
Clint Eastwood was made to be a hero. It’s interesting that he wrote, directed and produced this movie himself and then starred in it, which one might say is immodest, but he truly did those things. His role in the movie is that of a surly old redneck whose family is a disappointment. He gets attached to a SE Asian immigrant family who, much to his annoyance, moves in next door. He sees them for the strong, constructive family that they are, recognizes the young man’s battle with local gangs and the rape/humiliation of the teenage girl, played wonderfully by a young woman named Thao Vang Lor. The good guys are good guys in this film and the bad guys are bad guys. Eastwood ends up setting up the bad guys so they all shoot at him at once, killing him in front of dozens of witnesses, ensuring their long imprisonment and freeing the community from their terrorism. Gotta love it.
Today we went to see Precious, a “small” film that got limited US circulation, inexplicably playing at the VIP theater at Galerias, just for the weekend. I thought I’d missed this movie and was sad. (I don’t like watching movies on the small screen.) I won’t do a spoiler on this one in case any of you want to see it tomorrow (6/6), but the main character is the biggest, fattest, ugliest, most inarticulate and clumsy adolescent on the face of the planet. She is mercilessly abused and slowly rises above her abysmal station in life. Not to any stellar heights, but high enough to move on. The film is beautifully cast and acted and the plot a testament to the human spirit. Yes, I cried. And cried.
Precious is set in Harlem, in a world so unthinkable to many of us, that it may be hard to believe it exists. The lives of most of the characters are small and choked and they are paralyzed in them. Even if you’ve had a bad day, you feel awfully lucky after seeing this movie.
Precious, played by an unknown named Gabourey Sidibe, and Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood, are beautiful films about true American heroes.
My A #1 TV show is Criminal Minds. It’s well written, well acted, and the stories are usually gripping. It’s about an FBI profiling team that gets dispatched to solve unusual crimes, usually serial killer situations, in various parts of the US. This program combines several themes that I enjoy. First of all, there is always a good, solid psychopath at the center of the story. Psychopaths are fascinating because they operate outside the expected patterns of human behavior, and do so without remorse. A person like this can always surprise the viewer, so the plots are not as predictable as with the other police programs. Secondly, it is about a TEAM of heroes, not just one, who fly on their private plane, like a group of supermen, into the midst of truly terrifying situations. They follow the rules, they are smart, and of course they (almost) always prevail. Some of them are unlikely heroes, like the king of nerds, Spencer Reid, played beautifully by Matthew Gray Gruber. He is a genius who knows everything, yet marches into the most dangerous situation like anyone else. I also love Penelope Garcia, the computer geek, played by Kristen Vangsness, because she is not a hero. She does all her work on a bank of computers and feeds critical information to the team. On the few occasions when Garcia has been called into the field, she didn’t handle it well.
Yes, I know this is so boring compared to what has been appearing recently on my site, but gripping entertainment always saves us from reality.
Next week I am adding a Bookshelf page to this site. I’m going to review books I recommend.