The Blind Side and Precious

HELP A BROTHER/SISTER OUT: The Blind Side and Precious

 

I must admit that from all I heard about “Precious,” I went in prepared for the urban version of “Antichrist.”  I was prepared to be oppressed.  And I must admit, to my surprise, I found it to be an entertaining and very well-made film.  It knows what it is doing.

That said, it also brought up an issue.  Now, first off, I’m assuming that everybody knows what Lee Daniel’s tale is about, and that it is even based upon a novel by Sapphire (stupidly, the film’s full name is “Precious, based on the novel ‘Push,’ by Sapphire”).  The film is exactly what the trailer indicates, and exactly what people said it was, and it doesn’t throw you in for any surprises.  The tale is about an overweight abused teenager by the name of Precious, pregnant for the 2nd time by her own father, and her attempts to rise up.  But you should know this already.

 

Anyway, my point, issue, what-have-you, is, should we not have been oppressed?  We are spared from ever fully immersing ourselves in too much due to Daniel’s stylistic techniques (this is one of the rare films that looks as dingy and dirty as possible, yet also illustrates its technical capabilities in its camera wizardry).  Now, one can argue this is a good thing…it allows us to see…to really see who this person is, without ever really hitting her lows.  We watch her going through horrible ordeals, but the camera spins, the music sweeps in, and we sit back in our seats and relax…because we KNOW it is a movie.  We do not forget this.  And if we do not forget this, then we know things will get better.  That is more than the hope that Precious has on her side.  She is hopeful, but she doesn’t know that in a little under two hours, the end credits will roll.

The argument I guess, is you could have Lars von Triered it and knocked the audience so senseless, they wouldn’t have any clue where they were, let alone that the movie actually would lead to some hopefulness.  I’m not sure where I stand on this.  I was able to stand the film without ever truly feeling the grime.  Perhaps I’m misogynistic.

 

Or perhaps it was the hype.  The cursed hype that kills a film for the viewer of the future!  Because I was perfectly fine with all the sunny weather on display in “The Blind Side”..which is about an overweight abused teenager attempting to rise up.  No pregnancy this time, as the student is male.

I enjoyed this film, even though it was more heart than sport, which is what I thought I was getting into.  Sandra Bullock takes on the lead role in this true life tale about a Republican blondie who lets a near mute black teenager into her house, and winds up with an NFL bound son as an end result.

This film knows it is sunny.  This film knows it isn’t going anywhere too dark.  And so it just lets you get warm and fuzzy about how good life can be.

That doesn’t make it a bad thing.  It may not even make it lesser than “Precious” (although the levity of the picture forbids serious cineastes to take them in the same light).  It just shows you a different way to present a similar tale.  To be sure, the character of Precious faces disturbia far beyond what  Michael Oher had to.  But this tale also could have shown us all the darker bits that it only alludes to.  “Precious” lets the sun seep in through the blinds, whereas “The Blind Side” takes the reverse approach.

John Lee Hancock, reviled for a picture I liked (“The Alamo”) and loved for the scripting of a few Eastwood classics; returns to the helm, and his is an assured direction.  Nothing too showy (“Precious,”  as grimy as it looks, is infinitely more stylized), he is simply telling the tale well.  Notice the way he films the car crash scene (SHH! I know, you may not have known there was one—but when you find out, notice).  Hancock makes a few decisions that raise this instantly above the typical crash scene the audience has seen thousands of times before…which is why the audience I saw reacted so freshly to this played out scenario without even knowing it.  Hearts jumped, fingers clenched…I’m sure Hancock delighted! 

And Sandra Bullock, looking beautiful yet real.  I tend to have a love-hate relationship with her, but I have to admit, between this and her recent “The Proposal,” she has a presence that you can watch regardless of what is actually happening.

Tim McGraw is impossibly good as her husband.  I would marry him if he would be as understanding of me.  But where McGraw succeeds in his portrayal of  (what I hope is) the caricature of the real man is being so damn likeable.  He flits his eyes a few times to let you know he doesn’t quite dig what is happening…but you root for the guy…even though he doesn’t really do anything (he does have one moment, which you will see).

And of course SJ, the son is delightful, and Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, grew on me.  His is an assured performance.  His character truly changes…and you believe the transition.

“The Blind Side” and “Precious,” are both, at the end of the day very hopeful films.  They just come at them from different angles.  Because they are from different minds and about different people.  But they both are hopeful and that is their strength.  “Precious” gives you hope for a better day, because your worst day may be better than her best at this point…and she’s still at it.  And “The Blind Side” gives you hope because maybe you can one day turn your good deed into a best selling novel and then score big selling the movie rights.

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