Tim Van Schmidt
Some movies are just not for everybody. In fact, movie tastes vary widely.
Have you ever recommended a movie to a friend — one of your favorites — and they come back at you with “Well, it was OK, but it wasn’t really my thing”? I think that is a common occurrence.
That’s why I am cautious about recommending some of my recent viewings — they just may not be your thing. But here goes.
The first movie I’ll mention is the recent 2022 “Predator” prequel release, “Prey”, on Hulu.
OK, I’ve already turned off a bunch of people by even mentioning “Predator”, a Sci-Fi franchise that pitted tough action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger against an alien hunter with high-tech weapons and no mercy.
But “Prey” goes in a whole different direction. It is set in the Americas in the early 1700s and the human heroes here are Comanche Native Americans. They’re great hunters in their own right, using bows and arrows, spears, and stone axes, but they are not prepared for what they experience when an alien hunter drops out of the sky.
The main protagonist is a young woman who would rather be a hunter than a gatherer and she disobeys the traditions of her people to prove herself. And prove herself she does as the alien hunter dispatches some of the bravest warriors of the tribe, some truly disgusting fur trappers, and just about everything else it meets — except her.
Sure, there’s violence and gore — I guess it wouldn’t be a “Predator” movie without it — but the story of the triumph of this one young woman, armed with only a stone hatchet and intense bravery, is very compelling. It’s all underscored by gorgeous wilderness scenery and made more authentic by using bits of the Comanche language.
A much easier sell in terms of good movie watching is “Belfast”, an autobiographical 2021 production by director Kenneth Branagh about growing up in the turbulent late 1960s in a mixed neighborhood in Belfast, Ireland.
When I say “mixed”, I mean Protestants and Catholics are living on the same street — and there’s the rub. Religious riots are putting the city on edge and a violent mob comes to this otherwise homogenous enclave to disrupt the balance neighbors there have developed.
One particular family stands steadfast in the face of the underpinnings of the hatred that visits their street — and continues to live their lives with some semblance of love and even a little happiness. In the end, however, it isn’t the religious strife that sends them packing; it is the crush of economic instability.
“Belfast” is a major slice of heart-felt emotions pitted against forces bigger than individuals.
But then there is 2022’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, starring Michelle Yeoh. It’s a wild Sci-Fi ride through a bewildering landscape of multi-verses and crazy philosophy. As I watched, a lot of words came up in my mind like “ridiculous”, “goofy”, “preposterous”, and even “stupid”.
And yet…I ended up liking it.
That’s all because, without getting glum and cynical, this movie puts all the ridiculous, goofy, preposterous, and stupid things we do as human beings in their right place — in the noisy, busy, and even frantic foreground of our lives. But what is important here is that “a few specks of time” make all of that fall away for direct, personal clarity.
I can recommend all three of these movies, but then again, that’s just my thing.
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