Sound of Metal
2020, 119 minutes
“It’s not coming back”
With COVID-19 sending more “normal” (whatever that means) lives into hospitals, ventilators and possibly death, it is instructive indeed to look at life from the point of view of the permanently disabled: in this case deafness.
Heavy metal drummer Rueben (an exceptionally nuanced performance from Riz Ahmed—artfully echoing Guy Pearce’s copious tattoos in the equally transfixing Momento—cross-reference below), wakes up after a typical gig one morning with more buzzing in his ears than actual sounds. Girlfriend and lead singer Lou (Olivia Cooke wailing up a storm but MIA as the plot evolves—no fault of hers, it’s the artistic trust—Marder along with co-writers Abraham Marder and Derek Cianfrance), come to the conclusion that a stint in a deaf-only rehab centre is the best way forward to the cure.
Paul Raci serves as the institution’s patriarch, Joe, with empathy, insight and highly skilled signing. Along the way, he makes the most telling comment: “being deaf is not something that can be fixed”. A point that Reuben (and countless others in the same predicament, no doubt), takes many interventions to accept.
The heroic film’s major failing is putting Lou too far in the background. Their early, and later obvious love belying that forced separation.
In my other life as a producer of closed captions, I came away with a better understanding of the deaf, deafened, hard of hearing communities’ permanent situations.
Special kudos to the sound design team; heard or not.
One can only imagine what Beethoven might have had to say… JWR
2020, 77 minutes
Milos Mitrovic, Fabian Velasco
“How Do We Survive?”
Seen in the era of COVID-19, this film has a lot to say about deadly disease, comedy without laughs and doomed relationships.
A viewing is highly recommended; if for no other reason but to discover where you fit in. JWR
One Night in Miami
2020, 130 minutes
Not since Anthony Burgess brought four composers into a mythical conversation (Mozart and the Wolf Gang), has “what if” scenarios been so successfully brought to fruition.
In this instance, Kemp Powers’s (who also wrote the screenplay) theatrical play of the same name, brings together four Black icons on the night of the crowning of the next “I am the greatest” world heavyweight boxer’s victory over Sonny Liston.
And so in a semi-seedy Miami motel, we find Cassius Clay (Eli Goree readily walking the walk and talking the talk), Malcom X (Oscar must consider the finely nuanced performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir), artist-on-the-rise Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr., more than up to the task of portraying the melodious crooner and matinée heartthrob) along with NFL football legend, Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge also at home in this pivotal role).
After Clay’s knockout in the ring, the film begins to feel more like Black Lives Natter than a rich commentary of the life and times of even the privileged trying to survive in ‘60s America.
But by journey’s end, it is clear to see and hear (notably Cooke’s appearance with a “new” song on the Tonight Show), that some battles have been won, but many more remain: just ask George Floyd or…
With her first cinematic feature, King must be afforded many more green lights for future projects. Variety’s recent “10 Directors to Watch” also confirms this notion. JWR