A a bachelor who has no great attachments in life is, by a complicated chain of circumstances, entrusted with caring for another’s child. Adventures ensue, and along the way, the child and the unlikely guardian do their share of growth. As an essential premise of the story, it’s been a Hollywood staple for over a century, at least ever since Charlie Chaplin awkwardly confronted a foundling in a silent classic. the child.
It’s a trope that often lends itself to gloopy sentimentality and pat buddy comedy – but writer-director Mike Mills avoids both pitfalls in his utterly charming flick. go! Go on, now available at home after getting too little attention in cinemas. It’s both heartwarming and heartwarming, warming viewers with the feelings of tender uplifting we usually get from stories of people learning to care for each other – before surprising us with delicate and nuanced questions about the 21st century parenting and the future that we are. leaving our children.
Come right away Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is rather ideally cast as the guy who wouldn’t be your first (or fifth) choice of emergency tutor for your child, and it’s a treat to watch him exercise the softer, gentler side of his character. on the screen. He plays traveling radio journalist Johnny, adrift after a recent breakup and estranged from his sister Viv (a wonderful Gaby Hoffmann), who is overwhelmed by the pressures of motherhood for nine-year-old Jesse (Woody Norman). even before a family crisis. forces him to leave the boy in his brother’s uncertain hands.
Initially suspicious of each other, the uncle and nephew eventually recognize their common eccentricities and anxieties, and quietly and deeply grow closer in this way. The great joy of Mills’ writing is that he treats adults and children as intellectual and psychological equals, complex and confused in equal measure. And in Norman, he unlocked a remarkably insightful and witty young actor; the young british star Bafta nomination is well deserved, although the film as a whole was under-rewarded.
No matter. moon paper (Apple TV), one of the films Mills cited as inspiration, also earned less than it was due in 1973 and is now a firmly entrenched classic. The sharp, snappy comedic chemistry between Ryan O’Neal and his real-life daughter Tatum — as con artists who are clearly two peas in a pod, even as he denies paternity — still crackles, fueling the late Peter Bogdanovich’s road movie . a perfectly balanced line between kindness and vinegary cynicism. Tonally, Mills’ film perhaps owes more to the free and melancholic film of Wim Wenders. Alice in the cities (1974; BFI Player), which is also concerned with the shared damage of a guardian and ward, and how they care for each other.
Chaplin is mentioned above the child (Curzon) essentially perfected the genre straight away: while Little Tramp’s initially fun babysitting exploits give way to full-on water-sitting melodrama, his cry-laugh-cry-again manipulations still work. like gangbusters 101 years later. If you’re mostly looking for films that make you “awwww”, the 1996 film by Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák Kolya — in which a middle-aged Prague waster is paired with a five-year-old Russian poppet, sparking bonding across language barriers — still absolutely gets the job done. He won an Oscar in his day, and as easy as it is to be cynical about his tussle, you can see why. And if you want a slightly spicier comedy, The Wild Wild Adventures of Taika Waititi Wilderpeople Hunt (2016; Amazon Prime), about an orphaned teenager and his adoptive father surviving a manhunt, raises the usual stakes a bit.
Finally, men do not have a monopoly on babysitting that is unsuitable for the cinema. You’ll only find Tilda Swinton’s tour de force in Julia (2008) – playing an alcoholic kidnapper turned rescuer – on DVD, although it’s worth watching. But you can stream Gena Rowlands’ fierce star turn in John Cassavetes Gloria (1980; Google Play), as a gangster rogue on the run with a boy targeted by the mob, and it’s a thrill: as urgent as the heart in your mouth go! Go on is gently contemplative, and no less wise for that.
Also new to streaming on DVD
Glasgow film at home
Once again, the Glasgow Film Festival, which runs from March 2-13, is bringing a selection of highlights from this year’s program to its streaming platform. Among the titles to discover: yunia striking Indonesian coming-of-age tale of a teenager faced with an arranged marriage, which won top prize in Toronto last year; Hive, a hopeful, Sundance-winning Kosovar study of women’s entrepreneurship; and the real thingsa tense erotic psychodrama with a sensational performance by Ruth Wilson.
New York filmmaker Matthew Fifer directs, writes, produces, edits and stars in this autobiographical and atmospheric independent work about two Brooklyn men falling hesitantly in love and overcoming past trauma. It’s small and shaggy, but laced with interesting and intersectional ideas about class, race, privilege, and homosexuality that keep it from navel-gazing.
That Liz Garbus’ Bafta-nominated documentary on history’s most famous oceanographer is co-produced by two of her children doesn’t bode well, but this cleverly put together portrait generally eschews hagiography, inserting a critical perspective into the middle of its most emotional moments. Still, it comes awfully close to a standard bio-doc formula.