I don’t always agree with my friend film critic Charles Taylor, but when he emailed me and a host of other acquaintances that an important movie (I believe he called it best film of the year) was about to be buried by its studio (Warner Bros.) and that we should all get out and see it this weekend, I had to comply.
That movie was Duma, directed by Carroll Ballard who was responsible for the beautiful Black Stallion (1979). Ballard, who began his career as a cinematographer (second unit on Star Wars), makes gorgeously shot films, but Duma – the story of a white South African boy and the cheetah he found as a kitten – aspires to be a lot more than that. For the most part, it succeeds, although the story works best when it is most mythic, seems perfunctory when it becomes more psychologically traditional (as in its city sequences). Ballard’s weakness has always been in the screenplay area. Still… Worth seeing? Absolutely. Best movie of the year: Too early to tell.
Speaking of which, Academy season is coming and the first screener arrived at my door today – Junebug. Last year I talked out of school (still don’t know if the Academy permits us voters to do this) by reviewing the films as they came in on NRO. Unfortunately… since this is the Year of Pajamas Media… I doubt I will be able to do it this time. But I also doubt I’ll be able to resist a few comments here on my own blog.