Roger L. Simon

POLIWOOD: The Blind Side vs. Last Tango in Paris: Values in the Movies

Are values, family or otherwise, something we look for in the movies? They used to be – a loooong time ago. But that was before (at least) 1972 when Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris made hip sexuality King of the Cinema. Now I don’t have anything against sex in the movies – or outside of them, for that matter – but it is worth noting the winds may be heading the other way now, away from the ultra-edginess of Last Tango and toward the traditional morality of The Blind Side, the true story of a white Christian housewife who saves a lost child of the ghetto. Surprisingly… well, maybe not so surprisingly… the heart-warming Sandra Bullock film is the audience favorite going into Sunday night’s Oscars. According to Rasmussen, 25% of adults who are going to be watching on Sunday will be pulling for The Blind Side, as opposed to the vaunted Avatar, a film Lionel Chetywynd and I didn’t like very much, which is garnering only 17%.

Does this mean the return of the family movie? This is a strange conundrum. For the executive class family-oriented movies have never really gone away, because it is well known that at the box office the grosses for G and PG-rated fare usually outstrip the racier stuff. But don’t look for artsier Hollywood types to suddenly embrace remakes of Little Women. Normally you don’t win Oscars for that. You win them for Last Tango in Paris, better yet The Last Emperor, a Bertolucci film I hugely admire.

Whatever may happen in the best picture and director categories, look for Sandra Bullock to win the best actress on Sunday night (uh-oh… a prediction… bring out the crow) and look for more of The Blind Side approach to filmmaking in the near future. Call it Tea Party filmmaking. It’s the coming thing. Lionel and I will be doing a post-Oscar special for next Monday (Will Leonardo diCaprio say that Chile happened because of climate change?), but meanwhile check out the latest POLIWOOD: “The Blind Side vs. Last Tango in Park: Values in the Movies.”