And then there was Selma, Last Days in Vietnam, Finding Vivian Maier and Ida. All important, intelligent and wildly different. Selma, an engrossing film from any political historical perspective. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson as flawed but powerful men. MLK was steadfast in his quest for voters’ rights for African Americans…pretty much. President Johnson was supportive but reluctant…maybe. And yes, as one critic, said, it is more political maneuvering than action, much like Lincoln two years ago, which is a welcome change. Still I wasn’t quite as engaged as I had hoped to be.
Which leads me to Last Days in Vietnam and Finding Vivian Maier. Already talked about Virunga—the best of all—and missed Citizen Four at the Guild. Can’t find The Salt of the Earth. While Last Days in Vietnam is exactly what it says; it is less gripping than one might imagine given all of those old newsreels. It avoids the politics of the era altogether which seemed a little strange to me. Finding Vivian Maier was delightful. There is this ordinary nanny/brilliant photographer, completely unknown, generally rather unlikeable, who collected a mass of photographs of everyday people going about their various businesses that is almost unbelievable in quantity and quality.
Ida, a Polish Jewish Nun. Yes that’s what I said. A haunting tragic story. The Jewish orphan saved and deposited at a Catholic nunnery by the Polish farmers who murdered the rest of her family during the reign of the Nazis. She is in the process of becoming a nun when she learns the truth through a relative. It has the look I always expect from foreign films, maybe because I see too few. None of the emphasis on speed and action and too-muchness of many American films. Ida was the one foreign film I managed to see. I must keep my eyes open and make dedicated plans to go to the Guild more. The only place to see almost anything outside of the main stream in this town. I will. I will. I will. I’m voting for Boyhood for sentimental reasons and Selma for meaningfulness. And The Grand Budapest Hotel for fun-with-history.