It’s difficult to review a film that comes with as much baggage as The Birth of a Nation does, but we are here to discuss the merits of the film and not the character of the star, writer and director Nate Parker. You can find plenty of discussion about his past elsewhere and decide for yourself where he fits on a scale from Roman Polanski to Woody Allen.
Even before you sit down to watch the 40th anniversary collector’s edition double-disc Blu-ray of Carrie (MGM/Shout Factory), for the first or the 50th time, it’s important to remember a few things. Carrie was the first (and possibly best) adaptation of a Stephen King novel. It’s the Brian De Palma film that set the stage for films by the director that followed such as “The Fury,” “Dressed To Kill,” and “Blow Out.” Carrie was ultimately a women’s picture and featured Oscar-nominated performances by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (she was robbed!), Betty Buckley’s film debut, and included nasty character such as Chris (Nancy Allen) and Norma (P.J. Soles), who would define the “mean girls” title.
It’s fair to say that our society has an age problem. Rather we seem to have a problem with women over the age of 50. There is still a stereotypical view of women that says they should dress appropriately (i.e. dowdy) as they get older and behave in a more genteel manner. Women “of a certain age” are regarded as “elderly” and “frail” regardless of how they truly carry themselves (look at how Hillary Clinton is treated regarding her age and health as compared to Donald Trump, who is five years older).
If you were born sometime after 2009, you probably have some awareness of the event that became known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” Airline captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles were just taking off from LaGuardia Airport when their plane was struck by a flock of birds. Not an unusual incident, but this one was unprecedented when both engines were taken out of commission. The pilots remained calm and the flight attendants did their jobs, but with total engine failure there was no time to get to any runway in New York or New Jersey. Sully’s only option was to attempt a landing on the Hudson River. And he did so successfully (luckily it was the early part of January so boat traffic was virtually non-existent), saving all 155 souls on the plane. It was a remarkable story, Sully became a new American hero, and he’s used that experience to advocate for better safety measures for airplanes.
Hollywood has always had a reputation for people getting ahead because of either the “casting couch” or nepotism. With the arrival of the new sci-fi thriller Morgan, it won’t be hard to ignore the fact that this stripped down, niche film got a major studio release due to director Luke Scott’s relationship with one of the producers, Ridley Scott, his father. Papa Scott gave 20th Century Fox a hit with the original Alien, and is currently at work on more Alien-related films (under the Prometheus banner), so it probably was a no-brainer for the studio to do a favor for Scott.
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