Hannah and I have come to the Central California Coast to take a big bite out of winter. It turns out our mere presence has been the tipping point to put a serious dent in the eight-year drought in the area. Despite the rain, we still walk the beach in Carpinteria daily, hike in the Montecito mountains, and pickle in Santa Barbara and Ventura three to four times per week.
Yet, when it does rain, it’s show time for Dan and Hannah. I have four cinematic gems for you (in the order that we saw them) that insiders know will crush at tonight’s Academy Awards.
The first hearty recommendation is Green Book with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. It’s the story of a white man driving a black musician throughout the South in racially charged 1962. With the developing relationship between the two highlighted by their spirited back and forth repartee, Green Book is a film Hannah and I will take our three grandsons, Owen, Max, and Brooks, to see when they enter middle school.
By the way, the actual Green Book was a guide for African-Americans to find restaurants and motels from 1936 to 1966 where they would be allowed to eat and stay in the South. Many Black Americans took to driving, in part to avoid segregation on public transportation.
The second film focuses on the life of a modern day hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court Justice. Having previously seen the fabulous documentary on her full life, RBG, Hannah and I found On the Basis of Sex a riveting tale of her earlier life in law and how she made a difference in all our lives, especially women. Felicity Jones rocks the lead role.
Hannah and I were a little late in coming to this third blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians. No longer in theaters, we borrowed the DVD from the Carpinteria Library. The basis of the story is the male lead (Henry Golding) who grew up filthy rich, then decided that maybe there is something more to life than money. Constance Wu takes center stage as Rachel Chu in this inspirational story of family and couple dynamics. The casting is superb.
And finally on a rainy Thursday, we ventured to the Regency Buenaventura Six eighteen miles south in Ventura for Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of the rock band Queen. I never followed Queen in the 1980s (my loss!) and never knew the backstory of the lead singer Freddie Mercury played convincingly by Rami Malek. As a film-goer, I took the ride with his life of triumphs and valleys. Concluding with the Live Aid Concert to address poverty in the African continent in 1985, Bohemian Rhapsody is a soaring musical tribute to Queen that rocks for even me, the uninitiated.