Oh Father (Film Thoughts: The Father)

Anthony Hopkins gives another masterful performance in ‘The Father,’ and it is one of his bests. In Florian Zeller’s film, he plays the titular character, a character who is suffering from dementia, and Zeller not only tells us a story, he puts right smack and center inside the mind of Hophins’ character. The film is set in London, and in n the beginning of the film he is speaking to his daughter, Anne, who tells him he will have a new caregiver. She has met someone, and is moving to Paris to be with her new beau. But the next scene sees Anthony with another man, who is supposed to be Anne’s husband of ten years, and it seems Anthony is living with her Ann and her husband at their home, only now Anne is another woman.

The film is part mystery, part drama, and all affecting. It is based on Zeller’s play and I could now imagine the production. As an audience, we experience the confusion, the shock of this disease. As I said Hopkins is so effective that we see, and more importantly, we feel what someone like him is going through, making the film an unforgettable watch. I am still thinking about it. I bet you will be as haunted.

Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (Film Thoughts: The Two Popes)

the-two-popes-600x889Talk about mixed feelings.  On one hand, as a film, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Two Popes,’  directed by Fernando Mereilles. It’s a great story – Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, played by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – who succeed each other. It’s a celebration of what’s great in humanity, about two people agreeing even enjoying each other’s company even if they disagree about fundamental things in life. One is a conservative who wants things to stay the same, the other wants to adapt to the changing world. It shows how we can all agree to disagree and live peacefully, and could be a great metaphor for all the political divisions in the world. It is certainly a great example of fine acting by both actors – Pryce has the meatier role and have gotten more attention but I think Hopkins more than holds his own. It certainly can make you feel good, and as someone who was raised a Catholic, it gave me a sense of pride in the Catholic faith. As a film, it sets out successfully what it was meant to do.

BUT…

Its message is dangerous. It’s total fiction, and one should really read this great article in order to fully comprehend its negative impact. First of all, we need to give weight to allegations that Pope Benedict could be a Nazi sympathizer. Plus, the movie makes it seem like he is resigning to give way to more progressive leanings. The truth is probably closer tot he fact that the church, under his leadership, is guilty of several crimes, including hiding sexual assaults from Catholic priests. In this case, one might accuse the film of whitewashing these sexual harassment allegations. And of course, the two Popes talk about the church helping the poor, but at the same time the film shows us all the opulence of the church – can you imagine how much food can be bought if they sold one of their precious paintings?

So this leaves me in a dilemma – should I laud the film as effective entertainment? Or expose the impact of its untruths?