Morris From America Bus

Film Review: Morris From America

Adolescence is a time where kids often feel different from their peers. In Morris From America, writer/ director Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner) deals with a protagonist who actually is different. Morris’ search for acceptance, and his father’s efforts to assist without enabling him, make for an authentic, touching film. Curtis Gentry (Craig Robinson) is a retired soccer player who is now on the coaching staff of a German team. He is a widower with a thirteen-year-old son. As Curtis pu[Read more]
My LIfe As A Dog Bra Strap

Film Appreciation: My Life As A Dog

Your true family and your nuclear family may be completely different entities. That is an important message (not only one) underlying My Life As A Dog, Lasse Hallström’s 1985 adaptation of the novel by Reidar Jönsson. The narrative follows a twelve-year-old boy during his struggle to cope with life changes forced on him by a parent’s illness. It is a moving film with unexpected humor and a spot-on depiction of life from a child’s point of view. The story takes place in 1958-59. Ingemar ([Read more]
Poil de Carotte Carrot top

Out Of Place: List For Week Ending August 28, 2016

Our films this week all feature young protagonists who don't fit into their environments. For some, like Morris From America, the problem is racial. For Pai of Whale Rider, it's gender. Others have issues with their mothers, like Ingemar in My Life As A Dog, Antoine in The 400 Blows, and Francois in Poil de Carotte . There's no one reason to feel out of place. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using [Read more]
Equity Naomi Boardroom

Film Review: Equity

I looked forward to watching Meera Menon’s film Equity for several reasons. Wall Street thrillers are a favorite of mine, and this one has the added appeal of being about female brokers. I have been a fan of the film’s star, Anna Gunn, since her work in Breaking Bad. On a more personal level, I had a first career in accounting as an auditor and controller. I was downright curious to see how much of the protagonist’s business experience reflected my own. So, as they say, let me get to the b[Read more]
Wall Street Gordon

Film Appreciation: Wall Street

Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street is probably best remembered for one quote’”Greed is good.” The film has come to symbolize the anything-goes trading of the 1980s. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a junior stockbroker in 1985, consumed by ambition. In particular, he wants to form an alliance with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a corporate raider without scruples. One day after work, Fox meets with his father (Martin Sheen) and learns a bit of confidential information about his employer, Bl[Read more]
Classics are still being made

Film Review: Morris From America

Film Review: Morris From America

Adolescence is a time where kids often feel different from their peers. In Morris From America, writer/ director Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner) deals with a protagonist who actually is different. Morris’ search for acceptance, and his father’s efforts to assist without enabling him, make for an authentic, touching film.

Curtis Gentry (Craig Robinson) is a retired soccer player who is now on the coaching staff of a German team. He is a widower with a thirteen-year-old son. As Curtis puts it, he and Morris are “the only brothers in Heidelberg”.Morris From America German Lesson

Morris takes German lessons from Inka (Carla Juri), who encourages him to make friends at a community center. It is an optimistic, verging on foolhardy, suggestion. No one looks or sounds like him-and that is only the start of his problems

The Germans have preconceived notions about black men, ranging from basketball skills to extreme male endowment. When Morris disproves their stereotypes, they tend to blame him rather than recalibrate their beliefs.Morris From America Joint

A complication arises when Morris develops a crush on a lovely older girl, Katrin (Lina Keller). She already has a boyfriend with a motorcycle but appears to enjoy stringing Morris along. Katrin is not above using Morris as a placeholder when her boyfriend pays attention to other girls. Scenes of Morris fantasizing about her with a pillow show he has the interest to take their relationship to another level. Unfortunately, he lacks the opportunity.

One area where German expectations and Morris’ talents meet is in the area of music. He is a budding rapper, and Katrin goads him into signing up for the big talent show to be held the next week. Nervous, he launches into a lyric about “F***ing all the b******, two at a time” that alienates the audience.Morris From America Rapping

Music also provides a teachable moment for Curtis. Told by Inka about the offensive lyrics, Curtis responds by saying his son is his own business. When Curtis is alone with Morris, however, he takes the young man to task. A former rapper, Curtis is less concerned about the lyric’s content than its authenticity. He explains that the power of rap derives from its grounding in the rapper’s personal experience.Morris From America Katrin At The Club

The advice from Curtis proves valuable for Morris, who has better success in his next performance by rapping about the frustrations of a black kid in Germany. Like many young people, he follows this triumph with an error in judgment. It is necessary for Curtis to intervene, lovingly.

Craig Robinson is wonderful as Curtis. Anyone who admires his work in The Office and Hot Tub Time Machine is well advised to seek out his performance here. Robinson delivers an understated and thoroughly centered performance. The rapport between him and Christmas (an extraordinarily promising newcomer) is a pleasure to watch. They engage you from the opening, when they disagree about the percussion pattern for a song (Curtis thinks it is subtle; Morris thinks it is just slow).Morris From America Dad

The cinematography by Sean McElwee does a stellar job of showing off Heidelberg while making clear how much Curtis and Morris stand out from the crowd. A couple of scenes feature more exuberant camera work- one where Morris envisions a castle’s interior coming to hip-hop life and another where he and Katrin dance wildly at a party where they are clearly underage.

Morris From America is available on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play.

Theme: Out Of Place

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: My Life As A Dog  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-my-life-as-a-dog/

Out Of Place: List For Week Ending August 28, 2016  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/out-of-place-list-for-week-ending-august-28-2016/

Film Appreciation: My Life As A Dog

Film Appreciation: My Life As A Dog

Your true family and your nuclear family may be completely different entities. That is an important message (not only one) underlying My Life As A Dog, Lasse Hallström’s 1985 adaptation of the novel by Reidar Jönsson. The narrative follows a twelve-year-old boy during his struggle to cope with life changes forced on him by aContinue Reading

Out Of Place: List For Week Ending August 28, 2016

Out Of Place: List For Week Ending August 28, 2016

Our films this week all feature young protagonists who don’t fit into their environments. For some, like Morris From America, the problem is racial. For Pai of Whale Rider, it’s gender. Others have issues with their mothers, like Ingemar in My Life As A Dog, Antoine in The 400 Blows, and Francois in Poil de CarotteContinue Reading

Film Review: Equity

Film Review: Equity

I looked forward to watching Meera Menon’s film Equity for several reasons. Wall Street thrillers are a favorite of mine, and this one has the added appeal of being about female brokers. I have been a fan of the film’s star, Anna Gunn, since her work in Breaking Bad. On a more personal level, IContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Wall Street

Film Appreciation: Wall Street

Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street is probably best remembered for one quote’”Greed is good.” The film has come to symbolize the anything-goes trading of the 1980s. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a junior stockbroker in 1985, consumed by ambition. In particular, he wants to form an alliance with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a corporateContinue Reading

Film Review: The Little Prince

Film Review: The Little Prince

Creating a film of a well-loved novel is always a delicate business. That is especially true when the story’s action is not inherently cinematic. Fans of Antoine Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince may approach Mark Osborne’s film with caution, but I think they will find it is largely unwarranted. Let me be clear, this is moreContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: The Emperor’s Nightingale

Film Appreciation: The Emperor’s Nightingale

Jiri Trnka’s 1949 film The Emperor’s Nightingale started off its life by winning the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival. Recent years have been less kind. This beautiful stop-motion adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s story is only available on DVD (not Blu-Ray), and it fairly cries out for a quality digital remastering. (ThereContinue Reading

Stop-Motion Literature: List For Week Ending August 14, 2016

Stop-Motion Literature: List For Week Ending August 14, 2016

The films this week are all stop-motion animated films based on works of literature. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. The Little Prince (2015) (Reviewed in Thinking Cinema 8/11/16)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-the-little-prince/ The Emperor’s Nightingale (1949) (ArticleContinue Reading