Rock’s Report From The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Bill Pohlad’s “Love & Mercy” and Philippe Lacôte’s “Run”

Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy is a bio-pic of famed singer, multi-instrumentalist, and maker of one of the best records this side of MozartBrian Wilson of The Beach Boys. Being that I am a fan of Wilson this review is going to be biased.

I must salute the director Bill Pohlad for not demonizing his subject and instead giving us a movie we want to see with some rich performances. Both John Cusack and Paul Dano star as the older and younger versions of Wilson. We see his rise, paranoia, schizophrenia, happiness, beauty and tenderness, all of which is captured beautifully without a hint of malice. Other good performances were Paul Giamatti as an evil doctor and Elizabeth Banks as the love interest. I know what you are thinking, but it’s not cheesy or ripe with clichés at all.

I really did like this film. Minor faults here and there but I was so wrapped up in the story and of course the music that it didn’t really matter.



This was an okay movie. It certainly was better than a certain other African film I saw, one that due to politics won the French Oscar. That movie I panned hard because I knew why so many people were praising it and I just thought they were being delusional. Yeah, that film. Well anyway, Philippe Lacôte‘s Run is a tale of boy who follows his destiny through unconventional avenues, avenues that allow him to kill the “elephant”, i.e., he becomes an assassin and shots the prime minister. Nope that’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first scene. The real heart of the film is why he choose this path. Like meat and potatoes it’s just good eating. Meditative and deep, the movie is pure cinema and yes, there were some things I would change, etc., but you can’t beat this film being the Ivory Coast’s first foray into narrative filmmaking and premiering at Sundance, well America. Go see the film, even though it might be too slow for some.

The next paragraph is my personal opinion (rant) and it gets uncomfortable for some and you are warned:

Here is what don’t like about the reviews and write ups about the film, mostly the way African culture is described. White people, stop calling our spirituality magic realism and mysticism. It’s downright insulting, and you sound like your unrepentant ancestors when they first landed on the “dark continent” where “uncivilized” ways of the dark man were full of the devil. This movie is not magic realism, it’s spirituality in its truest form and it is beautiful. Limiting it to a word that conjures magic is downright imbecile and needs to be stopped. Yes, there is war and social unrest in this movie, but there is social unrest in any country, including America, and you all haven’t solved that problem yet since you have all the answers. Africa doesn’t need to be saved, she needs to stop being raped by the culture vultures of western civility. Here is a director that chooses to show you this and for lack of better words you demonize it, again. Why? Because your privilege allowed you to do so? And my privilege as a reviewer and black man is allowing me to defend what little I know about my history and my homeland.  Not cool, white people, not cool. But it must be pretty nice to get to choose which culture you will praise and destroy at the same time. Oh, and to the old white lady who came up to me after the movie wanting to know what happened, as if I had insight into all African cultures, bitch I don’t know, I been trapped and shut away. Aren’t I American too?! #cultureporn



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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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