Thoughts on two films: American Folk and Don’t Look Up

By chance, I watched two movies in the same week that, upon reflection, created some remarkable and fun contrasts.  The first, AMERICAN FOLK (2017) is a movie on Amazon Prime ($0.99 rental).  You can also watch it free (with commercials) on other streaming services like Netflix.  The second, Don’t Look Up (2021) is generating a lot of social media attention.  They’re both good, but of the two, I think my readers will appreciate American Folk.  Where Don’t Look Up is as subtle as Marvel’s Venom monster, American Folk is a cautious, gentle, and beautifully told tale. Not to give anything away, but you’ll need to watch American Folk carefully. It’s easy to dismiss as “nothing’s happening,” when, in fact, a powerful story is being deftly told with subtle tenderness. After piloting my motorcycle on many of the roads traversed in American Folk, the scenery and vistas were recognizable. But more familiar were the everyday interactions the protagonists had with people they met.  This is what generated the greatest affinity for me and reminded me to pay attention and not under-value my coffees and lunches with my old guys, talking about the weather with my neighbor’s tree trimming landscaper, discussing how to attach patches to my motorcycle jacket with the Russian-speaking seamstress and kidding with the woman behind the counter where I drop off my dry cleaning.    American Folk does not have star actors like Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, or Cate Blanchett. Instead, its two main characters have little acting experience, making them more like your neighbor down the block or the guy you always see at Home Depot. I highly recommended American Folk and, yes, if you’ve not seen it, Don’t Look Up is worth watching, too.

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