Friday, November 27, 2015

Cinematic land mines

It's American Thanksgiving day as I write this, so I thought it was finally time to tell you about Creed.

"Finally" tell you about a movie I saw only four days ago, but which has been quivering around inside my body ever since then.

And this Thanksgiving -- which we celebrated last night with a modest plate of traditional Thanksgiving foods -- I want to give thanks for being reminded earlier in the week of cinematic land mines.

What, exactly, is a cinematic land mine? Well, like a real land mine, it's something you encounter without any foreknowledge that something is about to happen to you. And when it explodes, it may just blow your mind.

Creed was such a film. Until a week or two earlier, when I was invited to attend an advanced critic screening this past Monday night, I hadn't even been consciously aware that Rocky VII, as you could dismissively refer to it, was on this fall's release schedule. I've seen every Rocky movie except Rocky II, which can be explained by the fact that I started with Rocky III and only just saw the original two years ago, so this was likely something I was going to see eventually. But without the critic screening, I don't know that I even would have prioritized seeing it in the theater.

It wasn't until I actually got to the screening that I realized that Ryan Coogler, the director of Fruitvale Station, was reunited with his Fruitvale Station star (Michael B. Jordan) for this movie. I mean, I knew Jordan was the star, but I didn't know Coogler was the director. Fruitvale Station was my #11 movie of 2013, so my anticipation level went up a tick at that point.

But I couldn't have guessed how this movie would proceed to blow the roof off.

I'm not going to give you an itemized breakdown of what is so great about Creed, but I will direct you to my review, linked on the right, if you want to read my thoughts. I'll also say that even as the longest review I have yet written for ReelGood, it was only half of what I might want to say about this remarkable movie. It's so jam-packed with discussion-worthy topics that I felt like I needed to write a sequel to my review.

So today, I'll just be thankful of one of the things I love so much about watching movies: the element of surprise. Sometimes you literally have no idea what movie may just knock your socks off. Did I ever guess, in a million years, that Ruby Sparks would be my favorite movie of 2012? No I did not. Did that make me love it all the more? Yeah, I think it did.

No talk yet about whether Creed is my favorite this year, but I'll tell you that it's certainly in the discussion. And that's something I would have never been able to tell you when I walked innocently into that screening on Monday night.

When the movie was over, I applauded. That's right, I stood up and applauded, with tears glistening in my eyes.

So yes indeed, this Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks that Creed blew my legs clean off my body. And the reminder that any movie can do that, at any time. As film fans, we live one day to the next, never knowing the next thing that is going to rock our worlds.

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