Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Answer Man, only he wasn't

We heard by email about the Windrider Film Forum Bay Area, and went with another couple to see The Answer Man (2009, formerly "Arlen Faber"), a delightful film, though its score on rotten tomatoes wouldn't lead you to think so.

Jeff Daniels, who doesn't look at all like Anna Paquin's dad from Fly Away Home (1996), turns in a convincing performance as the complex and confused title character. But the story is really about fathers and sons -- something that the reviews don't exactly put front and center.

What made the film for me, I think, was the Q&A we had afterward with the director/screenwriter. Mr. Hindman gave us a lot of interesting detail about the film, his creative process, the casting, etc., and caused me to think of the film as the result of a socio-political-economic effort with a lot of logistical issues. I hope the DVD has some "making of" features on it.

The theme of "heroes" not being all they're cracked up to be was echoed in Educating Rita (1983), which we saw this past week. It's a good reminder that everyone we look up to, however genuinely respectable, also has nontrivial weaknesses and issues. Whether someone is a professor at a big university, an author of some brilliant book, big-time executive, pastor or whatever, all have feet of clay and need our compassion, not just our respect.

And in the case of pastors especially, our prayers for protection as well.

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