Sunday, 13 April 2014
"The Blind Side" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2009 John Lee Hancock Movie…
"…Anything Is Possible…" – The Blind Side on BLU RAY
Separated as a child from his older brother Marcus and raised by a drug-addicted mother with 11 other kids in tow (his father was entirely absent) – 16-year old Michael Oher barely registered on public records. He’d been in and out of foster homes since the age of 7 and with a below average IQ of 80 and school grades barely scraping zero – the American education system also considered him to be simple as well as useless. And few in the Hurt Village area where he lived (notorious Housing Projects in North Memphis) fended for him – let alone made it into their twenties alive.
One day a school football coach is approached in his offices by Oher’s then black stepfather Big Tony the Mechanic (Michael is sleeping in his house on the sofa). Tony wants a place for his small son and 'Big Mike' at Wingate Christian School in Texas. When Coach Cotton looks out the window - he sees Big Mike (played to perfection by Quinton Aaron)- a grizzly-bear black teenager playing hoops like he was born to. But more than taken with Mike’s athletic skills – Coach Cotton is moved (great work from Roy McKinnon). He decides right there and then to persuade a reluctant school panel to give this massive teenager a second chance.
They agree - but then feel they may have made a mistake - as Michael appears incapable of learning - and his sole contribution to an exam paper is to draw a sailboat on the back page with a singular child in it – lost at sea. But one teacher Mrs. Boswell (beautifully played by Kim Dickens) believes there’s intelligence in Mike - if only she can find a way to get it out and up his grades (thereby keeping his place in the program)…
Also in Wingate School are S.J. and Collins Tuohy – the 7-year old son and 16-year cheerleader daughter of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy (Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock) – wealthy owners of 86 Taco Bell food outlets. They are a faith-based white family with little to worry about monetarily but genuine in their beliefs (dialogue above).
Leigh Anne Tuohy is a Southern Lady – all tight skirts, sunglasses in her hair, perfect make-up and possessed of a non-nonsense practicality aligned with a will of iron few will tackle (she mutters "well all right…" all the time). But beneath all that steely mettle is a heart of gold – a woman who practices her Christianity - rather than just spend time with it on a Sunday. To Leigh Anne giving is as natural as speaking – and colour is not an issue.
Slowly Leigh Anne begins to notice her vivacious but tiny son S.J. gravitate towards the protective frame of Big Mike – a gentle giant with no malice in him and a handy ability to forget the past. One night walking back from the Coin-Op Laundry where Mike washes and dries one of only two teeshirts he owns (he’s been made homeless yet again) – Leigh Anne is driving with her family in tow and spots Mike walking in the freezing night air in flimsy clothing. He seems lost and even defenceless. She makes a decision to give him a place to stay that night – the opulent Tuohy home. And so it begins – a loving relationship that will eventually see him become a member of the family and Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy become his legal guardians.
But then Mike begins to realize that when it comes to American Football – his 98% Protective Instincts (the only test he ever scored highly on) make him the perfect Left Tackle – the man who protects the Quarter Back. Soon huge clubs (six legendary football coaches make cameo appearances) are noticing his extraordinary natural ability to block anything that threatens his ‘family’ (the team) and soon he is learning at school too. But it could all be derailed by the Social Services people who feel Leigh Anne may have set Big Mike up all along so that he would play for their beloved team 'Ole Miss' (Mississippi). Soon he is back at the drug-infested Projects and then the Coin-Op – confused and hurting…
What gives "The Blind Side" a beating heart is that it’s beautifully played by all – especially Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron. There's a danger that it all descends into a rich-white-woman’s plaything – a patronizing project she’s taken on – it’s not like that. Bullock is fabulous in the role (and deserved her Oscar) while Aaron’s dignity in the face of ridicule and pain is filled with a grace that is still, peaceful and intensely moving.
The BLU RAY picture is GORGEOUS – defaulted to Full Aspect – it looks incredible all of the time. In fact at times you can see just a little ‘too much’ makeup. Audio is English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Castilian Spanish 5.1, German 5.1 and English 2.0 Audio Descriptive Service. Subtitles are English, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian and Swedish. Extras exclusive to BLU RAY are - Sidelines: Conversations On The Blind Side, The Story Of Big Quinton, Michael Oher Exclusive and Acting Coaches: Behind The Blind Side.
As Michael studies for an exam – he’s given the academic task by his teachers (who have come to believe in him) of appraising "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" poem by Alfred Tennyson. Michael surmises that you - "Hope For Courage, But Try For Honour…"
By the time the end credits roll - with real footage of Michael Oher joining The Ravens for the NFL Draft of 2009 as Team Member 74 - and then onto stills of him and his adopted Tuohy family – the tears are flowing and your warmth towards these fabulous people is genuine.
The true story of MICHAEL OHER is extraordinary - and John Lee Hancock’s wonderful film "The Blind Side" does his redemptive life-path proper justice.
An emotional touch down…and how…