Apex Goes to the Movies – Take 4!
Posted by Carmin Arnot
in Of Interest
Let’s face it, most movies out there are really pretty bad. They are boring, senseless, schmaltzy, puerile, overly violent, or all of the above. Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance which films are actually worth your time? Well, to that end, we’ve been asking our leaders to recommend their favorite feature and documentary flicks, and this week we have guaranteed winners from top reviewers Liam Rainier and Ingrid Nixon. So, Lights! Camera! Apex!
Liam Rainier’s recommendations
Best Wildlife Documentary: Eternal Enemies
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are two renowned African filmmakers, having produced exhilarating footage within Africa’s wilderness areas. Eternal Enemies was filmed in the northern part of Botswana in the 1980s. In this film, Lions and Hyenas go head to head in a hard-fought competition for survival—an ancient feud between two apex rivals in the African wild.
My imagination of this warfare between two great animals became a reality when I watched this documentary for the first time when I was 9 years old. What I learned at a young age about the natural world was that the survival of one species was often at the cost of another, a sad reality which this film shows perfectly. Powers Boothe beautifully narrates the film and does a great job of keeping you on the edge of your seat.
The story is based on two families, a clan of Hyenas and a pride of Lions whose territories overlap. We see the ebb and flow of thriving one day to hanging on for dear life the next. Domination between the two species sits on a knife’s edge. The presence of a confident matriarch would shift the balance towards the Hyenas. Or if dominant male Lions come into the picture, all hell breaks loose and the Lions come out on top. One of the highlights of the film is the iconic chase between a large male Lion and the matriarch Hyena.
A timeless documentary that I would recommend forever.
Best Feature Film: The Green Book
This movie is based on true life events, and while it might have been dramatized for the cinematic version, it is truthful, sincere and heartwarming. The story follows a humble, middle class white American Italian male, brought up in an environment where not everyone is equal. During trying times, he accepts a position from a highly-educated, well-presented, and wealthy black man as his bodyguard. As time goes by, both men learn a little bit more about each other. They realize their ancestral differences, they accept it, and they move forward.
Viggo Mortensen’s character learns that if he drops his guard, he can learn so much more than he expected from a man he had always been taught was inferior. Writing letters to his wife, listening to classical music, exposing himself to different people, to gay people, opened his eyes to a world that he never thought he could be a part of.
Mahershala Ali’s character learns that his perceptions of a middle-class white male are not entirely true. He also learns that family, having a bit of fun in life, eating crispy southern fried chicken with your hands, and having good conversations are important parts of this life.
My love of this movie is not directly related to the black and white man relationship but rather how two completely different people that, if they give each other the time, can overcome their differences and see each other for who they really are.
Ingrid Nixon’s recommendations
Best Wildlife Documentary: Blackfish
This film focuses on the tragic story of a captive Orca named Tillicum and the issue of aquarium Orcas in general. I’ll never forget as a young person seeing a trained Killer Whale show and being perplexed as to why the animal’s dorsal fin was flopped over. Despite the jumps and tricks, it made the whale look broken. As an adult spending many years living in wild places, I realize the need for environments that feed the “wild” in creatures—both their bodies and their minds. Knowing that Killer Whales are intelligent, social, and family-focused creatures makes this film painful to watch. But knowing the impact it had on bringing an end to captive Orca shows makes it worth the viewing and elevates my appreciation for these magnificent animals each time I am lucky enough to see them.
Best Feature Film: True Grit—the 1969 version starring John Wayne.
In this film, 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires a one-eyed, hard-drinking Federal Marshal named Rooster Cogburn to guide her into Indian Country to bring her father’s killer to justice. Filmed in wild country in the western United States, this film features sweeping vistas, vivid characters, and smart dialogue taken right from the Charles Portis novel…along with the likes of John Wayne (Best Actor Oscar Winner), Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and character actor Strother Martin. Seeing this for the first time in a movie theater as a young girl yearning for a horse of her own, I couldn’t ask for more. My love of the film holds up after all these years.