Some Hollywood adaptations go through the motions of the full original story, typically regarded as a boon for new viewers unfamiliar with the original. Some of your more challenging renditions assume everyone knows the original text backwards and forwards, thus giving the filmmakers leeway to invert, subvert, satirize, or otherwise frame it through a cracked lens from an askew angle. With the visually majestic misadventure of The Green Knight, writer/director David Lowery (whose riff on Disney’s Pete’s Dragon was straightforward and exceeded every expectation) opts for the latter treatment and avoids the easy way out, the road taken by far too many King Arthur flops. The tale of Sir Gawain and his verdant nemesis recently came up in the BOOM! Studios series Once and Future, which benefited me as an advance refresher. Other viewers who came into it cold might have questions and argue about it with the driver the entire way home. Which is fine! Arguing about cinema is much more fun offline than on-.
My wife and I first heard of Lion when we attended last fall’s Heartland Film Festival preview night here in Indianapolis. I’m sorry we missed its festival screening, but now that it’s been nominated for Best Picture, once again the film and I crossed paths as part of my annual Oscar quest.