Films Worth Viewing

-
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Hugo"-Martin Scorsese-2011

I am suffering from H avoidance. Many films viewed; few of merit, and none I wanted to write about. A thought popped into my fevered brain; watch "Hugo." So I watched "Hugo." It cost 150 million$ to make; the money is visible on the screen. It barely made money; I'm not sure how it fared it the rental and purchase market. This is a beautiful film, and it has a first rate group of actors. Ben Kingsley is one the greatest living actors; George Melies is in many ways not a very sympathetic character. Melies is one of the great early movie pioneers. Unlike most of his contemporaries he eschewed the documentary style and made fantasies. He also didn't make feature films. He stopped before 4+ reelers were common. He never made a comeback making films. The first world war marked a major change in the film industry. The US became the center of both production and distribution; Melies had made an early deal acting through his brother to license films in the US. As it turned out this was historically fortunate because the Library of Congress preserved many of his films. It was by far the best source for negatives, stills, and film odds and ends.

The film is based on Brian Selznik's book. It covers part of Melies' later life. He ran a toy shop in the main train station in Paris. He repaired and created mechanical toys. Melies had been a successful magician who created many of his illusions. This carried over into his film making; he was the first to use stop motion. He also used creative editing to make special effects. In the film there is an orphan, Hugo Cabret(Asa Butterfield), who winds and otherwise keeps the many clocks in the station running. His father a clock maker dies in a museum fire. His uncle has the station contract and he makes Hugo do the work without pay. Towards the end of the film his dead body is found in the Seine. Hugo has been forced to steal to stay alive for many months. Hugo has one great desire in life; that is to repair an automaton , a mechanical man, who when working could write. This was a project he shared with his father; he hoped the repaired automaton would write a message from his father. Hugo had been stealing parts from Melies' shop; Melies catches him. He takes Hugo's notebook which contains his father's drawings of the automaton. He threatens to burn the book, but makes a deal that Hugo will work for him, and when he is satisfied he will return the book.

Hugo makes an unlikely friendship with Isabelle (Chole Grace Moretz) the ward of George and his wife. Hugo repairs the mechanical man, and since it was made originally by Melies; the heart shaped key was given by his wife to their ward, Isabelle. The repaired automaton produces a drawing/poster for one of Melies' films. Is this a children's film? It brings the sense of wonder and hope of childhood to this difficult world. Melies is a bitter man: "Happy endings happen only in the movies." Hugo restores his spirit. Early in his movie career he welcomed a child to his movie studio with this invocation: "If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, you look around...this is where they are made." The ending shows Gerge Melies being feted.

This is a fascinating film for those who are interested in early cinema. There is a sense of wonder about the hidden world of the train station where Hugo lives and works. All the technical aspects of the film are great; 5 technical Oscars demonstrate that. However, despite multiple nominations in the major categories; none were garnered. I recommend this very highly. This is just short of a must see for me.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Messages
4,659
Likes
2,492
If anyone wants to watch a surprisingly great film watch the original Blue Lagoon made in 1949 by Rank Pictures. It's 100 times better than the Brook Shields remake, the acting, lighting, and superior script is exceptional. Stars Jean Simmons, Donald Huston, Cyril Cusack and Noel Purcell. Shot on location in color in Fiji. It is very hard to find a DVD or tape of it, but there was a not so great copy uploaded to YouTube a few years back.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2012
Messages
8,704
Likes
6,335
"Hugo"-Martin Scorsese-2011

I am suffering from H avoidance. Many films viewed; few of merit, and none I wanted to write about. A thought popped into my fevered brain; watch "Hugo." So I watched "Hugo." It cost 150 million$ to make; the money is visible on the screen. It barely made money; I'm not sure how it fared it the rental and purchase market. This is a beautiful film, and it has a first rate group of actors. Ben Kingsley is one the greatest living actors; George Melies is in many ways not a very sympathetic character. Melies is one of the great early movie pioneers. Unlike most of his contemporaries he eschewed the documentary style and made fantasies. He also didn't make feature films. He stopped before 4+ reelers were common. He never made a comeback making films. The first world war marked a major change in the film industry. The US became the center of both production and distribution; Melies had made an early deal acting through his brother to license films in the US. As it turned out this was historically fortunate because the Library of Congress preserved many of his films. It was by far the best source for negatives, stills, and film odds and ends.

The film is based on Brian Selznik's book. It covers part of Melies' later life. He ran a toy shop in the main train station in Paris. He repaired and created mechanical toys. Melies had been a successful magician who created many of his illusions. This carried over into his film making; he was the first to use stop motion. He also used creative editing to make special effects. In the film there is an orphan, Hugo Cabret(Asa Butterfield), who winds and otherwise keeps the many clocks in the station running. His father a clock maker dies in a museum fire. His uncle has the station contract and he makes Hugo do the work without pay. Towards the end of the film his dead body is found in the Seine. Hugo has been forced to steal to stay alive for many months. Hugo has one great desire in life; that is to repair an automaton , a mechanical man, who when working could write. This was a project he shared with his father; he hoped the repaired automaton would write a message from his father. Hugo had been stealing parts from Melies' shop; Melies catches him. He takes Hugo's notebook which contains his father's drawings of the automaton. He threatens to burn the book, but makes a deal that Hugo will work for him, and when he is satisfied he will return the book.

Hugo makes an unlikely friendship with Isabelle (Chole Grace Moretz) the ward of George and his wife. Hugo repairs the mechanical man, and since it was made originally by Melies; the heart shaped key was given by his wife to their ward, Isabelle. The repaired automaton produces a drawing/poster for one of Melies' films. Is this a children's film? It brings the sense of wonder and hope of childhood to this difficult world. Melies is a bitter man: "Happy endings happen only in the movies." Hugo restores his spirit. Early in his movie career he welcomed a child to his movie studio with this invocation: "If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, you look around...this is where they are made." The ending shows Gerge Melies being feted.

This is a fascinating film for those who are interested in early cinema. There is a sense of wonder about the hidden world of the train station where Hugo lives and works. All the technical aspects of the film are great; 5 technical Oscars demonstrate that. However, despite multiple nominations in the major categories; none were garnered. I recommend this very highly. This is just short of a must see for me.
A wonderful film, Hugo is a must see for me. And yes, I am interested in early cinema. Toward the end of the first time I saw "Hugo", I turned to my wife and told her if there was ever a film valentine for the cause of the preservation and restoration of old films, this was it. Of course, Martin Scorsese has for many years been very much involved in the rescue of old films through preservation and restoration, so it is something of an advertisement for a cause that he has been involved in. By the way, Turner Classic Movies on occasion shows Melies "A Trip to the Moon" (his most famous film), as well as a collection of his silent shorts. As is Hugo, it is all inventive stuff that my wife and I find quite interesting as these films are all building blocks for how cinema evolved.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Let Me In"-Matt Reeves-2010

This is a Hammer Films production; I didn't know that they were still around. Of course this is the re-make of the Swedish film "Let the Right One In." This is still a pretty good film. If you haven't seen either of these films and you want a different take on Vampires; watch the Swedish film. It can be hard to find, so "Let Me In" is the same story with a few differences. Late in this film Oscar(Kodi Smitt-McPhee) discovers a picture of Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz) with her protector when he was quite young. I thought in the first film that Oscar might be turned into a vampire; this film implies that he will remain the protector/procurer for as long as he lives. This casts Abby in a darker light.

What I liked about both films is that the Abby character is emotionally a pre-teen. I know that is implausible; the general speculation is that she is 200 plus years old. Logically since her physical body doesn't age; why should she grow up mentally? When asked how old she is, Abby responds: "Twelve, but I've been twelve for a very long time." The film opens with the protector and blood procurer being rushed to the hospital with acid burns over 90% of his body. Abby climbs up to his room and drains his blood. He jumps/falls to the snow covered courtyard. The film then goes back two weeks to the arrival of Abby and her protector. Things go sideways from the start. Abby isn't getting her needed blood, and she meets and befriends Oscar which has its own dangers. Oscar is bullied by a threesome led by Kenny (Dylan Munette). The actor may be familiar because of his TV success ; "Saving Grace" is only one example.

Oscar discovers Abby's identity; the word vampire is used only once in the film. It troubles him,but his life is so unsatisfactory that a life on the run with Abby seems a viable alternative. Abby looks almost angelic until she attacks/feeds. The facial transformation is remarkable. When Abby kills the police detective, she knows she must move on, but she returns to deal with Oscar's bullies. The film ends with Abby concealed in a box on a train riding with Oscar. Destination anywhere, everywhere will be a temporary stop over.

This is a stylish novel take on vampires and it is well worth viewing.
 

nwhoopfan

hopeless West Coast homer
Joined
Feb 16, 2017
Messages
11,198
Likes
9,290
This is a stylish novel take on vampires and it is well worth viewing.
Ever seen "Byzantium?" Another different take on vampires. I don't think they ever use the word in the film. Doesn't follow some of the typical traditions or tropes of the genre. Stars Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Ip Man: The Final Fight"-Herman Yau-2013

This film covers Ip Man's life in Hong Kong from 1949 to the early 70's. It naturally features Wing Chun the martial arts style associated with Bruce Lee. Ip Man was a real martial arts master, but this movie focuses less on spectacular fights than the Ip Man trilogy. This film depicts the master as an honorable and modest man. His relationships with his students are key to the film. His first studio is on the roof of a restaurant. His wife comes but their son stays behind going to college. The relationship with his wife is humanizing. The sets seek to create Hong Kong of the 50's and 60's; they looked real. Ip Man turns inward after his wife leaves; she was unable to return because the border between Hong Kong and the mainland was locked down, Anthony Wong plays this idealized role; scholar, master with a caring heart, martial arts warrior with a conscience and self discipline, and great humility. The purpose was to humanize this great Grand Master. Wong does really well; he practiced Wing Chun for a year, and his presence draws the eye of the viewer, not by spectacular action, but by
a projection of strength and confidence. Early in the film he demonstrates Wing Chun to one of his future students telling him to knock him off a folded newspaper. Economy of movement, nothing flashy, just practiced expertise, the master easily wins.

I liked this film better than any of the other Ip Man movies. My view is not shared by critics or commentators, but I recommend this film. This is well worth a look.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
Ever seen "Byzantium?" Another different take on vampires. I don't think they ever use the word in the film. Doesn't follow some of the typical traditions or tropes of the genre. Stars Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton.
I haven't seen it. I like the director. I hadn't heard of it; I watch a lot of vampire films and TV series
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army"-Guillermo del Torro- 2008

This is of course a sequel. There was supposed to be a third flick where Hellboy is supposed to bring the end of days. A third film came out this year to massive critical and box office failure. The original team had nothing to do with the 2019 version. This sequel is worthy of a couple hours of your time. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is married and about to become a father; he doesn't know it. There is a two part prologue; the first part shows the young Hellboy being read a bedtime story about human conflicts with elves and the creation of the Colden Army of mechanical soldiers. The second part introduces us to Prince Nuoda (Luke Goss) the elven heir to the crown which controls the golden army. del Torro does his usual excellent job with the effects, but it is the characters which make this interesting viewing. There is a scene where Hellboy defeats one of his many gigantic supernatural foes and rescues a baby. The mother berates him and the police are going to arrest him. The crowd shouts and curses him. He is rescued by his wife Liz (Selma Blair), but she has to use her ability to create fire to do it. Hellboy is more than unsettled; he will never be accepted by most humans. This concept is expanded when he feels at home in a troll market under the pillars for the Brooklyn Bridge. This sets up the ending where he, his wife, and Abe Sapien walk away from their jobs with a secret government agency. Of course by this time he and his team have saved the world from the Golden Army.

This is a fun movie; there is silly humor like the scene where Hellboy and Abe are getting drunk on cerveza listening to "Can't Smile Without You." Hellboy has some good lines as do Abe and Liz. Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambour) is both straight man and butt of some jokes. This is entertainment, but with not so subtle hints to larger problems. Some viewers prefer their escapism to be total, but I like the change of pace. Even Shakespeare inserted comedy in tragedy. I played the first grave digger in Hamlet. Enjoy yourself; it's better than Hellboy; don't expect more than a good time.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"the Queen of the Damned"-Michael Rymer-2002

This film combines two of Anne Rice's novels; Warner Brothers was running out of time on the option. No actors from "Interview With the Vampire" appeared in this film. Stuart Townshend plays Lestat; the pop star Aaliyah plays Queen Akasha, and Vincent Perez plays Marius. This slightly short of a disaster. The concept of an ancient statue of the first vampire brought to life by Lestat's music is the driving force of the movie. Lestat sleeps for one hundred years and wakes up and forms a band with himself as the lead singer. He is open about his being a vampire; somehow this band becomes the number 1 draw. At a huge concert in Death Valley assorted vampires arrive; many are ready to kill Lestat. His maker Marius comes to his aid, but he isn't safe until Queen Akasha appears. She has killed her husband (also a statue) and wants Lestat to become her new king.

Watching this film won't probably be the worst experience in your life, but this isn't something you should plan on doing, This is a miss.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Crossroads"Walter Hill-1986

This film is often considered a hidden treasure or a guilty pleasure. Hill is a moderately well known director (48 Hours and Hard Times). The script is by John Fusco, a Waterbury native, he spent much of his teen years traveling the South as a blues guitar player. He received a GED and went to college first Mattatuck CC then NYU where he studied screenwriting. This script won a national contest, and he sold it for $250,000. Ry Cooder, noted blues guitarist, was brought on to handle the music. This is an outstanding score.

Ralph Macchio plays Eugene Martone. This is just after the first two Karate Kid movies. In the film Eugene is 17 years old and a student at Julliard playing classical guitar. At heart he is a blues fanatic. He has studied blues guitar and guitarists. He is particularly obsessed with Robert Johnson. Johnson recorded 29 songs on Vocalion in two sessions in 1936 and 1937. There was supposed to be a 30th song; Eugene wants to find it. He believes that Willy Brown, a classic blues harmonica player and friend and playing partner of Johnson, might be the only person who knows the song. Eugene discovers him at an old folks home. Willie Brown aka Blind Dog Thornton (Joe Seneca ) at first disdains this blues guitarist from Long Island, but after Eugene takes a job as a janitor they strike a deal. If Eugene breaks him out of the old folks home and takes him to Mississippi; Willie will teach him the song. There is no 30th song; Willie wants to get back to the crossroads so he can reclaim his soul from the devil. On the advice of Robert Johnson he sells his soul for a magical power to play the harmonica.

One of the most enduring legends in music history is that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play great blues guitar. The tale has Robert playing his guitar at a crossroads. The devil (Mr. Scratch) comes by. He tunes the guitar, and Johnson is suddenly a guitar legend. The basic story came through Son House, legendary country bluesman. Johnson couldn't play well; he was a disaster. He vanished and returned six months later, or maybe it was nine months; or perhaps a year later with guitar legend ability and a bunch of his own songs. Among these songs are 3 songs which fuel the legend: "Crossroads", "Me and My Devil", and "Hell Hounds on My Trail." The film opens with Robert Johnson meeting Mr. Scratch at the crossroads. It continues with the first of Johnson's recording sessions. One quick note on the recording sessions, Johnson plays with his back turned; supposedly to conceal his fingering. In the original recordings Johnson's voice sounds high pitched. This was because the recording was sped up so that a song could fit on the acetate master.

Willie and Eugene make it back to the crossroads where Mr. Scratch appears. A new deal is struck; if Eugene
can beat the devil's guitar player, Jack Butler (Richard Vai), then Willie will get his soul back. This sets up the great guitar duel; Eugene wins. I have left out Jamie Gertz(Francine) and a lot of other nice bits. Google this film or Robert Johnson and you will find more videos than you can reasonably handle. The film can be downloaded at 123. Try a few of the videos about the Robert Johnson legend, or perhaps the guitar duel. If you are a fan of the music; this is great. If you aren't; it's still ;very watchable. The legend appears in a Coen Brothers film, and the crossing's location is debated, but Johnson's grave is marked.

I spent much of the last week in colonoscopy land; I'm back and everything is working.
 

storrsroars

Exiled in Pittsburgh
Joined
Mar 23, 2012
Messages
10,338
Likes
12,551
"Crossroads"Walter Hill-1986

I spent much of the last week in colonoscopy land; I'm back and everything is working.
Must've been one helluva a colonscopy to take up much of a week!

Anyway, never saw the film as I wasn't buying Macchio with guitar skills and found even the thought of that outrageous. But might have to watch it now after that review.
 

storrsroars

Exiled in Pittsburgh
Joined
Mar 23, 2012
Messages
10,338
Likes
12,551
Has anyone else seem Yesterday? Fun movie!
Yeah, saw it when it first came out and reviewed it on some thread here. Was enjoyable enough to overlook obvious flaws.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
Quick Hits

"The Story of the Kinks"-Martin Brierly-2019?

This appears to have been made in the mid to late 80's. It relies on interviews of Ray Davies and his managers/agent. This is interesting if you liked the Kinks or want to know a little about about the third major English Invasion Group. There quite a few videos, a fair amount of history, but no real analysis.

"The Music Never Stopped"-Jim Kohlberg-2011

This is an independent film based on an Oliver Sacks' case. "The Awakening" is another more familiar example.
This an excellent film,quality acting, fine script, and an interesting story. Based on IMDb comments; this film is almost universally considered excellent. With the exception of J.K. Simmons (Henry Sawyer) and Julia Ormond (Dianne Daley) the cast isn't known. Lou Taylor Pucci (Gabriel Sawyer) is the center of the story. He leaves home in the uproar of the late sixties. He is out of contact with his parents for more than 15 years. He originally left home to go to the Village and play music. His parents are re-connected with him when he faces an operation to remove a massive brain tumor. The tumor is benign, but its removal will affect his ability to form memories. Henry becomes desperate to re-connect with his son. His attitude towards his lifestyle forced him out the door.
In his search for treatment he comes across an article written by Dianne Daley which shows how music can be used to enhance old memories, and perhaps to help form new ones. The film is centered around this treatment and the reconnecting of father and son. The son's favorite band is the Grateful Dead; the father's taste run more to 50's pop. He educates himself, and he wins free tickets to a sold out Dead concert. The father and son bond together for a great concert experience. The father dies of a heart attack. The film closes with the funeral. Gabriel tells his mother (Cara Seymour) the story of how he first heard this new Dead song. He was able to form a new memory.

This film could have gone wrong in so many ways. It easily could have sunk into sentimental sludge. The tenuous balance of relationships could have become stilted and false. There could have been a miraculous cure. None of these things happened. The music is used artfully. There is no actual filming at a live Dead Concert. With a basically invisible budget this quality almost never happens. My highest recommendation.
 

storrsroars

Exiled in Pittsburgh
Joined
Mar 23, 2012
Messages
10,338
Likes
12,551
"The Story of the Kinks"-Martin Brierly-2019?

This appears to have been made in the mid to late 80's. It relies on interviews of Ray Davies and his managers/agent. This is interesting if you liked the Kinks or want to know a little about about the third major English Invasion Group. There quite a few videos, a fair amount of history, but no real analysis.
The "no real analysis" would be a major disappointment for any Kinks biopic.

I've often wondered if the Kinks would've had more success or less success if they hadn't been banned from performing in the US during the late 60s. Reason being, much of their catalog from 65-68 became UK focused and resulted in some incredible work that rarely saw light of day over here. Had they continued touring in the US, we might've just gotten more three-chord rockers and no "Days" or "Waterloo Sunset" (the latter reaching almost anthemic status in the UK).

Also, as a result of your mentioning this, I looked up some reviews. Apparently there's not much from the post-Lola to Arista period (69-76), which produced some dud concept albums, but also Schoolboys in Disgrace, which comprised most of the set the Kinks played in their one glorious appearance at the Jorgensen Center, which was a weird pairing of the Kinks with opening act Jean-Luc Ponty, and Ray thought he was in Hartford. And it didn't even sell out. I was there and still have a copy of the review from Daily Campus.

I haven't seen this film, but being a Kinkophile, I'll look for it.

EDIT: For anyone interested in Kinks@UConn, here's the article (sorry for quality of scan from 43 year old yellowed paper!)
kinks1.JPG
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 24, 2012
Messages
8,704
Likes
6,335
Hearing a Kinks song on the radio almost always gets my attention. Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon are wonderful songs, and they did a bunch of others that really get me.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
Two For

"Merchant of Venice"-Michael Radford-2004

While "Merchant" had many television productions; this was the first movie production in the sound era. Radford did the adaptation of the play to a film script. The play always has been an uneasy mix of comedy and tragedy. The acting is excellent. Technically this is lush and compelling. Most critics were ambivalent. There were no Jews in Shakespeare's England. This was a period of religious conflict, not tolerance. The audience at the Globe needed its comedy. Even in the tragedies like "Hamlet", there are always comic bits. Think Rosencrantz and Guildernstern and the gravediggers. The unique problem with "Merchant" is that there are two plays. Both Antonio and Shylock are tragic figures. Shylock's life is totally ruined at the end; Antonio has lost Bassanio. The play ends with the comic note of the missing rings, and the women lord it over Bassanio and Graziano. This has always been the weakest part of the of the play for me.

The second part of the film is the romance. It has comedy in spades. First there is the scene of the suitors competing for Portia's hand; then there are the usual comic bit players. Portia (Lynn Collins) seemingly lucks out with Bassanio picking the right chest. Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) is desperate for Portia's money; he has wasted his own inheritance. Is his love true? What about his feelings for Antonio? There is a good argument that Bassanio manipulates Antonio.

I thought that the trial was well handled. The disguise of Portia is not convincing, but it was ever thus. Of course in Shakespeare's time female roles were played by men. To finance Bassanio's romance; Antonio borrows 3,000 ducats from Shylock. The forfeit if the loan is not repaid is a pound of flesh. Portia of course has the great speech: "The quality of mercy is not strained..." Shylock is locked into revenge; of course it is understandable. The Jews live in the original ghetto; Antonio has been a fount of petty cruelties to him, but perhaps the most grievous injury is his daughter leaving him to marry a Christian. Al Pacino's performance is surprisingly nuanced. Iron's Antonio is world weary and melancholy in spirit; he ends up with more money, but Bassanio is lost to him.

I find this film to be a mixed bag, but its virtues win out. Much of the problems with this film lie in the original play. The play is often thought to be anti- Semitic, but I believe that Shakespeare gives Shylock humanity: "If you us, do we not bleed?..." Highly recommended.
to be continued
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Absolute Power"-Clint Eastwood-1997

I'm going to let the cat out of the bag early. I didn't like this film, but upon reflection don't pay attention to my opinion. Eastwood is a quality director. This was the 19th film he directed. He had already made a classic Western "Unforgiven" in 1992. He assembled one of the best casts ever. The script was an adaptation of a David Balsacci thriller. It was written by William Goldman one of the top screenwiters in recent memory. Eastwood has a reputation for being a highly efficient and painstaking director, not quite in the Hitchcock manner; he likes actors, and they like him, but given to meticulous planning. This film was brought in below budget and ahead of schedule.

Clint plays Luther Whitney, a semi retired world class burglar. He meticulously plans a job robbing billionaire Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall in his last role) while everyone is off in the Carribbean. Luther opens the film sketching in the National Gallery. He's quite good. He has a little exchange with an art student. This is an excellent beginning. It gets even better. Luther has really carefully planned this job. He defuses the alarm with seconds to spare. He goes right to the hidden room where the valuables are kept. He does pause to admire some of Sullivan's great art collection. It is clear that he doesn't plan to steal the art. His bag isn't big enough to hold even a single picture. No he has come for the jewels, and he finds a bonus; millions of dollars in cash.
That was the first false note for me; Sullivan is a man of impeccable reputation. There is no real reason for him to have all that cash.

The second false note comes quickly. Sullivan's wife hasn't left. Throughout the film Luther's care in planning and his patience is emphasized. How did he miss the wife staying behind? She returns to the mansion drunk with a drunk lover in tow. Luther watches unseen from the hidden room. there is rough sex which morphs into murder. The drunk lover is the president of the US (Gene Hackman); two secret service agents shoot the woman. They are accompanied by the chief of staff Judy Davis. This is a third plot hole in quick succession. There is no way a chief of staff would be a witness to the president's infidelity. The behavior of the agents is also suspect. The agents behave increibly; not only do they kill the woman, but they don't notify the police.

Some critics and viewers find Luther's escape unbelievable. I don't; Luther definitely knew the countryside around the mansion. Remember careful planning; so he had a huge advantage over Scott Glenn and Denis Haysbert. The investigation falls to a highly respected local lieutenant Ed Harris. The other major character, Laura Linney, is Luther's daughter Kate. Pretty great cast, right. The acting is pretty good and there is some snappy dialogue, but the plot holes keep coming.

They are too much for me to overcome. My opinion is not generally shared. I like many of Eastwood's films a lot. This one puzzles me. Watch it ad tell me what you think.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"The Lincoln Lawyer"-Brad Furman-2011

The script by John Romano is based on a novel by Michael Connelly. Connelly is better known for his Bosch novels; he is a big favorite of mine. There is an original series on Amazon Prime which is pretty good. Mickey Haller ( Matthew McConaughey) is a slightly sleezy defense lawyer in LA. He does much of his business in a Lincoln. He goes from court to court in LA County defending clients; his most important is pay up front. A former client Earl (Lawrence Mason) drives the Lincoln. This practice began when Mickey's license was suspended for drunk driving. Mickey has a big money client recommended to him by Val (John Leguizamo) another ex-client. This individual Louis Rolet (Ryan Phillipe) is a major real estate broker. He was arrested for an attempted rape and severe bodily harm. Several other clients are folded into the plot most importantly a biker gang and a prostitute with a major drug problem. Mickey has a daughter by his ex wife Maggie McFierce (Marisa Tomei) an LA prosecutor. Tomei is a quality actress who has made too few films. Mickey's investigator is an ex Chicago cop Frank Levin (William H. Macey). As you might expect; the acting is first rate, and there is some excellent memorable dialogue: "You're nobody until somebody shoots you." The supporting characters are surprisingly well developed in plot sequences. The viewer is really placed inside Haller's life. The focus is on Haller but the viewer is an observer. There are many plot twists and turns. We meet a lot of interesting characters'character actors including Michael Pena, Bob Guiton, Josh Lucas, and Brian Cranston.

Without revealing more of the convoluted plot, I like this film quite a bit, perhaps more than I should. McConaughey was Connelly's choice for the role. It was an excellent choice. Sequels have been rumored, but as with the Bosch movies; this film made decent money but wasn't a box office smash. There are four other Haller novels, and he appears in at least half a dozen Bosch novels. Well worth viewing and a solid introduction to Connelly's work.
 

ClifSpliffy

surf's up
Joined
Nov 9, 2018
Messages
1,587
Likes
1,111
we generally enjoy depression era films as they portray American culture and values put to the test. recently, we saw a visually attractive one titled 'so big,' 1931 I think. wonderful. have you seen this? thoughts?
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
I
we generally enjoy depression era films as they portray American culture and values put to the test. recently, we saw a visually attractive one titled 'so big,' 1931 I think. wonderful. have you seen this? thoughts?
I know that it is from an Edna Ferber novel. There was another version in the 50's which I believe I saw. The Stanwyck 30's version is virtually impossible to find. As far as I can tell it is not available on DVD. Did you find it on Turner Classic Movies? I checked the usual sources for streaming, and I couldn't find anything. I ran into something similar with the film "City of Lies." This film featured Brad Pitt and Forrest Whittaker; iy was supposed to be released to theaters in late 2018 or early 2019. The releasing company said they weren't going to make a theatrical release, but as far as I can tell it hasn't been released in any other forms. This film covers some of the same material as "Training Day" which is next up.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
419
Likes
990
"Training Day"-Antoine Fuqua-2001

This is an interesting and controversial film. It is very loosely based on Raphael Perez's career and the whole Ramparts situation. Unusually for Hollywood, David Ayer is the only person to work on the script. It was filmed in the gang infested neighborhoods where the story is set. The film negotiated with T Rogers, the gang leader, for the right to film in the areas. He agreed and got several gang members on as extras. Denzil Washington (Alonzo) and Ethan Hawkes (Jack) are cast as the experienced narcotics detective and the hopeful rookie. Jack is experiencing a training day on the streets with his potential mentor. Jack is new to the force, an idealist, and recently married and even more recently a father. He is ambitious; he wants to have a successful career. He envisions a placement on this well known narcotics squad putting him on the road to becoming a detective. Alonzo isn't so transparent; however, when he forces Jack to smoke pot laced with PCP at gunpoint we are given a glimpse of his total perversity.

The film cost $22,500,000 to make and had a box office of over $104,000,000 word wide. The Quality Cafe was used as the initial meeting point; it appears in four other films. It features several rap stars in supporting roles. Dr. Dre is responsible for the sound track. This results in an outstanding sense of place. The sets were local houses and exteriors. There are some problems; many people cite the language 211 uses of the worst four letter word, and a casual use of demeaning language to women are omnipresent. The death toll is only two, but the violence is omnipresent. Corruption is a normal part of this world. The saving grace is the acting; Washington won the Oscar; Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. They were deserved. Is Washington over the top, yes, but in a creative way. Even at the end when his life is in doubt, he is still threatening:"King Kong ain't got s... on me."

No punches are pulled. This is dark, but with a flair. Alonzo is mesmerizing. He isn't liked;in fact he was despised by almost everyone. He is a validation of Machiavelli: "It is better to be feared than to be loved." Jack is tempted, but ultimately he sees Alonzo as worse than corrupt. Would Jack have really passed up the opportunity to execute Alonzo? Wasn't his taking the money the same as shooting Alonzo?

Well worth viewing, but I didn't find it enjoyable. Still it makes for riveting viewing.
 
Top