Thursday, March 2, 2023
Monday, February 27, 2023
A few films . . .
Catching up on James Bond:
Casino Royale **
Quantum of Solace *
I like these films! Daniel Craig was a good Bond. I think I only saw the first film, and I'm going to watch the rest of his run. I like the way they seem more grounded in reality. The conspiracists all seem like real people, the corruption and evil reflective of what's really happening in the world.
And I really like the way the introduce the Vesper cocktail.. It's so good!
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Triangle of Sadness
Triangle of Sadness
*** - Must See.
A grotesque black comedy about wealth, privilege, influencers, body image, and survival.
Saturday, January 21, 2023
The Menu, Amsterdam, Man vs. Bee, and others
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Loretta Young, Guy Kibbee, Mickey Rooney, John Wayne
Dolan ends up across the country at a small home for disabled kids, doing odd jobs. Loretta Young is the teacher, and the great character actress Aline MacMahon is the housekeeper. One of the kids is played by Mickey Rooney in an early role. One of the kids accidentally tales a picture of Dolan that gets in a local paper - showing his boxing stance, but not his face. But Kibbee the cop sees it and places Dolan, and heads out to look for him.
The home, of course, is suddenly in need of $2,000 or it will face foreclosure. Conveniently, there's a boxing match coming up, $500 per round against a mountain of boxer. Dolan signs up, planning to fight as a righty to disguise himself (he's a natural southpaw - he's also grown a mustache - not much of a disguise but he looks more like Fairbanks!!). Also boxing in the exhibition is a young John Wayne in a great little performance.
The fight is great! Wayne and a few other tomato cans get beat up by the big boxer - then Dolan gets in the ring, with Kibbee the cop and the housekeeper in the crowd, Young and the kids listening on the radio. He gets beat up good, as a righty, lasting three rounds. But he needs a fourth round to get to $2000 and save the home. He goes down hard on the canvas - and Kibbee rushes up to him, calls him Jimmy, and tells him to let him have it with the left!!
So Dolan gets up and gives it to he big boxer, good - the classic "I'm really a southpaw" bit. It was fun! I thought he might knock the big guy out, but he's too big. Dolan gets knocked out the next round. Kibbee arrests him, let's him tell a story to Young (now his girl!) about going east for boxing matches, and I thought for sure he would let him go. But he doesn't, yet. He takes him to the train. It's there they have a long talk, and it's clear that Kibbee also has a past that went unfulfilled. It's here he lets Dolan go.
This is from 1933, before the Hays Code - and Dolan is very guilty of manslaughter. A few years later, the story would have to end differently. So it's refreshing to see the morally right ending here.
Great performances, especially from supporting characters. Good surprising ending. And a sweet love story. Great film.
It's also a little grotesque, and very timely. Good people have to stand up to bullies.
*** Must See
** Worth Seeing
* Has Redeeming Facet
* Not Worth Seeing
Thursday, January 12, 2023
More critiques! If you want full reviews find them elsewhere. Just some quick thoughts.
Emily the Criminal - **
Wonderful story about today's economics and the choices it forces on young people. Emily dropped out of art school because of a violent incident in her past. She can't find fulfilling work that also pays the bills. When she gets an opportunity to use other skills she has - perhaps related to her shady past - she maybe finds a way to beat the system. I like the way the young woman at the center of the story refuses to be a victim, and refuses to let the failures of others dictate her future. A pretty small film made bigger by Aubrey Plaza's performance.
The Banshees of Inisherin - ***
On it's surface it's a story about a friendship gone sour. But I think it's about how difficult it is to move on from a relationship when one person has changed, or just wants change, and the other hasn't. (Having recently been through that in a divorce I found that especially interesting.) I think the other aspect is the question of finding fulfillment in middle age. We get that story from all three of the leads (besides the two male friends, one of their sisters, Siobhan, is the only one who makes a really positive change!).
Great soundtrack, beautiful and thematically interesting setting (it takes place in 1923, with the Irish Civil War raging just over the water - a fight between friends and family), personable acting and deft directing. A must see.
Four Stars - Masterpiece
Three Stars - Must See
Two Stars - Worth Seeing
One Star - Has Redeeming Facet
No Stars - No Redeeming Facets
Saturday, January 7, 2023
A new exercise . . .
I watch a lot of films. I lose track of them. I'm going to start keeping a running list. Commentary here and there. But I will give each film a star rating.
Many of these I've seen before. Many for the first time.
Four stars - masterpiece.
Three stars - must see.
Two stars - worth seeing.
One star - has a redeeming facet.
Zero stars - no redeeming value.
Black Adam * I wanted to like this more - but it labors too long with the "good guys fighting each other until they figure out the real enemy" story. But this DC superhero fan liked seeing Hawkman, (Red) Tornado, the Atom, and Dr. Fate on the big screen as a re-imagined Justice League.
Strange World * I was surprised by this disney film. Give it a shot. It starts out with a dull "I won't be like my father plot" but quickly turns into a story about environmentalism and how best to take care of our home.
Glass Onion ** A worthy whodunnit successor to the first in the series. Great plotting, fun movie.
Enola Holmes **
Enola Holmes 2 ** Great feminist messages! Funny and exciting. A good series for kids and adults.
The French Dispatch *** It's weird to say this Wes Anderson film is "under rated." This was my second viewing, and it blows me away.
Fake Famous * An interesting participatory, performative documentary about how and why people want to be "influencers".
Notorious (Hitchcock) *** Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman. I still love this film but as it ages I'm more appalled at the horrific way he treats her through much of the film.
Nope ** Maybe ***, still thinking about it. Peele's films deny explanation. They are gloriously beautiful and baffling and violent and scary and funny.
Nancy Drew Detective (1938) *
Nancy Drew Reporter (1939) * Fun old mysteries that hold up pretty well (except for a dated, racist portrayal of a farm hand in the second film.) Interesting comparing these with the Enola Holmes films.
Bad Day at Black Rock *** Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan. A timely film. What happens when bullies take over.
Pygmalion (1938) ** Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller are hilarious and sweet and sincere in this 1938 version of George Bernard Shaw's play, later made most famous as My Fair Lady. Wonderful performances.