Category Archives: Movie

All Movie Posts, regardless of Year

3*; Closer (2004)

Particulars:
The cast has name recognition.
The film is discomforting.

My previous movie commentary (Yesterday) said, “The acting is good and the casting fantastic.” This film in no way compels that same statement. The cast did not fit; the directing did not impress.

Natalie Portman a stripper? It’s not the “height” of her skills, so to speak. Julia Roberts incessantly wavering? She is often great playing a focused character. Jude Law as the unhinged author? He triumphantly carried this style forward to portray Thomas Wolfe in Genius (2016), but here it was uneven. Clive Owen being a weird dermatologist? He got “under my skin” like the rest of them. Continue reading 3*; Closer (2004)

7*; Yesterday (2019)

Particulars:
The Beatles are scratched from memory
One man works to remember and perform

Creative storytelling! It’s rare that Hollywood would bring a tale to the screen without ridiculous embellishment of chase scenes, gratuitous sex, and off-topic distracting diversions. Oh! This isn’t a Hollywood flick?

Of course, it’s too good for that. Thank you Danny Boyle (Director). By the way, it isn’t epic. But it is original, quippy, and delightful.

There’s a twist near the end that one couldn’t see coming. There are two in the middle that are perfectly positioned. The acting is good and the casting fantastic. Continue reading 7*; Yesterday (2019)

7*; 1917 Movie (2019)

Particulars:
World War I battlefield
Based on stories handed down

This modern ‘you are there’ film brings the viewer into the action, as did A Private War. It hardly seems possible to film action scenes in the hopeless trenches of WWI, but that is accomplished well here.

“1917” sticks to the mission portrayed for two soldiers, a match for “Saving Private Ryan” in terms of staying on track. Both are graphic. While the WWII tale is more epic in scale with its depiction of war, this WWI film is more inside the fate-accepting mind of the lonely soldier.
Continue reading 7*; 1917 Movie (2019)

8*; A Private War (2018)

Particulars:
Journalist: Marie Colvin, January 12, 1956 to Feb 22, 2012
Photo Journalist: Paul Conroy
Director: Matthew Heineman
Based on Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner
Produced by Charlize Theron

This film’s cinematography is the modern template for a truly ‘you are there’ sense of place. The Killing Fields of 1960s Cambodia have spread — seemingly everywhere around the world.

See action at dirt level and sense the dust; hover around the bigger picture; deliver the explosive and evasive. But avoid letting the action chase the characters’ personalities into oblivion. This movie delivers all of that.
Continue reading 8*; A Private War (2018)

5*; Baby Driver (2017)

This was on the verge of being the “Black Panther” of chase-scene movies. Panther (link to my review) was a genre-buster this year as contemporary sci-fi/fantasy I actually liked. “Baby” begins with a typical Hollywood out-of-control chase. I could have dropped it at the curb after ten minutes — especially with five of those minutes showing film credits. Yet the music and the vibe seemed promising so I stayed long enough for a story and characters to develop, which they did.

Inevitably, the story’s plausibility plummets like a car off a cliff (and before we’re done, the car does indeed cascade off the proverbial urban cliff). Of all the coffee houses in Atlanta, they descend upon that particular diner in a Casablanca gin-joint way. Shotgun blasts delivered at close range are only temporary in a cartoonish Road Runner harkening. Then comes the Fatal Attraction element, and I am checking how much time remains; thankfully it’s a show well under two hours. Alas, a film with creativity and intrigue becomes a mash-up of stolen scenes.

I was still in tune with this effort past the midway point. The soundtrack is a curated collection of classic and contemporary selections that carry scenes forward. A keen highlight was demonstrating that songs are both very personal and also connect people. I couldn’t always tell the good guys from the bad in advance of their actions. So it has positives but, oh, Baby drove me to distraction.

*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)

8*; The Women on the 6th Floor (2010)

An insightful French film (with subtitles). Those grand Parisian buildings project consistency on the outside. There are many different stories on the inside.

The family of Mr. Jean-Louis lives on a lower floor. Maids, his and others, live on the top floor. The two groups are far removed from each other’s lives in living conditions as well as language, culture, habits, backgrounds, and more.

Like the building, Jean-Louis has a predictable exterior drawn from his grandfather, father, work, family, and even the edifice itself. Inside him is something different. The women on the attic floor are a window to another world. The door leading to them is a passage.

Make a weekend watching “Wakefield” as well as “The Women on the 6th Floor” to escape the typical Hollywood shoot-ups and chase scenes for insight to people, portals, and personalities.

*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)