Category Archives: Movie

All Movie Posts, regardless of Year

9*; Their Finest (2016)

1. Storytelling with all the fixings.
2. Skillful movie making I sometimes think might be lost

Commentary: I stumbled onto this film and was very impressed. This is a drama with comedic interludes, historical without the historic figures, storytelling rather than theatrics, a determined young woman, a dramatic kiss, love, loss, and, yes, even little canines. All are directed to produce what a movie should: entertainment.

The setting is 1940, during the bombardments of England that were occurring well before America joined the war. Memories of World War I linger as the difficulties of World War II are upon the populace, each with their own wounds, attitudes, and ways of dealing with wartime.

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8*; Miss Sloane (2016)

-Jessica Chastain’s hair!
-Very good acting by a young cast

My ratings on movies watched in 2021 are trending higher than usual. I’ll chalk that up to getting good suggestions, and “Miss Sloane” measured up.

Does Jessica Chastain always play the in-control-on-the-surface wonder woman (lower case ‘W’s’)? She commanded the story here as she did in “Molly’s Game” (2017).

There were staid actors in this film you knew and probably liked, e.g. Sam Waterson. Mark Strong played Sloane’s boss, coming across as the most realistic, un-acted, spot-on character in the starring roles. What really shown brightly was the cast of 20-something actors in roles as Sloane’s coworkers. They were nearly as striking as Miss Sloane’s red, Red, RED hair. Chastain was very good as the star, carrying the spotlight through every scene.

I could have wished better pacing in the story-telling, meaning it would suit me to have more ebb and flow. Yet I think most people would like the constant intensity and drive that fit the title character. I’m even more confident that viewers would enjoy the drama, scheming, and stick-it-to-the-man aspects of the production. The ending is good, too!

*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 8*=Eight Stars (maximum 10)

9*; Ford v Ferrari (2019)

-Really about people, not cars
-Well-acted from the youngest to the oldest

It took a while to see this movie. I know there was a lot of attention given to it, but it did not have my attention. I would watch it again someday.

Matt Damon was good enough. Christian Bale and his little Ken Miles family were all terrific. “The Deuce,” aka Henry Ford II made the right impacts at the right time. I could easily have rooted for Enzo as the oldest in the cast of characters showed dedication, drive, and yet humility when warranted.

The key to enjoyment was telling a story with tension, suspense, humor, drama, and drive (couldn’t resist the pun) without resorting to silly chase scenes that would have taken the tale off track. (Two puns; I’m out!)

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

7*; A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

-Slow paced
-Tom Hanks draws out some hankies
-It’s really about the other guy (but this commentary is not)

It isn’t whether Tom Hanks is a great Mr. Rogers (you’re welcome to think so). It’s that the protagonist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) reminds me of Hanks in terms of career. The former is depicted as a type-cast writer of scathing personal attacks, given this opportunity to change public perception. The latter had a similar challenge after the “Big” splash (1998) locked in the mental image of Mr. Hanks as the funny guy.

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7*; Invisible Life (2019)

-Explicit sex scenes
-Somewhat long but paced well
-Brazilian with English subtitles

Let’s center this movie commentary
around a simple subject: “letters.”

I think of “Love Letters,” a dramatic play with letters in the starring role. There was “The Scarlet Letter,” a book where ‘A’ letter (of course) was the center of attention. “The Letter” was a song by The Box Tops (“… my baby just-a wrote me a letter, …”) that gave the letter great prominence in the 1960s.

Spoiler alert! I’m about to give away one component of multi-layered outcome of this film. Do not open this envelope if you need to be completely surprised.

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?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt2

-Film festival in Austin, TX, cancelled …
-Continuation of post: SXSW Films -Pt1

With the 2020 cancellation of the SXSW Festival (aka “South by Southwest”), I viewed selections they chose to stream through Amazon Prime Video, April 27 to May 6, 2020, free to Prime Members.

As noted, a film festival is like mining for riches, searching for nuggets, settling often for fool’s gold. Let us begin with some things that shone quite brightly:

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?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt1

-Film festival in Austin, TX, cancelled …
-Amazon Prime Video showing selected works

With the 2020 cancellation of the SXSW Festival (aka “South by Southwest”), I partook of some selections they chose to stream through Amazon Prime Video, April 27 to May 6, free to Prime Members.

Prior experience in this field totaled one day of a North Carolina film festival. I think 1.25 days of film festivals is my new tally, with this SXSW “attendance” lacking all the ambiance and much of the content, but getting “partial credit.”

My take is that a film festival is like mining for riches. The mine is deep. The waste products are abundant. The nuggets that shine might make it worthwhile. If not, one has stories of mind-numbingness endured. My story concludes with money pocketed by never making the trip to Austin.

The Southwest is home to “Black Gold, Texas Tea.” I didn’t find much that was my cup of tea, but let us start with the gold.

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7*; The Operative (2019)

-Foreign film scores well …
-… as usual

Intrigue and relationships are sufficient to recommend this film to people who like to engage. There’s action enough, but that’s not the reason I would pick to watch this, or most, movies. Story strength is important, and you will find it here.

Diane Kruger is the lead as Rachel. I’m not familiar with her film work , which dates at least to 2002. She conveys “I’m-a-real-person,” which is more satisfying than the caricatures often emanating from the silver screen. Leave the latter to her spy-ring handler.

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7*; Pariah: …Sonny Liston (2019)

-Showtime Network
-Documentary or tragedy?

You may not like them, but sometimes you need a doc. This might be that time and that documentary. If you crave information and intrigue, or pugilism and pugnacity, engross yourself for ninety minutes.

Information: Liston was famous, so I’ve heard. I briefly caught the force of heavyweight boxing only in the days of Clay, Ali, Frazier, and Foreman, after Sonny’s time at the top, which now I know.

Intrigue: What better setting than Las Vegas for an infamous death? Was he done in? Who done it? Writer Shaun Assael did not need central casting to compose a character list in Sin City.

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