Category Archives: Movie Comments 2020

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.

Continue reading 7*; Invisible Life (2019)

?*; 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:

Continue reading ?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt2

?*; 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.

Continue reading ?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt1

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.

Continue reading 7*; The Operative (2019)

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.

Continue reading 7*; Pariah: …Sonny Liston (2019)

8*; Hampstead (2017)

A British Hermit not named Herman
Brendan Gleeson brings glee, son!

Diane Keaton will command any blurb for this film. She does not overact her role. In so (not?) doing she allows the brilliance of actor Brendan Gleeson to shine throughout an effort of solid storytelling.

Get to know Mr. Gleeson. Often unassuming, he acts without flash but with flair for character portrayal in manner and skill I compare to Gene Hackman.
Continue reading 8*; Hampstead (2017)

3*; Closer (2004)

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)

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)

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)