Friday, June 30, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge

For years I have been intrigued with the Brooklyn Bridge. Its stature, its beauty and its connection of the islands of Manhattan and Brooklyn are impressive. In the documentary Ken Burns' Brooklyn Bridge the film maker chronicles the history of the 14 years it took to build the bridge. With little technology, the feat is pretty astounding. Burns does a great job weaving the politics, materials and ingenuity into a fascinating narrative. Worth a look.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Sense of an Ending

In The Sense of an Ending a man tries to collect a diary left to him by an old friend. In the course of his journey, he learns a lot about memories and deception. Some memories are faulty, some are accurate. The cast and performances are good. A decent rental.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Grey Lady

I rented Grey Lady because I thought I would like a crime drama set in Nantucket. The setting is one of the few appealing things in this film. This story goes down a seedy path. The plot is confusing, the story yet the performances were good. This was an OK rental.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Christine

Depression is a tough disease. In the film Christine, a woman is a reporter at a television station. She struggles with her superiors, her family and herself. She is frustrated and depressed, which has dire consequence. Rebecca Hall is excellent in this serious drama.

Oh Hello on Broadway

I have been fortunate enough to have seen my share of Broadway shows, especially in the last few years. This year the show Oh Hello was on my list, but I did not get a chance to see it before it closed. This week I learned that they filmed one of the performances and it showed up on Netflix Instant. What a treat to have this delightful show in my living room! Having been to the Lyceum Theater a few years ago I had a sense of familiarity that helped me feel closer to the show. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll should be proud of this piece. It is funny, warm, smart and did I mention funny? Need a smile? This is the show for you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Off the Rails

A compulsion for order and structure attracts a young man to the NYC transit system in the documentary Off the Rails. He is obsessed with the trains and buses and finds a comfort in that world. Taking it to the level of hijacking the vehicles, he gets himself arrested time and time again. I was impressed with how hard the justice system worked to help this young man rehabilitate his compulsion instead of relying totally on incarceration. An interesting story well told.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diner

Another classic rolled into my DVD player. It had been forever since I had seen Diner, so I put it on my list. As I get older, I find it interesting to revisit movies I've seen decades ago. With experience and time I find I see them a little differently. This is another film where women are not treated very well. The sophomoric attitude of the men towards the women is demeaning. As I've said, sadly for the 50s it was the norm. The acting in this film is excellent, Barry Levinson got the most out of this talented young cast. This was worth seeing again.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guys and Dolls

So often you see the musical Guys and Dolls performed by local theaters and high school groups. Much of the music is legendary. The story is OK, but as was common in the 50s, the way women are treated is so sad. Manipulation of emotions and lack of respect are central. We've come a long way, but a 14 year engagement just isn't that funny. What impressed me most was the performance of a young Marlon Brando. Singing and dancing as well as a strong acting performance, I was mesmerized whenever he was on screen. And Frank Sinatra? His character was so obnoxious, it was hard for me to enjoy his performance. Another classic that I'm glad I rented.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Footloose

When Footloose came out in 1984 it looked so cheesy and I just couldn't watch it. After listening to several interviews with Kevin Bacon recently, I realized that the film is a bit of a cultural icon. Upon renting it I enjoyed the cinematography, the acting and the music. It was wild to watch the young actors who have aged 30 years perform in their youth. This is a film I'm glad that I watched as a classic. Good rental.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Any Day Now

In the film Any Day Now, a mentally challenged young man is abandoned by his mother. A neighbor kindly steps in. When things turn serious enough to consider adoption the man's sexual orientation becomes a sticking point. Alan Cumming is great in this, but it has such a sad ending. A good rental.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Godfather

The Godfather arrived in theaters in 1972. I was 15 years old and had already read the book several times. I remember my parents seeing it when it first came to theaters and my father talked about it a lot. I must have eventually seen it with my friends, because I know I saw it in the theater. Back in the day it could almost take a year for a movie to get to our small town. When I learned that The Godfather would be shown on the big screen at my local theater, I invited Dad and he happily accepted. After seeing the film so many times over the years, it was interesting to watch a film in the theater when I knew exactly what was going to happen. Many of the scene's impacts are held in the element of surprise. I still marvel at the wonderful performances of the young actors and each shot is a work of art. I'm grateful to have been able to see this on the big screen again and especially to have shared it with my Dad.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

sex, lies and videotape

I thoroughly enjoy the podcast Movie BS with Bayer and Snyder on a weekly basis. When they chose sex, lies and videotape for their first Monthly Movie assignment, I was happy to find it in my personal library. Betrayal and revenge come in the forms of adultery, exhibitionism and voyeurism. A cool erotic drama I'm glad to revisit. I'll be interested to hear Eric and Jeff discuss it in July.

The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story

The work of Al Hirschfeld has been a visual history of theater for decades. In The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story we learn the history and road of his art and his life.The wealth of drawings and stories in this film makes for a fabulous documentary for any theater fan. Well done. If you rent the DVD watch the bonus features.

The Lovers

A couple dealing with unfulfilling jobs, empty nest syndrome and boredom are both carrying on affairs outside of their marriage In The Lovers, these two unlikable people lie to each other and then begin lying to their lovers. The pace is pensive and there is little dialog. An interesting film, but the characters have few redeeming qualities.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Comedian

Playing an unlikable character, Robert Di Nero is effective as an insult comedian in his later years. In The Comedian, his character battles the popularity of an obnoxious character in almost every encounter with the public. He meets a woman with her own issues and they develop a relationship. Family and friends both play a part in the growth and demise of their relationship. I liked their chemistry and the ending was as it should be. A good rental.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

I Am Heath Ledger

A documentary of an actor's rise is always interesting, but never more-so than when the actor himself films and tells his own story. Nine years after his untimely death, I Am Heath Ledger does just that. Ledger's own footage and the words of friends, family and colleagues tell this talented man's much too short life story. Excellent film.