Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dunkirk

Following the Battle of Dunkirk there were the logistics of getting over 300,000 soldiers out of Dunkirk and back to the UK. No small feat, especially with the enemy shooting at you. In the film Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan takes on the depiction of this historic time from 3 perspectives. Air, land and sea. The scenes are harrowing and I was struck by how young the soldiers were. There is a focus on a few characters to connect the audience, but for the majority of the scenes were are in the midst of shooting and bombing. Well shot and structured, an intense film depicting a dramatic time in history.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blade Runner (1982)

For all of the theatrics, I feel like nothing really happens in Blade Runner. I know this film has been highly acclaimed and is considered brilliant by many, but I was just plain bored.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Defending Your Life

Who sets a love story in the afterlife? Albert Brooks tells a sweet, creative tale in Defending Your Life. The story makes the rules of the great beyond very clear, and the performances are just great. The less you know going in the better. Fun fantasy ride. Well done.

Kong: Skull Island

Though the story sounds solid on paper, in execution, Kong: Skull Island comes off a bit silly. The actors give it their all, but I didn't buy it. The CGI was OK, but the monsters weren't much more than eating machines. This was an OK rental, but not as enthralling as past Kong movies for me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Judd Apatow Live

Judd Apatow is doing stand up again after a 22 year break and he brought his act to Providence. I bought tickets, invited a friend and we went to the Columbus Theatre in Providence. The upstairs theater is a small space, 200 seats, and sitting in the back row-center we were only 20 feet from the stage. Wayne Federman opened. He was light, and used the piano on the stage. A talented player and very funny guy. Apatow took the stage carrying his notes and a beer. He was prepping to tape a special for Netflix on Friday. His material moved easily from politics to family to work to sex to food as his subjects.The bits were funny and the hour flew. In the end, my face hurt from laughing and I felt a little lighter. A very fun night.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

After enjoying the Netflix series GLOW I took a look at a documentary that features the actual wrestlers. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is an eye-opening look at this world. Physically demanding with the pressure of giving a good performance, these women have heart and a true love of the theater of professional wrestling. So many of the first-hand accounts come down to the expression of that love. Really interesting film.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Despicable Me 3

When asked if I would like to take my grandsons to see Despicable Me 3 I jumped at the chance. The series of Despicable films have amused me in the past. The villains are ridiculous but I like the kids, and the Minions crack me up. I was so happy to see this with the boys because we laughed a lot and their critical eye in their recaps are just as entertaining as the movie. The Minions really steal the show in this one. So funny.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

In the early 70s my only knowledge of film was through the parodies in Mad Magazine. I'm pretty sure that  McCabe and Mrs. Miller were among those in 1971. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie were hot in Hollywood and this Western was hot stuff too. Beautifully shot, with a cast of characters that fit so many cliches of the genre, but Altman manages to put a little meat behind them. This is a good film. I'm glad I finally saw it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Creepshow

When George Romero passed away I fondly remembered many Saturday nights in Pittsburgh watching Night of the Living Dead on Chiller Theater. I then remembered his brilliant anthology Creepshow and sent off to Netflix for the rental. Five stories of scary creatures and events were so much fun to revisit. It was also cool to see some talented actors in these outlandish roles. Well done Mr. Romero and thank you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alive and Kicking

The documentary Alive and Kicking is a testimonial to the sheer joy of swing dancing. The dance, the people and the community all have a positive vibe. The longevity of the dance form and the people who thrive in it is inspiring. This is a great rental.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In the Heat of the Night

A murder mystery in a Mississippi town gets help from a visiting detective. In the Heat of the Night brings that help in the form of Virgil Tibbs. The dramatic angle? He is a black man in the south in the 60s. This does not bode well with the locals, but the way he holds his ground is impressive. Sidney Poitier is dynamic and strong in this performance. Not only is the story well done, but I liked the way this film was shot. It has an interesting look. Worthy of all the Oscars it won, this is a wonderful film.

The Phenom

Success in sports can mess with your head. Family can mess with your head. In The Phenom we see a star pitcher deal with his success as he comes out of high school. His father is abusive and his mother permissive. He is a head case and sees a therapist because his game is slipping. There's a lot of talking while we watch this young man struggle. The performances are good, but it's a sad story.

Get Me Roger Stone

I find Donald Trump to be a disturbing individual. In the documentary Get Me Roger Stone I learn about more vile people that support him. Money hungry. Power hungry. The long history of the ugly side of politics is interesting. No surprises, just sad.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Louder Than Bombs

Grief is interpreted differently by people. Memories of traumatic situations can be different. The film Louder Than Bombs explores the different memories and grief of a family who loses their mother. Complex feelings make a strong drama in a film with interesting structure. Serious film. Strong rental.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Their Finest

In WW II a source of news from the war were propaganda films in movie houses. In Their Finest, we meet the people who put together films to inform and keep morale up. They set out to tell a specific story and we get a good process story. The writers and actors are ambitious and serious. An interesting look at this piece of history. Good rental.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

Norman is an awkward man who thinks he is more important than he is. In his delusion he makes questionable decisions and approaches people who neither want nor need him around. The performances are excellent, but the story is not that interesting. An OK rental.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Table 19

We're all familiar with the Table 19 at a wedding. That awkward mix of people who they didn't think would come to the wedding but did. They don't know each other, nor do they have much in common. In this movie, one of the people seated at Table 19 was supposed to be the maid of honor. We learn why she is not as the relationships develop between the other members at the table. This film is marketed as a comedy, but it is more of a drama. Though there is plenty to work with here, it is not very well written and a lot of scenes fall flat. The cast is good, this is just an OK rental.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Big Sick

There can be romance in a couple. There can also be romance in a family. The love is different, but the love is intense in both relationships. In The Big Sick we see both forms of romance under the intense circumstance of a health crisis. This film is so well written, skillfully acted and structured effectively. What a breath of fresh air. Spend time with these characters, you won't be sorry.

Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie

Jeff Garlin presents a murder mystery a la Colombo style. It is quirky, funny and well done. The characters and motives are weird and uncomfortable in a funny way, all due to Garlin's easy style. I especially liked the structure as they move through the investigation. Fun film. "It is what it is."

Friday, July 07, 2017

A United Kingdom

Interracial marriage has always been a target of scorn. In A United Kingdom the story of the King of Botswana marries a white woman and is  literally banished. The politics play out in a interesting fashion. A true story of love, devotion and standards makes for an interesting film.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife

The horrors of WW II Poland come to the screen in The Zookeeper's Wife. A couple who run a zoo in Warsaw hide Jewish families from the Nazis in the animal's cages. The peril to both the animals and humans was harrowing. There was a lot of hope and heart in this film. A good rental.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Okja

In the tone of The Host, the film Okja goes down a sci-fi rabbit hole. Genetic mutation has created super-pigs yet Okja is a pet. The purpose of the mutation is for food, so escape is in the works by animal advocates. There is conflict, corporate greed and love. This is a creative endeavor and an interesting film.

The Beguiled

The beginning of The Beguiled is slow and dreamy. So much so, I nodded off a few times. The story of a wounded Union soldier being cared for by a group of girls at a boarding school slowly becomes creepy and menacing. The acting is good, this film is beautifully shot. The story is super simple and brutal when all is said and done. Interesting film.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Baby Driver

After seeing Baby Driver, I feel that I have seen a violent crime ballet. Beautiful, musical and perfectly choreographed. Who knew such a thing exists? The chases and gun fights are brutal, yet poetic. The pace is enthralling with a sense of humor. Baby is a talented driver who is working off a debt to a crime boss. Each character is developed in a skillful and delightful way. The performances are on point. The action is set to music which makes this such a delight. It also made me long for my old iPod. One of my favorite films so far this year.