Alicia Vikander gives a stunning performance as Gerta, a woman who as she reaches her artistic peak finds herself losing her husband in an unexpected way. Through it all she remains loyal, faithful and in love with a man who is no longer there. I know most will disagree with me, however, I felt Eddie Redmayne’s performance was too controlled and he never reached deep enough within himself to give any depth to his character. The film itself is photographically stunning.
A look back ot life’s highs and disappointments through the eyes of two long times friends as performed by two legendary actors. Beautifully and poetically filmed.
Will Ferrell use to be funny. Now he seems to think taking off his shirt (again) and revealing his flabby body is all that is needed. In Daddy’s Home, he’s just plain predictable and perversely dull, and he needed Mark Wahlberg to help him out with it. One of the worst films of 2015.
There’s a good story in the tale of Joy Mangano, unfortunately the film David O. Russell made is not it. I have liked most of Russell’s films, but other than some of the performances, Jennifer Lawrence, who may be the best young actress working in Hollywood today, and Robert De Niro this is disappointment.
THE BIG SHORT
Scathingly funny look at what led up to the 2008 financial collapse as warned by four outsiders. The director and screenwriters manage to break down and present the complicated tale in a way the layman could understand. Steve Carrell gives a powerful performance. One of the best of the year.
Spotlight may just be the best film of the year, or it at least comes damn close. It’s certainly the best film on investigative journalism since, though not quite as good, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. The film draws you in early on and keeps you locked in while managing not to exploit sensitive subject matter. SPOTLIGHT is intelligent filmmaking and a superb look at heroic journalism against powerful forces. Continue reading →
An atrocity of one of the great TV shows from the 1960’s. Where to start? Well, the two leads, Henry Clavill and Arnie Hammer, have zero chemistry together as a team. Throughout the movie they just seemed uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Then there is the story which never feels menacing enough, though it involves the threat of a nuclear bomb being stolen. There are some good lines and droll humor here and there, but unfortunately, our two “heroes” cannot deliver the lines with any sense of ironic humor. The film is based on the 1960’s hit TV show, but the resemblance between the show and this film in non-existent. There is no T.H.R.U.S.H., no U.N.C.L.E. organizations and barely any camaraderie between our two spies who seem to hate each other for most of the film. The film is a complete bastardized version of the show. It desperately wants to seem hip and cool, of course it does, it has Guy Ritchie directing, It’s not. It’s just painful. The ending clearly sets you up for a sequel which I suspect will never be made. Continue reading →
Calling all Baby Boomers! Finally, an honest, realistic, touching, poignant look at the boomer generation reaching the age of retirement. An endearing performance by Blythe Danner as a widow, able to retire and live comfortably thanks to an insurance policy on her husband who passed away twenty years ago. Her daily life is one of quiet routines; reading The New York Times, playing cards, bicycling, playing golf with the girls, all who live, unlike Danner, in a retirement community. Danner’s performance shows how much this talented actress has been wasted in so many menial roles over the years. It’s a performance that should be remembered come award season. I’ll See You in My Dreams is a bittersweet, emotionally rich film. A must see!Continue reading →
Here are five short reviews of some recent viewings that are all over the genre map.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a beautifully shot big Hollywood version of the famed Tombstone shootout as the Earp Brothers face down the Clantons. Burt Lancaster makes for a stoic Wyatt Earp, a hard ass who totes the line. Kirk Douglas does his best impersonation of himself as the alcoholic, tuberculosis ridden, Doc Holliday. The story itself is pretty fictionalized. Johnny Ringo, for example, died before the shootout, and the real life shootout only lasted only about 30 seconds. Then there is Jo Van Fleet, who only two years earlier played James Dean’s mother in East of Eden, as Kate Fisher, Doc Holliday’s female companion. In real Earp lore, Kate was known as “Big Nose” Kate. But then who cares about all that. Watching the two stars interact makes this a fun watch. Continue reading →
Photography and filmmaking are brothers, or sisters, under the skin. Cinema would not exist without the birth of still photography. As a photographer, and someone whose has been drawn to celluloid dreams all his life, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite films that have characters who are photographers in significant roles. All six films are available on DVD.
Where else to start than with one of my top five favorite films. REAR WINDOW, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, stars James Stewart as a Life magazine photojournalist confined to a wheelchair after an accident during a photo shoot. With one of his legs in a cast, he spends most of his time looking out his window observing his neighbors until one day he comes to suspect one of them (Raymond Burr) has murdered his wife. Hitchcock not only gives us one of the greatest suspense/thrillers of all time, but exposes the essence of photography and a dark side of human nature…voyeurism. Continue reading →
Each Dawn I Die (***1/2) It is Cagney versus Raft in this classic 1939 Warner Brothers prison drama. Directed by William Keighley, Cagney is Frank Ross an investigative reporter who exposes a political candidate’s corrupt association with a construction company. After the article is published, Ross is snatched by some goons right in front of the newspaper building. He’s knocked out, soused with alcohol and tossed into a speeding car resulting in a car accident which kills three innocent people. Framed for the murders, Ross is sent to prison where he meets big shot Stacey (George Raft). At first, they get off on the wrong foot with Ross continuing to claim he was framed and innocent, all falling on deaf ears. The two become pals when Ross saves Stacey’s life from an attempt by another prisoner to kill him. Continue reading →
This week’s short takes are not a particularly great bunch. Like most bloggers I tend to write about the films I love, or at least like. I decided that’s not fair; makes every film that is considered “classic” sound great. They are not. This group is not necessarily horrible, except for one; another is mediocre and another is just decent. Now mediocrity can be enjoyable on some levels, recently I have been watching some low budget Boston Blackie films from Columbia Pictures which have been on TCM every weekend. They are light hearted, a bit corny, but enjoyable pieces of detective fluff. Blackie, as played by Chester Morris, is the only one with any brains, and in every film has to prove his innocence to the two dumb and dumber detectives who see him as a one man crime wave. You see, Blackie was a former jewel thief, now gone straight. At best, these films are fair, lightweight entertainment. Classic? Well, I guess it all goes down to your definition of classic, which by the way, has been discussed recently by some members of CMBA and there is a particularly good posting on the subject by Gilby of Random Ramblings of a Broadway, Film and TV Fan. Anyway below are this week’s short takes. classics or not. Continue reading →
My next full length review with be up on Monday morning. The change in schedule is due to my participation in the Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger blogathon hosted by the Classic Film and TV Cafe. I will be contributing a piece on the 1960 film, “Peeping Tom.” In the meantime, I thought I would post seven short takes on some other films that I have recently watched.
The Sand Peebles (1966) Directed by Robert Wise
When “The Sand Peebles” premiered in December 1966, the U.S. was already deep into its “quagmire” in Vietnam, a foreign policy disaster fueled by false fears that if one domino (Vietnam) fell, all the others in Southeast Asia would surely all fall too. Though set in 1926 in China, the analogy to Vietnam and the depiction of racism, prevalent at the time as well as the colonialism is all too clear. “The Sand Peebles” is a three hour anti-war epic about the effects of wrong-headed foreign policy. Steve McQueen gives what is arguably his finest performance as a rebellious ship engineer. Richard Crenna is superb as the ships’ self-righteous Captain, as is Richard Attenborough as one of McQueen’s shipmates who falls for a local Chinese girl. Visually, the film is epic and stunningly photographed. Only weak spot is Candice Bergen’s non-existent performance as a missionary. Continue reading →