You should know that my wife did not care for this movie. There are long scenes of being shaken (in a simulator, on the Lunar Lander Research Vehicle, in a Gemini Capsule, in an Apollo Capsule, and in the Lunar Module). There are long looks at the lunar landscape reminiscent of the glacial pace of Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." The movie tried her patience. For me, I've been mentally entangled with the space program starting with the earliest days of the Mercury 7 astronaut team. I watched every launch on black and white TV. Even without seeing them in the movie, I know that Redstone and Atlas boosted Mercury, Titan boosted Gemini, and two Saturns boosted Apollo. If you're that type of person, then "First Man" is your type of movie. Otherwise, go watch "The Right Stuff."
The three-day trek across wilderness with his peers, pushing a handcart and living somewhat like the Utah pioneers of the 19th century affects most of the participants taking part in the re-enactment in very positive ways, teens and adults alike. I don't want to say much more about the movie because I'd prefer not to spoil it.
You don't need to be a Mormon to appreciate this movie. I'm not a member of the LDS church, for example. The movie's surprisingly unjaded, like a Hollywood teen film from the 1930s or 1940s starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. So it's a refreshing change from today's more jaded, more nuanced Hollywood with its infinite shades of gray.
The characters in "Trek" are unusually polite, unusually sensitive to each other. Even the teens. Even the "NoMo" (non-Mormon) teen from LA who is on the trek with the others. Yet these teens are still contemporary. A few speak hip-hop slang for example, which at least grounds the film in the present though it stretches credulity to hear such polite kids speak fly. I'm guessing this movie isn't going to get wide distribution. That's a shame.
We've seen many similar movies about loss of faith for other religions: Christian, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. Now, the LDS church has one of these films too and it's uniquely Mormon, and uniquely flavored by the beautiful Utah scenery.
It seems to me that there's a lot more involvement with people playing Coogan's and Brydon's families and love interests in this third movie and for me, this pierces the bubble of the movie's conceit. Coogan calls his married lover in New York and a camera just happens to be there to capture her end of the call? If that part isn't unscripted, then the whole movie is scripted with perhaps some improvisation. So when Coogan and Brydon entertain each other with endless facts about the towns they're visiting, they're not being erudite, they're reciting scripted lines. Some of the overlong imitations of Marlon Brando, Mick Jagger, Sean Connery, and particularly Roger Moore--those are likely to be improvisational.
In all, this is a pleasant movie and the Spanish scenery and architecture steal the show and are probably worth the price of admission alone. The bit about food and reviewing restaurants seems muted and subdued in this film compared to the last one.
The ending however, deserves to live on the cutting room floor. (Again, that's my opinion.) I'll leave it to you to decide on that one.
Although this movie is called a comedy in many reviews, it's just not that funny. It's also not that interesting. It's really hard to identify with these characters who have a great life, a great home in the LA suburbs, two good jobs, a great kid, and such empty lives. It's sort of like watching a poorly written Dante's Inferno. These people are in a Hell of their own making. We don't know why and we don't really care.
If you can't get enough of this stuff, then Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a buffet for you. Eat hearty.
Oh yeah, many of the songs are far more obscure this time and they were an integral part of Volume 1.
The distracted head of the station is more interested wrestling than radio. His daughter, a frosty and remote fashion plate, is the station's business manager. She seems to have captured her unfair share of local Iranian advertisers including a dermatologist specializing in removing unwanted hair from Iranian women and a fast-food restaurant in a food court specializing in Afghan and Iranian cuisine. Perhaps these are nods to Iranian assimilation in the US.
But this movie really revolves around the fictional Hamid Royani, a noted poet and a truly masterful literary writer in Iran, reduced to working as the program director at this tiny radio station filled with misfits. He single-handedly tries to maintain his country's cultural heritage against the insurmountable odds of America's highly assimilating, melting-pot culture.
The entire movie captures one day in the station's existence when a Metallica-inspired Afghan rock-and-roll band that Royani has flown to the US from Kabul is supposed to appear on the air with Metallica in a jam session. This is Royani's dream: a celebration of international cultural mixing. He's a dreamer living a nightmare, surrounded by the leaden (from his own perspective). In fact, I think it's hard to tell which parts of this movie take place only in Royani's mind. I'm sure that part of it does.
The people surrounding Royani at the station, mostly interns, spend a lot of time looking into the camera with blank stares. I assume that's the filmmaker telling us how empty these people's lives have become as expats living in the US. (All in all, you're just a brick in the wall.)
There are funny parts to the movie. There's confusion. There is pathos. There are beautiful moments. But mostly, this movie trundles at a truly glacial pace, perhaps reflecting the director's feeling about life. Or not. In many ways this is an art film minus the art. It's the sort of thing I'd expect to get from a film student just starting out.
I saw this film as part of the Camera Cinema Club in San Jose, CA. The audience consists of longtime film patrons accustomed to seeing many different sorts of films through the club. This movie left a lot of them scratching their heads.
The story is the same but quite different at the same time. The imagery is unique to this movie. The question is the same in this movie as in the original (and in Bladerunner): What does it mean to be "human"? Philosophers have been asking this question for 10,000 years, so do not expect an answer from this movie. It's all in asking the question.
I was drawn in. My disbelief was suspended. The movie moved along and never dragged for me. After all, that's why I go to see a movie. If I want to see the original version, I have it on DVD and can watch that any time. You can too.
The protagonists in this movie are three women of color working in one of the most unwelcoming environments they might hope to find: NASA Langley, Virginia, in 1961. As women, they were employed as human "computers" because they were less expensive and they got their numbers right. As "colored" folk, they got their own separate (and sparse) restrooms and their own, separate dining facilities. This was not America's shining hour, even in some place as lofty as NASA.
At the same time, civil unrest was rising in the towns. This is the time of Martin Luther King's rise to prominence. It's a time just before the rise of militant civil rights groups. It's a time when resistance to segregation and discrimination was still civil, but as the movie shows, that resistance was beginning to firm up and become widespread.
There are several reasons to see this movie: from a civil rights perspective; from a feminism perspective; from the perspective of the early space race when we lagged the Soviet Union, badly. If you lived during this time, see the movie to remember. If you were born later, see this movie to see what things were like.
The point: This movie captures a mostly pre-industrial society coping with 21st-century norms in a modern world, and with little to no extra effort as portrayed in this movie. For example, the film's Web page on Sony Pictures' site shows Aisholpan with a Go Pro Hero action camera strapped to her head, which explains where some of the film footage came from.
Billed as a documentary, we presumably see things as they happened. I couldn't say but nothing much goes wrong in this movie. Mostly, things go very right and the narrative just moves forward. Nevertheless, I was always cheering for Aisholpan, because she's a most worthy heroine.
We saw this movie as part of the Camera Cinema Club series in San Jose. Following the screening Metropolitan Opera vocal coach Arthur Levy (who worked with Streep to re-create Jenkin's "sound") discussed his contribution to the film via SKYPE.
The movie's point is that, like the Trinity atomic test in New Mexico in 1945, Stuxnet has let another genie out of the weapons bottle. This genie is cyber weapons that can strike anywhere on the planet essentially in an instant.
If that makes you nervous, then the movie has met the filmmaker's objective.
We saw this film through the San Jose Camera Cinema Club.
We saw this film as part of the Camera Cinema Club series in San Jose, CA.
This is a minimalist movie. The director does not telegraph messages. In fact, I missed a major clue because I was looking at the wrong thing on the screen when it appeared, briefly. My wife didn't miss it. I learned about it by reading other reviews of the movie after the fact. The clues and the path of the movie mean there's a lot to process after the credits roll.
The two stars, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, are intensely engaging in this film. Both deliver stellar performances with fairly difficult material. Slight facial expressions and small gestures are sometimes the only tools they have to express deeply felt emotions. That they succeed is a testament to their acting abilities. The words in the script certainly don't carry the plot alone. Sometimes, those words are not even there.
It's a British film and in European film tradition, you will not be left with things neatly tied up. You'll have to decide how the film ends on your own. If you don't like such endings, then this is not going to be your film.
Can this really be South Africa? Part of it looks like Australia. Part looks like New York City. Part looks like San Francisco during the Summer of Love in the late 1960s. Most of the road trip takes place in a car even older than the Summer of Love.
Yes, the plot contains "twists" you can see coming from miles away. Yes, the outcomes are rarely in doubt. This is a sweet movie. It won't tax your brain. It's like eating dessert without eating a meal first. So what? The world needs more movies like this.