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The Resident (2018)
Drivel, pure and simple...
Hyperbolic cliched plotlines regarding men in power positions, a 'typical' doc with no peripheral vision leaving comical 'wow!' moments' all over the bloody floor, the dear-in-the-headlights, soon-to-be-deftly-dexterous (eeewwww)-doctor, and neoteric-nurses-in-lust. I saw enough of that in the 70's and 80's!!! At first I thought this was a parody. BUT! It became quickly, horrifying clear that this was Fox's serious effort at a Medical Series. How sad. I must say though, at least three of the actors gave it their best shot.
Klondike: The Quest for Gold (2003)
"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." MLK
This could have been a wondrous and imaginative trip for us, the audience, except for the way in which the whiny, spoiled men chose to perceive their hardships and place the blame, as well as displace their childish anger, on Andria Bellon. Even at the end, as they sit around the table in the tent, eating a wonderful meal, the 'boys' form together against her again even after she makes a generous offer. Christian Dave, a young man, never cuts her slack, while another young man, Sebastien, at least does leave her a margin of respect at that last table. Remarkably, Andria, after struggling with her emotional demons, decides to find the gold, instead of the dross, in this incredible situation. And, in the end, she not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.
Finally, I am left feeling sad. Why? Because, I have experienced and noticed that men have come to have very little respect and care for women these days. Myself, I don't ask for extra - no more than a man would give his friend. What I see, unfortunately, is a growing attitude of misogynistic passive/aggressivity that men don't seem to recognize in themselves at all. This is not good.
Hats off and great respect to Andria for her courage, patience, and heart. Hopefully she will have had a good influence on these guys.
The Bridge (2013)
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove... Leonard Cohen
'The Bridge' sucks you right into the story from the beginning. Who might own and undertake the where-with-all to shut down the lights on the Bridge of the Americas and quickly deposit a body on the line of demarcation bringing detectives from the Chihuahua Police Department (Demian Bichir) and the El Paso Homicide Division (Diane Kruger) together to work in tandem? The plot is borrowed from the real life nightmares of girls and woman who have been murdered by the hundreds in Ciudad Juarez. Movies have been made - 'On the Edge: The Femicide in Cuidad Juarez', which is an insightful documentary; 'The Virgins of Juarez', which was widely panned; and Jennifer Lopez gave her best effort the same year (2006) in 'Bordertown'. Not only is the value of life, in general, at rock bottom in Mexico, when it comes to women and children, there is still potential for that value to sink to not-so-new lows. While victim's advocate groups try to bring attention to the plight of these girls/women and their families, the very fact that their projected value of life is so low leeches out into our own society and the response is, sadly, quite weak. A quality series such as 'The Bridge' has the potential to draw attention and empathy, ironically enough considering the problem of which our homicide detective struggles, to this very real problem.
Mexico is a country imploding upon itself with violence and crime. Attempting to survive within these regimes of competitive gangs are human beings, born by a toss of the dice into one of the worst possible countries of this time. Like us, they have families and jobs, and dreams of a better future. Unlike us, they face obstacles that we cannot even begin to fathom. Our own families, in history, came to the U.S. as illegal aliens and mercilessly displaced the indigenous population. Yet, we are often the first to sit in careless judgment regarding the horrendous plight of the Mexican people. "Send them back over the border!" is the rallying cry in Arizona and many other states. Considering the reasons our ancestors were anxious and ready to do whatever it took to pull up stakes and put their families at risk to come here in the first place, we must look back and consider them just as base and nasty as those in Mexico who try to come here for a better life. Right? There is no justification from my Scottish great-great-great grandfather that will outweigh what I hear from below the border now! The obverse pairing of the two detectives from opposite sides of the border is a brilliant metaphor which elicits even through their personalities the polarity caused by lack of empathy and by unintentional disconnect. Kruger's character may, at least, be excused for her tendency towards cold, calculated legalism in the eye of tragedy for she does not take sides due to her 'glitch' called Aspergers. I have two autistic children, one with Aspergers. They are not cutouts of the same mold; they have different personalities, these 'Asperger humans'. Kruger's character reminds me very much of my daughter. Watch 'The Bridge' for your entertainment and get an education. 9/10
Dead Man Down (2013)
To Revenge or Not to Revenge!
Oh Lord, have mercy now, I am a criminal - MAN DOWN - Tell the judge, please, gimme minimal *Rihanna*
In a country where the justice system has swung like a pendulum from the Salem Witch Trials, and Old West vigilantism to pleading down murders and other crimes to almost nothing for the sake of getting anything on the books, revenge movies have become a favorite guilty pleasure for many. However, there are different kinds of revenge movies. In fact one writer, Grady Harp, whose reviews I most often highly respect, makes mention that in the case of the movie, Dead Man Down,
"The theme is not good guy versus bad guy because every character in the film is a bad guy/girl and once the audience tunes into that then the emphasis is on that elusive human reaction to trauma called revenge."
What? No good guys? This is a movie and movies relate to real life. Right? When the Twin Towers went down we wanted revenge. Did that make us bad? Our military went to war and most all of us were behind that action. I'm just saying, when there is any kind of rational justification we, as human beings, tend to want retribution. However, we hope for reasonable resolution, in real life. In movies, we want gruesome revenge and yet, still consider the protagonist righteous.
Between the director of Dead Man Down, Niels Arden Oplev, and the actors, Collin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, the spirit and humanity of these vengeful characters were culled with insight and care. Two youngish actors, both masters of the dark, far-off stare, make a connection across the hazy air between two apartment buildings and the souls of their characters, as well as their histories, collide. This is an artfully convoluted plot, making sense at each surprising turn. Isabelle Huppert, as Rapace's mother, was ethereally present, blithely beautiful and childlike.
Terrence Howard, as evil incarnate, did not altogether satisfy. While I didn't need to see an overacting madman, I would like to have seen him use those nice cold blue eyes to convey more danger. Instead, it seemed as though he whined his anger and discontent more often than not.
Dominic Cooper, a Brit, sporting a Bronx accent, was a surprise. His character was paradoxical and he certainly did it justice.
Right up until the very, very end, I was enjoying myself. The soundtracks, the cinematography, the New York and surrounding area location, the acting and THEN... Our two protags ran from a fiery mess where no police sirens are ever even remotely heard and, muddy, bloody and wet, they jump on a bus where immediately a beautiful, haunting love song plays. Unfortunately, for me at least, our lovebirds grab a pole and make out with one-another as not one person on that loaded bus looks on? Wha??? Had to take one off for that! So cheesy!
Revenge is sweet AND not fattening... Alfred Hitchcock.
Although Horowitz created this series, I swear I saw the ghost of Hitchcock pacing in the background. Eerily, his prints hoovered just off the pages of script, evident in pacing, tone and tenor and I wonder if the honourable he and Mr. Horowitz wrote the denouement in one mind.
Yes, Purefoy (Travers) was excellent as a the subdued, yet stalk-on rigorous attorney, eying both the prosecution and his client throughout the trial. Moreover, the flashbacks of life before rural Suffolk, as well as the choppy shots of the murder of Spaull, were done in a coherent, easy manner with which to keep pace. The insinuations of a 'breakdown' in Travers' past was another great possible portent of pitiful prospects that sent frissons up my spine. Was he going to fall apart and go on a spree, will it come off short, constrained by the so-called British sangfroid? And again my thoughts returned to Hitch, who could have only contributed to this series through the breath of his spirit and his lasting influence on a talented Horowitz. Hitch was admittedly afraid of many things, in fact, he once said "The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them."
The support actors were brilliant! Dervla Kirwan is always spot-on. Although I have never watched Charlie Creed-Miles before, I can honestly say, I just hated him in such a good way! Can't wait to see him in something else.
In conclusion, this is a great UK miniseries with 5 episodes that keep one interested and, I would say, entertained. Give it a watch, you'll have no regrets.
Hopefully, 'Blackout' will be back out!
'Blackout' is what I would call a tense, character driven, political 'Neo Noir Thriller' series from BBC. Christopher Eccleston effortlessly plunges himself into the role of an abject alcoholic who still just does manage on as a respected councilman. He has many flaws - prostitutes, drinking, and work fraud to name a few - but his fatal flaw, which we don't ever really get any kind of clinical read on, is one of self-hatred. Never-the-less, with his one sober-fueled but brain-numbed act of gravitas, our sad protagonist changes direction and begins a very interesting, yet fraught-filled course.
The premise of this series is quite interesting. There are those who are evil and we know it, and there are kinds of evil operating behind the scenes, so-to-speak, that keep us off balance.
Eccleston handles himself very well as the lead, Daniel Demoys. In fact, this was my first opportunity to see him in a lead role and I was very impressed. Demoys' wife (Alex), Dervla Kirwan, is also a heavy hitter in this series. She more than carries her role, as usual. The busy actor, Ewan Bremner(Jerry Durrans), brings intensity and drama with his deep set, closely paired eyes sitting atop that hawk-like nose, drilling his opponents down with however much authority he wishes to personify.
As an aside, the Producers/Directors have dealt very well with inserting the cycle of alcoholism and family dynamics into the series. That is something of which we do not see enough.
'Blackout' ends in such a way that can be considered resolved or, hopefully BBC will consider following the lives and crimes of those we are left wondering about. So many loose ends or further mysterious trails to ponder...?
The Next (2012)
The Next CW Flop
While there is potential for this 'Star Search' type series on CW, it is simply too formulaic. Furthermore, it is introduced each week by the kind of young-ish Allison Hagendorf with her allllmost valley-girl style which I'm guessing is supposed to appeal to the, overall, very young audience, yet clashes with the maturity of the mentors. Then, and above all, it seems we can predict the outcome each week. The last to perform has been the winner every time I've watched, and I believe I've watched each one. What's up with that?
In most cases, I love these kinds of shows for their exposure of new talent, and this one in particular for the opening up of the personalities of celebrities in partnership with the up-and-comers. Furthermore, these particular mentors have been great! But, this series is probably in trouble. Too bad...
The 4 to 9ers (2012)
Hulu Exclusive About Teens and the Subway, Right?
James Widdoes directs this exclusively Hulu, 10 to 12 minutes per episode/per week, series about teenagers who leave high school each day to work a shift at the local mall's 'Subway' sandwich shop. Widdoes' resumé consists of other series such as 'According to Jim, The Bill Engvall Show, 2 1/2 Men, and Til Death'. While the premise of this show is simple, it is a fun watch, especially, I think, for the adolescent and teen trajectory. It's a bit corny, but it's really cute corny with adorable kids and a very funny mall cop on the beat.
There's just not enough out there to queue up for the kids to watch, or for us, as mentoring parents and friends, to advise the younger group to check out. Not long ago, in the Amazon movie chat forum, a young lady asked for suggestions regarding age appropriate movies and TV series. I was amazed at the variety and amount of answers she received. If she's asking, so are others wondering.
While I am not a fan of these short incremental weekly episodes, I am enjoying the series. Give it a try. At least you can't say you wasted much of you very precious time! Besides, I'll wager it'll put a smile on your face...
Strike Back (2010)
The Brits "Strike Back"!
'Strike Back' is an edge of your seat, bite your nails, British para-military thriller series. From start to finish the action is bold enough to make one almost wish for an occasional commercial break. And by bold, I must mention the violence, which entails language, weapons, blood, and some very graphic incidents. Speaking of fairly graphic moments, scenes of sex and nudity might assault the viewer sans any kind of introduction or warning. Within the first 20 minutes of episode one, I found myself asking if a great deal of the more colorful images might be rather gratuitous. Upon further viewing, it became apparent, at least to me, that the various directors (Daniel Percival directed 8 episodes)were needfully tapping into the twisted and harsh landscape and characteristics of war (Iraq) which might beget such raw scenes.
Jim Mistry, as 'the bad guy', Latif, was outstanding. This actor can say so much with facial expression, yet in this series he rarely changes expression from a soul-less stare, arrogantly and calmly laying out and following through with his dirty deeds. His character is irredeemable, yet somehow, to the end he self-righteously postures an honorable agenda.
Philip Winchester (Sgt. Stonebridge), who was the lead in the failed TV series 'Caruso' and acted in 'Fringe', does a bang-up job as a pumped-up, die-for-his-country soldier. Stonebridge is married; he is the thinker, the serious, stable one of the duo. Still, there are layers to this quiet, contemplative man that just might cover a darker side.
Speaking of our duo, Sullivan Stapleton (Sgt. Scott), is brought on board by their Colonel because, of course, they need to go outside their unit to pair Stonebridge with someone of his military-machine-like ilk. Sgt. Scott, a brawny man of might, is a man with baggage, but he does not carry condoms in his baggage. In fact, this man will drop his pants if a women even smiles while glancing sideways in his direction. It appears, Scott is a reckless man with little regard for, or expectancy of a long life. Furthermore, these multitudinous and brief encounters with various women leave little room for one to believe his view of them is quite humane. Again, I ponder... Has Sgt. Scott become a crazed victim of this nightmarish war, killing in one breath, heartlessly and carelessly going from one female to another when there's time? Or, is he is just carrying on, as he was before? It does eventually become evident that this obverse pairing of Sgt.'s Scott and Stonebridge causes a sort of paradoxical bond. Like two sides of a coin, one heads - one tails, these two characters are able to turn what might have been a negative partnership into an explosively cohesive (I know, oxymoron) machine. You will know what I mean once you watch this series.
Moreover, the entire talented cast play off each other as if they have worked together for years. The writers are not dull for a moment and do not let us get complacent plot-wise. You never know what or who will happen. BBC America is advertising another season and I am excited for it.
Altogether a well made for TV series, well fleshed out characters all around, great cinematography and lots of action! This rates 9; it may not be fair, but 1 off because I had to cover my eyes so often...
Small Town Murder Songs (2010)
The music was killer!
Brilliant! The music carried the story to it's rightful destination. A few small town policemen find themselves in the rare predicament of having to solve the murder of a young woman from out of town, probably killed by a community member. The harsh timber, tone and cadence of the music underscores the situational paradox, while the religious score drives the redemption message home.
The question is, can these small-town characters hold up without tearing each other apart under this kind of pressure. I'm a small town girl and I had to give 5 points for the very realistic portrayals by these actors of earthy, basically good people, worn but willfully working on combined with Bruce Peninsula's killer musical assist! Aug. 2012
Crazy Horse (1996)
The Devil's in the Details!
'Crazy Horse' is a well acted, beautifully shot film that should have gone to big screen.
While this movie may deviate from the finest research points of one author, Sandoz, it plays well, overall, to the spirit of Native American experience, as well as to the nature of Crazy Horse. Keep in mind it is not listed as a docudrama. I grew up all my life on the Rez, my family is Native American and our minds and hearts were moved by this film. Although we are Nez Perce, all tribes unite in their admiration of Crazy Horse and the ability he had to be 'invisible' in the face of an army when necessary. So, when I use the euphemism "the devil's in the details" my message is "don't let the devil distract you from something great by tying you up with trivia." It is great to see a movie that is true to form in showing the nature of war. I grew up believing Indians were bad. My twin sisters came home crying one day from first grade because one of their friends told them that they were Indians. To my sisters, that meant they had to ride horses to white peoples' houses and scalp them. That's what they had learned from TV shows. Our mother had some reassuring to do and 'Coyote' tales to tell, like how humans came to be - http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore59.html
If you love Westerns, history, and have a heart for all peoples, you will love this film!
The Whistleblower (2010)
The Circle of Life?
"Humanity, I love you because when you're hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink." E.E. Cummings
'The Whistleblower' did a fine job of focusing attention on the atrocity of sex-trading young women in postwar Bosnia. Even further troubling, for some of us, is the fact that U.N.'Peace Keeping Contractors', another phrase to add to my list of paradoxymorons in this case, were involved. Further troubling because that means we, ourselves, were involved. That makes me uncomfortable and sad.
This was an intelligent thriller and Weis was, as usual, extraordinary. This was director, Larysa Kondracki's first feature film. That, in itself, is impressive. My lowly advise would be to allow us a slightly more insight into the personal lives of the girls, let us get to know them just a little better.
This movie, about the abuse and trivialization of women provoked an interesting response in me, for sure. But that would be a rant and I will not perpetrate it upon you...
Excellent made for TV movie based on true events!!
Every morning of the 28th of February my daughter and her family call me to wish me a very happy birthday, except, of course, when she calls on my actual birthday, the 29th which is leap year. Unfortunately, my mother, died entirely too young of brain cancer on that leap year day in 1992. What are the odds? I have asked all five of my children, and pleaded with my well meaning daughter, not to bring attention to that date, but to Mother's Day, instead. Well, the phone rang on the morning of February 28 1997 and I picked it up ready to hear "Happy Birthday!" which recalls those very sad memories. Instead my daughter instructed me to switch on the TV. and quickly informed me of what was going on in LA. It's funny how self pity flies out the window in view of a highly visible, thanks to the media, potentially large scale massacre of citizens and LAPD officers. Still, memories were recalled.
Nightmares! The boogie-man! The frightening vision of Michael Rennie's character as he marched down the ramp from his spaceship in "The Day the Earth Stood Still". The director of '44 Minutes', Yves Simmoneau, does not allow us but a short amount of time to see the antagonists without their layers of armor. Barely humanized, instead, they appear like pit bulls bred for one thing only. Cops pitted against such animals cannot earn enough money for what they do. In fact, just knowing the potential of such a situation garners consistent hazard pay, in my opinion. According to everything I've read and heard, not one policeman left his post during this incident in 1997 LA.
Simmoneau truly outdoes himself, considering this is just a made for TV movie. In fact, he apparently sticks very close to the facts and spirit of the event, as written by Tim Metcalfe. While Michael Madsen, a solid actor, received more airtime and recognition than other actors for his role in '44 Minutes', I believe it turned out to be an excellent ensemble project. This was an inspired cast performing a docudrama that kept me on the edge of my seat as if I were a witness to the event in real time. In fact, viewing this again took me back, in a way, to September 11, 2001 at about 9 am when I turned on the television and saw what was happening in New York. I was glued to the tube, horrified, shaken, and just barely beginning to realize that life would never be the same. Of course I knew '44 Minutes' was a movie as I watched, but I was still sucked into the emotion, especially knowing it was based on fact. This is very well done and still worth seeing all these years later. '44 Minutes' is an Emmy winning movie worth having in your collection and sharing with friends and family over the years.
Black Snake Moan (2006)
"I'm talking' about the Blues..." Son House
The rhythm of the Blues is birthed down and dirty like Georgia clay or Mississippi mud. It is where the musician's feet seek out the surface to beat against which matches the cadence of the emotional flow that first quickens the heart to react discordantly to the pain of love gone wrong. As Son House, legendary blues singer and guitarist, tells us: "I'm talking' about the Blues... When two people, supposed to be in love, when one or the other deceives the other through their love..." It starts with a wail, a scream, a guttural cry from the throat of a seasoned songster or, maybe a saxophone will tell that part, and next the story behind it all is laid out in spades. Then, we cry. The Blues. There is nothing better on earth by which to heal a broken heart, whether that broken heart be from a failed marriage, loss of a loved one, a broken friendship for no good reason under the sun... All loss is like death, and listening to the blues is like having someone, even a stranger we just met at P.K.'s Place, who understands our innermost feelings sit right alongside us to grieve them to the ground.
What 'Black Snake Moan', the movie, does is move us deeper to explore the underbelly of pain. It exposes the sheer ugliness of it, a portion of the malevolence of that which causes it and then it tears off the veil of the lie that says it can go away if you just want it bad enough. Moreover, it does not devalue the persons who experience pain and its effects. Is their (Rae and Ronny's) plight hopeless? Who knows? There has to be hope or let us just grant every nation permission to push the big red button that will allow us our collective journey to stand before our Maker. The fact that Laz reached out to help while mired deep in the newness of his own blues tune added a redemptive note. How beautiful with that gospel tone insinuated into his own despondent melodia. And, finally, the key to that redemption in the tone of black - sharp, but steady on. He found this ivory skinned doll, laid flat and damaged and then chose to take her in and let the melody of his father soul fuse with that of the child and ... well, you'll just have to see.
Samuel Jackson and Christina Ricci are two very fine actors and this movie is great for their contribution. S. Epatha Merkerson is an excellent addition to anything she is involved in, and this is no exception. While Justin Timerberlake may not possess finely honed acting skills at the point of this movie, what I saw in 'Social Network' certainly shows steady, quality growth. For crying out loud! He started out in a boy band, and now he's in an Academy Award winning movie. He's no slouch.
Another aspect that makes this movie work is the combination of gritty country scenery and great Blues music. The fact that Samuel Jackson can hold his own on a song is certainly a benefit. Overall the whole piece is something this director can be proud of and I can't wait to see what else he comes up with. Craig Brewer would be an interesting man to have a conversation with considering his mind and heart wrote of the spiritual aspects built into the hard living, tough talking lives of these characters who still looked to their God. Very authentic.
And through the field the road runs by to many-towered Camelot. -Tennyson
"Camelot" is literally a feast for the eyes, complete with multi-layers of cosmopolitan benefactions. There is also the absolutely breathtaking countryside cinematography, as well as an occasional glimpse of a dalliance unveiled, exposed, and vulnerable in more than one sense and all in context, of course. Moreover, as far as action, drama, plot structure and pacing is concerned, "Camelot" certainly works. I was interested, drawn in and found it very hard to leave my position on the couch for any reason, until it was over.
With his shaved head, expressive eyes and mercurial intensity, Joseph Fiennes is arguably the finest Merlin I have witnessed in my #$ years on this earth. The persona seems to possess him, or, possibly he has possessed it. Eva Green, as Morgan is simply begirded in the essence and romanticism of that which currently attracts young people to the Goth lifestyle. She is beautiful and mesmerizing in her character. I am a fan of James Purefoy, and as usual, this man can be anybody he wishes. He is a bad boy and carries it very well in "Camelot." Claire Forlani is exquisite and gives us Queen Igraine with a surprising core strength, rather than the pretty little one who must merely be saved. Jamie Campbell Bower, as Arthur, and Peter Mooney, as Kay, are delightful as two young cubs at play who must grow into great men of responsibility.
Between the two creators, Michael Hirst and Chris Chibnall, "Elizabeth", "Tudor", "Spooks", and/or "Torchwood" is firmly tucked under one or the other's belt. I find this impressive! I so look forward to watching the rest of this season knowing their combined genius will guide my viewing experience.
All things considered: the huge body of talent and accomplishment involved, this program being "Camelot" - the story of all stories - now being done on a quality series, along with the fact that we can easily access it on a couple of venues, I find myself looking forward to one, of a very few, exciting shows on the tele this year. Believe me, it's definitely worth your precious time to watch!
Dorian Gray (2009)
"No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly." - Oscar Wilde
'Dorian Gray', directed by Oliver Parker, is definitely a more graphic adaptation of the spirit of the book written by Oscar Wilde. Throughout, I wondered how Wilde would react to the film, were he still with us. On one hand, I believe he would have appreciated the touch of horror; I certainly felt it in his writing. He was quoted from another of his books (Lady Windermere's Fan) "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." In this movie, the latter was certainly true for poor Dorian.
On the other hand, the book 'Picture of Dorian Gray' seemed fairly minimalist in affect (as was Barnes' interpretation of the character) so, would Mr. Wilde be a smidge put off by all the melodrama and overt sexual content? Who knows? He used a lot of symbolism and subtle innuendo in his writing, but the politics of the time could account for some of what he didn't literally spell out, I suppose. After all, he was imprisoned for his lifestyle and beliefs, for a time.
Wilde lived a deep and complicated life. His personality and character were revealed through his writing and oh, what I would have given to be on his list of friends. "A good friend will stab you in the front." -- Oscar Wilde
Alas, the book, in this case, pleased my pitiful imagination more than the movie. While the acting was superb, I had a difficult time reconciling myself with what I felt was an over-reach on the tenor of this great story. You know, the old 'less is more' adage.
My disclaimer to the literary elite: I am simply an appreciator of art, not a professional, so take my opinion with a grain of whatever you prefer.
"I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we all ought to look as if we could." -- Oscar Wilde
A Fun Solid Heist/Revenge Thriller, If You Can Imagine That...
'Confidence' is an 'Oceans 11-type' Heist movie with its own unique personality. While he sticks to the genre formula, Director, James Foley, moves this film along at a steady, active pace and throws in enough twists and turns to keep us involved.
Ironically, the master mind is a guy named Jake Vig (Ed Burns). Ironic because Mr. Vig (his last name meaning 'the take' or 'the amount charged by the bookie for services rendered') is a 'charming, virile fellow' (slang definition for 'jake') who wishes to accomplish his gigs with minimal actual violence. Unfortunately, the heist goes sideways when he and his crew find they have jacked a morally bankrupt criminal called 'King', who is not partial to letting things slide. In fact, with an act of very harsh measure, King makes it acutely clear what it is he requires to resolve the matter. Of course Jake refuses and the negotiations begin. This is where the twists and turns commence and the plot gets interesting.
The caliber of talent in 'Confidence' is amazing. The crew, Brian Van Holt (Cougar Town), Paul Giamatti (Oscar nom.), Rachel Weisz (Oscar winner) and Ed Burns, come off as a tightly knit, intelligent bunch that are as close and trusting as family should be. Two cops on the take (Donal Logue and Luis Guzman) are hilarious hired help who hope to come out ahead. Of course, King (Dustin Hoffman, Oscar winner) enjoys his entourage of hired goons. Tiny Lister (as Harlan) intimidates politely, yet inimitably, as usual. A young, handsome Latino, Frankie G, displays his chameleon-like acting chops as Lupus, Harlan's understudy.
There is a fair amount of subtle symbolism, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I've been told I have to be hit up long-side the head with it (symbolism) to see it. For example, the name Lupus seems apropos for this particular bodyguard's character, in terms of the word's medical implications. It would be a fun subject for discussion.
The movie, 'Confidence', ends up being a Heist/Revenge movie with some great twists and a surprise ending. I'm not a great fan of Heist films, but I definitely enjoyed my 97 minutes. It was well paced, well acted, and well I liked it.
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours." Bob Dylan
"Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round." William Butler Yates
"Ha, bloody ha!" Viewing this movie left me with wobbly legs, barely able to walk the first few steps towards the door. My hands were shaking and my head ached. What a rush! I haven't had this reaction since "Black Hawk Down". Christopher Nolan has artfully taken the images of our subconscious nocturnal ruminations and used them as priceless fodder for his "Inception." Not only was I completely drawn in within the first few minutes, I felt involved.
The notion of dreaming 'in conference", as well as in layers is interesting and intelligent, but there are myriads of such ideas bouncing around in the heads of creative sorts all over the place. The fact the Nolan was able to gather the group of actors that he did and then pull it off is extremely impressive.
DiCaprio as Cobb the retired 'architect' was, as usual, solid and dependable. Even more, his haunted affect in respect to his relationship with his wife, was chilling. Ellen Page, Ariadne, becomes to Cobb a sort of 'good angel' on one shoulder to Marion Cotillard's (Cobb's wife), bad angel on the other. The insinuations of ambiguity between reality and dream become a frightening proposition for Cobb, and for those of us who witness. As supporting cast, Tom Hardy, Ken Watenabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were icing on the cake, powerful and proficient in their parts. What a surprise to see Gordon-Levitt used as muscle!
CGI was mind-bendingly claustrophobic in some scenes and eye candy for the ADHD advantaged in others! I'm far too ignorant about such things to comment beyond that.
There have been some criticisms regarding character development and confusion regarding the role of Kobel Engineering in the dream sequences. As far as character development in concerned, when chaos abounds, there is not much time to exchange personal information or go fishing. This was an intense experience that I believe would have suffered from too much exposition. As to Kobel Engineering, I believe they were in Cobb's surreality, as was Mal.
"Inception" was the movie of 2010 for me. I plan to watch it at least a couple more times in order to cull the marvelous minutia right out of it.
Fay Grim (2006)
Reviewing "Fay Grim" on its own - sort of...
"An honest man is always in trouble." This becomes a timberous theme, shadowing Fay throughout the sequel to "Henry Fool." Her character begins as a confused and tentative interviewee, being interrogated by heavy handed, pushy government ghost-types. Men with authority over her, the ability to cause her and her family harm, without disclosing their own motives and limits are leaning hard and fast on Fay. After a couple of conditions are met, she complies meekly. At least, for a while.
"Fay Grim" is as nicely convoluted as a triple loop roller coaster ride - keeps you off-guard and a little dizzy, but in a good way. The patter and phraseology reminded me somewhat of the cadence of a Mamet work. This played very well with Parker Posey's characterization, as well as that of Jeff Goldblum and James Urbaniak. In fact, Urbaniak, as Simon with the owl-glassed eyes, was superbly down-played as Fay's poet genius, stalwart brother. Henry's very brief appearances gave proof of his very big personality and, quite frankly induced me to queue up "Henry Fool" which I have been very reluctant to do.
Undoubtedly, this is a movie I will watch again. It is quirky, somewhat suspenseful, it makes one think. Certainly, as a result of Hartley's stylish acumen and finesse I will benefit from rewatching to catch other of his artistic strokes I will have missed the first time around.
Agents, spies, intrigue and espionage! A woman bumbling through this all to get to her man, who may not even be alive. By the time Fay is done, this butterfly bestirs ripples afar, you know.
The Six Wives of Henry Lefay (2009)
Sit back and enjoy this contemporary Screwball Comedy!
They don't make screwball comedies like they used to, but this one was pretty good. In my opinion, "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay" rates a solid 6 1/2 stars. While I wasn't doubling over with laughter through the entire movie, the time I spent watching this crazy family go nuts and enjoying my bowl of ice-cream was thoroughly entertaining.
Yes, Henry is an unconstrained libertine with the social IQ of a 13 year old boy. He races through relationships so fast that he doesn't even take time to glance back at the trails of tears for which he is responsible. In fact, his little boy affect is probably what keeps the women in his wake from killing him. Once connected to him, they stay connected, even burdened with their pain and anger. His daughter, Barbie, has been dealt with by him in a very similar vein. Yet, she, along with his suite of sweets, his collection of coquettes, has his back in time of need. WHY!?
Another reviewer questions why any woman would fall in love with Henry. My response to that is, "Why did Laura Bush fall in love with George? Hillary with Bill? Me with my first husband? We don't need a reason. We just do it! Maybe we are looking for our father-figure, who, by-the-way, we had no part in choosing in the first place. Since we don't have any part in picking them, our father can be the last man on earth we would ever think of dating, and yet there we go, marrying them! What is there to say? Either d-i-v-o-r-c-e or long-suffering, pretty well says it all!
This movie has been widely panned, criticized for lack of depth(?) as well as character development. After seeing some of the very popular movies in the 'comedy' genre currently, I am surprised that these are even requirements. In my opinion, many of us watch certain films simply for entertainment value. Furthermore, are there not endless numbers of variables in our lives that bring humorous connections to various story lines? "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay" was funny, relevant (believe it or not), sweet, and a bit odd. I found myself thinking, were I in this the same situation, I might have shot the guy! But this is not the first movie of its kind.
"The Six Wives of Henry Lefay" is a contemporary screwball comedy reminiscent of the fun and warm films of early 20th century such as "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" with Carey Grant and Claudette Colbert. A man with faults, people who stick by him, lots of laughs, redemption and a moral delivered at the end is the recipe for a very nice movie night at home for the right audience.
Girl 27 (2007)
Unusual directorial style, but earthy, intimate documentary about workplace assault
What a heart-wrenching story! The way Mr. Stenn, who also directs this film, presented Patricia's story is refreshing, in fact the manner in which he insinuated himself as a part of this drama seemed to be implicitly sanctioned by her own words. She was thankful that he persevered in his quest to obtain this particular story, despite her fears. Furthermore, he genuinely seemed to care for her, as well as what she had experienced. He was highly criticized by critics and reviewers for his unusual style - to allow his own relationship with Patricia to unfold on screen.
For so many of us women who have experienced assault during our lifetime and had to learn that 'safe' is a rather tenuous term, it can be comforting to see someone like Mr. Stenn put himself 'up front' as he did, in a supportive role. At least, I found it so in this film.
This documentary certainly rent the veil of 'The Good Old Days' to pieces. By interspersing some old film spots of MGM as Pat was delivering her interview, it was made much less easy to obtain that nostalgic feel we might usually glean.
Are men dogs? My uncle Doug (a self confessed dog) says it is so, and that, furthermore, we women just need to be aware and ever cynical. We are less naive these days, I think.
I believe lawyers would find it a tad bit trickier to dump such a case these days, as they did in Pat's. Still, then or today, it takes an inordinate amount of courage to attempt to hold someone accountable for committing such terrific violence against us. If anything, I appreciate Mr. Stenn for giving Patricia her opportunity for vindication, as well as my chance to experience, albeit vicariously, some sort of weird justice on this end.
District 9 (2009)
The Proud Mary of SciFi
"District 9" is the 'Proud Mary' of Science Fiction. It starts out slow and measured, giving us a sensatory visual of the guy who is going to help us experience his worst nightmare. Wikus begins as a nerdy, inept guy chosen by a large corporation to evict aliens from their razor-wired stockade to relocate them to a location out of sight and out of mind. He is determined to get the job done and indifferent to the predicaments this will heap upon them. It appears that the government of Johannesburg, AF initially takes at least a small amount pity on the plight of the aliens, but soon simply ignores them for as long as possible. And, this is where we go from slow and deliberate to a steady surge in story and action. Copley basically does a one-man show and he does it brilliantly. He goes from being a geeky civilian, simply a part of 'the system' who is safe and secure existing within life's routine who then, through a gamut of mind-blowing, out-of-this-world, life and body altering events, suffers a forced conversion of mind, body and soul of which he must decide a direction.
The manner in which this film seems to, more accurately than most, reflect the human reaction to situations of so-called 'good vs. evil' is impressive. Wikus, like most of us, operates comfortably within the policies and procedures and rules and regulations of job and society, moving myopically within the herd, until he is virtually compelled to do otherwise. In fact, at that point, I felt abandoned right alongside him. Still, it takes in-the-face trauma and violence for Wikus to perceive both his world and that of the aliens in a more representative light. Ironically, he still maintains his agenda, attempting to recoup his own losses, until, well... Anyway, are we not most like him?
Finally, the alien child is a character study in itself. The child is the only creature in the entire movie who thinks as an individual, deciding who to like and who to distrust, and so the scripture, I would think, "But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such." Matt 19:14
Well, I hope I am still around in 2012 to experience the sequel.
Great drama! Nunez - a 'character architect'...
I recently became a fan of Timothy Olyphant after watching the new series "Justified", one of the best programs on FX or any other network. Fortunately, he does not disappoint in "Coastlines", not one little bit. Writer and director, Victor Nunez manages to confer a depth of character upon our protagonist that leaves us really caring what happens to him. In fact, even the children are gifted with personas that make them memorable.
Sonny is a rather tragic fellow just returning home from a three year prison stint, hoping to start over. His relationship with his father is ambiguous on a good day. The affection between them is obvious, but his father just seems compelled, whenever he opens his mouth, to say something disparaging about Sonny. Unfortunately, his resolution towards a quieter life is marred slightly by unfinished past business gone bad. Nunez brilliantly culls these moments and experiences to lay open the finely nuanced aspects of Sonny's character, allowing us to really see into his soul.
The music chosen for this movies is so very apt to the spiritual threads throughout. We hear some Jazz, Blues, Zydego and the movie ends on the laid back, go-with-the-flow of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Call Me The Breeze". So apropos!
While some have criticized Dave's (Josh Brolin) kindness to Sonny after he misappropriates certain family valuables, so to speak, I came away with a totally different perspective. I grew up in churches that taught, repeatedly, the concept of unconditional love, yet not often have I witnessed it. The camaraderie that Sonny, Dave and Anne had formed over so many years was closer than blood. Indeed, there had to be rules and boundaries, but forgiveness, upon remorse, was a given. In conclusion, the good guys were flawed, yet they were heading in the right direction and the bad guys were heading in the correct direction. Love it!
Suspect Zero (2004)
Have we been over-socialized and under-transcendentalised?!
Emotional, suspenseful, somewhat gory and, unfortunately, subject matter that will probably always be relevant. Crazy rapist/murderer/child abductor, those things I cannot even begin to get into. As far as remote viewing is concerned, who knows? Our minds have such untouched capabilities. Its almost indisputable that certain people have what appears to be unnatural insights, but are they really unnatural? Uncovering the source of these discernments would certainly be revelatory. Could it be genetics? How about a God given Spirit driven talent only for the chosen? Maybe we all have the ability, same as walking or talking, but we have been over-socialized and under-transcendentalised.
Aaron Ekhart and Carrie-Ann Moss were just OK as two FBI agents/love interests working together, once again, after experiencing problems in another field office. Ekhart definitely had his moments but Moss never did seem to commit to her role, as she usually does.
Ben Kingsley, on the other hand, was absolutely brilliant, as usual. I even teared up at the end, empathizing with the pain he felt regarding sticking around in a world where one would continuously perceive the anguish of past brutality. In fact, it might have benefited the storyline, I think, to have examined his character's experiences just a bit further, maybe in a sort of abstract way. In my very inexperienced opinion, the movie would have benefited from more time with Kingsley's character, for the sake of further developing his character, and just for the quality of this film. But, what do I know? Ben Kingsley rocks!
The Eclipse (2009)
"I wait in a place where the shadows run from themselves." Cream; White Room
"The Eclipse" is a surreal walk in the shoes of a few Irish villagers. Some have criticized this piece for being somewhat disjointed and confusing. I must heartily disagree! It is simply a limited time in life of a few very interesting people in Ireland at a Literary Conference and how those lives rode a little rougher when disturbed by the supernatural.
For those who have forfeited pieces of your heart a bloody chunk at a time after losing someone dear, this movie will inspire. Our psyche, often in partnership with our dreams, can work through some regret, pain, loss, guilt and loneliness by gifting us very real visions in which we touch or hug that loved one, possibly even sharing meaningful words with them. In 2006 my sister died in a fire. On and off, for a few years, I experienced the sound of her calling my name in the night shortly after I fell asleep. This happened several times, waking me, bringing me to actually look for her. In fact, many years before that, I had the opportunity to be with and hold my infant daughter, who died of SIDS when she was 5 months. I held her preciousness in my arms and played with her several times over a matter of years. This always seemed to occur in the twilight of my sleep. At first, I experienced the loss of her, magnified when I awoke, knowing it was a dream; after a couple of years, I unexpectedly became grateful for the privilege to spend that time with her. Since my loss, I have talked with so many people who have experienced similar incidents. I can almost imagine these phenomena taking themselves just a step further. Can't you?
The enigmatic Ciaran Hinds has held my attention since I first noticed him in Jane Austen's "Persuasion". He seemed an unlikely, oafish sort for the part. I was wrong. The man, as I have witnessed since, is a great character actor and quite a strong, yet vulnerable, lead.
The music was beautiful and apropos, the subject matter intriguing, the acting well done and as a note of interest, the writer, Billy Roche, was the host of the literary event. While he was just short of invisible, he managed to create some comic relief. This was an eccentrically mysterious movie you will either love or not. It IS definitely worth the time to give it a try.