vineri, 29 noiembrie 2019

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino Eight out of 10


Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
Eight out of 10


If we look at what the – major- critics say about this motion picture, we would conclude that it is monumental, perhaps perfect, given that The Guardian, The Telegraph, Time Out have rated this at 100 out of 100 and quite a few others have ebullient words for it – “DiCaprio and Pitt fill out their roles with such rawhide movie-star conviction that we’re happy to settle back and watch Tarantino unfurl this tale in any direction he wants.”- Variety.

Nevertheless, the undersigned was less than overwhelmed, the word is in fact disappointed by the very, perhaps too long movie that seems to confirm though that after the masterpieces of the early period, the gigantic, glorious Reservoir Dogs and quintessential Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has not come anywhere near the value of those fundamental features, although many, or most fans have been buoyant about Kill Bill one and two and some of the other productions, Inglorious Bastards and the rest.
Brad Pitt appears to deliver efficiently as Cliff Booth, but Leonardo DiCaprio does not seem quite spectacular in the role of troubled, very often gauche, tense, ludicrous and exaggerated Rick Dalton, although the most serious challenge is the lackluster script, which has many references to amusing, sometimes celebrated old films and as specialists have declared, there is enough in there to satisfy the cultivated, distinguished audiences, but this cinephile was not happy with it.

Many years ago, I have seen Stalker by the Russian genius Andrei Tarkovsky (I preferred his Andrei Rublev though) the ultimate philosophical, thought provoking motion picture, with a dark atmosphere prompting, maybe forcing the viewers to think, engage in profound meditation or/and deep thoughts, only Once Upon a Time does not have the same quality, it is therefore difficult to take in episodes like the long scene wherein Cliff is taken to this abandoned property by Pussycat aka the excellent Margaret Qualley, daughter of the miraculous Andie MacDowell and perhaps the inheritor of that immense talent.
The search for George aka Bruce Dern goes on and on, it looks like forever and it is also difficult to see much point in that vain search and what is there so fantastic as to give this movie a perfect review…it is a sordid, dilapidated property with many hippies living on it and it would have been enough to take the tour in less than one minute, instead of, I don’t know the quartet of an hour that it takes to find the old man and establish that he is fucking a young woman and there is nothing much to it.

On the other hand, this can be evidence of how flawed this note is, for the viewer had missed all the major points, the divine setting, the members of the community who were so relevant and representative for the period, quintessential holders of the ‘make love not war’ mantra, complex human beings that proselytized and preached peace and nonviolence, while at the same time offering a spectacular surprise when three of them show up at a house and maintain that they are there to ‘do the devil’s work’.
Surely, the undersigned is wrong in saying that this is not a rewarding motion picture, but that is just what it looked like from here.

miercuri, 13 noiembrie 2019

Someone Marry Barry, written and directed by Rob Pearlstein - Eight out of 10


Someone Marry Barry, written and directed by Rob Pearlstein
Eight out of 10


This comedy does have something to offer, in case one would be able to find it on one of the multiple streaming options available now – to which Disney + has just been added…was it yesterday? – or could just happen to see it on Cinemax, as was the case for this cinephile.

It lives, or maybe has expired, in obscurity, critics have not bothered to notice it, although The New York Times wrote: “There’s nothing sophisticated or groundbreaking here, but the movie is a moderately good entry in the bro-grows-up genre.”
Tyler Labine is more than competent, efficient in the leading role of Barry and has moments when he is charming, amongst the scenes where, given the penchant that the script has to include (too many?) fart jokes and obscene comments – perhaps that was the word in the old age of comedy, now public or semi exhibitionist oral sex is just the norm, apparently, and comedies have clichés on bathroom or sexual humor – he is not so likeable.

Barry is such a pain for his friends that they decide they want to have Someone to Marry Barry, after he gets Desmond fired, makes the relationship between Kurt and his girlfriend  - that he wants to marry – impossible…for the latter, especially after the main character comes to the house, lets himself in, looks on the television at some photos of the lover and then he masturbates, just as the couple enter the living room, to see him there pleasuring himself and then offering his hand and walking to embrace them…wow
This viewer thought about a short story by Thomas Mann, in which a character complains about those who keep saying that they love so much they have no words to describe it, or the friendship they feel is too big to express…an attitude that is outrageous, for in fact we have words without a correspondent in ‘real’ life – love and friends exist only in art, literature and when it comes to proving loyalty, most abandon their ‘friend’ at the first challenge, if not even before a test.

Therefore, on the one hand, the friends of Barry should stay with him and not try to pack him off, marry him and tie him to a stranger and thus eliminate him from their lives, while on the other, what he does is indeed outrageous and the best way out would have been to state the unacceptable acts he commits and severe ties with him.

The friends, if this is what we should call them, arrange some speed dating sessions, but the man is rather violently rude, not physically, evidently, but his manner is excessive and abhorrent…or is it amusing?
That is what we should feel, but it is awkward.

Lucy Punch is an actress that this cinephile loves!
Hence, this might be a subjective take, but it feels she saves the movie, with support from Tyler Labine for most of the time.

Melanie Miller aka the resplendent, transcendent Lucy Punch enters the life of Barry as the exact half sphere from the Plato story of love – we are all half spheres, looking for the perfect match, the missing half- and she is just as revolting, amusing, outré, disgusting and provocative as Barry.
She is dating a man and states that she jumps into bed from the first, but she has some vaginal secretions and there is smell…and it goes on and on…

When she gets together with her new lover, they have contests on farts, she vomits on his penis as she gives him a blowjob and then there is more…

marți, 12 noiembrie 2019

The Peanut Butter Falcon, written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz - Seven out of 10


The Peanut Butter Falcon, written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Seven out of 10


On the one hand, the public may be enchanted by this motion picture that has obvious merits and we could agree from the start to place it in the memorable category on the subject of Zak aka Zack Gottsagen and his exhilarating adventure, once he is liberated from the old people’s home where he had been trapped – sort of – for lack of alternatives, in the absence of a facility able to cope better with his needs, seeing as he suffers from Down syndrome and his interment in the place where we find him to begin with, does not help with his condition, on the contrary, it stifles and eventually would suffocate the much younger man, who is only 22, but forced to live with men and women in their seventies or older…

On the other hand though, this cinephile is annoyed by Shia LaBeouf – his exploits off the screen should be eliminated from the equation perhaps, although if we take that view, the we could absolve so many abhorrent individuals, starting with Weinstein perhaps, albeit there is a major difference between the preposterous paper hats that LaBeouf has used in some theaters, together with conflicts, fights with partners on set, and the horrible acts that the former movie mogul has been accused of.
Even if we disregard the annoying things we hear about LaBeouf, his performance as Tyler, in The Peanut Butter Falcon, is doubtful and as a personal take, he seems to be exaggerated and comes across as artificial and hard to believe…although Variety (‘an odyssey audiences won’t soon forget’) and others have been rather enthused by the movie and they are probably right.

Dakota Johnson is not overwhelming as Eleanor, the young woman who works at the home where Zak had been kept – some would say detained – but she seems much better than the ‘method actor ‘and her presence is overall acceptable.
Finding god, enjoying life and finding liberty outside his prison is exuberant enough and would make many enjoy a film that has a very good Metascore rating of 70 out of 100, which means that major critics have in general appreciated the work.
Alas, the undersigned has been put off by LaBeouf and not impressed enough by Dakota Johnson to consider this worth watching…indeed, after one point, the attention dropped to a minimum.

luni, 11 noiembrie 2019

At Any Price, written by Ramin Bahrani and Hallie Elizabeth Newton, directed by the former - 8.6 out of 10

At Any Price, written by Ramin Bahrani and Hallie Elizabeth Newton, directed by the former
8.6 out of 10


The New York Times, among others, has been positively impressed by a motion picture that is admittedly one of the few that are released these days and do not deal with Avengers, comic book characters or are sequels and prequels of some successful, money wise, franchise or another.

Dennis Quaid, who seems to have such a wondrous comeback lately - he is lauded for the latest performance in the film heading to the top of the box office this week, Midway, and other achievements- plays the main character, Henry Whipple, owner of a farm business that competes with the bigger outfit of Jim Johnson and son, in convincing farmers to buy seeds and services from them.
The struggle is so intense, that at the beginning, the hero and his son, Dean Whipple aka Zac Efron, try to make a sell at a...funeral, where the apparently ruthless businessman tries to make a pitch to the grieving family, revolting the man who tells him to get off the property...

Repulsive as this may seem, it does work - albeit it is only for a while and in the end, this first seemingly successful attempt would make one think of the Master Zen from the end of Charlie Wilson's War, who keeps saying 'we shall see' no matter what happens, for when the wild horses arrive, an accident happens, which has a good side, for the army does not take the son and the never ending cycle of events is neither happy not sad, if taken in its entirety...it is just indifferent.
The man who rejected the offer on the first call, comes to the car and accepts the sale suggested only a few minutes before, only to call on agents of the seed company - based maybe on Monsanto or some other similar firm...Pioneer? - that would keep harassing the hero for a long time, asking to look at financial records, to test in the field the honesty of the works.

Henry Whipple explains at one stage that some farmers, annoyed by what could be construed as the overpowering, excessive interference of the seeds companies, would just wash some seeds to reuse, breaking the contract in this way, by not purchasing new seeds, year on year.
There seem to be two sides to this, for they have to pay for research and indeed, the new products are now able to increase production to an astonishing degree, new strains can cope with the exact conditions in the specifics fields - as junior Whipple would show one client on an iPad - and plants can withstand severe weather, drought, cold...evidently, not to the point where mankind seems to be going, that of a scorched and flooded planet in many parts.

The revolt is understandable though, for we can learn now that another company, making machinery, does not allow clients to...repair combines, or tractors, given the software, proprietary technology involved, only the owners aka the firm can access various parts, programs, making this the clients renters to an extent of the machines, not 100% in possession.
The hero is not a superman, on the contrary, he has elements of the villain, in that he has an affair with Meredith Crown aka Heather Graham, who in turn would seduce the young Whipple, perhaps as revenge, or maybe just because she is a libertine and believes in free love and the idea of intercourse with father and son seems enticing...alternatively though, not concomitant.

There is a more serious tension in the family, albeit the mother finds about Meredith and so does Cadence Farrow aka Maika Monroe, the girlfriend of the young Whipple, making this a soap opera aspect of the film, everyone getting to bed with almost everyone else.
Dean is not interested in pursuing a career in the farming business and this is a serious blow to the father, especially since his other son sends postcards from Argetina, keen on climbing the Aconcagua and not selling seeds in what would be Trump territory (?)

After many racing victories, the young Whipple is determined to continue with this 'calling', up to the point where he hits a tree with the car, on purpose, and may change his mind over his future career.

The Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar talks about transforming stumbling blocks into stepping stones and the family may do just that, although the trauma and adversity they would have to face and overcome together, the parent taking the son over the block, is serious enough to pose questions of morality, meaning, right versus wrong.

sâmbătă, 9 noiembrie 2019

Zoolander, written (with others) and directed by Ben Stiller - 8.5 out of 10


Zoolander, written (with others) and directed by Ben Stiller
8.5 out of 10


Surely, they should have stopped at Zoolander, the original, and not add Zoolander 2 in the mix, given that the second was so much less successful, perhaps we could call it a flop, but then this is the new age of cinema, where they recycle – way too much for this cinephile and so many others – the same theme until it may indeed become a joke in the vein of ‘enough already’…how many more Fast and Furious will you make? And the answer is as many as the audiences would tolerate, pay to see, according to their market research or computer models

Zoolander is often preposterous in its proposals, but we must forget about disbelief in the age of Trump, who is present in this movie (!) – if we have been tempted in the past to dismiss some stupid attitudes, some scenes wherein the protagonists act too absurdly to have us accept it as credible, when you have a president unable to pronounce words like United States, repeating oranges for origins, using furniture for future, christening the bosses of Apple (Tim Apple for Tim Cook), Lockheed Martin and others (to claim that it was the fake media, then to change the tune and say he is so smart that he just wanted to shorten those long names(!)
The premise that male models are stupid – or at least some of those at the very top – could be construed as insulting, but this is a comedy and repeating the previous mantra – there is an idiot in charge of the free world, so what is there to object to the plot – Derek Zoolander, Hansel and others are often humorous in their silly, inept understanding of simple events, indeed, most often in their incomprehension.

Derek Zoolander is first so dumb as to come to the stage where the award for the Best Male Model of the Year (or something like it) is given, take the trophy from the real Lenny Kravitz (who plays himself, as so many other stars), start an acceptance speech with ‘everyone thought that winning this prize four times…’only to be told that he is making a confusion, for the winner has been announced and it is Hansel aka very good, efficient Owen Wilson – a humiliating embarrassing moment for the brainless hero.
He tries to overcome this zenith with his companions, but they die in a freak accident at a gas station – later we would doubt this, because there is a nefarious – at least one – element in the picture, Mugatu aka Will Ferrell, excessive but hilarious at times, with a brilliant hair do – and he has been involved in the suspicious deaths of a number of models – and Zoolander announces his retirement at the funeral of his late friends.

A turn of events would have his agent, Maury Ballstein aka Jerry Stiller, the father of the leading actor in real life, convince the former Model of the Year to return on the catwalk because Mugatu, a fashion designer who has in the film the stature of the late Karl Lagerfeld, but is creating for his own outfit, wants him for his new line, Derelict, albeit he had never used the hero before in any of his endeavors.
The reason for this occult change of mind is that Malaysia had just announced an increase in the minimum pay for those who slave away for the fashion industry and thus would make a dent in the profits of the cruel, heartless owners of the respective companies and therefore Mugatu plans to kill the prime minister of that country, using a James Bond type of operation, in which Zoolander is brainwashed, in the manner of the Manchurian Candidate – or trump for that matter, who has not been brainwashed, for there had been no brain to wash in there.

The former Model of the Year would thus be trained in karate and when a trigger would be used, he would just jump from the catwalk to the place where the Malaysian Prime minister would be sitting as a guest of honor and assassinate him, in what is a ludicrous plan of course, but the point is to make is fun, not effective as a drama plot and it works to a considerable effect, due in large part to the gift of Ben Stiller, who contributed to the script, directed and played the main character, Owen Wilson as Hansel, Will Ferrell and the other formidable members of the cast.
After their clash and fierce rivalry, it is unexpected for those who chase after Zoolander to find him at the residence of Hansel, but this is where he stops, together with his new ally, TIME journalist Matilda Jeffries, and the two competitors are now exchanging emotional gratitude speeches and Hansel states that Derek had been his role model and they both share a Trump like IQ and probably EQ, Emotional Intelligence level…

The abode of the new Model of the Year is intriguing and amusing, for it works as a circus, where he has gathered all sorts of figures, exotic individuals that jump, smoke weed and then engage in what looks like an epic orgy, after Matilda talks about her period of abstention – anyway, lack of sex, if it was not intentional – where the two models ask her if she had no coitus (without using this complicated term, probably unknown to them) for a day, then a week, and when she says it has been two years, we move to the next stage, where Hansel takes his clothes off, invites the others to follow his example and Caligula may be envious of what follows next.

Some of the many scenes that are quite hilarious involves the family of Zoolander and the episode where he returns to his roots, after giving up modelling, to a miners ‘town – full of Trump voters presumably – where the bizarre, dressed up in fancy, high fashion outfits Derek fits in just like Immanuel Kant would, and the father Larry aka Jon Voigt and brother played by Vince Vaughn are perfectly comical.

joi, 7 noiembrie 2019

Page Eight by David Hare - Nine out of 10


Page Eight by David Hare
Nine out of 10


It may seem that the premise of Page Eight is rather superfluous, especially in the age of the ‘stable genius, with an unmatched great wisdom, the greatest president ever’, who is embracing enemies like Putin, over his own intelligence services, abandons the Kurds and any other ally he fancies, extorts the Ukraine, keeping vital military aid blocked, until they investigate his potential political rival.

After all, what is knowing about the existence of some hidden jails – at least one of which the rumor is that it was placed in our own land, perhaps nearby – where some awful – or maybe innocent – jihadists would be detained, water boarded and otherwise tortured, compared with all of the above and other abhorrent acts and statements that the idiot in the White house commits or utters on a daily basis – 14,000 lies have been documented so far, from the beginning of a shameful presidency – from ludicrous, preposterous modifications of weather maps (!), to serious, ghastly declarations of…love for murderous tyrants like Kim of North Korea and others.
Bill Nighy is marvelous as Johnny Worricker, a MI5 officer with a long employment at the spy agency, who is a good friend of the director, Benedict Baron aka the fabulous Michael Gambon and the two even share the same wife, admittedly, first married to the hero and then, after separation, to the leader of the reputed spying outfit.

Felicity Jones is charming as Julianne Worricker, the daughter of the spy, a talented artist with a penchant for sad, dark art, the father is somewhat worried and harsh in the appreciation of her work, emphasizing that it either proclaims, cries out in despair or, it rather flaunting - or some other emotion is invoked – if it does not describe a real inner state of mind or spirit…
The artist is pregnant and for a while her father is very concerned that the father might be Ralph Wilson, an individual that is involved in nefarious activities, he approaches Nancy Pierpan aka Rachel Weisz, the neighbor of the MI5 man, with the intention of getting to Johnny Worricker.

Nancy Pierpan has had a good share of trauma and sorrow, for her brother has died in the Occupied Territories and the suspicion – actually it is much more than a suspicion – points towards the Israeli Army and the grieving sister wants to know the truth…perhaps the agent may help her.

The private life of the spy is not that of a role model – indeed, it may remind one of Spy Game, where Nathan Muir aka Robert Redford has been married four times – since he has been through a few marriages, breakups – he admits that he is not good at relationships to his neighbor , but we can think of James bond, Jason Bourne and others and consider the intensity, stressful, agitated life of an agent and see that it does not offer the ‘normal’ conditions for marital bliss.
Benedict Baron organizes a meeting with the Home Secretary, Anthea Catcheside, other officials in the agency, such as Jill Tankard, and he puts on the table an explosive file – albeit, this is so feeble when we think of the headlines of these days, with Impeachment, an idiot ready to sell his country to Russia, for personal benefit, which is clearly all that he cares for, he has pulled out of the alliance with the Kurds, not caring that Putin would gain so much, the FBI, CIA and others have found and documented the inference in the 2016 elections, but the orange cretin keeps chasing debunked conspiracy theories and the list is without end.

The prime minister, Alec Beasly aka fearsome Ralph Fiennes, seems to have known about the existence of illegal detention centers – black boxes – on the territory of some NATO allies, from Eastern Europe it seems, and he has not shared this information with cabinet, the intelligence community…indeed, he had not said anything to anybody, showing a contemptuous distrust and when Benedict Baron finds about this though a source, he brings it to the attention of the Home Secretary, his main ally and find, Worricker, and he thinks that this is so incriminating that action is required.
Alas, he dies soon and there is speculation as to how much he knew about this, and once he has departed, it is up to the hero to continue with it, although the Prime Minister would soon press him on the matter of the file, he would use a parallel, illegal investigation led under cover by Jill Tankard, and the name of the motion picture refers to the Page Eight of this crucial record, where it is in black and white – the prime minister knew about the black boxes and has kept all this to himself.

Meanwhile, Johnny Worricker endeavors to find the truth about the brother of his gentle, grieving, kind neighbor and furthermore, to provide documents to prove the truth, once it is found…between the agent and the sad woman a relationship appears to blossom, although the more modest version of the better known James Bond explains that he has been very unsuccessful as a partner….

Even if not overwhelming, Page Eight is propelled by the performance of Bill Nighy, nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, and the other superb members of the cast…

miercuri, 6 noiembrie 2019

Ned Kelly, based on the book by Robert Drewe - Nine out of 10


Ned Kelly, based on the book by Robert Drewe
Nine out of 10


Alas, this 2003 motion picture has been neglected by the critics and perhaps more importantly by the public, which has missed thus a very good action feature, benefiting from a stellar cast, with the regretted Heath Ledger in the leading role of Ned Kelly, Australia’s ‘boldest and most charismatic outlaw’, for whom a petition would be signed at one point, by 30,000 people, to be liberated and pardoned, albeit he will have been responsible at that point for the death of quite a few men of the law, albeit after being provoked, one might say even forced into rebellion by the viciousness of the local policemen, who abused their power in the extreme.

Maybe the most important attraction of this feature is the complexity of the main character, who has been both such a famous ‘criminal’ and an innocent man to begin with, decorated as a boy, but faced with the injustice of the local authorities, which they also target his family and friends, would become a sort of leader of a movement, writing to the governor at one point to declare that he would not allow intrusion in his state, fighting a superior force and using cunning, tactics to obtain incredible advantages, acting at times as a Robin Hood of the South, burning the titles which the bank had in one single exemplar that listed the mortgages for poor people known by Kelly and his gang…
In fact, this cinephile was first attracted by the title of the film because he has had the immense joy to read the Booker Prize Winner, True History of the Kelly Gang by the ‘adjectival’ – this is an unusual word used frequently in that Magnus opus – Peter Carey, where a different perspective on the outlaw and the people around him is presented, but overall, we have the same idea of a man that was abused, then forced to take justice into his own hands, becoming the quintessential vigilante, but also a man that brings a fair division where he can – at one point, they are robbing a bank and one of the men in his group takes a watch from a client and Carey is very angry at that, stating that this is why their image is so dark, because acts like this would create the impression that they are simply thieves.


During that same robbery, the leader of the gang places the pistol on the table and invites the people present to shoot him if they feel like…nobody takes the invitation up – probably in part because they would be afraid – and the fact is that this outlier was quite popular – even when a substantial and then very large reward was offered for information leading to his arrest, no leads would come out, until Superintendent Francis Hare aka the legendary Geoffrey Rush first arrests members of the entourage of the gang, then presses Aaron Sheritt, promising his friend, Joseph Byrne aka Orlando Bloom, would be spared and obtains a promise of collaboration.

It all starts in a most unfair way, when Ned finds a horse in the wild, that belongs to the postman and he takes it to the town to the owner he knows, only to meet with a corrupt, violent, stupid policeman, who accuses him of theft, then takes his gun out and shoots at the innocent man, who is lucky to escape because the idiot is such a lousy shot…even then, the hero does not lose his head, acts coolly and keeps the fool on the ground, emphasizing that he is not using violence against a man of the law.
Unfortunately, this is not enough and the comrades of the cretin arrive, beat and take the wrong man to jail and they would not stop here, for they would soon steal horses from Kelly and his brothers and friends – clever as these are, they just take them back one night – then one of them is harassing the sister, threatens the brothers, abusing his power and claiming he has a warrant and then showing his revolver as the ‘warrant’, a clash that results in bloodshed and the revenge of the police, who arrest and detain indecently the mother, trying to blackmail the son with her liberty and also to catch the gang, once they visit the family.

Ned Kelly meets the beautiful Julia Cook aka the splendid Naomi Watts, married and with children, with a gruesome, obnoxious spouse, who tries to tame a horse, fails and when Kelly offers to do the job, mentioning he is known for his skill, just takes a shotgun and kills the poor animal, only to prevent this man from proving he is better than him.
The outlaw and the beautiful wife have a tumultuous affair, she offers refuge when the lover seems to be without alternatives, insists he should take flight, and save his life, but when he accepts the idea, on condition that she takes a horse and runs from home and children with him, there is no agreement over that.

Eventually, when the authorities see that they do not apprehend the wanted men and his comrades, after increasing the reward to an unprecedented 2,000 pounds, probably a few hundred thousand today, they bring the harsh, determined, unflinching superintendent Francis Hare aka Geoffrey Rush, so at ease in this and any role, who shows grit, courage, strong will, prudence and resilience…

When one of his men laughs and declares that they would catch and send the outlaw to ‘Kingdom Come’, the cautious leader of the operation retorts – you will be there, if you are not careful and pay attention …words to that effect.
An adjectival Motion picture!

luni, 4 noiembrie 2019

2 Guns, based on graphic novels by Steven Grant - 8 out of 10


2 Guns, based on graphic novels by Steven Grant
8 out of 10


For those who love the genre, action, gun fights, incredible stories and conspiracies, this motion picture would probably be exactly what they need to spend an evening laughing, thrilled by the adventures of the 2 guns aka Bobby aka Bobby Balls aka Denzel Washington with his well-known charm, magnetism and conquering smile and Stig aka Mark Wahlberg.

The plot is as complicated as can be, indeed too much so for this cinephile, as it involves corrupt agents from the CIA, Mexican drug lords, shady police officers and…as if something were missing, even thieves with oak leaves from The US Navy itself, bent on stealing many millions of dollars, then trying to cover their tracks and eventually, recuperate the money that keep changing hands in the manner of a respectable thriller, which these days needs to have a plot that does not look like other features and thus more layers are added and this becomes a cliché in itself.
Very early on, we have Robert Trench, whose real identity we do not know yet, aka Denzel Washington and Michael Stigman planning a robbery of a bank, opposite the best doughnut outfit in the area, although the legend has it that one must not do that – perhaps because there is the theory that policemen eat doughnuts in immense quantities and therefore they must be parked often at the best eatery that sells them.

The two also meet with Papi Greco, a Mexican cartel boss with a penchant for massive bulls and the potential those have to multiply, but also be used in torturing his victims – which the two partners might become at one point – a monstrous individual who has at the moment when he talks with Bobby the head of a man who had allegedly cheated him stored in a bag, near Stig, who acts with what looks like stupid, reckless hostility towards the thugs that play the game of killing the chickens aiming at them with their guns, reminding one, because perhaps this is in reference to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
This scene annoyed this viewer on two counts, first, the obvious one and this is where we can agree with Michael Stigman that this is a very disgusting endeavor, although his partner is also right when he asks what is he eating and the answer, chicken, speaks for itself, and the second would be that this looks preposterous, in that a serious character would not engage in the stark, exaggerated provocation, taking the pistols of the Mexicans to prove how good a shot he is and risking being killed on the spot with a machine gun, or eventually a bazooka.

These people are dead serious and one prove is what has happened recently, in real life, not on the big screen, when the Mexican authorities have arrested the son of the famous Guzman aka El Chapo- the one who has escaped twice from his cell, once through an infamous tunnel that went all the way between the shower and a safe area – and then had to release him (!), because with all the fire power of the state – granted, at the local level, they did not send in the Army, albeit one could wonder why, if they saw that they are outgunned – they could not face the men and the artillery sent in by the cartel!
But hey, this is fiction – one could add of doubtful quality, or at least lacking badly in credibility – and if the super hero feels he can face the troops of the cartel, why not pretend that this could happen and he can start shooting off at the ranch of a fearsome, smaller and fictional Guzman…

When the 2 guns rob the bank, one wearing a Frankenstein and the other a clown or Joker mask, they find that the expected two or three million held there by Papi Greco have in fact multiplied to the point where they see this is much more, but have no idea to what tune, until they would be counted and we see that this $ 43.120 or thereabouts, but they do not belong to the drug lord, but to some vicious agents, or perhaps to the CIA itself, for the conspiracy theory proposed in the film is that the agency takes a cut from the operations of the cartels, including of Greco, which have to pay about 7% and then they are allowed to continue and are even given plans to smuggle their cocaine.
The 2 guns come to a confrontation, Stig finds that his former partner is an agent, not knowing if he is corrupt or not, then the money lands with some officers from the US Navy, who had told the rather ignorant, if boastful Michael Stigman that they would use in decent, clean scope, only to come to another conflict, this time over the fact that the DEA agent should have been killed, and when they get into the wild, to find and execute him, the unpredictable (if we have not seen this sort of film before) happens and everybody seems to be chasing everyone else…

To complicate matters even further – perhaps to the point where this is getting too much for some viewers…this one does not entertain conspiracy theories as a rule, never mind when so many outfits are involved that you start wondering who is not in on this…just like the jokes they make on Late Night Shows about idiot Trump and his ‘perfect Ukraine call’…the news would soon be like: Uruguay and Ghana have not been asked to find dirt on Joe Biden – the CIA comes in, in the form of Earl aka the late, regretted, wonderful Bill Paxton.
The 43 million and the odd hundred thousand dollars have been deposited by the CIA – which has stashes in many places they allege in the film – even if the message must, probably should be that some corrupt humans working for it took advantage and did as they liked – in the manner in which the American president has decided to hold on to over four hundred million, approved by Congress, destined for the defense of the Ukraine, trying to keep Russia and the friend of ‘crooked’ Trump, Putin, away, just because he wanted to use extortion and get some personal favors for him…

Ï want you to do us a favor though…”

In conclusion, this motion picture is not one of the best, in spite of some merits and the fact that one could be caught in all that action and the complicated web of people, agencies, and drug lords involved.

duminică, 3 noiembrie 2019

Glory, based on books by Peter Burchard and Lincoln Kirstein - 9.4 out of 10


Glory, based on books by Peter Burchard and Lincoln Kirstein
9.4 out of 10


This Glorious motion picture is more than just a formidable pleasure that we take in an afternoon at the theater, it goes way beyond that, for it is more than educational, it is inspiring and the story of the all-black volunteers serves to enlighten those of us who had not been familiar with some of the aspects of the American Civil War – better said most or all aspects of it – offers us plenty of role models, as well as the insight into what these heroes have had to put up with, even when they tried to offer their services and ultimately their lives for the North, they had to cope with adversity, trauma, humiliation and more.

Indeed, for some time, they did not even have shoes or boots for their legs, resulting in unbearable suffering –and in one memorable case, Private Trip aka iconic, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the Golden Globe and other prizes for his part, tries to get some proper replacement for the terrible shoes he has to wear, only to be punished as a deserter, with lashes and torment – because some stupid, cruel racist is having fun at the idea that the African American troops will just have to endure anything.
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw aka the excellent Matthew Broderick is gentle, sensible, reluctant to press other officers in the Unionist Army, until he sees that the all-black troops he commands would suffer terribly for their decision to join the fight, and he would enter the office of the man who has to provide for the soldiers and starts throwing around things and makes it clear that he would not stand anymore for the idea that wounds and scars would cover the feet of his men, just because some fool would not do his job.

After this incident, Shaw has to join the units commanded by Colonel James Montgomery and basically obey his orders, even when this monster attacks villages that were in the confederate area, with the intention of inflicting pain and revenge, killing innocents – well, they were in enemy territory, but civilians and thus their murder would be a war crime – and setting fire to their property, fields, homes and everything else and when there is protest that this is not respecting the rules of engagement, the brute mentions a court martial and demands obedience.
The film is splendid also in that it does not deal only with the war, fighting, the brutal combat scenes, wherein people shoot and kill each other, some in the name of high ideals, but others just to maintain slavery and for what would be abominable themes, but it is also an invitation to meditate on what happens beyond the Civil War and Private Trip is the one rebel who is shedding light on the race relations.

Morgan Freeman is as always superb and has the role of Sergeant (he would be advanced to that position) Major John Rawlings and this is the man who would have an argument with Private Trip (after defending him in front of the white command, explaining that he had tried to get shoes and not run away from his unit) and state that so many whites have joined the War and have given their lives for you (fool) and thus would combat his position that the African Americans would gain nothing from the war and is rather pointless and wrong – especially when the white soldiers are paid more than the black ones…
Evidently, Trip is right in saying what we know so well, that once the conflict would be over, black people would continue to suffer segregation, discrimination and much worse – lynching was for them, although the present calamity that tens of millions of Americans so much admire has spoken of what is a constitutional process as “lynching” – and he has a dialectical conversation with his superior officer, colonel Shaw, in which he refuses to be the one who carries the flag of the fighting unit, although at a crucial moment in a decisive fight, he would take the drapeau and try to continue towards the enemy…

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw would show his stamina, bravery, dedication, spirit of self-sacrifice and honor in many instances, one of which would be when he confronts general Charles Garrison Harker and Colonel Montgomery, after the infernal raids and the period in which his men had been misused only for menial, laboring tasks and no fighting, declaring that he knows about the misdemeanors and illegal activities in which the two commanding officers had been involved, from the killing of innocents to the traffic of goods that they took in their possession, only to transfer as personal luggage up north, to smuggle and use on the black-market, for profit and speculation.
Given that Colonel Shaw has a very influential father, with access to the highest ranking officials in the Union, he mentions that he would use that power to get what he wants, unless the general would provide his unit with the possibility to fight the enemy, which happens almost instantly, highlighting the ardor, patriotism, courage, grit, valor of the all-black unit which was ready to engage in the fight, just as their white counterparts, if not more, even in conditions wherein many die in a horrible assault on a fortified front, where the first attackers suffer immense casualties, including many, most of those we have come to like and sympathize with…

A phenomenal film, winner of three Academy Awards – including the one for Denzel Washington – and many other prestigious trophies, a triumphant motion picture…

vineri, 1 noiembrie 2019

Four Weddings and a Funeral by Richard Curtis - Nine out of 10


Four Weddings and a Funeral by Richard Curtis
Nine out of 10


One of the most charming romantic comedies, Four Weddings and a Funeral has an outstanding Metascore, average rating by major critics that stands at 81 out of 100 (!), and benefits from a wonderful cast – as an example, one of the minor roles, that of a priest with only a couple of minutes of screen time (but what radiant, hilarious moments those are) has been filled by the famous Mr. Bean aka Rowan Atkinson as the awkward, shy, afraid of public speaking ( which is what people fear more than death, according to some polls) maladroit, gaffe prone Father Gerald, who is about to spoil one wedding when he is unable to utter the necessary ‘will you take this woman…’and the other well-known lines.

Hugh Grant is marvelous as the hero of the story, the main character within those Four Weddings and the regrettable Funeral, a young man who lives with a woman friend, in a platonic, non coital relationship and is involved in a few affairs that have failed – well, he has had one hysterical bond with a woman who seems deranged, but he may yet have a chance to find what seems like the Absolute Snow White, the Wonder Woman aka the American Carrie aka the resplendent and one of the most stupefying, fabulous artists, Andie MacDowell.
He is looking for love, meaning, respectable, serious involvement, just as his circle of friends is, in spite of the sardonic attitudes, and the spleen, taedium vitae, ennui that seems to overwhelm some or most of them at times, seeing as they do  to find the ideal of Plato, that other elusive half of the sphere – according to Plato, we have been divided in two halves of the perfect sphere and we look for completion, the other half that would make us one happy entity – obviously, this is not how the great, ancient philosopher has put it, but then he is not writing this sorry piece.

At the first wedding, we have one of the excellent humorous moments of this enchanting narrative, for when an acquaintance comes to Charles, who is speaking to the spectacular Carrie, the hero asks about the girlfriend that this man is with and he finds that she is no longer his girlfriend, an occasion for the gauche protagonist to express joy, for she was still fucking her ex-lover and then the bomb falls – she is my wife now! Oops, that was an unfortunate gaffe.
When our man sits at the table, ready to begin his speech, as the best man and friend pf the groom, he introduces himself to the old relative sitting next to him and he says his name is Charles, only to hear the old man retort with vigor and conviction…

‘Don’t ‘be ridiculous, Charles has been dead for twenty years now!’

Obviously, Hugh Grant has that charm, his unique manner of hesitating, making some odd moves, frowning a little, showing innocence and ingenuity that might remind some of James Stewart who was also famous, albeit decades before, with his style of apparently bungling the lines, but making them so much  more credible in the process…
If Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston have become infamous as a big screen couple that apparently had no chemistry, perhaps even an antipathy for each other on the set of The Bodyguard, Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell seem to get along perfectly, and indeed, the actress has been in some of the most remarkable parts we can think of – to mention a few: The Muse (noted on here - http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-muse-by-rhea-rene.html ) Green Card (http://realini.blogspot.com/2018/10/green-card-written-and-directed-by.html) the glorious Sex, Lies and Videotape (http://realini.blogspot.com/2017/02/note-on-sex-lies-and-videotape.html) or the splendid The Object of Beauty (http://realini.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-object-of-beauty-by-michael-lindsay.html)

The combination between romance, comedy and some introspection, sadness, caused by the sudden, unexpected death of the vivacious, at times bombastic, amusing, baritone Gareth aka the wondrous Simon Callow, works to near perfection and some moments are memorable, perhaps legendary, such as the awkward, mirthful marriage proposal, or was it declaration of love, the punch in the face received by the would be groom, when he states that he is no longer going to get married, the service of the hapless Father Gerald aka Rowan Atkinson who speaks with absolute gravity about…

The Holy Goat and
To be my Awful wedded wife, instead of the necessary, common sense lines known by everybody…what were they, by the way?

Four Weddings and a Funeral has become such a classic that it is about to have a remake…