Stuff I Watched (And Maybe You Will) 2

WIENER-DOG

weiner-dog

Despite a terrific cast  this is a step down for filmmaker Todd Solondz’ usual dyspeptic wit.

“Hilarious!” says one blurb on the back of the DVD. Funny. I wasn’t laughing. I mean, I can handle pitch-black humor as well as anyone but there’s gotta be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh well, at least it’s a Todd Solondz movie you can take yer mom to (if yer ma is a so-called “zoomer”, chances are she is fairly liberal.)

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Stuff I Watched #5 – JOHN WICK 2

Like most American thrillers. there is enough fetishistic depiction of weaponry to make a gun collector drool.  (There is even a style of fighting in the movie which is referred to boastfully in the Extras as “gun fu”.)

stuff - JW2

Gotta give Keanu credit, though. Now in his early Fifties.the former teen heartthrob still manages to keep his name above the title.

 

Stuff I Watched #4: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

Director Colm McCarthy and novice screenwriter Mike Carey (adapting the script from his own novel) do their best to pump fresh blood into the tired zombie genre (for example, the Z-word is rarely used – here the flesh-eating critters are called “hungries” and contacted their condition through a fungal infection).

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Gemma Arterton in “The Girl With All the Gifts”

Brit beauty Gemma Arterton dispenses with make-up to reveal the natural beauty within (and has seldom been more convincing) as a teacher who lets her emotions get in the way of her job. Veteran actress Glenn Close (sporting an unflattering butch cut) is characteristically convincing as a scientist so focused on her work that she is oblivious to her humanity.

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GLENN CLOSE IN “GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS”

Add Paddy Considine as a volatile soldier to the mix and you have the human ingredients for a zombie- excuse me – apocalyptic thriller with a sting in its tale.

But the film really belongs to feature film newcomer Sennia Nanua (no fair telling you who her character really is ). She joins a select group of young female performers including Oscar-nominated Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the  Southern Wild), Dafne Keen (Logan) and Millie Bobby Brown (Netflix’s  Stranger Things) whose seemingly effortless and naturalistic performances place them in a class all their own.

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The gifted SENNIA NANUA

Stuff I Watched # 3 – MUDBOUND

MUDBOUND

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Never did understand why some white folks have such a hate-on for some black folks.  It ain’t right. But if you saw and appreciated writer/ director Dee Rees’ thoughtful, moving adaptation of a novel by Hillary Jordan about two families – one white and one black –  and the racism that deeply affects all of their lives you should already know that. The story is set in the rural South in the 1940s but near as I can figure it’s still going on decades later all over the U.S. 

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Mary J. Blige in Mudbound (with Jason Mitchell with his back to the camera)

A dream cast – Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke and the great Mary J. Blige (making her feature film dramatic debut and almost recognizable), to name just a few – translates this nightmarish scenario with conviction and heart with help from the supremely talented and dedicated Ms. Rees. (She is also responsible for the excellent 2011 feature Pariah.)

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Filmmaker Dee Rees

 

 

At First U Succeed Try Try Again #2

    So how long do you have to wait for a sequel?  

    Well, in the case of Blade Runner (one of my all-time favorite films, incidentally) it has been 35 years. Yet, despite the gap in time, the follow-up, Blade Runner 2049  has one of the original stars (Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard, although we still don’t know whether he is android or human. Mr. Deckard,that is, not Mr. Ford), one of the original screenwriters (Hampton Fancher) and Ridley Scott, the original director of the 1982 film, now credited as an executive producer. (The way I heard it, Mr. Scott wanted to direct the long delayed sequel but had to hand over directing duties to French-Canadian ace Denis Villeneuve due to conflicts in Mr. Scott’s schedule.)

With that in mind here are a few ideas on rebooting other so-called classics:

 BICYCLE THIEF 2  Michael Fassbender is now Antonio who regains the respect of his son, Bruno (now played by Jacob Tremblay) and the love of  wife Maria (now portrayed by Alicia Vikander) by getting a new bike. Unbeknownst to the two of them, though, Antonio has been stealing expensive ten-speed bicycles, motorcycles and other vehicles and has  become  a major player in the Rome underworld. Now directed by Roberto Benigni (who originally suggested that the movie be called Thug Life is Beautiful.)

THE SOUND OF MUSIC 2: TRAPPED BY SUCCESS

The plot has been shifted to Los Angeles where the Trapp Family has won a singing competition on a popular reality show and are signed to a contract with a major record company. The family is beset with all the usual temptations but you know the old saying “The family that plays together stays together.” Jazzed by the remake, La La Land ‘s Damien Chazelle not only signs on as director and writer but offers to rewrite some of the originals’ classic songs:  “The Beverly Hills  Are Alive With the Sound of Money and (in a cameo appearance by Brad Pitt) “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Angelina” (Mr. Pitt has never sung in a movie before but is reputed to have said, “If Brosnan can  do it, I can do it.”) Ryan Gosling takes over the Christopher Plummer role and Emma Stone now plays the Julie Andrews role.

URBAN COWBOY 2: Urban Country  

Marketing decided “Urban Country” sounded more modern. Gilley’s and the mechanical bucking bull were ditched as “old hat”. Kenny Chesney (in his major movie debut!) replaces John Travolta as  Bud, the scenes are filmed in some of Mr. Chesney’s  favorite stadiums (giving Kenny a chance to perform some of his biggest hits), Renee Zellweger was originally scheduled to play the Debra Winger role but citing “scheduling conflicts” she has been replaced by Miranda Lambert (in her major movie debut!) Ben Foster plays the role of the con man  originally played by Scott Glenn.  Kanye West replaces  the late James Bridges as  director. (Mr. West insists he can do anything. We’ll see. He says he will even direct from the hospital if he has to.)

More Stuff I Have Watched (#2)

THE HUNTER’S PRAYER

SPOILER ALERT! (Well, sorta)

A movie about a drug-addicted hit man …. with a happy ending? Now, that’s different (not necessarily believable. But it IS different!)

Hunter

IN TIME

I guess the producers thought pairing up Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried (and throwing in Johnny Galecki from TV’s Big Bang Theory for good measure) would appeal to that coveted 18-25 demographic. Guess again. This wannabe sci-fi was both a critical and commercial bellyflop. However, since I’m not in that demographic I found it a passable timewaster. Even if I was in that demographic, I couldn’t picture spending part of my hard-earned Gap salary on this in a movie theatre. (I signed out the DVD in the local library for nothing.)                                          in time 2   

MAGGIE’S PLAN   

I like Greta Gerwig. I really do. It’s just that I have trouble with most of the movies she has made.  And someone should tell Rebecca Miller (yes, Arthur’s daughter) to get out of NYC more often and stop watching Woody Allen movies. Cuz this rom-com isn’t quite as clever and cute as it thinks it is. Also I started to worry that maybe Ethan Hawke is being typecast as the kinda character he plays in this movie.

Maggie's Plan

Straight Out of Norway: OSLO,AUGUST 31st

Oslo

This Norwegian import scored high with critics AND audiences on the ubiquitous Rotten Tomatoes rating scale. With a 98% critical approval (out of 61 critics surveyed) and an 82% audience approval rating, I must be missing something. The only audience posting that matched my reaction to this film was from one David L. who wrote: The main character’s compelling enough that I saw the movie all the way through but really, it was about a day in the life of an addict & the pains he caused others because of his addiction, and that’s about it (and I had to hunt for that).

In my humble opinion Norwegian film-maker Joachim Trier deserves credit for attempting to show the causes that lead Anders (Anders Danielson Lie) into a dark, spiralling drug addiction by showing one day in his bleak, existential. lonely existence. Perhaps if I could relate to his condition or the reasons for it, I might have able to find the film “compelling” , “harrowing”, “engrossing”, “gripping” or any of the other adjectives used to describe it in reviews.

As it is, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the film. My loss?