Eyewitness- A while back I was bagging on William Hurt, implying that there’s such a thing as “too much Hurt”. I’ve had time to think about that and I take it back. He’s not charming or handsome in a conventional sense but the cadence and timbre of his voice are hypnotic and when he looks at you with those dark brooding blue eyes….ANYway, this is a weird story which I can’t explain quickly but has the following positive attributes: Shifty James Woods, Young Sigourney Weaver, Peak Christopher Plummer and an epic horse stampede vs bad guys finale. The title and cover make it seem like it’s all about journalism but it’s a hodgepodge of elements. And Hurt is solid all the way to the end.
Little Women- I don’t have the knowledge of the book or enough cinematic language to discuss this film and give it justice. The clothing is beautiful and I really like June Allyson as Jo. It’s a good movie but other than that this movie is not really for me genre wise.
F for Fake- If you ever hear someone speak about the difference between film and digital, this movie is a great example. You can make a beautiful and textured film with digital. Fincher does it every time. But true film has a warmth to it that is hard to recreate or imitate. Fake employs what I think are smaller more maneuverable cameras so you are seeing a lot of grain and texture in every scenario. It’s difficult to summarize but I’ll try. Orson Welles, noted director and faker (“War of the Worlds”) dissects a different film about an art forger and a possible liar while also looking at his own life. It’s not for amateurs but its fast paced, edited well and oozing with obscure and mysterious people.
The Executioner- This is supposed to be some sort of hidden gem of Italian cinema I supposed based on its premise or something. A man who is an undertaker ends up as an executioner to keep his posh apartment. He gets to this stage by being manipulated and bullied by his wife and father-in-law, the former executioner. You have sympathy for the man, but you shouldn’t as he protests but really does nothing to save himself the fate of sealing the fates of others. It has a few funny moments but moreover it has little good to say about any of its characters who are either weak or bullies. I recommend it for the camera work which is excellent and some of the interesting local settings.
Dope- This is a fun tale about the kids in the projects who do not fit in with other kids and that point is hammered home quite often. At the center of the story is a trio of 90s loving teenagers who run afoul of some gangsters and must attempt a life at crime to get out of a worse predicament. It’s funny but not campy and there are some good editing choices. The monologue at the end spoiled the message to some degree but all and all it’s fine.
Of Mice and Men(1992)- I don’t know if it’s Gary Sinise or shooting style or film used but you can tell this movie was filmed in the 90s. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m not the “this movie transported to another world” kind of viewer, so when I see the guy from CSI (NY not Miami) in the lead role that’s about all I can think of. John Malkovich is going full-on in the role of Lennie and Sinise does a great job behind the camera. The only thing I can really tell you about this is that 2 dogs died for totally stupid plot reasons and that resonated with me more than Sherilyn Fenn dying. Am I a bad human? Doesn’t matter because they were good dogs.
Night Owls- The opening of this movie is great. Very early on we determine that something is not right but there is really no way to learn the truth except the hard way. Once the plot gets going and you realize what’s happening, like the main character, you are stuck in this house and should probably see it through to the end. It’s a conversation between two people, but it has a lot of range so you don’t feel that the whole story takes place in one spot. This is difficult to accomplish and done well here.
Tangerines- This whole movie was shot on an iPhone, which was its main selling point. They actually have iPhone film festivals now so I was not too surprised when I heard about this. The subject matter is the true draw though as it details a transgender woman who just got out of jail trying to hunt down her pimp boyfriend that has been cheating on her. It has the common beats of a film but has the weight of everyday events so even in the conclusion you don’t feel that the story is over but that it is one of many in the sprawling Los Angeles landscape.
Anchors Aweigh- Man, movies were fucking events back in the day. Everybody talks about how long movies are now but at least they can zip by when the plot is really cohesive or there’s enough explosions. Back then it was all song and dance numbers. Let me give you an example. You know the famous scene of Gene Kelly and Jerry the cartoon mouse dancing together? That’s in this movie and the plot has nothing to do with cartoons. What I’m saying is they threw in every possible combination of visual and musical styles in an attempt to make sure nobody could say they hated it. And it’s amazing but its sooooo long. There were long stretches where I just forgot what the main plot was. Side note: Gene Kelly is possibly the best looking human that has ever lived. Do you see how that scar fits perfectly with his smile? That could only have been done by God or a calculated studio exec. I wouldn’t put it past MGM.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
A Ghost Story- The simple premise in this film is that a man dies and his ghost sticks around to haunt his wife. The draw of this movie (I imagine) is that said ghost is a traditional bed-sheet version ghost with cut outs for eye holes. What that premise and posters/teasers doesn’t give you is the scope and beauty that is contained within. In just minutes of the ghost appearing it’s made aware that it’s not a haunting in a traditional sense but it is still terrifying (for the living and dead). Just when the audience may find the creeping and truly scary nature of the ghost wearing thin, the whole movie shifts in tone and we experience something completely different. I loved every part of this and I think it has something for everyone but it may linger too long in parts for some who crave more eventful stories. Or Patrick Swayze.