MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Blade Runner 2049- Preface: I am partially neurotic old man when it comes to going to movies. Do not look at your phone. Do not talk. We are not at our homes but one of the last communal spaces. I have many quirks and preferences and for that reason I opted to go to see this alone. It should have been a family trip but I knew that my neurosis about such an anticipated event would allow others tendencies to bother me unnecessarily. Do they still love me? I think so. Was it worth it? Totally.
Do you know how hard it is to avoid seeing, reading or hearing about something when advertisers want you to know? For the first time ever, I opted to not watch a single trailer or clip of a movie. I even avoided pictures from the production. I wanted to see what it was like in this day and age to see a movie with totally fresh eyes which included closing my eyes during previews for it in other movies. Everything I saw and heard was brand new and it was a truly magnificent viewing and listening experience. Phillip K. Dick,Ridley Scott, and Vangelis’s world has been reengineered by Villeneuve, Deakins, Zimmer and Wallfisch and it is incomparable except to itself. It is not perfect but is so enjoyable that the flaws are acceptable as they are peerless. A must see for all sci-fi aficionados and lovers of large scale cinematic outings.
The Edge of Seventeen- I heard on the periphery this was good and I just never clicked on it for some reason. Thankfully, the wife did and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t seen Hailee Steinfeld since her debut in True Grit and she is just as capable in a comedic role as she was in serious one. Her relationship with Woody Allen’s teacher character is the highlight of the film but there are many sweet and funny moments that make it a worthwhile and honest teen comedy that actually feels like it’s about teens (pay attention, Easy A).
Lemon- I would watch this movie by myself, find it funny but also simultaneously think “No one will find this funny.” Now, on a large scale that may be accurate but the specific film festival crowd I watched this with found it pretty consistently funny. A lot of that humor comes from bizarre scenes or uncomfortable people and situations but it is genuinely and traditionally funny as well. “I wasn’t aware there’d be accents” is one of the funniest lines I’ve heard in some time.
The Candidate- I have to go back on what I said about the movie Joe awhile back. After seeing Peter Boyle in this movie, I see now that I underestimated his acting abilities and he is actually incredible. This is such a good measured performance from him. Redford is spot on and the topic of what it takes to run for office seems just as true today as it did then. Directions, dialogue, sets pieces, everything is note perfect here. There are complex characters and interesting story fluctuations. This is a must watch in the pantheon of political film making.
The Maltese Falcon- This is a spoiler for this movie so read at your peril……..but this is an incredible line. “The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.” If you’ve ever heard the words “Sam Spade” as a descriptor this is where that comes from. The embodiment of noir detective stories with possibly the most famous McGuffin of all time. As much a joy as it is to finally see these elements all together, the movie doesn’t have a lot going scene wise. It is primarily long conversations in hotel rooms and other assorted rooms. There are scenes outside and noir is not typically known for having expansive daylight scenes but after going back to the same rooms over and over it feels a bit claustrophobic and lackluster. It’s a great movie there’s no doubt. Yet, movies often become classic only because time has created the distance and vantage point for it to be so. By allowing the present day in, you are also allowing other movies for it to be compared to. So I don’t feel guilty saying it’s a bit stuffy and ill-defined location wise.
Lucky- Henry Dean Stanton will most likely be nominated for a Best Actor Award in 2017, if not win it outright (Update: I was wrong about this. Completely). There’s a lot of reasons for this, the least of which being that he is incredible and this movie is fantastic. For a film where not a lot seems to be happening, there is a depth that I can’t place or define that sits beneath the film. There is sadness and complexity and humor that can only come from a pure subject with heart and focus. Beyond the main character there is a cast of lovable yet struggling individuals none of which can be broken down in a simple fashion. That it all comes from a long time actor, first time director makes it all the more special.
The Red Pill- This movie is problematic, for me and for itself. It is about a feminist director who interviews members of the Men’s Rights movement and finds herself being drawn to their side. The subjects are of course sympathetic if not idiosyncratic individuals who relay statistics and personal stories about their and other’s treatment at the hands of a system they say skews in favor of women. The problem with this documentary is not that what they are saying is inaccurate but that like all movies the director has made a choice. Here, that choice is to favorably portray men who she admits have created vitriol and hate towards the opposite gender. I found it illuminating but it left a bitter taste in my mouth with the lack of balance. Yes, they are not actually on the SPLC’s Hate Group list, but that they were accidentally included at one point should say there’s more to them that can be explored.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs- I knew I recognized the title of this movie but after watching it I didn’t understand what it had to do with anything. After looking it up, I was surprised to find this is actually the sequel to In the Heat of the Night, continuing the adventures of Poitier’s character but in San Francisco not Philadelphia. It’s my fault for not figuring out his name but aside from that there is zero connection between these movies. It’s fine. A Jack Reacher or Jack Ryan story only requires one thing (the lead character) to be consistent but it is poor titling. As if Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is based off that iconic line from the first movie: “I’m Jack Reacher. And I’m never going back.”
Our Brand is Crisis (2005)- This is the documentary that was the inspiration for 2016’s Sandra Bullock movie of the same name. Having seen this made me appreciate the fictional account even more. Bullock’s character seems to be an amalgamation of the employees of GCS political consulting firm who, despite good intentions, appear to be using brute force, globalization and money to go against the will of the Bolivian people. A gross “they-don’t-know-what-they-want” thought process pervades all the talking heads in this movie. In the end, as is shown briefly in the beginning, things falls apart and the movie is a slow climb upwards towards that fall. Good companion movies if the topic interests you.