Ric Flair: 30 for 30- I wasn’t a wrestling fan until I hit my twenties and even then it was only for a brief period. I was peripherally aware of the WWF in the eighties thanks to Hulk Hogan and didn’t even know about the WCW until much later. That being said, the exclamation “Here Come’s the Nature Boy!” never meant anything to me other than what a good friend of mine says when he’s drunk. This is basically The Wrestler in documentary form but with a much more positive bent. Not to say there isn’t plenty of conflict and sadness along the way but we are witness to a man who is looking back on his life and finding the regrets large but thankfully small in number.
Cimarron- This movie opens with Maria Schell so I should have known it was going to be about her but everything up until the last 45 minutes would have you believe it’s about Glenn Ford. He gets the good lines, the major conflicts and the most to do while she sits off to the side and pines for him but the story is truly about her it just takes two hours to get there. The set pieces are extremely well done and the scenes involving thousands of horses, carriages and people racing across the screen in land rushes are exceptional. I can only imagine the amount of human injury and, unfortunately, horse fatality. This movie is designed as an epic and has similar qualities but it’s locality of Oklahoma keeps it too grounded to achieve that status. No offense to Oklahomans. Y’all are epic for sure but not Gone With The Wind epic, you know?
The Free World- Some movies just don’t find their mark or they are missing that certain something that can propel them to great either independent or financial status. With Holbrook, Moss and Spencer it has everything going for it and it was okay but I just didn’t love it. Its fine but I didn’t need to see it.
Watch Instead: Moss in The One I Love, Holbrook in Little Accidents and Spencer in Hidden Figures
War for the Planet of the Apes- If anyone (probably some asshole studio head) questions the importance of CGI and VFX houses, you need only point to the Apes trilogy as evidence of their power. From very early on in Dawn, it was obvious that with a skilled motion capture actor you could bring the fantastic to life with quality CGI. Andy Serkis is currently enjoying the throne in a kingdom of one when it comes to motion capture (not including video games) and it’s rightfully so. Between Gollum, Ceasar and Star Wars he is the go-to in the genre. At first, this movie seems like an extension of the second rather than a jump forward like the Dawn and Rise. After the plot moves forward though you start to see sparks of a very creative tale. It wasn’t my favorite in the series but it held its own and closed out the trilogy nicely.
Beach Boys: Making Pet Sounds- After seeing the last Beach Boys documentary (why have I seen so many of these?) there wasn’t a lot of new information here but it introduces a new set of people who were involved in the specific production of Pet Sounds. Also, it features the individual Beach Boys heavily which is a great improvement on the last one which is narration more than interviews.
LT: The Life and Times- I think maybe this movie came out before the rise ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. It seems to be a template for how those things play out, albeit with a more personal touch. The amount of interviews they do for this is not staggering but each one come from a very specific point of view whether it’s his children, ex-wife, ex-coach or best friend. Like Icarus, LT is an example of right time right place but it was planned that way to an extent. His daughter’s wedding is great backdrop to the film as a whole and gives the film a family gathering vibe much like The Future is Unwritten. Excellent summation of a successful and troubled life.
Some Like it Hot- Picture Jack Nicholson’s face in Batman. The contorted smile with upturned lips? That’s just one of the many faces issued forth by a mesmerizing Jack Lemon in this movie. Tony Curtis is no slouch and Marilyn is funny and gorgeous of course but Lemon’s mannerisms, timing and overall comedic chops are dead-on in every scene. I primarily know Lemon as an older actor but even still I am woefully unfamiliar with his work.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Salt of the Earth- Despite the wonderful photography and interesting hook for a story, I was initially not enthused to watch this. One, it was subtitled and I watch subtitles with everything but sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Not to mention, the camera sits on the same images for long periods of time so not a lot is happening on screen. Yet at some point, between the alternating narrators (the subject, his son, and the director all speak), haunting black and white portraits, inventive filming techniques and droning persistent music it is hard not to be won over. Like Sebastian Selgado’s photos, it dares you to look away but you are compelled to watch and see the beauty and horror of the planet. By the end, I didn’t want it to end.
Brigsby Bear- This movie could easily have been written off as a Kimmy Schmidt or Dogtooth knock-off. For those unfamiliar, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is about a woman who spends 15 years in a bunker and must adjust to life on the outside. Dogtooth is in the same genre but Greek and weirder. In Brigsby, the plot is similar except for key differences which I won’t divulge to avoid ruining a great opening. What I can say is that the entirety of James Pope’s (Kyle Mooney) entertainment while inside the bunker is a show called Brigsby Bear, which was made just for him. The rest of the film is him attempting to recreate that show in an effort to return to what he feels is most dependable in his life. Mooney is accompanied by a strong cast along with great production values. Oh, and Dogtooth is on some other shit. Check it.