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Found 5 results

  1. Why hadn't I seen "No Country for Old Men" before ?! As entertainment, this was pretty darned intense, and very, very well-done. As art, I need to think about it some more, but I think there's a lot to extract from this film. I don't like the sudden, undramatic loss of the anti-protagonist, but there must be a reason for this.
  2. As I've been doing lately with these 2015 Academy Award nominees, I'm writing these posts as I watch the films on Amazon (using X-Ray to obtain some interesting trivia and factoids). So, as I write this about "The Big Short," I haven't even seen the opening credits. Note that Amazon gives you 30 days to begin watching your rental (which you can also cancel), but once you begin watching it, you only have 48 hours to finish - I guess this is reasonable to prevent multiple people from watching one film on one person's account, but sometimes I like to take a little longer - ah, well, compromises need to be made somewhere. Again, I recommend X-Ray for people interested in studying the film, but not for people who are easily distracted, as it could easily be a nuisance - you have your choice of pretending it's not there at all. *** SPOILERS ALERT *** You can probably assume that the rest of this post will contain various degrees of spoilers. I'll start by saying I *love* the film's opening quote by Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." While not entirely true, there is a ring of familiarity to it, I'm sure, affecting us all. Director Adam McKay was Head Writer for Saturday Night Live for two seasons, and has directed comedies in the past (e.g.. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which I'm ashamed to say I found to be quite amusing), but this is his first dramatic directorial debut. This is also the first movie of any kind that McKay has directed without Will Ferrell in the cast, which is surprising, but I really don't know much about McKay. Ferrell also co-wrote all but one of McKay's comedies, so there's definitely a close partnership here. When Dr. Burry went into Goldman Sachs and said he wanted to short the housing market, the song playing in the background was "Money Maker" by Ludacris. You will find multiple, almost random, cameos by some seriously famous people, including one very famous chef. The quote, "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry," is great (and written just for this movie). Boy, if this film doesn't make you want to vote for Bernie Sanders, nothing will. Here are some stats flashed at the end: * 5 trillion dollars disappeared * 8 million jobs were lost * 6 million people lost their homes * And that's just in the United States * 1 person went to jail from Credit Suisse And look where we are today in 2016. I have very strong feelings about whether or not the economy should have "recovered" so quickly after "the worst financial disaster since The Great Depression," but that's for another time, another thread - I pretty much said all I have to say right here.
  3. Towards the beginning of "Argo," they showed some American churches, businesses, etc. with "Free the Hostages" signs - despite the Iranian embassy being stormed in 1979, one of the buildings depicted is still open - it's right across Chain Bridge Road from what is now Santini's (formerly Boston Market). The first picture is from the film; the second picture is from Google Maps. It's also amazing (and not coincidental) that when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) first enters the CIA Headquarters in Langley, he's actually entering the CIA Headquarters in Langley (just a couple miles from McLean Cleaners) - this is the first time I've ever seen any pictures of the Headquarters (which is way back from the street), and apparently, special access was granted entirely due to honoring Tony Mendez (you should read about him on Wikipedia). *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I had never heard of the Canadian Caper before reading about Mendez on Wikipedia, which is pretty pathetic, because 1979 is the year I graduated from high school - I guess I was more worried about college life, and the Iranian hostage crisis was only on my mind as much as the television allowed it to be. From my viewpoint, 38 years later? This was an act of war on the part of the Iranian people, period - embassies are designated as foreign countries, and the safe harbor which comes from being within those countries' borders - these Iranians invaded the United States the moment they broke into the embassy - tell me where I'm wrong, please. In the distant future, Rodney King will be remembered as a hero, for his words, "Can we all get along?" They mean more than any crime he ever committed, and he will be regarded as a role model. Within five seconds of first seeing John Chambers (John Goodman), an homage is made to "The Blues Brothers." And it's very, very funny that the name of the movie ("Argo") comes from a crude knock-knock joke. This, for an Oscar-caliber film: 'Knock-knock.' "Who's there?" "Argo." "Argo who?" "Ar Go fuck yourself." What I can't understand is why, when Mendez first meets the six hostages at the Canadian Embassy, he would assume the room *isn't* bugged. I mean, come on ...
  4. I saw a lot of films in 2014, including all of the movies nominated for Best Picture, with the exception of "The Imitation Game." I am not sure why I didn't go see this movie in the theater. A recent conversation with a friend about the Enigma Machine led us to this interesting video, which, in turn, brought us to "The Imitation Game." This film made an excellent companion piece to "Das Boot," a German movie about at World War II submarine crew that I loved and had just watched days earlier. "The Imitation Game" tells the story of Alan Turing, a real-life British cryptographer who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II. The screenplay, written by Graham Moore and loosely based on the biography "Alan Turing: the Enigma," by Andrew Hodges, won the Oscar that year for Best Adapted Screenplay. I enjoyed this film. Benedict Cumberbatch (who was nominated for Best Actor for this role) gives an outstanding performance as Turing. There are two intertwined stories: a thriller about a secret group trying to break German code in order to save lives, and Turing's secret life as a homosexual. Both tales are engaging and well told. If you are thinking about watching this film, take a moment beforehand to view the video about the Enigma Machine (above). To appeal to the masses, the movie offers a Hollywood explanation of how the machine works. Watching the video first to gain a better understanding of The Enigma Machine enhanced my enjoyment of this fine film.
  5. I had never before seen "Ordinary People," a quadruple Oscar winner for 1980 which included the award for Best Picture. This was Timothy Hutton's first major role, and because of that, he was nominated for (and won) the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor even though, in my mind, he clearly had the lead role in this film. I'm not sure how nominees are made, but perhaps it's the motion-picture companies that submit entrants to the Academy for consideration, and Paramount neither billed, nor perhaps nominated, Timothy Hutton as a lead actor due to his inexperience - while Donald Sutherland was extremely strong, it was Hutton who made this film what it was. Mary Tyler Moore, to me, will always be Laura Petrie, and to some, she will always be Mary Richards, both slightly neurotic, but lovable, characters in polar opposite roles (the former, a homemaker; the latter, a career-oriented woman) - but in both cases, slightly neurotic and intentionally a bit silly. I have since seen her in two major roles in motion pictures ("Thoroughly Modern Millie" and now "Ordinary People"), and in both roles, she seemed completely out of her element - yes, she's typecast to me, and there's nothing I can do about it, just as Leonard Nimoy will always be Spock, and therein lies the difference between "bias" and "prejudice" - prejudice is something that is much, much more difficult to overcome, and goes deeper than a simple "preconceived notion." The music in Ordinary People was "composed" (more appropriately, "arranged") by Marvin Hamlisch, and aside from an extremely astute and clever use of Pachelbel's Canon, which clearly represented Timothy Hutton and Friends reliving the same agonies over, and over again, without a logical endpoint, there wasn't much "there" there - in fact, there was a particularly cloying violin solo during a sad moment to which I said, aloud, "They can lose the violin anytime now." Ordinary People is a great movie - whether or not it merits being named "Best Picture" is up for debate, as two of its competitors were, in my mind, *clearly* superior films: "Elephant Man" and "Raging Bull," both of which were not just "great," but transcendent.
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