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Found 5 results

  1. Wow, I'm almost certain I've seen the ending of "Silver Linings Playbook" before, but I'm also certain that I've never seen the entire film. Despite its spicy language, this is a somewhat classic, old-fashioned, rom-com - chock full of star power, and Jennifer Lawrence's vehicle for her first Best Actress Oscar. It's important to me that I see films "like this," but not for the reasons you may think: Although I'd heard the name "Jennifer Lawrence" a zillion times before, I didn't have the faintest idea who she was (I wouldn't have even been sure if she was a singer or an actress), and watching movies like this are the only way I can keep up with popular culture. The casting of this film was very star-heavy and strong, and there really wasn't a weakness in the entire ensemble that I can think of. That said, despite its "mental illness" twist, "Silver Linings Playbook" is a formulaic rom-com, and absent the language and some of the subject matter, could have been made with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell (although you'd need to substitute "rapid-fire dialogue" for "subtle facial expressions"). I found the film charming, if perhaps twenty minutes too long, and everyone gets to walk out of the theater happy and carefree. Given that this is an almost stereotypical rom-com, what more could you ask for? (Other than, of course, eight Academy Award nominations including the Big Five.) Peter Travers said this film was "crazy good"; I contend that while it's well-made, slick entertainment, it's "crazy for-the-masses."
  2. So, a friend of mine told me that if I didn't mind "Django Unchained," I wouldn't mind "Inglourious Basterds." I didn't mind it, and actually somewhat enjoyed it. Christoph Waltz, in both movies, is really good - there's a certain "Intellectual 'It Factor'" to his demeanor that makes him highly likable and highly unlikable at the same time, all the while being believable, even when in unbelievable situations. Didn't I just say something similar about Tom Cruise and "Jack Reacher?" As one example of me (or is it "my") not hating "Inglourious Basterds," I'm just not on the same page as this review: Aug 21, 2009 - "Review: 'Inglourious Basterds'" by Peter Rainer on csmonitor.com (Forget that it's the Christian Science Monitor - that is an intelligent publication that, yes, has it's biases, but is worth more than dumbed-down criticism for the masses. That said, I'm surprised that this review got a "non-rotten tomato" on rottentomatoes.com For those of you who didn't recognize the term "OSS" just before Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) shouted "Bingo!" - I began this thread last year, and this is the first time I've heard the OSS mentioned since that day.. Had this fantasy been reality, there probably would have been no bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, as all necessary personnel could have been diverted to the Pacific Theater.
  3. "Kings and Queens of England & Britain" by Ben Johnson on historic-uk.com The above is a useful historic guideline for the film, especially the part at the end dealing with the House of Windsor, which was formed in 1917. In fact, you can look forward to 100th-anniversary events being publicized for this coming July 17th. Before I get to the spoilers, let me say that I found the first 15 minutes of this film intensely boring; now, 30 minutes in, it seems to have blossomed, and has become very enjoyable to watch. If you find it tedious in the beginning, push through, and I suspect you'll be rewarded (again, I'm only 30 minutes into the movie as I type this, so I can't be sure, but it did win an Academy Award for Best Picture, which is worth something). *** SPOILER ALERT *** (Do not read if you're going to see the film) Near the beginning of "The King's Speech," speech therapist (and amateur actor) Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is auditioning for Shakespeare's Richard III by reading the "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech, those lines followed by, "made glorious summer by this sun of York ...." To me, this is an obvious quibble on "son of York," as the future King George VI (Colin Firth)- his soon-to-be patient with the stuttering problem - currently holds the title Duke of York (which is given to the second-born son of the current King). The closeness of "sun of York" and "son (or Duke) of York" is too much for simple coincidence - this was a clever piece of dialogue that probably went mostly unnoticed. Needless to say, there's also an obvious parallel between the kyphosis of Richard III and the stuttering of the Duke of York. About 40 minutes in, it's clear George V (Michel Gambon) is near death, and he "signs his duties" away for others to execute. A couple interesting facts about the death of George V: 1) In 1986 (fifty years after the death), his physician's private diary was unsealed, and it turns out George V was euthanized with lethal doses of morphine and cocaine - this was known to absolutely nobody for fifty years, and 2) the morning after George V's death, the great German composer Paul Hindemith (a name very well-known in classical music circles) composed Trauermusik ("Mourning Music") in just six hours, and the piece was played on the BBC radio network that same evening. Wow, when you first see Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) at the party, it seems *just* like Winston Churchill - until he turns around and you see his face. You won't recognize this, but Spall played Beadle Bamford in the film of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." This film makes a wonderful history lesson regarding the 20th-century English monarchy. However, it is painted accurately only in broad brush strokes. For example, in real life (not in the film), Churchill was a staunch supporter of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), and urged him not to abdicate the throne. A memorable quote, made during a conversation between King George V's sons, shortly after his death, and the ascension of David as King Edward VIII: Duke of York: "David, I've been trying to see you." King Edward VIII: "I've been terribly busy." Duke of York: "Doing what?" King Edward VIII: "Kinging." *Damn* Derek Jacobi is a good actor. Oh my goodness, the King is about to give his war speech, and they've chosen to play the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony as background music. I'm not going to denigrate this work by telling you what other movie it was played in, but I will say that this is one of the greatest movements ever written in the history of classical-romantic music, and very fitting for such a grave occasion. What's interesting is that they played the opening chord twice (when it's only supposed to be played once), imitating a stutter. Also, how ironic is it that Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany? And for the duration of the speech, Lionel Logue was quite literally conducting King George VI - that was not coincidence. And how wonderful that the closing music is the most famous piece for clarinet ever written, the Mozart Concerto.
  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've never been a fan of Quentin Tarantino because I'm very much against the use of gratuitous violence in film. That said, I've only seen "Pulp Fiction" and (probably all of) "Reservoir Dogs," which are 12 and 14 years old, respectively: There's something about "Django Unchained" which called out to me, despite me suspecting it would probably be Tarantino-esque; violence was terribly real in the days of slavery, and so here was a film in which I could perhaps justify it - perhaps even enjoy it, in a vengeful sort of way - depending on how it was used, and for what purposes. I also had a rough week at the office, and needed some mindless escapism - Tarantino is about as mindless as it gets: A bloodhound gift-wrapped as an intellect. Maybe Django (played by Jamie Foxx) will get some sort of revenge at the end of all this, and shoot the bastards who deserve it. That's the kind of week it has been for me. *** SPOILER ALERT *** It's a safe bet that I'll be discussing things from this point forward that will ruin the movie for you - as usual, I'm writing while watching, so my comments will arrive in mostly chronological order. As usual, I'm writing this as I go, and so far, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), worries me. He has been almost superhuman in killing the Speck brothers, and now he has taken on an entire town, killing the sheriff in cold blood, and getting everything he wanted in the process. He's a little too good to be true, I'm afraid, though I admit it was satisfying to see the poor, chained-up slaves have the final say against the remaining Speck brother - I only hope they followed the North Star as recommended by Schultz. The scene where they were arguing about the eye-holes in the KKK masks was the first time I've ever seen comedy surrounding a KKK meeting, and it was brilliantly done, too - acting both as comic relief, a suspense-builder (for what we dread is about to happen), and most importantly, foreshadowing - for what actually happened. This guy Schultz is no dummy. With almost two hours remaining in the film, Schultz and Django have just partnered, and I'm afraid that things are going a little *too* good - there's plenty of time left for lots of terrible things to happen. I sure hope Schultz isn't guilty of a last-minute betrayal; he sure seems like a decent fellow so far. Okay, this Mandingo fighting is making me physically sick to my stomach (some movie fans will remember the 1975 Blaxploitation Film, "Mandingo"). This is the side of Tarantino I don't like - there's nothing left to the imagination, and if he could do it in 3D, he would, if he could do it so that you could smell the blood, he would, if he could do it so that you were there in the room with fighters, he would, if he could do it so that you felt the pain, he would. There's no subtlety with Tarantino - even in this film, over a decade later, he's still doing body horror under the very thin veil of "high art" - he is the most contemptible of directors: the kind that substitutes gross-out shock value for true artistry. When Leonardo DiCaprio perks up upon hearing the outlandish amount that Schultz and Django are willing to pay for a top-level Mandingo fighter, he just goes to show that even the most heinous, sadistic people will gladly sell their principles if the price is right. This is a universal theme. Tarantino could have made the dog-killing scene much worse, but then the film would have carried an NR-17 rating - I honestly wonder if that's the reason he chose to make most of it impressionistic. Assuming there *were* slave owners as sadistic as Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) - and I assume there were - this is just 165 years ago, and we, as a species, haven't evolved all that far from this. In fact, genetically, we've scarcely evolved at all - there are still people, Americans, who would be doing this if given the right. Maybe Tarantino is a better director than I give him credit for, because he's being quite successful at making me hate people. --- Comic Relief: The Candyland plantation is located in Greenville, MS (trivia: there are more towns and cities named "Greenville" in the 50 United States than with any other name - at least, that's what I remember reading about ten years ago). Greenville is near the Mississippi Delta, and not far from both Arkansas and Louisiana. Some real-life people born in Greenville that you may have heard of are Jim Henson, Shelby Foote (these two men alone have provided PBS with a disproportionate share of talent), George Scott, Frank White, and Mary Wilson. These are the ones I know, but there are others whom you may know that I'm not familiar with. Well, I guess this wasn't really "comedy," but at least it wasn't someone getting ripped to shreds by three angry dogs - back to the film. --- The best scene in the movie so far is when they ride into the Candyland estate, and the elderly butler gives Django the biggest eat-shit look I've ever seen. [Edit: Hoo boy was I wrong, and I had *no idea* this was Samuel L. Jackson at first, either.] Vintage Quentin Tarantino: A director with finesse wouldn't have felt any need to see Broomhilda graphically pulled from the hotbox; (s)he would have simply shown Django's facial expressions the entire time, and let viewers use their imagination. Any excuse for gore, violence, and shock value: That's Quentin Tarantino. I know, I know, it'll make Revenge Time all the more sweet to watch, right? That said, the scene at the dinner table with the wise old butler is suspense at its finest, and I mean it is *masterful*. The entire course of events, from the hotbox up until the handshake was masterful - a flash of brilliance from a sadistic provocateur. Oh, look! A bloodbath juxtaposed with rap - how intellectual. And ... I just stopped watching the film before the potential castration scene - I have no need for this in my life, and shame on Hollywood for a Best Picture nomination for this piece of sadistic garbage. Since I try to always finish what I start, I may or may not finish the film later, but I will most certainly read the synopsis of the plot before I do, because at this point, I no longer care what happens: they can castrate Django ... or not. They can kill Django ... or not. They can kill Broomhilda ... or not. The two can magically escape and ride off into the sunset ... or not. I couldn't care less. Franco Nero in a cameo:
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