Gideon58's Reviews

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On the Waterfront
Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1954, On the Waterfront is a dark and sizzling indictment of mob corruption that still packs a wallop and clearly inspired films like The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Departed.

Marlon Brando plays Terry Malloy, a former boxer who lives on a rooftop tending to pigeons who now works as a longshoreman and picks up a few extra bucks doing errands for mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), whose second in command is Terry's brother, Charley (Rod Steiger). Johnny asks Terry to help him set up the murder of dock worker named Joey Doyle, without actually telling Terry what they were planning to do. Terry finds himself behind the eight ball with Johnny demanding Terry's loyalty when he gets a subpoena to testify in Joey's trial and finds himself falling for Joey's sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint), who knows nothing of Terry's involvement in Joey's death. Joey feels even more cornered when a hot-headed priest (Karl Malden) joins with Edie in trying to figure out what happened to Joey.

I don't know why it took me so long to watch this classic because this is powerhouse filmmaking thanks to a story that still has relevance in 2020 and because of its impressive pedigree. Beginning with Budd Schulberg's Oscar-winning screenplay, which perfectly captures the inner torment of a man torn between doing what is right and self-preservation and how this conflict is literally ripping him apart. The screenplay is given eloquently detailed mounting by Elia Kazan, who also won an Oscar for Best Director. Kazan shows unparalleled skill in establishing the good guys and the bad guys and most important, this poor schlub Terry Malloy who's caught in the middle. Kazan creates great power and tension when mob takes on the waterfront and creates equal warmth and sexual tension when Terry and Edie have their first date over boilermakers.

Love the way screenplay establishes that Terry has been lost ever since he stopped boxing and why he's so easily manipulated by the mob here. We see a man whose lost the only
real passion he's ever known and we can tell because every time someone mentions his career he's reluctant to talk about it, except for one great scene. A crime commissioner investigator, played by Leif Erickson, asks him about a particular fight where the guy was in the crowd, Terry begins vividly re-enacting the fight. Loved that scene...and the classic cab ride scene with Brando and Rod Steiger is absolutely heartbreaking...loved Terry's reaction to hearing they were going to 437 River Street.

The performances Kazan gets from his cast are nothing short of perfection. After being robbed of the Best Actor Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, Brando bounced back and won his first Oscar for Outstanding Lead Actor that seriously rivals his work in Streetcar. Eva Marie Saint received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her slightly pathetic Edie and Cobb, Malden, and Steiger all received Supporting Actor nominations. And I have to say that I never enjoyed Malden onscreen as much as I did here playing the beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking priest. In addition to Kazan and Schulberg, the film also won richly deserved statues for black and white cinematography, art direction/set direction, and film editing. Another classic that lives up to its reputation.



Raising Arizona
Twenty years before bringing home the Best Picture Oscar for No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Cohen had their first real commercial success with a razor sharp black comedy from 1987 called Raising Arizona that rivets the viewer with endlessly stylish direction, eccentric but likable characters, and an often logic-defying story rampant with unpredictability.

The film stars Oscar winner Nicolas Cage as Hi, a dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks career criminal who marries a romantically-challenged cop named Ed, played by Oscar winner Holly Hunter. Shortly after learning they can't have children of their own, Hi and Ed learn via TV that a wealthy couple named Nathan and Florence Arizona have been blessed with quintuplets. Rationalizing their own desires by saying that the Arizonas have to be overwhelmed, Hi and Ed travel to the Arizona home and take one of the babies.

Their plan for familial bliss gets a couple of wrinkles when a pair of Hi's former cellmates (John Goodman, William Forsythe), escape and seek refuge with Hi and Ed. There's also a psychotic bounty hunter named Leonard Smalls (Randall "Tex" Cobb) who decides, after being turned down by Mr. Arizona, to go after the baby himself.

The Cohens have crafted a funny if often unbelievable story that the viewer becomes completely engaged with because of these two very likeable central characters named Hi and Ed, Ed, in particular, becomes the emotional heart of this story. We're a little surprised when we learn that this plan is initiated Ed and we are just as surprised when she realizes that what they have done. That speech in the car where Ed tells her husband why what they've done is a mistake is beautifully written and performed by Hunter.

The Cohens keep this hard to swallow story moving at breakneck speed, thanks to some highly imaginative camerawork (with a special nod to the steady cam during that chase scene through the house) and some razor sharp editing by Michael R. Miller. I loved when Goodman and Forsythe escaped from prison in the rain...it was almost like a comic variation on Tim Robbins' escape in The Shawshank Redemption. And I will never get the image out of my mind of that baby sitting in the middle of the road with the storeowner's voice on the audio counting to 825. And after all the madness that ensues, the final act coasts quietly to an appropriate and slightly dreamy conclusion.

Wouldn't be surprised if Cage needed a year off after this film wrapped, because this one of the most physically demanding roles I've ever seen and Cage totally sinks his teeth into it, but it's Holly Hunter's Ed that is the heart of this story. She would later win an Oscar for The Piano as well as three other nominations, but I don't think I've ever enjoyed Hunter more than I did here. Goodman and Forsythe steal every scene they're in and Trey Wilson was terrific as Mr. Arizona. An underrated cult classic that takes a very unconventional cinematic journey, riveting this viewer to the screen.



Stage Mother
A terrific performance by Jacki Weaver makes a 2020 comedy-drama called Stage Mother worth a look, despite a contrived and predictable screenplay that is set on a somewhat bold canvas but offers no surprises along the way.

The two time Oscar nominee plays Maybelline Metcalf, a conservative Texas housewife and church choir director who travels to San Francisco to attend her gay son's funeral, who died from a drug overdose, despite the fact that she and her husband Jeb disowned their son years ago. Upon arrival in the Bay City, she befriends her son's best friend, a slightly trashy single mom (Lucy Liu) and her son's lover and business partner (Adrian Grenier), who hates the woman on sight. One of the reasons he hates her is because Maybelline learns that her son left her his business, a drag bar called Pandora's Box. After visiting the place, instead of selling it, she decides to take over the business and refurbish it from the ground up.

Screenwriter Brad Hennig has sort of a novel idea here, unfortunately, the story is so predictable the viewer can practically recite the dialogue along with the actors. It's hard to buy the way Hennig turns Maybelline into this superwoman who is immediately accepting of who her son was and not only tries to keep his legacy alive, but tries to solve the problems of all the people in her son's life as well. Since her son overdosed, we learn that one of the drag queens has a drug problem as well and one visit from Maybelline, and poof, he doesn't want to get high anymore. We learn that the single mom is in an abusive relationship and, poof, Maybelline disposes of him with a pistol. I liked the fact that Hennig works very hard to keep Ricky, Maybelline's deceased son, a viable character in the story but it just comes off a little forced.

Thom Fitzgerald's direction respects the story, though it is a bit on the lethargic side. He does get some surprisingly strong performances from his cast, especially Weaver, who absolutely lights up the screen and makes a lot of the story contrivances a little easier to take. Adrian Grenier was also surprisingly effective as Ricky's widower and Liu was a real eye opener as the Grace to Ricky's Will. Jacki Weaver is wonderful but the story is just too safe. I wish it had taken more chances.



The Grey Fox
A charismatic performance from the late Richard Farnsworth in the title role is the centerpiece of 1982's The Grey Fox, a handsomely mounted biopic about the legendary "gentleman bandit" whose life crosses centuries and impacts just about everyone he encounters.

Bill Miner spent a good portion of the 1800's robbing stagecoaches before being arrested and spending 33 years in prison. Upon his release in 1901, he finds a lot of changes have come along with the dawn of a new century. After briefly contemplating a new life, Miner decides to travel to Canada and begin a new career robbing trains instead.

Director Philip Borsos has mounted this simple but richly entertaining story on a gorgeous canvas, highlighting a real life criminal who is unlike any cinematic criminal we've seen. The story initially presents Miner as a man who, upon his release from prison, wants to begin a new life, but that turns out not to be the case at all. What makes this guy different is that he has a heart, brains, compassion, and empathy. He doesn't want to hurt anybody and is not interested in being the center of attention. And though he's not interested in attention, his charm and heart seems to cast a spell over everyone he encounters, instigating this feeling from people who know him to protect him, no matter what he's done.

Some elements of this story had me flashing to other more contemporary movie characters. The initial introduction of Miner reminded me of Max Denbo in Straight Time, the way he seems to want to forget his past and start over, but just doesn't know how to do anything else. Watch him in that scene where he goes to the movies to see the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery. And believe it or not, he also reminded me of Keanu Reeves' John Wick in the way he has established a reputation that precedes him and has afforded him respect from people who have a past with him. Even his brief romantic encounter with a liberal minded female photographer quietly concludes with him breaking away from her only to protect her.

This film features first-rate production values, especially some gorgeous Oscar-worthy cinematography and exquisite attention to period detail. Love those breathtaking overhead shots of the train slowly moving down the tracks with the smoke billowing above it. Farnsworth, who would be Oscar-nominated for his final performance in The Straight Story (also reviewed in this thread) is just as glorious here in one of the most beautifully unaffected performances I've ever seen, where you never catch him "acting". His soulful expressive eyes project so much emotion all by themselves. The breathtaking work of this one of a kind actor makes this film worth watching all by itself.



Flower Drum Song
A nearly forgotten musical from the iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein. the 1961 film version of Flower Drum Song is a splashy and colorful musical extravaganza that combines classic musical comedy story elements, with a story of clashing cultures, and one of Rodger and Hammerstein's most melodic scores.

This is the story of a young Chinese woman named Mei Li (Oscar winner Miyoshi Umeki) who stows away on a boat arriving in San Francisco's Chinatown as the mail order bride for a slick talking nightclub owner named Sammy Fong (Jack Soo). Unfortunately, while waiting for Me Li's arrival, Sammy has fallen hard for the sexy headliner at his club, Linda Low (Nancy Kwan). Not wanting to rock the boat with Linda, Sammy decides to pawn Mei Li off on a handsome college student named Wang Ta (James Shigeta), who is still under the very watchful eye of his wealthy father (Benson Fong) and his free spirited aunt (Juanita Hall). And don't forget Helen (Reiko Sato), Sammy's assistant who has been secretly in love with Wang-Ta forever and Ta's little brother Wan Sang (Patrick Adiarte) who wants nothing more than to forget he's Chinese and be a real American.

Joseph Fields' screenplay, based on a novel by CY Lee is a clever blend of the accustomed romantic mix ups that we expect from a musical comedy with the story of Chinese Chinese who want to stay that way, Chinese Chinese who want to be American Chinese and Chinese Chinese who are in denial about American Chinese, all wrapped around a romantic quadrangle that takes just a little too long to unravel.

The musical is anchored by one of Rodger and Hammerstein's most engaging scores, an intoxicating blend of classic musical comedy and contemporary jazz that provides endless appeal. Kwan's rendition of the song's most famous song "I Enjoy Being a Girl" in front of a three way mirror is a lot of fun (her singing is dubbed by BJ Baker). Other highlights include Umecki's "A Hundred Million Miracles", "Chop Suey", an elaborate production number led by Hall, "Grant Avenue", a big production number at a parade, and the gorgeous "Love Look Away", which segues into an elaborate dream ballet that rivals Agnes DeMille's dream baller in Oklahoma!. Anyone who has ever seen a Fred Astaire musical should recognize the snappy choreography by longtime Astaire choreographer Hermes Pan.

The musical premiered on Broadway December 1, 1958 and ran for a respectable 600 performances with Umecki, Hall, and Adiarte creating the roles they played in this film. The dashing James Shigeta manages to create chemistry with both Kwan and Umecki and Soo is perfect comic relief as Sammy Fong.

Adiarte, who might be familiar to some as Prince Chululongkorn in The King and I, really gets to strut his stuff here as well, showing off a never before seen dance talent that impressed too. Younger viewers might recognize him as Ho John on the CBS sitcom M*A*S*H. It might take a little too long to wrap up, but this musical delivers everything a musical should.



I saw Flower Drum Song many, many years ago, but I don't remember much about it. I think it's a long overdue rewatch for me, so added it to my watchlist.
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The Bourne Identity\
2002's The Bourne Identity is an action filled nail-biter with an unconventional hook that so grabbed audience imaginations that it has inspired four sequels (so far).

The story opens with a man (Matt Damon) being fished out of water by fishing boat en route to Switzerland. The man is full of bullet holes and doesn't remember who he is. Dropped off in Switzerland, he takes the few clues he has which lead him to a safety deposit box that contains large amounts of currency from different countries and five passports all with the man's photo...four say his name is Jason Bourne and one says his name John Matthew Kane. He learns that Bourne has an apartment in Paris which leads to the reveal that Bourne is a professional assassin who failed his most recent assignment and now his bosses want him dead. In Switzerland, Jason meets a young woman who he offers $20,000 for a ride to Pairs and it's not long before this young woman is in just as much danger as Bourne is.

Screenwriters Tony Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and W. Blake Herron (Role Models) have crafted a first rate action thriller that earns its credentials by giving the central character amnesia and even that reveal isn't approached in the usual fashion. Most of the times when we see fictional amnesiacs, they're lying in a bed whining about how they can't remember anything...Jason Bourne's initial reaction to his predicament is pure anger and it rings completely true. The story also earns originality points because in trying to figure out who he is and what happens to him, Bourne assumes nothing and lets the story of who he is build around him, courtesy of this mystery agency that he works for, who have him on their radar once he reaches Paris.

I was initially bothered by the fact that we never really learn exactly what agency Bourne works for but once, Bourne's original target is eliminated, it really becomes irrelevant and we're completely caught up in the cat and mouse game of Jason trying to remember what happened to him and this agency trying to make him forget. I loved the moments where he initially learns that he's an expert in self-defense or when he realizes he speaks multiple languages...he's a little bamboozled but doesn't make any assumptions and just uses his newfound tools to keep his eye on the prize. The prize does find Bourne leaving a lot of bodies in his wake, which should be addressed, thus the four sequels.

Director Doug Liman does such an excellent job of mounting this international spy thriller that we forgive the small plot holes and enjoy the ride. Damon brings the same strength and vulnerability to this character that he did to his character in The Martian. Jason Bourne is slick and likable and we can't wait to see what's going to happen to him next.



Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Bill S Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan return for another round of time traveling hijinks in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, an overblown sequel to the 1989 surprise hit that is more of a rehash of the first story than a continuation.

The 1991 films opens with a futuristic tyrant who announces the future of his empire is predicated on the death of these two boneheads named Bill and Ted. He decides the answer to his problem is to send a pair of lookalike evil robots back to San Dimas to dispatch of our heroes. The robots think they have succeeded, but Bill and Ted get a second chance after battling for their soul with the Grim Reaper for a chance to return to the Princesses from the first movie and the all important battle of the bands.

Stephen Hereck, who directed the first film. declined to participate in this project because of the screenplay, which should be a red flag right there. Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon didn't put a lot of effort in this story, centered around doubles to the central characters, which we already saw in the first film. And when our heroes decide that the only way to save themselves is to build another set of robot doubles, we've pretty much checked out by then.

Director Peter Hewett made the most of the huge budget he was afforded for this film. The settings and costumes walk an uncomfortable line between dazzling and cheesey. Loved the film's conception of heaven, but the costumes on the students at Bill and Ted University looked like they were made out of construction paper.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have settled comfortably into the roles of Bill and Ted. I've always wondered why Reeves became a big star and Winter faded into oblivion. The film is easily stolen by William Sadler as the Big Reaper, who turns out to be a bundle of insecurities that would put Alan Harper to shame. In a nutshell, what we have here is a sequel that never really needed to be made.



Manglehorn
Fans of the Blythe Danner drama I'll See You in My Dreams and the Sam Elliott drama The Hero will have a head start with 2014's Manglehorn, another character study of aging that, despite the presence of a Hollywood legend in the title role, never really comes together due to an all over the place screenplay that pulls focus from where it should be.

Oscar winner Al Pacino plays Angelo Manglehorn, a former baseball coach who is now a locksmith worried about his sick cat Fanny and maintaining a relationship with his adorable granddaughter, Kylie, even though his relationship with her father (Chris Messina) is strained to say the least. He's also in the midst of a flirty dance with a lonely bank teller (Oscar winner Holly Hunter) and is not sure of what the next move should be.

The main culprit here is Paul Logan's screenplay, which should have focused more on Manglehorn's personal relationships rather than accidental and unimportant encounters that really have nothing to do with Manglehorn per se. There's this scene where the character is observed strolling by a multi-vehicle car accident that comes out of nowhere and has nothing to do with anything else in the film. There's also a scene in a cafeteria where Manglehorn is telling a boring story to some fellow senior citizens that brings the movie to a dead halt. It would have been better that more of the film concentrated on Manglehorn's relationship with his son and this bank teller.

If the truth be told, the scenes between Angelo and his son are the strongest part of the film and really energizes it, but their scenes together only account for about a third of the movie, which leaves the viewer a lot of dull stuff to wade through. I did like the scene where he beat up his obnoxious former student, Gary after being invited to Gary's massage parlor not realizing what kind of massage parlor it is.

Director David Gordon Green, who directed the 2018 Halloween, attempts to cover up the deficiencies in the screenplay with a lot of artsy camerawork and overheated editing. There's a recurring thing during the film where we see Manglehorn doing something, while someone else is simultaneously telling a story about Manglehorn's past, which I guess was supposed to be a clever way to give the central character backstory, but it just came off as a pretentious way to make the story seem more important than it really was.

Despite all of this, there is no denying that Al Pacino has not lost any of his power to command the screen and almost makes this strained cinematic journey worth the rest of it. Chris Messina is superb as the son and it's too bad the whole movie wasn't about Angelo and his son, they really would have had something. Holly Hunter's role is basically thankless, and did we really need scenes of a cat having surgery?



Mister Roberts
The warm and sincere performance by Henry Fonda, reprising his famous Broadway role, is the heart of the 1955 film version of Mister Roberts, a funny and offbeat look at a different side of war that is so skillfully directed and beautifully cast that it received a 1955 Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

The story takes place a few weeks before VE Day and the setting is The Reluctant, a broken down cargo ship, that is really run by Lt Doug Roberts, the cargo captain whose main job is to be the liaison between the crew members , who have been slaving on the ship over the year without liberty, and the ship's hard-nosed Captain (Oscar winner James Cagney), the no-nonsense, in-name-only commander of "the bucket", who cares more about his home grown palm tree than he does about the men.

We also meet Ensign Frank Pulver (Jack Lemmon), the lazy and shiftless officer in charge of "laundry and morale", who when he's not thinking about the easiest way to sneak women on the ship, is telling anyone who will listen how he plans to get back at the Captain someday, even though he is really terrified of the man.

Josh Logan and Frank S, Nugent do a first rate job of adapting the screenplay from the Broadway pay, co-written by Logan, that premiered on February 18, 1948 and ran for 1100 performances with Fonda as Roberts. Adapting the show to the screen was a deceptively tricky thing as it takes aboard ship and could give the film a claustrophobic feel, but just the opposite effect results...we feel these guys loneliness and boredom as a lot of their frustration about their position is a result of not actually being in combat. Roberts is immediately established as the guy who really runs this ship, even though he hates it in reality and has been trying to get a transfer to get what he really wants. His work is so appreciated and has demanded him so much respect that his crew actually bands together to get him what he wants. The final ten minutes of the film could actually ignite a tear duct if in the right mood.

Fonda is a tower of strength in the title role and has rarely been more enjoyable onscreen. James Cagney is nothing short of brilliant as the Captain and William Powell brings his accustomed class to the role of Doc, the ship's doctor who cures all ailments with aspirin. The real scene stealer is Jack Lemmon, whose energetic work as the slightly crazed Ensign Pulver, won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, the only award the film won. You might not recognize a young Ken Curtis as one of the crew members. Curtis would actually make his claim to fame playing Festus on the CBS western Gunsmoke. Another classic that more than lives up to its reputation, taking a lighter, but no less realistic look at the ugliness of war.



GREAT



Sherlock Holmes
The dazzling directorial eye of Guy Ritchie is at the heart of 2009's Sherlock Holmes, the gothic and slightly goofy re-imagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle hero that gives a new millenium sensibility to this classic literary hero with the aid of state of the art production values and first rate performances.

Robert Downey Jr takes on the the title role with Jude Law becoming Dr. Watson as we watch the pair track down a serial killer named Blackwood and watch him hung for his crimes. Three months after the hanging, Holmes and Watson are shocked when they learn that Blackwood has risen from the dead and has begun killing again. As Holmes and Watson go after the killer again, it's revealed that this Blackwood is a deadly nemesis who has the entire British Parliament behind him in a deadly plan that could spell ruin for all of England and even beyond.

Ritchie has been provided with an urbane and sophisticated screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham that dares to combine elements of the supernatural and religious defiance that raises the story above the simple movie mystery. Simultaneously, it fleshes out these two literary legends making them human and funny, but never letting us forget where the legacy of Sherlock Holmes came from.

Strict attention is necessary in order to observe everything that's going on here and what it will initially bring the viewer is confusion as there is a whole lot of things our hero does that we don't understand when he's doing them, but they are all efficiently explained before the credits roll, displaying the distinction of this particular superhero...his memory and his eye for detail.

Ritchie mounts this story on a dark and elegant canvas with the aid of imaginative camerawork, and, Oscar-nominated art direction and Oscar-worthy film editing that eventually has this story moving at a breath neck pace. Robert Downey Jr. adds another sterling performance to his gallery of memorable characters, but the real scene stealer here is Jude Law who brings a wit and intelligence to Watson we really don't see coming. Rachel McAdams is a solid leading lady and the golden-throated Mark Strong is also memorable as Blackwood. Looking forward to the sequel.



Blow
A charismatic movie star performance from Johnny Depp in the starring role makes 2001's Blow, a fact-based crime drama worth sitting through despite a screenplay that seems to borrow too much from other far superior movies.

Depp plays George Jung, a small time pot dealer in California who, after his second arrest for selling marijuana, finds out that the real money is in selling cocaine and through a connection he meets in jail, finds himself dealing with the Medillin Cartel and its leader, Pablo Escobar, to help Jung become one of the biggest drug dealers of the 1960's and 1970's.

Even though David McKenna's screenplay is based on a book by Bruce Porter, the events chronicled in this movie plays too much like scenes I've seen in earlier and better movies, Scarface, in particular. There are several scenes that seemed to have been lifted and only slightly altered from the 1983 Brian DePalma classic. We get the scene where his partner gets ditched while Escobar puts his trust in him, the scene where Escobar gives George a test to see if he can be trusted, we eve get George stealing his boss' wife (Oscar winner Penelope Cruz). And we definitely could have done without George's corny, cliche-ridden narration.

Despite all this, the film does an effective job of showing how dangerous dealing with Columbia drug dealers is but in a more discreet way than expected. There's a great scene where George is trying to get a pilot hired by the Carte, they tell the guy he can't be hired until they get the names of his kids and the schools they attend. The physical effects of cocaine are beautifully documented in the scene where George is in the delivery room while his wife is having his child.

What the film sums up better than anything is what a moron this guy George really was. If you watch the opening scenes where he and his friend, Tuna (Ethan Supplee) decide to sell pot, it's obvious this guy doesn't have a clue what he's doing and he only got as far as he did on dumb luck. Every time he would jump bail, he would run to his parents' house...it didn't occur to him that this would be the first place they would look for him?

Despite all this, Johnny Depp is dazzling in the starring role and makes this movie worth watching. Rachel Griffiths is terrific as his obnoxious mother and Paul Ruebens also impresses as George's drug dealing partner in California. Of course, the standout in the supporting cast is Ray Liotta as George's kind but not-as-dumb-as-he-looks dad. A little more originality in the writing and this one could have been something really special.



Taken 3
The retired CIA agent with the very special skillset returns to protect his family from some more very dangerous people in 2014's Taken 3, a another solid entry in the franchise that takes a little too long for all the parts of the story to come together, but delivers what fans have come to expect of Bryan Mills.

As the film opens, we learn that Mills (Liam Neeson) is about to become a grandfather and just as he learns his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is having serious problems with her current husband (Dougray Scott), she is murdered and Bryan is set up for the crime. Of course, this forces Bryan on the run to find out who is trying to frame him and how to keep his daughter (Maggie Grace) safe.

Luc Bresson and Robert Mark Kamen's screenplay isn't quite as personal as the first two films, but it still has his family center stage and it still puts Bryan's very special skillset center stage. Only an agent with this kind of skill would be able to allude the entire LAPD in order to meet privately with his daughter in a high school restroom and manage to get out. The relationship established between Mills and the LAPD police chief (Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker) was also a lot of fun, bringing to mind movies like The Fugitive and Catch Me If You Can.

Director Olivier Megaton, who also directed the second film, scores by beginning this film so quietly, with Bryan delivering a gift to his daughter, that there is no way that the viewer can possibly expect the bloody international action that reaches such a fever pitch. Action fans will get their fill with two hair-raising car chases and Mills dispatching of a group of Russians in a liquor store that are cheer-inducing. One difference between this film and the other two that was a pleasant surprise was learning that Bryan had some back-up in this film courtesy of his former job. In the first two films, he was working virtually alone and it was nice to see that he still had people in his life he could count on.

Nesson is the picture of cool, as always, as Mills, another great hero who never allows anyone to see him sweat. Scott makes his scenes count as the smarmy Stuart as does Sam Spruell as the Russian baddie. The production values, as always in this film, are first rate including spectacular cinematography, art direction/set direction, and stunning Oscar-worthy editing. A third entry in a franchise that delivers the same way the first two did.



The Skin I Live In
Director/screenwriter Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother) has given the cinematic concept of the mad scientist a bold and bone-chilling re-imagining in a frightening and claustrophobic thriller called The Skin I Live In which appears initially as two diffrerent stories that eventually morph into one ugly story that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

The 2011 film stars Antonia Banderas as Dr. Robert Ledgard, a widowed plastic surgeon with a mentally ill teenage daughter who is working to develop a new kind of skin that can withstand any kind of punishment and has a young woman captive in the basement of his home who has become his personal guinea pig for this skin that also has transgenic qualities that medical authorities have forbidden Dr. Ledgard to continue working on. The story then flashes back to a traumatic incident revolving around Ledgard's daughter lead to the doctor's revenge in his daughter's name and what he's doing now.

Almodovar initially bamboozles the viewer with this story of a scientist who is obsessed with a medical advancement that is so unprecedented that it has the entire medical community terrified, but we are completely thrown when it comes to light that Dr. Ledgard's work is much more personal and has very little to do with medical notoriety. We learn that this work goes all the way back to the death of his wife, who was burned in a tragic accident and how the futility of his work to save her led to a much more deadly obsession that is difficult to get into here without spoilers.

Almodovar's direction is alternately delicate and atmospheric, creating an almost other-worldly atmosphere for what's happening here. He has created a central character who actually recalls Dr. Frankenstein in his determination, coupled with his obsession and how he will let nothing get in his way.

Antonio Banderas turns in the performance of his career as Dr. Ledgard, a performance that easily trumps last year's Pain and Glory, which earned him his first Oscar nomination. This performance should have gotten him that honor. There is also strong work from Marisa Peredes as his mother and Elena Anaya as the tortured Vera. Outstanding art direction and music are the finishing touches on this one-of-a-kind cinematic journey. Fans of the 2019 Best Picture winner Parasite will definitely have a head start here.



The Skin I Live In
Good review, glad you watched it. Let me ask you, what do you think the film was trying to say? Or did it not have anything it was trying to say? Just curious as it's a very different film.