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Double feature: British gangsters

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Mona Lisa - I was going to ask whatever happened to Bob Hoskins? The last thing I remembered seeing him in was Doomsday, another Neil Jordan film. I had no idea (or maybe forgot) he had passed away in 2014. That's a shame because he was a genuinely underrated actor. He's just so good in this Jordan directed film as ex-con George, recently released from prison. George was a loyal soldier and never talked so he's looking for some sort of reparation from his former boss, Denny Mortwell (a marvelously sleazy Michael Caine). He's assigned to be the driver/protector of high priced call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson) who gradually makes him over in order to better fit in with her affluent workplace surroundings. In the meantime George finds himself becoming somewhat enamored with Simone while also trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. He's staying with old friend Thomas (Robbie Coltrane) who provides a level headed perspective as well as some comic relief. Simone inveigles George to help find a former friend who's still working as a streetwalker. There's a lot of intrigue and pornography and blackmail as well as a vicious pimp and George quickly finds himself in over his head.

Immediately after finishing the film I was of the mind that Jordan, who also cowrote the script, had unfairly portrayed Simone as some sort of femme fatale. That she had somehow roped a lovesick George into doing her dirty work only to betray him. This was simply not the case and I was basing this on a lot of the other noir films I had seen in the past. She never led him on in any overt way despite realizing how George had come to feel about her. She always took care to keep him at a certain arm's length. This is an astute, mature film with an exceptional performance by Bob Hoskins and able support from Caine and Tyson.


I used to love this movie, too long since I seen it.




By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8913992

The Devil Rides Out - (1968) - (aka : The Devil's Bride)

It's 1929. After promising to look out for his dead friend's son, Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) finds he gets more than he bargained for when it seems the former has fallen in with Satanists and is about to be re-christened and pledge his life to the Devil. Before you know it, Baphomet is hanging out at ceremonies. Giant tarantulas and death himself try to weigh in on all the fun, but this is really a contest of wills between de Richleau and high priest Mocata (Charles Grey). Paul Eddington appears in a rare feature role.

The film looks great, and everybody performs their part well. Everything is played dead straight, but there's enough here to really please fans of old supernatural Hammer Horror films. Charles Grey really nails the slippery, hypnotic Mocata. I really didn't click with the film to the extent I wanted, but ended up enjoying the beautiful old cars (in mint condition,) which are utilized for some surprisingly effective car chases.

5/10


By Gaumont - http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefil...lm=235620.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53586224

A Bag of Marbles - (2017) - France - (aka : Un sac de billes) - rewatch

A sense of Nazi-fatigue overcame me while watching this 2017 French film again. Truth be told, it only came back in fits and starts as I rewatched it - and it may fade from my memory once again, mixed together with 100 other films based around people hiding from Nazi authorities until wars end. In this case, it's two young Jewish boys (brothers) who are sent by their parents to the Italian zone of occupied France. Their father trains Joseph (Dorian Le Clech) and Maurice (Batyste Fleurial) to refute the fact they're Jewish no matter what pressure might be applied - and get them to learn their fake identities down to the last letter.

This true tale is no more or less important than other stories of the persecution of this era. Based on Joseph Joffo's autobiographical novel published in 1973. An early adaptation was filmed, and released in 1975 - and a graphic novel published in 2012. It's a middling film with a few really good scenes in it - the two boys cheekily shield the Jewish sign on their family's barbershop, allowing two members of the SS get their haircuts surrounded by Jewish people, the gag has dire prospects the boys don't understand. The stoicism they both show while being interrogated by Germans is also a highlight.

5/10



Professional horse shoe straightener
'Carmen and Lola' (2021)


Average LGBTQ fare. Some good scenes towards the end but the whole film was just too pedestrian and covered a very well trodden path.




Twas'

Just one of those films that eluded my wheelhouse.
My favorite movie (not named The Rocky Horror Picture Show).
Glad you liked it.





Unbelievably confusing for the first 30 minutes. (Always worrying if one has to wiki a movieís plot line in order to understand it.) Glad I stuck with it since itís an excellent movie about a very dysfunctional family.



Re-watch. Still a classic of American Cinema.
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Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.



If Happy End remains Haneke's last film, it will be a fitting end to his filmography. While not his best, it seems to capture the quintessence of his works and blend elements from them all into a satisfying singular piece of work.



If Happy End remains Haneke's last film, it will be a fitting end to his filmography. While not his best, it seems to capture the quintessence of his works and blend elements from them all into a satisfying singular piece of work.
Why would it be his last?



Why would it be his last?
There's been a lot of talk of retirement since he's made it. Even the title carries with it a cryptic and overt sense of finality.

Plus, he's around 79 and usually takes around 3 to 5 years between films with no plans for another feature announced.

I hope he has many more movies within him but I would understand if this marks the end.





The Transfiguration, 2016

Teenager Milo (Eric Ruffin) lives in an apartment in a dangerous city building with his older brother, Lewis (Aaron Moten). Both of his parents dead and a social outcast, Milo is relentlessly bullied by the kids his own age, and works to avoid the more dangerous older young men who rule over the building. Obsessed with vampires and believing himself to be one, Milo stays off the radar as much as possible, until the arrival of a girl his age, Sophie (Chloe Levine) shakes things up.

When I took a class in poetry writing in college, one of the pieces of advice we got was to be very careful about starting our own poems with quotes from other poems. Unavoidably, evoking another, better poem will mean that the reader will be comparing your poem to theirs.

This, in some ways, is the trap that The Transfiguartion falls into. Milo believes that he is a vampire, and he is obsessed with their mythology and especially vampire movies. There are explicit references to classics like Nosferatu, Milo raves about Let the Right One In, and Sophie even pitches in with her liking of Twilight and True Blood. This places a heavy contextual weight on the film, especially when it brings up movies like Let the Right One In that focus on a teen vampire and a non-vampire friend.

Now, on the flip side, the constant references (along with the gruesome YouTube videos Milo watches) actually brings a feeling of realism to the way that children and teens try to reconcile their identities. Milo is in the process of constructing his own mythology, one that sometimes matches and sometimes diverts from "classic" vampire mythology. Lacking anyone around who would understand, Milo is seeking out a way to make sense of who he is.

The best aspect of the film is the way that it evokes a kind of teenage misery and ennui. Lewis, Milo's brother, has returned from military service and spends his days on the couch in front of the TV. He has distanced himself from his old friends--the gang that terrorizes and runs the building--but without them he is adrift. Both brothers are alone and lost in their own ways, living on the margins. In fact, the whole film is strangely a world without adults--those who must appear (police, teachers, counselors) are seen from the neck down or even totally off-screen.

Despite some strengths--including good performances and a strongly-evoked setting--the film is lacking some vital oomph. The relationships (Lewis and Milo, Milo and Sophie) are realistic feeling and well done, but they don't really evolve all that much. There's a fun question that hangs around the film: Is Milo really a vampire? And this question is bound up in the way that Milo is trying to reconcile his violent impulses. But much in the way that the relationships don't evolve, this question doesn't get much depth either. For better or worse, the conflict is almost entirely contained within Milo.

There are plenty of teenage vampire films out there. While this one didn't quite cross the line into really good, I did feel that the setting and the psychology of the main character made for an interesting departure. There's something compelling about the combination of an outcast story mixed with racial segregation, poverty, mental illness, and urban decay. I just wish that something more powerful had been done with those elements.






Legally Blonde (2001)

Thereís a potentially interesting idea at the heart of this, about what and who is frivolous, and what and who is serious, and whether or not you can be both. Reese Witherspoon is good enough to almost make it work, but the script isnít good enough and, perhaps as a sign of the difficulty of balancing the two, the movie is simply not serious enough when it needs to be. And while Witherspoon is good, Elle Woods is also the only real character in the movie. Luke Wilson and Selma Blair have little to do except react in limited ways. Her ex-boyfriend and her attorney mentor are almost cartoonishly sociopathic. Nobody but Elle has a meaningful arc (well, maybe Paulette, but itís a pretty small arc). I can appreciate that this movie speaks to some people in a way that is meaningful; I just wish it had been better while doing it.

5/10





My Father, My Lord, 2007

A respected rabbi named Abraham (Assi Dayan) is extremely devoted to his faith. The film traces the way that his faith causes friction between Abraham and his wife, Esther (Sharon Hacohen) and especially his son, Menahem (Elan Griff). As Menahem chafes against his father's rigid rules, the family approaches an unexpected crisis.

This is a film that feels almost more like a short story.Clocking in at just about 70 minutes, the film tells a contained, intimate story of a family in crisis.

Overall my reaction to this film was positive. Despite the short runtime, the movie is willing to take longer moments to show small events, such as repeated sequences where Menahem watches a bird outside his classroom window tending to its chicks. The boy never articulates what he is thinking as he watches the bird, but when he returns home and we watch the strained interactions with his father, the theme is clear enough.

For most viewers, I imagine that the last act will be the make or break aspect of the film. After a very realistic first 2/3, the ending goes to a place that is a bit more outlandish. I would say that it worked for me, in part because of the way that the direction, the acting, and the score all cohered into a really emotional sequence.

Generally I would say that this is a slight, but worth watching film in the subgenre of movies about people grappling with the intersection of their faith and their family life.




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I'm not a huge Deodato fan, but I do feel like his sadism gave this movie a pretty nice edge. Or at least it was nice to get that edge in a movie that didn't have real animal killings and execution footage.


Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is easily his best movie, though.
I have that and The Washing Machine on my watchlist. Big fan of House on the Edge of the Park and Cannibal Holocaust.