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The Gray Man



So I watched this movie last week, and after digging through a few reviews, it looks as if it's decisive amongst us movie enthusiasts. I would definitely be on the side of those who look favourably upon this movie. It was a two hour non stop thrill ride with all the charisma and absurdness of movies I grew up with in the early to mid 90s. This movie doesn't hold back for anyone or anything, as it throws away (mostly) all semblance of it's plot and questions the existence of physics on a consistent basis. The airplane fight scene is one I will remember as maybe the craziest plane fight I have seen since the movie Eraser staring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The story while a little cliche and predictable is good enough to keep me engaged. The action does most of the talking in this one, and the performances from the cast lead by Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans are spectacular. The Russo brothers are getting into their groove more as of late, and I enjoy their stylish cinematography and action sequences. I really enjoyed this movie and am eagerly awaiting it's eventual sequel.

4/5
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By Distributed by Castle Hill Productions. - Scan via Posteritati., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/inde...curid=90684902

Mikey and Nicky - (1976)

I've been hearing good word about this film on this forum recently, so I decided to check it out, as I'd never seen it. I really don't regret making that decision. Although it's directed by the ill-fated Elaine May, Mikey and Nicky does have the feeling of a Cassavetes/Falk collaboration, and both actors are in absolute top form. This is the recent cut I'm talking about. The pair play gangsters who are/were devoted friends whose close partnership has been torn asunder, but that fact is unknown to one of the men. It all takes place in one night, and also features Ned Beatty in a supporting role. It has a gritty, easy, uninhibited feel, and it's a shame May was shafted by Paramount instead of the two working out their differences to get the best version they could out to the public at the time - but we all know that age-old story, where studios meddle and artists become unmanageable. Anyway, loved this and it's a firm recommendation to any film fan. It's wound tight, and enthralls from start to finish.

9/10

One of the best kept secret great movies. Even the studio/distributor kept this in the can for years, and sabotaged it (can't remember the source), but it's a great, gritty, naturalistic movies. Tragic, but also hilarious in many parts. I can't help but think that "Buffalo '66" wasn't influenced by Cassavetes and these kinds of movies. I think Elaine May was influenced by Cassavetes. I thought he directed it, until I rated it on IMDB and saw her name, who I know through Mort Sahl.



9/10 and bottom four, lol... I didn't care much for "Heartbreak Kid" (but the beginning was great), and heard horrible things about "Ishtar". Any recommendations?



If anyone interested, this movie is FREE and in full on YouTube:





Fire of Love (2022)

I hate when studios release these one and done films. If you get the chance to see this on the big screen take it. This is likely the BP winner for best documentary...Fire of Love tells the story of a pair of volcano scientists/lovers in the 60's-90's. This is a collection of their work and it's breathtaking. If you can get the chance to catch this locally I highly recommend it.





未来忍者:慶雲機忍外伝 ~ Mirai Ninja: Keigumo Kinin Gaiden

One of the best game adaptations out there. It's like tokusatsu, but with more absurdity.

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29th Hall of Fame

Stroszek (1977) -


This is the kind of film I might enjoy more if I rewatch it sometime down the road. All things considered, I enjoyed it, but I felt I should've liked it more than I ultimately did. In order to begin discussing the film though, one must first provide some background on Bruno S. Being abused by his mother to the point he was rendered temporarily deaf and having spent a lot of time in mental institutions, his background actually works to this film's benefit. In spite of having no acting experience when Herzog first met him (this is actually the second film he acted in though), he's great for this role since the film has some parallels to his real-life struggles. As a result, his performance feels very natural. Speaking of which, the same could be said of many other scenes in the film as well. With various freeform scenes of characters interacting with each other or their environments, one gets the impression that Herzog turned the camera on without telling anyone to see what kinds of strange improvisations he could capture. One might be bothered by this approach, but I think this is all at the heart of the film's twisted humor of capturing how bizarre the world Bruno navigates is. Certain scenes such as Eva's pimps playing a piano as they beat Bruno, a mobile home being driven into and away from a plot of land, and the auction do a great job at representing the absurdities of both Germany and the U.S. Also, the final couple minutes are excellent and easily the best example of the film's humor. The scene acts as a parallel for Bruno's emotional journey throughout the film. Regardless of how hard Bruno works to maintain his home doesn't stop the bills from piling up to the point that nothing he can do will provide a sufficient income. The final scene showing several animals stuck in an endless loop of performing and getting no food seems to suggest that Bruno's situation would've kept getting worse if the film continued on. With that being said, I will admit that my appreciation of this film clicked on and off as I watched it. While I loved what I mentioned up above, I felt those elements were too few and far in between for me to love this film. For instance, the twisted humor vibes showed a lot of potential, but at the same time, I felt they were underutilized and should've been more frequent. Part of this might be due to Herzog drawing out certain scenes longer than he needed to, but whatever the issue is, a lot of my time watching this film consisted of me hoping for it to get funny again. Regardless, I still enjoyed this film and I may return to it sometime in the future to see if my opinion of it grows.



11 Foreign Language movies to go
I think Elaine May was influenced by Cassavetes.

9/10 and bottom four, lol
Yeah, Elaine May only ever directed 4 films, so I think it was Little Ash that said something like "one of her best 4 films" being in the know, and so I said "one of her bottom 4" in jest - because there are only 4 to talk about and you're right no matter what you say. A shame, she was royally shafted by the suits in Hollywood - a real talent wasted.
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Victim of The Night


Fire of Love (2022)

I hate when studios release these one and done films. If you get the chance to see this on the big screen take it. This is likely the BP winner for best documentary...Fire of Love tells the story of a pair of volcano scientists/lovers in the 60's-90's. This is a collection of their work and it's breathtaking. If you can get the chance to catch this locally I highly recommend it.


Oooh! Showing at The Broad Theater, not 2 1/2 miles from my house!





Good movie. Cate Blanchett excellent as per.
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Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022)


Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe (2022)


The Good Neighbor (2022)


The Gray Man (2022)


Not Okay (2022)




I mainline Windex and horse tranquilizer


The Father (2020)


Heartbreaking story about a man suffering from dementia. The story takes place from his point of view, and shows how dementia patients confuse people with others, lose track of time, and forget even major life events.



Anthony Hopkins won the Academy Award for his role as the titular father with ever-increasing memory problems.




9/10
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The Father (2020)


Heartbreaking story about a man suffering from dementia. The story takes place from his point of view, and shows how dementia patients confuse people with others, lose track of time, and forget even major life events.



Anthony Hopkins won the Academy Award for his role as the titular father with ever-increasing memory problems.




9/10

I watched this for the second time a few months ago and it was better than it was the first time...Hopkins is breathtaking.






1st Rewatch...I have to confess that this 2018 Oscar winner for Best Picture didn't quite hold up the way I thought it would, but when I looked at the other Best Picture nominees that year, I still think the Academy got it right. The scene where Tony and Dr. Shirley argue over the stone that Tony tried to steal was stupid and I don't like the way Dr. Shirley read the riot act to Tony for bribing those guys to let Dr. Shirley out of jail. It was the deep south in the 1960's, there was no other way Dr. Shirley was getting out. But you know what? That scene where Dr. Shirley discovers the joys of Kentucky Fried Chicken negates anything else wrong with the movie.



The Father (2020)

Heartbreaking story about a man suffering from dementia. The story takes place from his point of view, and shows how dementia patients confuse people with others, lose track of time, and forget even major life events.

Anthony Hopkins won the Academy Award for his role as the titular father with ever-increasing memory problems.

9/10
A great film, one of the very best of the 21st Century. Hopkins was stunning, and Coleman acted her heart out.
A fascinating story with a bit of a twist.






1st Rewatch...I have to confess that this 2018 Oscar winner for Best Picture didn't quite hold up the way I thought it would, but when I looked at the other Best Picture nominees that year, I still think the Academy got it right. The scene where Tony and Dr. Shirley argue over the stone that Tony tried to steal was stupid and I don't like the way Dr. Shirley read the riot act to Tony for bribing those guys to let Dr. Shirley out of jail. It was the deep south in the 1960's, there was no other way Dr. Shirley was getting out. But you know what? That scene where Dr. Shirley discovers the joys of Kentucky Fried Chicken negates anything else wrong with the movie.
Well, it's true that Green Book was less bad than the other nominees that year. There were some big problems with the film, IMO. Some commentary from me:


Green Book(2018)

It’s a sure fire indication of a weak field when a shaky film such as Green Bookfinds itself in serious consideration within a number of Academy Award top categories. Hollywood has put excellence in story telling on the back burner for the past few years in favor of promoting its own fashionable social causes. Now, just in case there are folks who haven’t been to a movie since 1960, the writers of Green Bookendeavor to show us that there was deep racial prejudice against blacks in the U.S., most especially in the South.

The story creates an account of one of America’s premier pianists named Don Shirley, a black man, who embarked on a year-plus concert tour in 1962, of which many dates were in the South. Because of racist violence against Nat King Cole at a concert in Alabama in 1960, Shirley hired Tony “Lip” Vallelonga --a mob friendly Italian who worked at Manhattan’s Copacabana night club-- to be his driver and bodyguard.

Beyond these basic facts the story is completely fictionalized. To their credit, the producers announced in the opening credits that the film was “inspired by a true story”. “Inspired by” means that the Shirley/Vallelonga tour gave them an idea for a story. Unfortunately in the film version, the tour was shrunk to two months, and was made to end just before Christmas so that Tony could return home to be with his family, and to set up a dramatic ending. In Hollywood fashion Tony and Don soon became buds, yet in true life Shirley’s brother stated that Don never considered Tony a friend, but only an employee who he required to wear a chauffer’s uniform and a cap. And there are no reports of racial incidents on the tour. Presumably the pair did make use of the “The Negro Motorist Green-Book” (actual title) in selecting their safe accommodations.

This is certainly not the first time Hollywood has made up an entire story based on an actual event, and in fact there probably have been more fictionalized movie accounts than not. But while watching the film the question kept coming up: what was this film’s point of view? And whose story were they trying to portray? Certainly they were going for both entertainment and social justice value; but after the many dozens of movies dealing with black/white racial issues over the past 60 years, the back story of the Jim Crow South was not a shocker.


At least since 1958, with The Defiant Ones, then Patch of Blue, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, on

through
Driving Miss Daisy,even Forrest Gump, along with scores of others since, have thoroughly explored and displayed the subject of prejudice against mixed race pairings, and in prejudice in general. Yet in Green Bookwe are treated to the corniest scenes of southern boobs dishing out the rankest forms of racial derision in such hackneyed form that it bordered on satire. One half expected to see Sheriff Buford T. Justice appear.

If the film’s title and subject matter were any indication that the focus was on Don Shirley, his beliefs, and his quest to endure a music tour of the South, then it came as a surprise that the thrust of the story put most of the emphasis on Tony Lip: his background, his actions, his philosophy, his awakening. Reportedly this was not lost on Shirley’s relatives, who resented the depiction of their family relationships, along with the emphasis put on Tony

The chief disappointment in the film was the writing. Director Peter Farrelly is known for wacky comedies, and this was his first foray into drama. He participated in the scripting with a sophmore writer, Biran Currie, along with Tony Vallelongas’s son Nick. Tony Lip’s part was the better of the two in construction, and Viggo Mortensen brought in an award winning quality performance. There must have been indecision about scripting Don Shirley’s part. In an attempt to give the character too many facets, the result was a personality who was all over the map, which must have made it a difficult continuity project for the actor. In his defense Mahershala Ali stated that he’d liked to have met with Shirley’s family in order to provide a more nuanced character. Still, what he did well, he did really well. Of particular note was his portrayal of piano playing. He’d worked with composer Kris Bowers until he really appeared to be playing the difficult piano pieces.

Despite its anachronistic nature, heftier writers with a different approach could have made this story into a more interesting film.


Doc’s rating: 5/10



Bullet Train

Kinda annoying. Kinda fun. Great cast. Quality action.

3.5/5





The Wide Blue Road, 1957

Squarcio (Yves Montand) is a fisherman in a town full of similarly employed and similarly impoverished men. Squarcio is working to support his wife Rosetta (Alida Valli), his daughter Diana (Federica Ranchi), and his two sons, Tonino (Giancarlo Soblone) and Bore (Ronaldo Bonacchi) who often accompany their father on his fishing boat. But while the other men use nets for their catches, Squarcio uses the illegal and dangerous strategy of bomb-fishing. This practice soon creates tension with the other local fisherman, as Squarcio hauls in a plentiful and illegal catch.

Probably the best realized element of this movie is the way that it pulls you into Squarcio's point of view and the flawed mathematics at the heart of the decisions that he makes throughout the film.

From the beginning we understand how precarious the financial situation is for the whole village. Even with his illegal bounty, Squarcio just has an edge on his fellow fishermen. In using the explosives, Squarcio is taking a huge risk: the risk of being arrested and the risk of injury. Twice in the film we see the results of accidental mishandling of explosives, and Squarcio reassures Rosetta that he will not make such mistakes.

Often in a movie where someone gets sucked into illegal behavior, there is a real, marked difference between life without the illicit activity and life with it. But here we see just how marginal that difference is, and how, in fact, it can actually be a net negative even though Squarcio is blind to that fact. For example, at one point Squarcio is faced with the choice of whether or not to sink his own boat to escape arrest. The real poison here is Squarcio's hope and optimism that his illegal fishing will make a big difference.

And compounding the tragedy here is the fact that the more he persists in his activities, the more alienated he becomes from the community around him. Through the film we see the respect of his village turn to resentment and anger.

So I found the central character arc pretty interesting, even though Squarcio himself wasn't that engaging of a figure. I never quite got deeply invested in his character or the characters of his family. There's a subplot about Diana fooling around with a man who has promised to marry her, as well as his sons trying to cope with the messaging from those around them that their father is doing wrong.

The scenery of the film is really beautiful, and there are some lovely underwater shots in a sequence where Squarcio dives deep into the water to retrieve something from a sunken boat. The beauty of the film inclines me to bump my rating up about half a point.




Bullet Train

Kinda annoying. Kinda fun. Great cast. Quality action.

3.5/5
Annoying how, though?



Annoying how, though?
I’m 90% sure they originally wanted Ryan Reynolds for Brad Pitt’s part and there’s endless banter about Thomas the Train.Take from that what you will.