If you've read anything else I've written about Tarantino, you know I'm not right up there as one of his biggest fans. For one thing, I don't care for his sense of humor. I also don't care for his exuberant, almost juvenile use of violence. <p> I watched this movie because I'm a huge Kurt Russell fan. And you know what? I've not laughed that much at a movie in a good long while. I mean, I don't like to think that gore is the center of my humor universe, but the gory moments in this movie were often -- not always by any means -- hilarious. <p> The acting is terrific too. That's another thing you'll not see me say often about a Tarantino movie. Mostly, I believe, his movies find success not because of their acting or their scripts, but because people like Tarantino's artificially contrived time sequence shifts and his gore. Lots of gore. Well, sire, I loved the time sequence shift in this movie. It was appropriate and, well, timely. I've already talked about the gore. <p> True, there are enough truly tragic deaths in this movie to match many a tragic movie, but the overpowering strength of the humor in this movie wins the day. This doesn't mean I'm all of a sudden a big Tarantino fan. Interesting how he chooses to tell you up front what number movie this is he's made. It's like a brag. Either that, or it's a plea that he needs to make so you won't forget his prior work, perhaps.
Without doubt, although my memory is foggy, this movie is in part a tribute to Federico Fellini. Shot in the same neo-realistic style of Fellini's early work, complete with the beauty of the black and white trademark of neo-realism, my first instinct is to go back and watch Fellini's own film entitled Roma. Both films speak about a director's formative years, and are attempts, I think, to give an objective, maybe even documentary appearance to that story. But they both leak emotional subjectivity all over the place. <p> Specifically, Cuarón's Roma makes very moving points about the treatment of women, about class distinction, and about how life in his childhood Mexico was a place where you could meet death at any moment, whether due to natural environmental causes, such as earthquakes or dangerous water, or at the hands of a mob, or even at the hands of lunatic machismo-driven, egocentric, misogynist. <p> Life is precious, and at the same time it is not. Life and death are two sides of a coin that seem to be flipped on a fairly regular basis. The death of Cleo's baby is one such flip: Had she been able to make it to the hospital in a more timely manner, would the baby have lived? <p> And I tell you, that ocean scene, up until its conclusion, had my stomach tied in knots the same way Man on Wire did. Spoiler alert: If she had died . . . man, I would have been heart-broken. A horrible end for a quotidian life. Awful. Cleo, despite love for the family being her reason raison d'être up to this point in her life, is the one who climbs the ladder to the sky at the end. She has yet to hit upon her real life's purpose, she is yet to make her mark. Perhaps not. Perhaps she has risen as far as she might. After all, that is the laundry room up there. That's another coin being flipped in 1970s Mexico, maybe. <p> All in all, Roma is very interesting for its documentary style, and I love Cleo. Who wouldn't? Brave, that woman. Braver than anyone around her. <p> I must go back and watch Fellini's Roma, while Cuarón's is fresh in my mind. I hope I'll see many parallels.
I realize this was nominated for awards. BUT. Whoever dreamt up this film was definitely not thinking about "entertainment." It's unnerving when the only comic relief you get in a film so brutal as this is just for one single second out of two hours of emotional bludgeoning, and it's a guy accidentally slicing his arm open. Normally I would never laugh at something like that. It really is unsettling to think that's "funny." I totally surprised myself when I laughed out loud.
It's absolutely true that Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Julie Hagerty give strong performances, and this is a strong movie. I like strong, but strong when it means unrelenting brutalizing of the audience is not for me. What this really could have used is Wally Shawn moments of pure comic relief.
If it weren't for Kurt Russell being in this, I would never have watched it. For those of you who know my reviews, you know I'm not the world's greatest Tarantino fan. This is 113 minutes of my life I'll never get back. One star for Kurt Russell, of course.
I don't normally watch a movie and attempt to guess where it's headed, much less how it will end. This one, however, tricked me into doing that almost from the beginning.
John Travolta is one of my favorite actors. I don't know if what actually happens in this movie is possible, especially developing telekinetic powers, but Travolta certainly makes everything he does appear to be possible.
The set up, that bright light in the sky, is a real come-on. I began to suspect some kind of sci-fi premise, and Travolta's incredible development of so many skills and abilities lends itself to that genre premise. Once you find out the real cause of his new talents, the reality of the possibility of these things happening seems almost magical -- but telekinesis, well, I don't know about that.
A wonderful, and wonderfully sad movie. Travolta at his best, working with a nice script and great supporting cast.
This is a small movie that stars one of my favorites, James Cromwell, as an elderly WWII veteran. <p>
The contemporary moments of the movie have to do with Cromwell's grandson's deployment in Iraq, but the flashback segments involve first, that same grandson, as a 12-year-old, finding Cromwell's souvenir chest full of mementos he brought back from the European Theater. His asking Cromwell about three of those souvenirs goes to the heart both of his future Iraq tour, and of his grandfather's WWII experience. <p>
Second, are the farther flashbacks to Cromwell's deployment in Europe. What the grandfather experiences influences both his explanations of those three objects to the younger grandson, and that grandson's own behavior fighting in Iraq in the present. <p>
Three things about this movie struck me. First, Cromwell had served in the Army with the 82nd Airbourne, the same Division as my dad. The two WWII battle sequences in the film are Operation Market Garden (A Bridge Too Far), and the Battle of the Bulge. My dad was in both of those epic battles. <p>
The second thing, and this really blew my mind, is that one of the souvenirs Cromwell brought back is a Walther P38 pistol that he takes off a dying German officer. My dad brought back only one single souvenir from Europe, a Walther P38 taken too, we believe, from a dying or dead German Officer.
Third, when the older Cromwell is telling his grandson about his war experiences, it's clear he's living with the onset of dementia. By the end of the movie, it's a valid assumption that he dies from complications due to that dementia. This is the same progression my dad suffered through, mounting complications killing him as well. <br>
PTSD is everywhere in this movie. I've come to believe that almost everyone who goes to war suffers some degree of PTSD. I know my dad did. Cromwell certainly does in this movie. And it's clear that the grandson's Iraq experience has brutalized him in the same manner. <p>
As I say, this is a small movie. It did, however, affect me in a big way.
95% on Rotten Tomatoes? Are you shhhhh . . . We're in a wery, wery quiet pwace wight now. It's a world where you can't cough, can't hiccup, can't even fart for fear you'll be splattered all over the landscape.
Woe be unto those who suffer from sleep apnea in this place, for unless you're an electrical whiz and know how to get some juice flowing -- quietly, no generators allowed -- to power a very quiet CPAP machine, your snoring will surely be the literal death of you in this soundless post-apocalyptic hell-hole of a world we now inhabit.
You know, thinking about it, no farting anymore would be a good thing. I hate it when someone cuts one loose without warning and you have to hold your breath forever -- just as if these sound-seeking alien killers were nearby and you didn't want them to hear you breathing. Fart in this world, and you are one dead flatulator. No chili for you!
Also no screaming if you drive a nail through your foot or give birth, either. No knuckle-cracking or gum-snapping, or stomach growling, or sobbing, or projectile vomiting, or stubbing of toes, or . . . Sneezing? Out. Allergy sufferers will be some of the first to get off-ed.
Oh, and while I'm making a list of don'ts and checking it twice, don't ever use a condom when you have sex. Why? Because it isn't irresponsible of you first, to bring a child into a world like this, and second, it's a sure sign of love if you have to stuff the baby in an airtight box with a little oxygen mask so that if it cries the aliens won't hear it and smear it.
It goes without saying, of course, that if you do have sex, contraceptives or not, you darn well better not enjoy it to the point where you moan or, heaven forbid, cry out at the height of passion. Heard of the "little death"? That there'll be the big one.
About thirty minutes into this horror of a story, I wanted to scream, but I knew there weren't really any aliens like the ones in this movie lurking about, so there was no chance in hades that one would hear me and come wipe my out of my misery.
Herbie: Fully Loaded. What? Why am I writing this? Oh, yeah, I did watch it yesterday. Well, one big star for Lindsay Lohan. Any movie she's in is a minimum one-star baby. The problem, however, with watching a Lindsay Lohan movie is that I tend not to notice anything else that's going on. I think I should subtract one star for this, but you know what? I'm actually going to add one more because of this.
Okay, I vaguely remember that this was about a car and racing. A VW, right? They're going to stop making the latest incarnation next year, 2020, I believe, so it's nice that any kind of VW, even if they might be produced by the descendants of Nazi's who migrated from South America to Mexico, deserves one star. No, wait, minus one star for anything having even the whiff of Nazis. Don, Nazis bad, okay? Just say it. And watch out for a Nazi caravan.
Well, I guess it's just two stars even though Lindsay Lohan is in it. Ah, but she had me in thrall as usual. One more star = three.
With an incredible rating of 90%, I feel the urge to put in my two cents's worth regarding Locke. It's the name of the major character -- like what you get when you get out of your car to secure it, in a mash up with the name of the 18th-Century British Empiricist philosopher John Locke? Lock + Locke? Maybe not. Just a wild guess.
Mr. Locke is a man who works with concrete. Loves concrete. Values concrete and what the resulting building is -- as he calls them "his" buildings -- more than his freaking family. Asshole. If he could screw a concrete pie, I bet he'd jump at the chance. Instead he screws a woman other than his wife.
The entire movie takes place inside Mr. Locke's car while he's driving into London to witness the birth of this other woman's baby. Obviously they saved a lot of money using just a car for the setting -- memories for me, and not good ones, of the nightmare that is My Dinner with Andre.
Oh, and by the way, he does not love this other woman, nor has he had, he says, extramarital sex other than this one time. Right, Mr. Locke, I wonder about that.
Anyway if you like concrete -- about half the picture heï¿ 1/2 1/2 1/2(TM)s answering and making phone calls about concrete -- and adultery, then you might enjoy this movie. I don't like either of those things, so for me the movie sucked hard, like dried concrete hard.
But as I say, concrete and adultery lovers might chance this one. I doubt if anyone will revel in this masterpiece, but try it if you like. It's your unrecoverable hour and a half of your life.
Last night I watched Tucker: The Man and His Dream, starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This is the true post World War II story of a man who got screwed by the Big Three American automotive makers. Screwed why? Because he had the audacity to design a car that stressed safety and could be produced and offered at low prices. What could be worse for the progress of the automobile, right? Well, now days many of his ideas have been stolen, I mean implemented, by other companies, things as basic and smart as safety belts and padded dashboards.
If you like cars, you'll love this movie. Tucker only produced 50 cars, but there are are still perhaps 44 or 45 in existence. You can bet they're not inexpensive now, guaranteed.
I'm biased because Bridges is one of my favorite actors; he always gives you your money's worth. A true professional. And Martin Landau, nominated for an Oscar for his performance here, does one of his best jobs ever, right up there with his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, for which he did win an Academy Award.
But these beautiful cars are the true stars of this show. All fifty perform a parade sequence at the end that is stunning. They look like 50 pieces of candy. You want to bite into them. Hollywood did one hell of a great job building those cars for this movie.
So I watched both John Wick One and Two yesterday. I'm glad I did -- I think, cuz no more any nightmares -- yet. I like Keanu Reeves, and I thought he'd disappeared. Yeah, I get that he loves his Mustang, but when those bastards kill his puppy, even I wanted all of them dead -- although I gotta say these movies were both kinda more violent than I care for.
Dude, when you've got John Wick tied up, why in the whole wide world do you have John Wick tied up? Geez, Louise, you know he's a killing machine, so when you have the advantage, why don't you kill him immediately? Kill him before he inevitably kills you. Think, folks, think. K-I-L-L John Wick, you I-D-I-O-T-S. Hollywood, I tell you.
Wick's guaranteed target is the head. Every single time. A hundred times in each movie. So even if he's shot someone five or six or more times already, and broken every bone in the guy's body, notice how he still makes sure to plant one in the head as a final "Let me make sure this guy's dead." In the brain, like the way you kill zombies.
Is it just my perception that most guys can't aim, but John Wick could hit a fly sitting on the moon? Geez. Of the hundred and two or hundred and three folks he kills -- in each movie -- maybe two or three of them can shoot with a teeny tiny bit of accuracy. Lucky for John Wick, because the bullets are flying every-freakin-where.
A word of advice: Don't get into knife fight with John Wick. You will lose. And then he might shoot you in the head, just to make sure you've lost.
John Wick is definitely into the martial arts, and having watched University Lab School grad Enson Inoue (mixed martial artist in Japan specializing in Brazilian jiujitsu), I know that Wick employs the arm bar on several occasions, although he definitely uses a mix of types, not just jiujitsu alone. The same way someone like Jet Li mixes styles to fit the purpose and the choreography of a particular situation.
Oh, and I don't think you can understand some of Two without seeing One, so I suggest you watch One first.
Oh, and Three is on the way.
Oh, and he does steal a new dog in Two, and his totaled Mustang is in the shop getting repaired in anticipation of Three. John Leguizamo boasts he can fix the Mustang, but you know they're just gonna use a new one in the next movie. John Leguizamo is no car repair guy. He's an actor, for goodness sake. Yeah, they'll just use a brand new Mustang that looks like his old one. I'm pretty sure. Cuz that's a hell of a lot of body work. Plus they would have to find a driver's side door, plus who knows what, yeah? I mean there's totaled, and then there is T-O-T-A-L-E-D.
One little anecdote. My mom and dad really wanted to see Speed, but it had already left the theaters. How they got turned onto it, I don't know. So for Christmas I bought them the VHS tape. The three of us watched it together. When it ended my mom said, "That Reeves boy, very good-looking. Too bad he can't act." I think about that every time I watch a Keanu Reeves movie. Can he act? I don't know. I like him no matter.
(<i>Vozvrashcheniye</i>) Beautifully shot, this movie holds a surprise ending which might be difficult to anticipate, but is finally most welcome. Sometimes it may be better that a man who abandons his family not return. Big points to Konstantin Lavronenko for playing this bastard of a father to perfection.
This group pretty much has the action formula down (See them all together with <i>In China They Eat Dogs</i>). The dark humor is good here as well. Big points for the prison escape and the electrocution scene. Most importantly, Kim Bodnia really is a fine actor. I'd like to find something where he can demonstrate his depth and, especially, his range.
The best of the nominated films I've seen so far. If August: Osage County had been nominated as well, it would be a tie for these two. Hats off to Dench and Coogan for their transformative performances.
A beautiful little movie about growing up and finding your first true love. I know, aren't there about a kazillion movies about this subject. Yes there are. This one stands a little bit above the crowd.