Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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The first time I saw this film I hated it, but I sensed there was something there. The second time I saw it I enjoyed it. It's a film about a man who is literally insane, I didn't understand that the first time. There are reasons why he loses his sanity. It's a bizarre, surreal, half crime, half horror film that was surprisingly made in Japan in 1965 by an outcast director who formed his own studio to make it. It's clearly a cult film. I won't delve in the bizarre story. Suffice to say the man has hallucinations. There is an amazing scene near the end. I want to believe it's real (not a hallucination) but there is no way of knowing for sure. That's part of the greatness of this film. Lots of perverted and decadent Japanese in this film- people who are not insane and should know better but are thoroughly corrupted by the power of money. You see, the insane man has 30 million Yen to spend in one year, how he gets the money, why he gets the money and his initial fear of the money is what makes him insane.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, the greatest science-fiction film ever made introduced God in the film language in a mystical way that has not been imitated again before or since. But how does a director introduce God to the audience through pain, inner torment and torture. Sure, Ingmar Bergman attempted it several times but even he never dared to attempt it within the confines of and Epic story. And when God finally does appear late in this film, it is truly a film miracle, because revelations and insights come with it that can transform your life. This is the tale of Jesuit missionaries coming to Japan in 1633, when Christianity is forbidden under penalty of torture and death. The two missionaries are also quasi-detectives because they cannot fathom the evidence that their very teacher has renounced Christianity and is living as a Japanese would. In their minds it must be a rumor.
The miracle of this film is everyone knows this story forwards, backwards and sideways but this film makes it seem fresh, new and even surreal. It's the most fascinating film of the year as we are made to feel what it must have been like to be her and to be her in the most traumatic time imaginable. Natalie's performance is legendary, primarily because what I saw was Natalie Portman, she doesn't really look like Jackie. But about halfway in the film I felt I wasn't watching Natalie at all but the first lady, so astonishing is her transformation into Jackie- unfortunately the casting of Bobby Kennedy and LBJ is poor. JFK is however omnipresent even though he's only seen for a few seconds but not heard about halfway into the movie. Then near the end he speaks in the real JFK's voice and that is especially heartbreaking and then he is seen dancing with Jackie. As first lady she is an exemplar of dignity, class and intelligence and that is continually interwoven with scenes of her being interviewed about a week or 2 after the assassination- her eyes basically pink-eyed from constant mourning, in which she is caustic, confrontational and bitter, and extreme change from when she was first lady, ever ready to smile for the public and careful to put on her best soothing voice, which further adds to her legend, the fact that she had 2 distinct very different sounding speaking voices, one for the public and one for her self, family and confidants. An utterly brilliant film.
This is hands down the best film of 2016. Nothing else even comes close. It is that great. Have you ever seen a film so awesome it gets to the point that the screenplay doesn't even matter? What I mean is, late in the film there is a scene in which two men are talking and I can't make out what they are saying, because of ghetto slang, and then I realized it doesn't matter because this film is a bona-fide masterpiece. Telling you the plot does a disservice because A) you won't see it and B) it won't begin to convey the greatness of this film. It will get underneath your skin. It will devastate you. It reminds me of the film "Precious" which is about another down-and-out ghetto person with ZERO chance of any semblance of happiness through no fault of the person himself or herself. But I feel this film is even greater than "Precious", maybe I feel that way because it gives me the male sensibility. But just like that film one feels as if one is the same as the protagonist.
Superlative film about a totally unique soldier- a conscientious objector who chose to volunteer rather than be drafted. Apparently he was lied to when he volunteered. He was told that because he was going in as a medic he would not be required to use guns. The torture for him begins when he refuses to touch a rifle in boot camp. He's continually abused by his commanding officers and gets brutally beaten by his fellow soldiers. However, he refuses to quit so they try to court martial him. He is very nearly court martialed with a dishonorable discharge but a compromise is reached. He is allowed to go into battle without any weapon to defend himself with. What he does in battle has to be seen to be believed. If I tell you what he does you simply won't believe me. The battle scenes are utterly horrific, the most horrific I have ever seen in any war film. AND it's a 100% true story!
Written by Nate Parker, directed by Nate Parker, and starring Nate Parker, this film is obviously a slap in the face to the infamous 1915 film which lionized the KKK, by making them look like noble defenders of the white race. If you did not know the story of Nat Turner, here's your chance to make up for that egregious oversight. The film is torture, Torture of the black men, torture and rampant raping of the black women. If you can somehow stomach all that, and it's clear that it indeed did happen, you should relish this searing tale of what it must have been like to have been born a slave. I won't go into details of what led to the uprising. And it's basically irrelevant what part of this story actually happened or did not. The power of this story is such that it overrides any such criticisms of how it is portrayed. It's the BEST film of 2016, and nothing at all even comes remotely close to equaling it.
Who the heck was Fritz Bauer ? Well, EVERYONE should know who he was. He was a notable judge in postwar Germany known for his leftist leanings who made it his mission to hunt down Nazi war criminals. He faced numerous obstacles due to many ex-Nazis' holding positions of power in Konrad Adenaur's government. In addition there is something about his private life which could bury him at any moment, but i'd rather not say what that is. Despite being in bad health his will is too strong to be thwarted, especially when he gets info about the whereabouts of Adolf Eichmann. Suffice to say that Eichmann would probably have never been captured without the persistence of Fritz Bauer .
An overprotected Jewish boy in 1950's America goes off to college during the time of the Korean war. He can only escape the war by being in college. He's an academic whiz kid and his family expects him to become a lawyer and then a judge. He chooses a conservative Christian college, but what he doesn't realize is that the Dean is out to get him after he discovers he's really an atheist. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a wasp blonde who has a complicated, troubled past. Based on the novel by Phillip Roth, it is one of the best films of the year.
It's easy to compare this film to Bonnie and Clyde but that film is a true story and these brothers who are bank robbers are more likeable. There is a great amount of social criticism here aimed at our banking system which is depicted as being pure evil. If that turns you off you won't like this film. It's M&M ( Moody and masterful). It's dynamite !
Fascinating portraits of 2 married painters in 1920's Denmark, based on a true story, adapted from diaries. He is a successful perfectionist painter. She is talented but is still trying to find the muse, the style that will make her popular. How she finds it is utterly extraordinary. It begins when she needs her husband to put on stockings and heels to help her finish a portrait. She asks him to put on a dress but he refuses. Then she asks him to put on female undergarments prior to making love to her. Then she decides to create "Lily" which is her husband in drag, almost like a game, but also because she somehow senses intuitively that's what her husband needs. She even has Lily accompany her to an important artist ballroom party, whereby Lily is somewhat seduced by a man when she is separated from her husband. He doesn't want to be seduced but it sorta just happens. To complicate matters, Gerda the wife has found her inspiration, her muse, to paint Lily, and her career begins to get fame. What no one understands is that her husband is transgender, always has been, and her sexual fetishes has now made him painfully aware Lily is real. Lily is the real him. He apparently had successfully repressed that part of himself but now he can't go back to being her "normal" husband. It becomes an impossibility.He sees doctors but they all label him insane and attempt to have him placed in a strait-jacket. Finally, he meets a doctor who recognizes what is really happening, and wants to be the first to successfully complete sex change surgery but it is 1930. A heartfelt, powerful and emotional story this is. You care what happens to these people and the acting is superlative.
It starts out really well, this story of different personality P.I's investigating a rash of violent crime. They 2 of them actually begin as enemies with Russell Crowe deliberately breaking Ryan Gosling's arm. But Crowe realizes he's in over his head he recruits Ryan over to his side. And Ryan has a rambunctious 13 year old daughter who becomes a sort of sidekick during there numerous adventures. It gets bonus points for being funny and entertaining and for showing how cool L.A was in 1977 ( or uncool depending on your point of view). What mars it is the unrealistic , excessively violent climax with the villains.
Utterly fascinating HBO bio on the first year of LBJ's presidency. To cover all of LBJ's life you would need at least a 20 hour mini-series. The film begins very chillingly- the sound of 3 gunshots fired in 6 seconds. LBJ tells the congress, " The greatest political leader of our times has been killed in the most vile and heinous manner". How does one follow-up JFK?? By going one step further that's how. LBJ was a very vulgar man. There's even a scene ( I don't know if it's factual) of him literally going to the bathroom in front of H.H.H. Speaking of the vice-president, he comes across as a gentle, well intentioned Liberal. Think Walter Mondale, who was actually Hubert's protégé. LBJ says of him "He's too nice ! I don't need nice! Nice is what you say about the girl with no tits, no ass, no personality ! This is a war ! " But, though LBJ was vulgar (and in a strange endearing way) he was also a political genius ! He could play the congress the way Kissin plays the piano. In dealing with the Congress he had no equal in political history, except perhaps Lincoln. And this film resembles "Lincoln", the film starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It is about procuring the votes needed to pass the Civil Rights act of 1964. It is a sad fact that 1964 resembles 1900- in the sense that African- Americans had few rights, and so did gay people and so did women and other minorities. It was LBJ's passion to change that. And he was smart enough to take out the voting rights part of the bill, which caused problems with MLK and the movement he was leading. But LBJ had no choice. He knew that would have to wait until 1965. Even so, it was one HELL of a fight to pass the Civil Rights Act. The Republicans were against it. His own party led by the overtly racist Dixiecrats were against it. So how was the votes procured? Threats, political favors, but above all appealing to the "better angels of our nature" was just some of the tactics LBJ used. It was just like the Lincoln film a case of the phenomenon of the small minds ( which is the majority) Vs. the big mind. The small minds wish to do the will of the people, the will of their constituents. They only think about themselves, their ability to get reelected, what their immediate bosses expect of them. The big mind sees everything- What the country as a whole needs, when it needs it, why it needs it. And above all the big mind thinks about history. What generations 200 hundred or 300 years from now will think about your actions today. The big mind KNOWS what future generations will think and feel and want. LBJ was a big mind, so was Lincoln and FDR and Truman. There's even a scene whereby LBJ despairs about getting enough votes, thinks everyone even the country is against him, and Ladybird Johnson comforts him by comparing him to Lincoln, FDR, and Truman. That was her way of saying they had Big minds too. Lincoln had to use all his cunning, his viles, his genius to pass the amendment to abolish slavery. The empancipation proclamation was not nearly.enough .LBJ did likewise for the civil rights act and the Voting rights act the following year. Concerning the Vietnam war, it was like the Zika virus. LBJ felt pestered whenever McNamara or whoever forced him to make a decision. The film makes it seem he made rash, quick decisions concerning the flow of the conflict. Maybe he did. I don't know. I know that was LBJ's tragedy. His passions were Civil rights, healthcare for the poor, and the war on poverty which he never really got to because of the eternal headache of Vietnam.
Woody's wife of 2 years has finally had enough of Woody's deep neuroses. With the help of his best friend Diane Keaton and her husband Tony Roberts (also a friend) Woody begins to date women. Woody also receives advice and encouragement from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart whom only he can see and hear. Hilarious hijinks ensue as Woody pursues women, especially when he puts the moves on Diane Keaton.
It's far too early of course but I may have just seen the best film of 16. This astounding, mesmerizing film is about the Amazonian jungle, circa 1909. Already the white man has wiped out or nearly wiped out several aboriginal tribes, and demented and perverted some others. So, naturally, the few remaining Shamans are very reluctant to help any white man. However, when two scientists prove themselves worthy of trust, by knowing the native language, being non-threatening, and never speaking of Jesus or the Bible or Christianity, which is the main evil in the first place, they seem to somewhat earn the trust of the Shamans. Gradually, very slowly, The Shamans decide to help these wayward desperate scientists, and in so doing the white man ( and the film viewer) learn the utter Magic of the aborigines. A magical film that is guaranteed to change and transform anyone who pays attention to it, made even more appropriate by being in B&W and dreamlike.
Moody low budget tragic romance tales that seeps into you very powerfully. It is postwar Poland. An american soldier with PTSD due to being tortured while a P.O.W under the Nazis is searching for a woman with a big heart. Emilia seems ordinary. She is not good looking, has aged rapidly because of the war so that she seems middle-aged despite being a young woman, lives in destitute poverty, and is trying to take are of her sickly mom. But none of this matters to Norman the soldier who instantly falls for her even though he doesn't know a word of Polish and she doesn't know a word of English. They communicate through translators and Emilia is very reluctant a first to get involved with him. To exacerbate matters a gang of desperate thugs break in and steal what little Emilia and her mom has. The Ultra conservative and corrupt Polish authorities put up obstacles against Emilia leaving Poland due to her being married even though it's obvious her soldier husband has perished in the war. However, they can be paid off through bribes. It turns out Emilia's mom has a hidden stash of money but she is told the price has gone up so she can only buy the freedom of her daughter not herself. Tragically, she begins to will her own death. She needs medicine, Emilia gets it for her but she insists on taking her own meds. She gets rid of the meds without taking them and soon dies. However, Emilia is under the mistaken assumption her mother has bribed the authorities for 2 exit visas, when in fact it is only for one. So, she offers one of them to her neighbor. A woman who has been ostracized for having been a whore in the Nazi death camp to SS officers. But that was the only way she could have survived the death camp. She yearns to start a new life for herself in America or in western Europe where no one knows her. In addition she has been a good friend to Emilia and has even nursed Emilia's mom at times. So the day comes when Norman expects Emilia in West Berlin, but instead of Emilia , the former prostitute Stella arrives, proving that Emilia had a huge heart after all. She sacrifices herself for her friend. Norman never sees her again. His dream was to take her to his farm in Wyoming. The film has a mystical powerful ending.
Lost boy enters an alley porthole into an alternate universe where he learns to become a fighter. Best part of this story is the endearing relationship between the boy and his "stepfather" beast instructor. Worse part is it becomes a wee bit too fantastical, but the animation is staggeringly awesome.
I knew it would be Awesome, when i saw 119 out of 121 film critics give it a thumbs up, so i went not knowing anything about it other than it's about a city of many different animals. Turns out it far exceeded even my expectations. It is fantastic fun. P.S those 2 critics must dislike animation altogether.
Scorsese's masterpiece is about small-time hood gangsters in 1973 "Little Italy" in NYC. They are so small time they have to make weekly payments to a made Mafia man. Harvey Keitel's character is internally torn between his "Devil" status as a gangster, and his secret desire ( expressed through a narration of his thoughts) to be an "Angel". He is like a split personality and thus, takes it upon himself to watch over and save "Johnny Boy" , his distant cousin and protégé who is also a hood just like him due to Keitel having vouched for him. Robert De Niro gives an incendiary spectacular performance as Johnny Boy, a nihilistic self destructive gangster who has gambling addiction and seemingly does not care about anything, not even himself though he seems to respect Keitel. Keitel keeps getting threatened because of his devotion to Johnny boy, because Johnny Boy starts to not make his weekly payments and gets more and more hostile to the made Mafia man. Johnny Boy gets wilder and more and more out of control but Keitel never stops trying to "save" him.