Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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1969 is run-of-the-mill story about two hippies dealing with problems at home and their difficulties with the war. It feels like the type of movie that would come out around the time that the US was entering a new war in order to make a statement and remind people that we've made these mistakes before. It's an odd choice because in 1988 we were still two years removed from Desert Storm. The end in particular has a moment when everyone comes together to protest, with some voiceover, that drives home this outdated point. I don't know if Ernest Thompson thought people in 1988 still needed convincing that Vietnam was a bad idea, but it fell flat for me. It doesn't help that the scene in question makes no sense, because instead of banding together to protest the war, they are heading to the jail to free a kid who has been rightfully imprisoned for breaking-and-entering, destruction of property, and possession of drugs. This leads a police officer to just let him go, because that's how the law works. The rest of the movie makes more sense than this conclusion, but it's not all that compelling. Keifer Sutherland is the star, and I've never liked him as a protagonist. He has no charisma, and so I struggled to have sympathy for him in this movie. Meanwhile the king of charisma (Robert Downey, Jr.) is reduced to just being the costar, and is terribly underused. He plays the friend who gets caught up in his own drama, and drug use, which means he disappears for large chunks of the movie. 1969 is a forgettable film, and it does nothing new or interesting. It does a terrible job of making a point, and is a point that probably didn't need to be made anyways.
Mister Roberts is a film that could easily feel like more of the same, because it is another film about the crew of a ship during WWII. But there are a couple of things that make this one stand out as a little better than most of the other films that have similar stories. First of all, it is not about these guys putting their life on the line and spending the whole film dodging bullets and bombs. Instead this is a cargo ship that is away from all the combat. So the enemy that these guys are fighting is monotony and boredom. That lends this film a unique feel. The other excellent thing in Mister Roberts is the cast. In particular the trio of Henry Fonda, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon made me smile every time they were on the screen. Their banter was fun, and you could see a real connection between all three. I did have some issues with James Cagney, though. He was a little over-the-top, and not in a good way. It didnt ruin the movie because hes supposed to be an antagonist, but this is where I have begun to question whether I even like him as an actor because it seems every time I see him hes acting this same way. There were also a few sequences in Mister Roberts that carried on longer than necessary, but otherwise I thought it was a solid film. It also touched me emotionally in the end, which isnt something that I can say about all war films. They did a great job of making me care about these characters. Its not the best war film around, but Mister Roberts is one that I think is worth a look.
I love movies like Miss Sloane where we are introduced to a character who is smarter than everyone else in the room. Jessica Chastain is brilliant as this amazing lobbyist who has extreme amounts of determination and drive that propel her to being the best at what she does. There are so many instances where we see her controlling a room, and making a point of being 5 steps ahead of everyone else. There are also a lot of twists and turns in this story, because we are rarely filled in on the plan, so we get surprised by it just as much as the people around Miss Sloane. The struggle I have with a story like this is that it feels like the logic breaks down a bit when I start thinking things through. When I trace back the steps of what she has worked out in some of these scenarios and how far in advance she has planned, I find myself questioning how she could have arranged all the minutiae needed to make the pieces perfectly fall into place. Although strangely, instead of feeling like there were deep flaws in the story, I find myself just wanting to watch it all again to see if I can make sense of it. Frankly, even if it falls apart like a house of cards under closer scrutiny, I still think Miss Sloane is well worth watching just for the thrill of all the little surprises in the plot. Even if you see some of them coming in advance (which I did) you still get a satisfying rush watching it all play out. The more I reflect on it the more I want to watch it again, which is a really good sign, so you should check it out as well!
Little Sister is a quaint little indie drama about a nun who is about to take her vows when she is called home to spend time with her dysfunctional family, especially her brother who has been disfigured in the war. I felt this movie rode the line between comedy and drama fairly well, because it is dealing with some heavy things, but the way each person in this family finds to cope with it can be quite humorous. I liked some of the unexpected things that the main character would do, because we come in with certain expectations of a nun, and she simply doesnt fit in that box. There are a lot of important topics that no one talks about in this movie, even though you know they are issues that need to be addressed. However, that felt like a choice because real families will often avoid confrontation in the same way. The sad thing that I didnt enjoy about Little Sister is the fact that these issues, because they remain unaddressed, also never get resolved. So this is not the kind of movie that I ordinarily enjoy. I get annoyed with some of the things that the characters do (or dont do,) and theres not a satisfying resolution in the end. Most of the acting performances were decent, even if everyone was fairly mild and soft-spoken. There were enough laughs in Little Sister, and because I was eventually able to accept the fact that they deliberately denied resolution, I could see myself recommending it to others. But it certainly wont be everyones cup of tea.
This is such a strange film. At first I thought it was a heavy drama with all these deep emotional things going on. But then there were moments of real levity, to the point that I was almost laughing out loud, but then it would get dark again. I found it tough to nail down the genre, and part of that was the performance of Anna Magnani. She plays the vast majority of this film very straight, so its hard to think of it as a comedy, even when Burt Lancaster is hamming it up in the same scene. She is going through some serious things in her life and she takes it out on everyone around her. I was starting to get very impatient with The Rose Tattoo, because everything centered around Magnanis character and she is so unpleasant. There are also a lot of little subplots swirling around her. While they play into the main storyline either directly or indirectly, it takes some time before you can get your bearings and understand what story they want to tell. The entire film was a mixed bag for me, because at times I was enjoying it, then Id be annoyed by it, and then Id just be confused. It never had the kind of focus and direction that I wanted, so it didnt impact me as powerfully as I think they intended. Still, I will admit that The Rose Tattoo has some strong performances and a few scenes that are enjoyable.