Monday, February 24, 2014

Recently Watched Movies, February 2014

A mixed bag of movies the past few weeks. Ran the gamut from historically great to god awful and everything in between.

The Place Beyond the Pines. Sufficient material here for three good movies, none of which got made. All had promise, none were fully developed, and the whole didn’t hold together because of it. John McNally teaches his students the concept of having too much story for the container; this is a good example.

Get Shorty. Again. I’m not going to say any more than I have to, if that. This has become the official “This is How We Spend Dana’s Birthday” movie. Yay, me.

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. I’d wanted to see this for years, as I’m a Jimmy Breslin fan, and it stars Jerry Orbach and Robert DeNiro. Turned it off after twenty minutes. Too stupid for a 58-year-old man to spend two of his remaining hours watching.

Deceptive Practices. A memoir—of sorts—of Ricky Jay, probably the greatest living practitioner of the art of sleight of hand. More of a documentary than a show of his skills, there is still enough here to drop your jaw half a dozen times. The respect and affection Jay shows for his mentors is palpable, and takes the film to another level. (For an extended look at Jay’s skills, search YouTube for Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants.)

Bosch. Saw the pilot as part of an Amazon Prime test drive and liked it. Titus Welliver is perfectly cast. Now let’s hope they make the rest of them.

Jack Reacher. Saw the first half hour visiting my parents a few months ago and it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. Figured what the hell, watched the whole thing and liked it quite a bit. The ending cheats, but Tom Cruise pulls it off, once you get past the fact he’s not 6’6” and 250 pounds.

The French Connection. Yes, I watched it again, on the Blu-Ray The Beloved Spouse bought me for Christmas. Stayed up until 2:15 AM watching the extra features. I’ve seen it enough times close enough together to spot a few holes, and I don’t care. It’s easy to forget how The French Connection changed crime movies—I was 15 when it came out, so I wasn’t fully aware then—but a lot of the old movies don’t hold up after the changes it wrought.

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