Monday, June 6, 2016

Movies Since Last Time

It’s been a while and they’re backing up, so let’s get right to it.

Papillon (1973). I hadn’t seen this one in years and was delighted in how well it held up.
How much of it is true is an open question—even the real Papillon admitted he made up some stuff—but that doesn’t remove any of the power or poignancy. Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton, The Boys From Brazil) doesn’t overplay anything here, lets his story and actors allow you to come to your own conclusions. This is Steve McQueen’s finest performance. He doesn’t get to rely on his cool to carry him and rises to the occasion. Dustin Hoffman is excellent, as always. Look for screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in a cameo as the camp commandant.

The Martian (2015). There’s something about Ridley Scott. I’m not much of a science fiction
fan, unless he makes the movie. There’s Alien (Gothic sci-fi), Blade Runner (noir sci-fi), and now The Martian, which is as entertaining a science fiction movie as one is likely find. First off, who doesn’t love Matt Damon? Everyone wants to see him rescued, and that fact he plays such a well-developed character is another plus. (Not to mention he does it so well.) The ending seemed a bit much for me (the book handles it better), but even then it was done so well I didn’t mind. Recommended for everyone, regardless of tastes.

The Last Seduction (1994). Linda Fiorentino is one cold bitch. I kept waiting for one more
twist at the end and still can’t decide if I’m glad or disappointed I didn’t get it. (It would be a spoiler to say anything more.) She’s as femme fatale as it gets and Barbara Stanwyck and Kathleen Turner together were never as ruthless.

Spotlight (2015). As good as I’d hoped. I had more to say about it here.

The Big Short (2015). As good as Spotlight but in a completely different way. Director Adam
McKay breaks the fourth wall, adds unexpected humor, and generally does to the financial collapse of 2008 what Bennett Miller did for Moneyball. Michael Lewis wrote the original source material for each. Coincidence. Maybe, but probably not. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling led a perfect cast. If you’re not pissed by the end of this movie, you make too much money.

Pawn Sacrifice (2014). A wonderful film on multiple levels. Director Edward Zwick uses the
life of chess savant Bobby Fischer to show how government made pawns of people during the Cold War, the incredible pressure of being a child prodigy, America’s underlying inferiority complex, and the risks of demonizing one’s opponents. Tobey Maguire is superb as Fischer, and Liev Schreiber shows once again the artistry of his acting subtlety. His work as Boris Spassky at the conclusion of Game Six in the famous Reykjavik match is already one of my favorite movie scenes.

Minions (2015) Sometimes a little mindless, harmless entertainment is called for. Reminded me of when The Sole Heir was but a bairn and I’d take her to the movies.

Desperado (1995) The Beloved Spouse summed it up best: “It’s every thirteen-year-old boy’s wet dream. Guitar cases that shoot and rockets and getting to fuck Salma Hayek.” Just stupid. Except maybe for the Salam Hayek part.

The Nice Guys (2016). Great fun. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling share the chemistry and
timing to make this work and director Shane Black has already shown his deft touch with this type of film in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Angourie Rice steals all her scenes as Gosling’s daughter, Holly. Yes, dear, they are the world worst detectives, but they’re not just “make fun of them” stupid. They’re greatest sin is not being as smart as they think they are, and they do have their moments. Laughter covers the few plot conveniences. One of the few movies I have ever seen where I can safely say a sequel might be welcome.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for reminding me about the chess movie. Forgot all about it. A good movie month for you.

Mike Dennis said...

I loved PAWN SACRIFICE and of course PAPILLON. THE LAST SEDUCTION made my top 10 post-1970 film noir list. One outstanding film. THE BIG SHORT was just OK, and I don't make too much money (is there really such a thing?). I haven't seen the others.

If you like this kind of thing, Dana, I post a Film Noir Of The Day review, complete with rating (up to ****) and photos (taken, unfortunately from my cellphone, so they're not exactly razor sharp) on two Facebook pages. They are Film Noir: Yesterday and Today, and Classic Film Noir 1940-1958. I've posted about 60 films up there so far, and I'm sure you've seen some of them, but some others, maybe not. My ratings and reviews don't always elicit unanimous agreement, either, as you may imagine.

Dana King said...

It's actually been a few months. I've been derelict. Still, it's been a nice run.

Dana King said...

Thanks for the heads up, Mike. I've joined both groups.