Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Movies Since Last Time

Took some time to watch more movies than usual recently. It was time well spent.

Hell or High Water (2016) It’s rare for me to have such high expectations for a movie and have them exceeded. It’s been three days between viewing and writing this post and my
appreciation is greater now than when I watched it, and I loved it then. Understated to mesh with the story and characters, director David Mackenzie uses the desolation of west Texas (actually eastern New Mexico) to buttress the economic conditions of the small towns in the area. Jeff Bridges adds another chapter to his legend; his scene at the end with Chris Pine does them both credit. It’s the perfect end to a damn near perfect movie, one I’m going to want to watch over and over and learn from.

Aliens (1986) One of my three favorite action movies, along with the original Die Hard and Terminator 2. (T2 also directed by James Cameron.) Well cast, well paced, few of the special effects remind you they’re special effects—even those which have to be FX—and a handful of lines that have become part of the culture, all of which are organic to the story and character. The Beloved Spouse and I chose this as the vehicle to christen our new 65-inch curved screen SUHD TV, and we chose wisely.

The Infiltrator (2016) Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo are perfect as undercover feds—
all the actors do yeoman’s work—and it’s based on a fascinating true story, but I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped. The actual fed Cranston plays was one of the producers, and a few scenes made me wonder if some stuff got papered over. The time frame is also problematic. The events that seem to have played out over a few weeks had to have taken months or years, since the crux of the story is how Cranston’s character gains the trust of key players in the Medellin cartel, which had to have taken time. Advice: Don’t watch the special features that come with the rental disk. They don’t add much and will make you wonder about a few things you just saw.

The Imitation Game (2016). Benedict Cumberbatch shines as Alan Turing, the British mathematician who was instrumental in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during World War II, which may have won the war for the Allies; his work certainly shortened it considerably. That’s a fascinating enough story, overlaid with Turing’s support for a female math genius (Keira Knightley) and the treatment of homosexuals in post-war England, no matter how great their contributions. Well worth anyone’s time.

Unforgiven (1992) Maybe the greatest Western ever. Definitely Clint Eastwood’s best,
though I will entertain arguments for The Outlaw Josie Wales. I’ve seen Unforgiven many times. Three things stuck out this time. One was how much the ending reminds me of High Plains Drifter. The second is Little Bill’s (Gene Hackman) speech to W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) about how English Bob (Richard Harris) actually did kill Corky Corcoran, exposing the myth of the Western gunfight. Last, but definitely not least, is the quantity of great lines. Eastwood’s Dirty Harry films got all the attention for their tag lines, but Unforgiven has more outstanding lines than all the Harrys put together. Even better, none of them sound as if written for print ads. They’re all organic and character driven. Too many to list, but Eastwood never spoke a more chilling line than, “I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawls. Now I’ve come to kill you, Little Bill.” This summer is going to be devoted largely to Western research as I make up my mind about writing one. I wouldn’t be surprised if I watched this again.


Elgin Bleecker said...

Thanks for this roundup. Your comments on HELL OR HIGH WATER are exactly how I feel about that movie. You have reminded me to buy the DVD. When you started mentioning great lines from UNFORGIVEN one jumped right to mind, and then you quoted it. What a great movie.

Dana King said...

Thanks, Elgin. I don't recall seeing a comment from you before, so double thanks for stopping by. Don't be a stranger.