Thursday, November 18, 2021

What I've Been Watching


I don’t keep track of all the movies I watch like I used to. Part of this is because, now that I’m retired, I watch a lot more movies. I don’t want it to become a task, so, in the immortal words of Ray “Bones” Barboni, I say “Fuck that.” Another part, somewhat related, is that since retired people can do whatever they want, keeping track of every movie I see is not something I particularly want to do. Again quoting Mr. Barboni, I say “Fuck that, too.”


I have seen some things recently that are worthy of comment, and what else are blogs good for if not to bore your friends with your personal opinions?


Cheers. We’re into Season 5 and loving every episode. I’d seen just about all of them when they originally aired, but it’s a delight to go back and see how good this show was through more experienced eyes. I’ve always been a Ted Danson fan, but watching him now, knowing what subtle things to look for, is fascinating. The same applies on a somewhat lesser level to George Wendt. Season 4 is when they made the transition from Coach to Woody, and it’s great fun to see Woody Harrelson get his start, knowing where his career goes from here. The humor holds up well, though some of the attitudes would not pass muster in today’s culture.


Killing Them Softly (2012) Based on George V. Higgins’s novel Cogan’s Trade, an unorthodox but highly effective look at life in the underworld. It appears no one outside the crime fiction community cared for this dialog-heavy, character driven adaptation, but that’s okay. (It’s Higgins, dumbasses; what did you expect?) Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini are perfect, and director Andrew Dominik knew how much of Higgins’s book to leave alone. Highly recommended.


Cellular (2004) I don’t post unflattering book reviews, but I will for movies. Why the difference? Books have a hard enough time getting traction as it is. Dozens of people vet movies before they get made, and have millions of dollars invested in them. When such a deeply flawed system produces a true stinker, it’s only fair to point it out, as a warning to others that this is dog shit, don’t get any in your eyes. In Cellular, a wholly implausible premise works its way through enough holes for not just a golf course, but a whole resort. We watched it because we’re Jason Statham fans, but he’s not in it much. Even when he is, he has shit material.


The Bank Job (2008) I dumped on Jason Statham above, so it’s only fair I point out a movie that surprised me in a positive way. Based on a true story, The Bank Job has Statham front and center as the brains behind a complicated bank robbery that is not what it appears, even to the robbers. A highly entertaining film all around.


Official Secrets (2019) Keira Knightley stars as a young MI6 prole who stumbles onto an email that incriminates the American and British governments in blackmailing foreign UN ambassadors on the Security Council into voting for the 2003 war in Iraq. Based on actual events, it’s a chilling story of individual courage, the lengths governments will go to save face, and how even elected officials occasionally buck what’s good for their careers to help a constituent.


Goodfellas (1990) The memories of a few scenes are so strong from this film it’s sometimes easy to forget how great it is. (“Get your shine box.” “You think I’m funny?” “Fuck you, pay me.”) The only real criticism I’ve heard of this film is that it glamorizes mob life, but that overlooks the fact director Martin Scorsese tells the story through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), whose sole ambition in life was to be a gangster. The more he sees how things work, and the deeper he’s involved, the more the glamor wears away until everything falls apart in the end. Scorsese doesn’t hit you over the head with it, but the ultimate message here is these guys all end up either in prison or dead. In anticipation of the reasonable question, “Did Henry Hill really look at the mob that way?” read the sequel to Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy, Gangsters and Goodfellas, written by Hill himself to describe his life in witness protection. A bigger piece of shit than Henry Hill would be difficult to find.


The Many Saints of Newark (2021) I don’t know that it’s a bad movie, but anything that hangs its rep so closely to The Sopranos should have been much better than this.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember being so surprised at my enjoyment of OFFICIAL SECRETS>