November 2019 In Review
Honestly, I can’t recall the last time I went to a movie theater three times in the same month. Gotta be years. Well it happened this time around and of the three I saw there was one I was a bit disappointed with, another I can’t recommend despite it’s positives and then there was the one that I’ve waited all year long to see and it knocked me out of my seat.
On to the round-up.
Seven Thieves – Old pro Eddie G. Robinson leads a group of 7 in a casino heist.
Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
This one caught my eye as a Noir like tale so it was off to the theater for trip number 1 of the month. Loved the setting and the cast led by actor/director Edward Norton. Takes place in New York City of the 1950’s. Norton is great as a private eye with a pronounced handicap. He’s trying to solve the murder of the man who took him in as an orphaned child and raised him to be his assistant in the business. There’s a dark case to be solved and while I was expecting more bang at the fadeout this one’s still worth checking out for the cast and the care that was put into this most recent of Noir efforts to hit theaters. Just don’t expect another Chinatown. Also starring Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Alec Baldwin.
The Glove – Low budget fun with John Saxon as a bounty hunter.
Hell’s Half Acre – 50’s Noir with Wendell Corey on location in Honolulu.
The Strange Door – Previously featured but had to check out the new blu ray edition I picked up. Karloff VS. Laughton.
Can’t say I really thought all that much of this but with the new Eddie Murphy movie scoring raves I figured it best that I sit in and see the original for the first time. I love the blaxploitation flicks of the 70’s but can’t honestly say I liked this one other than as a curiosity though of course it’s ineptitude is funny as hell at times when Dolemite as played by Rudy Ray Moore takes on the mob.
the following night it was ….
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Eddie Murphy goes back in time both on camera and in his career to deliver a very 1980’s like Eddie Murphy performance and I greatly approve. Eddie stars as Rudy Ray Moore, the man who would become known as Dolemite in low budget features and on stage in comedy clubs. I really have no idea of just how successful the real Rudy was but I must say I had a good time watching this take on his rise to fame with a first rate Murphy accompanied by an equally memorable turn from Da’Vine Jay Randolph as Lady Reed. Nice to see Wesley Snipes back in action and I must say you’ll get more laughs out of this one if you take the time to watch the original film it’s wrapped around beforehand. Directed by Craig Brewer, it has a very Ed Wood vibe going for it.
Grizzly – Same goes here. Upgraded to blu. I’ve always loved this Jaws wannabe with Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel.
Femme Fatale (2002)
Sexy but oh so dangerous, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, takes center stage in this Brian De Palma twister that takes Antonio Banderas along for the Hitchcockian ride. Dream like and kind of all over the place, Rebecca, leaves her partners for dead after a heist that isn’t what it seems. Banderas plays a paparazzi photographer who happens to take a picture of politician Peter Coyote’s mysterious wife and from there his life falls off the rails. Every now and then I’ll catch myself mumbling this is ridiculous yet in the end I was like, “that’s kind of cool.” Not Brian’s best but if you like his tributes to The Master then I guess you’ll have to check this one out if you already haven’t.
The Streetfighter’s Last Revenge – third of the Sonny Chiba series with plenty of karate chops and lots of blood.
Duel On the Mississippi – Lex Barker tackles river boat pirates.
The Laundromat (2019)
Took a chance on this one simply due to the fact it starred Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep. Didn’t even realize it was directed by Steven Soderbergh till the closing credits. It’s the tale of a widowed Meryl trying to track who is responsible for the insurance fraud she’s fallen victim to after her hubby is killed in a boating accident. It’s all done through black humor with Gary and Antonio taking center stage as they talk directly to us the viewers throughout the journey. No doubt the film is different in it’s delivery and while I laughed at times and loved the trio of stars delivering the goods, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this one to the masses but if you’re a fan of the stars ….
I Love You Again – The winning combination of Myrna Loy and William Powell strikes again.
Scaramouche – Another previously featured title but hard not to resist a revisit to see Stewart Granger and Eleanor Parker spar in this splendid MGM title. Most highly recommended.
Moby Dick (1998)
The cable made production sees Patrick Stewart take on the Ahab role and Henry Thomas as Ismail who is caught up in Ahab’s mad voyage. Greg Peck makes a cameo in an obvious nod to his 1956 film. Best performance in the film comes from Ted Levine playing against type as Mr. Starbuck. He knows his life is doomed yet can’t bring himself to break the code of the sea with a mutiny. I would imagine this follows the Melville novel far closer than the Huston film but not having read the book I can’t say for sure. Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen both and read the book.
That Touch of Mink – Previously featured but my love affair with Doris Day lives on with a new blu ray copy.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Trip number 2. Number 1 son, Ethan, asked me along and being the trailer for this Robert Eggers film had caught me eye, I agreed. Bizarre? You bet. Filmed in glorious black and white this tells the tale of a young man ( Robert Pattinson ) taking a job on an isolated isle to assist a grizzled, nutty seadog, Willem Dafoe, keep the lighthouse in running order. OK, I don’t really know where the hell this is all headed and it’s a hard film to recommend to the masses and I won’t. Now if you’re a fan of Dafoe, it’s a must see. Another stellar characterization that could score him an Oscar nomination. Should might be the better word. Also a standout is the photography and most certainly the sound effects of the winds, the waters, the storms and that foghorn. Puts you right on the isle. Again all a bit too weird as it descends into madness for my tastes but in the end there’s no arguing it’s skill and impactful delivery.
Sea of Sand – Richard Attenborough battles Rommel’s army in the desert.
Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb – Finally checking out the new blu ray from Indicator for another revisit to a previously featured title from Hammer.
The Last Best Year (1990)
Once again the serendipity of collecting movies came to the forefront. I picked this move up on a whim out of discarded VHS tapes. Mainly because it starred Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters. No guarantee I’d ever watch it but I’m a collector. Couple of weeks later I meet Fay Wray’s daughter, Victoria Riskin, read her sensational new book and discovered that Mary Tyler Moore is playing Victoria in a film based on her relationship with a dying woman. Unbelievable co-incidence! Having just read her bio the film carried more of an emotional impact than I think it would have otherwise though I’ll warn you to bring the tissues. Good movie and I guess my picking it up proves that some things are just meant to be.
The Indian Fighter – Kirk Douglas outdoor actioner with Walter Matthau as the baddie.
The Sea Spoilers – Ultra rare John Wayne title for the completists.
That Old Feeling (1997)
Screwball comedy for the older set when Bette Midler and her ex-hubby Dennis Farina cuss and fight there way back to the bedroom when seeing each other for the first time in years at their daughter’s wedding. No big deal but I remember when this came out being happy to see Farina getting a leading role opposite Bette. Guy had onscreen charisma that extended far beyond the hoods and gangsters we commonly saw him play.
Feudin’, Fussin and A-Fightin’ – Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride join Donald O’Connor for some comedy escapades.
The Main Event – It’s Streisand VS. O’Neal in the center of the ring.
Proof that I’ll pick up any blu ray if the price is right. This karate feature is a combination of Bloodsport, My Bodyguard and The Karate Kid all rolled into one. New kid in high school getting picked on by a dangerous blackbelt bully. That situation only intensifies when the newbie falls for the bully’s gal (Christine Taylor). Along comes Billy Blanks to give the kid a crash course in self defence and …. well you know the rest. Passable but the whole thing is stolen out from under the leads by Brion James as the school principle. He makes the most of his minor role and is the film’s major highlight.
The Lady Gambles – the gambling bug grabs ahold of Barbara Stanwyck.
Another end of the world/save the planet tale that mixes political intrigue into the storm clouds. Gerard Butler is our hero of the day. He’s designed a monstrous space station that controls the climate of our planet. A planet that has seen the heat slowly increasing ….hmmm. What happens when he and his rogue attitude get him ejected from his position? Someone begins to use his outer space creation as a weapon. Customary CGI effects abound and I’ll admit they come off better than plenty of other genre titles. Also starring is Jim Sturgess as Butler’s younger brother, Abbie Cornish as one of the world’s best looking secret service agents, Andy Garcia as the President and Ed Harris as his second. There’s a bad apple in the bunch and I wonder who it could be? Bottom line, I enjoyed this one.
The Boys From Brazil – Previously featured but Number 1 and Number 2 sons wanted to check it out and I’ve always had a fondness for Greg Peck’s over the top villain.
As is the case of late, I’m still working my way though those 30 telefilms that Raymond Burr made in the late 80’s and early 90’s as Perry Mason. Another three watched where we see guest stars and suspects consisting of Jerry Orbach and Paul Anka. I should like to also point out that a number of these films were directed by Christian Nyby II. Classic horror film buffs might recognize that name or at least that of his father’s. Look it up.
And finally my third trip to the theater in one month represents the 2nd movie of the year that I most anticipated. The other being Once Upon a Time In Hollywood ….
The Irishman (2019)
There’s a large canvas here in the latest gangster epic from Martin Scorsese. I for one loved the film on my first viewing and will of course see it again and again when given the opportunity. It’s not as flashy as Goodfellas but then it tells a different far more sombre tale. We all know the outcome to a certain extent going in as far as Al Pacino’s Hoffa is concerned but there’s plenty of surprises in store and that gangland flavor that no one seems to be able to deliver quite like Scorsese is abundant. More than anything else I suppose this film will come to represent the end of an era in movie making history. To see De Niro taking center stage one more time in an epic with a knockout underplayed performance by Joe Pesci is alone cause for celebration. Add Pacino in to the mix and even a turn from Harvey Keitel makes this a must see film. Discover it for yourself. Make up your own mind on the de-aging process. Just be thankful we have one more film to join those other titles like Casino, Goodfellas and The Godfather saga to enjoy and watch for years to come. I know I am.