Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jeremiah Johnson

I got where this film was trying to go, but my mind just kept drifting. The pace was too slow and there wasn't enough meat on the bones to really keep me interested. I haven't seen a movie with an Overture and Intermission musical break in a while, so that was interesting just as a side note. 3/5

Jeremiah Johnson on Netflix

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Supremacy

This movie has a lot of bad reviews on Netflix but frankly I don't see why. The story is solid, the characters flat but believable. The acting by Joe Anderson is top-notch and very powerful, and Danny Glover is really solid as well. Glover has a speech near the end of the movie - I can only call it the "n" word speech - that was so compelling I rewound it and watched it twice. A solid thriller. 3.5/5

Supremacy on Netflix

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dementia

This is a fairly typical IFC-Midnight thriller - decent acting, thin plot, surprise ending. I will admit I didn't see the end coming, so they got points there. However, during the crucial ending scenes, the music mix got so loud I couldn't hear a word the characters were saying, which really ruined things for me. Decent film but nothing special. 3/5

Dementia on Netflix

The Gift

Joel Edgerton makes his film-making debut by writing, directing, and co-starring in this tense psych thriller. Jason Bateman is a standout playing entirely against type, and Rebecca Hall is solid as well. Edgerton handles his multiple hats with great aplomb - this is a solid movie that was both suspenseful and scary. Well done. 3.5/5

The Gift on Netflix

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Program

I'm a big fan of professional cycling and I was very aware of Lance Armstrong and the controversy surrounding him for many years before his confession. Having seen so much of Lance, cycling, and all the people involved with the Tour throughout the years, it was positively amazing to see how perfectly these actors captured the essence of their subjects. Ben Foster as Armstrong was breathtaking. He nailed every aspect of Lance, from his physical ticks when he speaks to his EXACT posture on the bike. Stephen Frears smartly got David Millar to advise the racing portions of the film, and Millar's oversight brought such an authenticity to the filming that I often could not tell the difference between racing footage and the actors themselves. This film is a tour-de-force job by everyone involved - if you are a fan of cycling you cannot miss this. 4.5/5

The Program on Netflix

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport

This documentary about the surge of Jewish refugee children into England during the years before World War II was very moving and well told by many of the children who made the arduous journey. Well done. 4/5

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport on Netflix

Monday, May 23, 2016

Breaking the Girls

A terribly average plot with dull acting and a twist you can see a mile away. I feel like one day I'll actually get to see Madeline Zima act and it will be glorious, but this was not the day for that. Shame. 2.5/5

Breaking the Girls on Netflix

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Synchronicity

This film takes a good approach to time travel and has a pretty solid script to back it up. There are holes, yes, but that's to be expected in a time travel film. The problem isn't the idea of the film, but the acting in it. It's bad. I mean really amateur-hour bad, which I can understand given the film clearly had no real budget, but it's still a hurdle over which I could not leap. Good, not great. 3/5

Synchronicity on Netflix

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Inheritance

The plot synopsis on Netflix describes this as a parable, and I think that's a very accurate description. What do you give up for family? Which family is more important - the one into which you are born or the one you choose? When is putting your own needs first selfish and when is it necessary? This film asks all this as we watch our main character make increasingly hard decisions that pit his values against each other. There is a moment in this film, a point of no return, that is both jarring and unsettling in a very poignant way. Very well done. 4/5

The Inheritance on Netflix

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

This is as fine of a film as you'd ever want to see. Exceptional performances by Wayne and Stewart, beautiful direction by Ford, and a tight, well written script that keeps the action going. This is my kind of Western - loved it. 5/5

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance on Netflix

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

John Wick

I haven't been able to tolerate Keanu's acting for a while now, but, as he had so few lines in this, I really enjoyed it. Sure, it's campy and a popcorn thriller, but the action is solid and the gun work was exceptional. I'm now looking forward to the sequel. 4/5

John Wick on Netflix

The Quiet Man

The is my second John Wayne film ("The Searchers" was my first and I loved it), and I definitely enjoyed Wayne in this. He has a striking presence about him, and even though his speaking pattern can be jarring, his ability to move through emotions and convey honesty through everything is refreshing and quite impressive. My problem with this film was the script, and it's not even something that would have bothered anyone when it was released. Quite honestly, the treatment of Maureen O'Hara's character was rather atrocious. She is repeatedly physically assaulted throughout the film, and it's all played for comedy. I guess it was funny to hit, shove, drag, and beat your wife with sticks when this film came out, but it left a really sour taste in my mouth and I couldn't seem to move past it. I wasn't rooting for Wayne's character to win her over - I was hoping someone would arrest him. But that's the changing of the times I guess. However, I couldn't really enjoy the film because of it. 3/5

The Quiet Man on Netflix

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Walk

I remember hearing stories of people who got physically ill in theaters watching this film, and I couldn't believe it. Until I saw it, that is. Robert Zemeckis breaks all the rules of direction and made me feel unsafe and about to fall throughout this film, and it's a triumph. How could this have not been nominated for Best Direction I'll never know. JGL is wonderful as always, and the script is taut and engaging throughout. A fine film for sure. 4/5

The Walk on Netflix

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Enter the Dangerous Mind

OH. MY. GOD. This is so good. So so so good. It had me from the first 90 seconds and never let me go for the whole of the film. Jake Hoffman in the lead role is simply outstanding. I know I've seen him in small parts in other films, but I don't ever remember him in a lead role, so I'm so glad he's now gotten this phenomenal performance under his belt. The direction by Delara and Teran is mind-blowing and visually stunning in a way that utterly complements the plot of the film. The script is tight and beautifully drawn out. Other reviewers refer to "plot twists" - I don't see them as twists at all, as they were obvious and telegraphed in a way to alert the viewer early on to the subtext of the film. But perhaps this films crowning glory is it's music, which sets the perfect stage for everything that occurs throughout this film. I honestly can't say enough good things - this is a true indie gem and worth your time to watch. 5/5

Enter the Dangerous Mind on Netflix

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blue Hawaii

This is my second Elvis film, and I'm still torn about him. This was better to me than "Jailhouse Rock" was. It was fun and silly and played to all of Elvis' strengths as a performer and actor. The problem for me wasn't him, it was the insipid film. There was virtually no plot to speak of, the acting was all pretty terrible, and some of the musical numbers came so out of left field I was left scratching my head. I guess I'm looking for something in between the two films. I want a comedy, but one with a plot and at least some kind of character movement. Does such a thing exist in Elvis' catalog? If so, point me to it, because I'm really hoping to find something I like better than what I've seen thus far. 3/5

Jailhouse Rock on Netflix