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Movies, Movies, Movies! #24 — February 11, 2020

Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Leslie Mann, Michael K. Williams, Fisher Stevens, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Ethan Suplee, Robert Wisdom
Director: Edward Norton
Synopsis: Understated big movie about political corruption and long-buried secrets. Edward Norton stars and directs. In a nice bit of serendipity I ran across this GQ article on Norton where he talks about the movie. Alec Baldwin plays an impeccable puppetmaster, giving a chilling performance in just how these powermongers get – and hold – power. Norton is a two-bit PI in a firm helmed by the wheeling and dealing surrogate father Bruce Willis. Norton is saddled with a debilitating barrier to success by his humble beginnings but also with an embarassing condition of Tourette’s Syndrome. The people who know and love him don’t notice it so he tends to insulate himself amongst the familiar. Events pull him out of his comfort zone. It’s a complex web of a plot that is woven with skill. Supporting cast of Raw, Dafoe, and Cannavale, and Michael K. Williams join in – what a cast! – to bring this thing to life. Worthy to stand shoulder to shoulder with PI genre greats like Chinatown, Bullitt, In the Heat of the Night, Silence of the Lambs, Dirty Harry, Memento, Fargo, and Angel Heart, fans of this genre of movie must see Motherless Brooklyn.
Grade: 8.5-9

Sanjuro (1961)
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi, Yuzo Kayama, Reiko Dan, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Kamatari Fujiwara, Takako Irie, Masao Shimizu
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Synopsis: I’ve watched quite a few Kurosawa movies. It is high caliber but I don’t like it as well as others. There is a farcical feel to it that has worked in other of his movies (i.e. The Hidden Fortress) but here it feels a little strained. That said it is a good movie.  I lifted the storyline from imdb. grantss writes:
A wandering samurai, Sanjuro, is drawn into local politics. The Superintendent of a clan is plotting to take over the clan by implicating the Chamberlain in corrupt activities (activities the Superintendent is actually responsible for). Part of the plan involves killing off the Chamberlain’s staff and, in protecting them, Sanjuro sides with them. The supporters are massively outnumbered so it will require all of Sanjuro’s cunning and swordcraft to ensure the Superintendent does not succeed in his evil plan.

I have read in a few places that Sanjuro is a “loose sequel” to Yojimbo.
Grade: 8+
Etc. Japanese movie with English subtitles

A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Starring: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt, Corin Redgrave
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Synopsis: I had no clue what this was about when I got it from netflix other than it had won Best Picture in 1966 Academy Awards.  It didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. The main character, played by Paul Scofield, is “the man for all seasons.” In this case it means a man of principle and one who stands by those principles with the highest integrity. Imagine a genuinely honest person caught in a battlefield between The Church and Henry VIII when Henry wants to give his wife, Catherine, the boot (divorce) so he can marry his dead brother’s widow, Ann Boleyn (sp?) Based on the real-life Thomas More, the story is set at a time when Henry VIII (played with great flair by Robert Shaw) tries to force everyone who is anyone to sign an oath saying The King is a higher power than God. There are a lot of heavy speeches in here on topics still relevant today.
Grade: 9+
Etc.: The movie also won Best Costume Design Color, Best Cinematography Color, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor nominee, and Best Supporting Actress nominee.

The Village (2013-2014) Series/Seasons 1 & 2 (6 episodes per season) BBC TV series
Starring: A huge, excellent cast, but I’m only including the two main familys’ actors. You can see the rest at wikipedia.
The Middleton Family: John Simm (John), Maxine Peake (Grace), Bill Jones (Bert aged 12), Alfie Stewart (Bert aged 18), Tom Varey (Bert aged 21), David Ryall (Old Bert, who introduces the episodes), and Nico Mirallegro (Joe).
The Allingham Family: Juliet Stevenson (Clem), Augustus Prew (George), Emily Beecham (Caro), Rupert Evans (Edmund), and Kit Jackson as Lord Allingham.
Writer and Creator: Peter Moffatt
Directors: Antonia Bird, Gillies MacKinnon, Luke Watson, Jamie Stone, and Dominic Leclerc
Synopsis: The story starts in 1914 Derbyshire and ends the 2nd season in the 1920’s. The story carries the town and its residents through events leading up to WWI, during the war, and the transition to a post-war village. No details are spared in the expansive views of all events as experienced from the varying perspectives of the townspeople. Most people are of the working class, but then there is the Allingham Family in the big house that owns all of the surrounding property. The main character is Bert, who is 12 when the series begins and is a man by the end. This is a quality series where pre-, during, and post-WAR takes an overarching role to everything else.
Grade: 8.5-9
Etc.: I read they wanted to continue more seasons of the show but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

The Last King (2016)
Starring: Kristofer Hivju, Thorbjørn Harr, Torkel D. Soldal, Åsmund-Brede Eike, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Jakob Oftebro, Pål Sverre Hagen, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Ane Ulimoen Øverli
Director: Nils Gaup
Synopsis: Based on actual events in 13th century Norway, in the opening frames is the following text:

Norway 1204, the throne in Nidaros is held by Birkebeinerne and King Hakon Sverreson. The Baglers pose a threat and attack Eastern Norway with support from Denmark. Among those fleeing is the King’s son and heir to the throne, Hakon Hakonsson, who was born in secrecy by Inga of Varteig.”

There is a lot to like about this movie. It is fast-paced which is necessary because keeping the infant heir to the throne alive long enough to get him to the safety of the castle mandates a great sense of urgency, especially when being pursued doggedly through the frozen landscape by The Baglers and those wanting to collect a ransom for bringing the head of the infant to the traitor amongst the royal household. The sets, costumes, ski gear, weapons, medical practices, etc. from that time are presented here with meticulous attention to detail. Watching high speed chases on skis and hardy ponies down mountains, through heavy forest, and through blizzards is interesting and exciting. There is also an element of humor in watching very big, burly, hairy, superbly athletic men playing so gently with the adorable baby in the short resting times they get while being pursued. The movie went by fast and ended too soon.
Grade: 7+
Etc.: Norwegian made film with English subtitles

7 thoughts on “Movies, Movies, Movies! #24 — February 11, 2020

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