Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! I decided to add a genre section to the mix as it probably isn’t always clear what genre they are by my comments.
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan, Joshua Mikel, Scott Lawrence, Amin Joseph, Patricia French
Director: Michael Dowse
Genres: comedy, action
Synopsis: Ordinary guy (Nanjiani) who works at a big box store during the day and moonlights for Uber reluctantly gets drawn into crime-fighting with one of his fares, the dedicated detective (Bautista,) who has them in one adventure after another in the mean streets of L.A. trying to catch a unidimensional villain. There are some funny moments in the movie, mostly involving Nanjiani hurling witty and cutting insults at Bautista, alternating with having a pity party for himself. The contrast between timid procrastinator and fearless man of action works for the most part. There are some good fight scenes.
Starring: Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, Ellora Torchia, Liv Mjönes, Henrik Norlén, Björn Andrésen, Gunnel Fred
Director: Ari Aster
Synopsis: A young group of anthropology-major college student friends travel to Sweden to spend six weeks at the commune where one of the friends was raised. Preparations are being made for a celebration that only occurs once every 90 years. As the days go on, a sinister aspect to what at first appeared to be an idyllic community begins to dominate their experiences.
Etc.: I almost didn’t include this because it is so disturbing and possibly triggering for some who might watch it. WARNING: not suitable for children or young people. In English, but lots of subtitles due to it being set in Sweden.
La Strada (1954)
Starring: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani, Marcella Rovere, Livia Venturini
Director: Federico Fellini
Synopsis: someone had a clip or quote from this film that motivated me to find it and watch it. It’s a simple story with a huge impact. Anthony Quinn is “the brute” who is a traveling strongman who does his feat of strength in small towns then passes the hat. He had previously “bought” her sister, but he’s back to her starving family to buy her (it never says what happened to the sister) to be his assistant (spelled slave.) She (played by Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s wife) doesn’t have classical beauty and is a more introverted person so she often gets discounted or ignored, but she’s smart and adaptable. Where before she felt invisible, the brute’s ongoing rough treatment replaces it with a masochism that is painful to watch, as she loves the brute and keeps looking for a shred of humanity from him. A conflict arises when the two meet up with a bigger circus group that includes the brute’s nemesis, a high wire walker (played with exceptional skill by Richard Basehart.)
In my mind, Fellini has been linked with hedonism and spectacle, which isn’t really my cup of tea. I’m so happy to have watched La Strada, as it tells me I’ve been missing out on a great director’s work. I highly recommend this movie. It is cinema at its best.
Etc.: Italian movie with subtitles (whole movie is available on youtube!)
Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu (2016)
Starring: Toru Takemitsu, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Masaki Kobayashi
Director: Charlotte Zwerin
Synopsis: lifted directly from dvd.com/netflix:
Inspired to write music after hearing the French song “Parlez-Moi d’Amour” during World War II, film composer Toru Takemitsu enjoyed a rich career working with many of Japanese cinema’s greatest directors. Rarely interviewed filmmakers such as Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes) and Masaki Kobayashi (Kaidan) expound on the varied sonic palettes Takemitsu left upon their works. Clips include Double Suicide and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran.
For a documentary that lasted less than an hour, a lot of material was covered. Like learning how a magic trick is done, you can learn techniques used by this master of movie music and sound effects to see how much the soundtrack of a film impacts it.
Etc.: In Japanese language with subtitles
no clip available but plenty of youtubes of his soundtracks
Zoo (2015 – 2017) Seasons 1-3 (netflix) (originally CBS TV series)
Starring: Billy Burke, James Wolk, Kristen Connolly, Nonso Anozie, Nora Arnezeder and many more
Director: too numerous to mention
Genres: adventure, science fiction
Synopsis: I finally got to the end of the 3 seasons, each one with 12 or 13 episodes. I loved the wild ride, where you never knew what was coming next. The starting premise is a corporation disperses a virus into the environment that has some species turning on human beings and using species groupthink to kill many people. Forces rally here and there to face the threat, some with good intentions and others nefarious intent. A ragtag group, each with valuable skills in such a situation, forms and ends up traveling from one end of the globe to the other and back again – truly amazing how they are able to get around! – and use their special skillsets to try and neutralize the threats. It’s an international ensemble that have great chemistry with each other.
Etc.: I can’t begin to imagine how much money this series costed to make!
Fleabag (2016) Season 1 (UK) (only 6 episodes per season)
Starring: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman, Jenny Rainsford, Bill Paterson, Brett Gelman, Hugh Skinner, Ben Aldridge, Hugh Dennis, Jamie Demetriou, Andrew Scott
Director: Harry Bradbeer 12 episodes, Tim Kirkby 1 episode
Creator: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Genres: dark comedy
Synopsis: Phoebe owns and operates a small cafe that doesn’t see much traffic. When she’s not doing that she is sleeping around with pretty much anything that moves and trying to deal with her for-the-most-part unhappy and hostile sister, brother in-law, father, and father’s new wife. She’s also struggling with the death of her mother 3 years previously and with her best friend’s recent suicide. Before you say that sounds so grim and depressing, you haven’t met Phoebe. The techniques of her doing the scene but also cutting away to look at the camera and give her impressions works like a charm for the series. It’s dark humor at its finest, and the creativity of the plots and the superb acting by the cast elevates Fleabag to my new favorite series. I see there were only 2 seasons made, which is a real pity. Well worth a watch!
Etc.: several scenes involving sexual acts (suggested, not graphic)