Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
The Invisible Man (2020) Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Storm Reid, Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Benedict Hardie, Sam Smith, Renee Lim, Nicholas Hope, Nash Edgerton, Xavier Fernandez, Anthony Brandon Wong
Director: Leigh Whannell
Synopsis: The plot jumps right in with Moss’ character as a scared, abused, and controlled partner of a very rich man in the middle of escaping their high-tech compound. Soon after her escape from him, he seemingly commits suicide. Shortly after that she thinks she’s being haunted or going insane, but …. you guessed it. He isn’t dead at all.
Impressions: Neat concept for a movie, and Moss, with her expressive face, does the best she can with the script, but sorry, this movie just didn’t do it for me. The plot was just too shabbily put together. There was no reason to care about the MC and no reason to hate/fear the villain as they were never developed beyond empty shells. The very beginning and the very end are good, and the rest is dreary pulp. It’s too bad, because this could have been so much better.
Etc.: The film was originally going to be a part of the Dark Universe, with Johnny Depp starring as the titular character, and Ed Solomon writing the screenplay, but changes were made to the Dark Universe to focus on individual storytelling and moving on from the shared universe concept after the box office failure of The Mummy (2017), which itself was an attempt to reboot the Dark Universe after the box office disappointment of Dracula Untold.
Awards: 2 other wins
Detectorists Seasons 1-3 (6 episodes per season) (2014-2017)
Starring: Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Rachael Stirling, Gerard Horan, Pearce Quigley, Divian Ladwa, Laura Checkley, Sophie Thompson, Orion Ben, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Simon Farnaby, Paul Casar, Alexa Davies, Lucy Benjamin, Rebecca Callard, Jacob Hill, Daniel Donskoy, Isabella Hill, David Sterne, Diana Rigg, Adam Riches
Director/Writer: Mackenzie Crook
Genres: drama, comedy
Synopsis: Andy and Lance are two middle-aged men in a small town with the passion of detecting with metal detectors. They belong to the local detectorists club, made up of a lovably quirky group of individuals. Each episode revolves around their lives and the lives of the individuals who are connected with the two men, the club, and/or the small town. Each episode involves at least some time with Andy and Lance out detecting in pastoral beauty and making small/big talk.
Impressions: The humor is low-key, what might be called nerd humor. There is a great appreciation for mindfulness. The pace is slow in a good way, as it gives time to appreciate small things. There is a beauty and poignancy in the series that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite TV series, “Northern Exposure.” The ensemble works extremely well together. Mackenzie Crook does an excellent job of both acting and directing the series.
Etc.: UK series. Musician/Actor Johnny Flynn does the theme song and is in one episode. Rachael Stirling, who plays Andy’s wife, is the real life daughter of Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peele), who plays her mother.
Awards: 3 BAFTA wins and 3 BAFTA nominations (BAFTA is the UK equivalent of the US Emmy)
Mission Impossible III (2006)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan
Director: J.J. Abrams
Genres: adventure, espionage
Synopsis: Ethan Hunt (Cruise’s character) gets pulled out of retirement to save a young agent t he trained who is being held hostage by the evil arms dealer played by Hoffman. Fishburne plays Ethan’s boss, and Ving Rhames and Pegg are Hunt’s team that go in with Hunt for the rescue.
Impressions: If you’ve seen other Mission Impossible movies, you know what to expect: lots of daring physical feats and high tech gadgets. The main draw here is the adversarial contest between Hunt and the evil arms dealer. Not bad for what it is.
Etc.: Studio filming took place at sound stages at the Paramount Studios lot, which for the previous eighteen years had been used solely for episodes of Star Trek.
Awards: 7 other wins, 14 other nominations
Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) (1980)
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kenichi Hagiwara, Jinpachi Nezu, Hideji Otaki, Daisuke Ryu, Masayuki Yui, Kaori Momoi, Mitsuko Baisho, Hideo Murota, Takayuki Shiho, Koji Shimizu
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Genres: historical period war drama
Synopsis: There are 3 clan leaders in medieval Japan (Warring States Period from 1500s to 1600s), each with great armies, who are in a state of peaceful stalemate. The shrewdest of them all gets wounded (forgot how) and realizes he’s dying. He wisely directs his closest advisors to find a double to be trained to take his place if/when he goes. The movie revolves around the ripples in each of the 3 lands as whispers about whether or not the leader is or isn’t a double weaves throughout them.
Impressions: Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors of all times. This film is a work of art as much as a motion picture. The cinematography is magnificent. Nakadai, who plays the dual role of the clan leader and the thief who was trained as his double, was magnificent. I loved the way you really don’t know by the end of the movie whether or not the man on the “throne” is or isn’t who he is. The tension of that makes it all the better. War strategy fans will love this.
Etc.: Japanese movie with English subtitles; When Toho Studios couldn’t fulfill the budget demands of the film, American film directors George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola stepped in to help Akira Kurosawa. Movie is approximately 2.5 hours long.
Awards: Nominated for 2 Oscars, 20 other wins, 3 other nominations
The Art of Self-Defense (2019)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots, Steve Terada, Phillip Andre Botello, Leland Orser, Jason Burkey, David Zellner, Josh Fadem
Director: Riley Stearns
Genres: Indie, dark humor
Synopsis: A timid man gets fed up when he’s attacked viciously on the street and is hospitalized. He walks by a karate dojo (school) and decides to walk in. So begins the man’s metamorphosis. As his confidence grows, information is processed in new ways (don’t want to give away any spoilers!)
Impressions: The 3 main characters (Eisenberg, Nivola, and Poots) dominate the screen in a good way; Eisenberg as the timid man, Nivola as the charismatic sensei (teacher), and Poots as the female student who excels but is passed over time and again for promotion to a higher rank. As I was a student of karate for several years, it’s almost like a flashback to watch it. It is authentic in just about every aspect. The comedy is very dark, all deadpan. Not sure how well the humor will translate to a non-martial-artist. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who is into martial/fighting arts. Very “small” movie, confined mostly to a few indoor sets.
Etc.: Writer and director Riley Stearns trains and teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Awards: 5 other nominations
Starring: Ben O’Toole, Monica Bellucci, Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich, Bob Savea, David Wenham, Benedict Hardie, Goran D. Kleut, Felix Williamson, Mike Duncan
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Genres: sci-fi horror, indie, action
Synopsis: An evil demon queen is able to transform humans into minions and transport them through the internet via a “Pokemon Go-like” game. A couple of hapless sewage disposal workers get drawn into the plot to convert every person who plays the game into evil monsters; one who plays the game, and the other learns he is a warrior who has to vanquish the queen and save the world.
Impressions: It reminds me of Ash and Evil Dead mixed with Ghostbusters. If it isn’t a cult movie yet, it should be. Excellent make-up and special effects. They skimped on the front end of the story line, which is unfortunate, but on the up side they jump right into the action, which never lets up until the end. They needed to develop the wraith character more! Soundtrack is excellent. Main character looks like a young Robert Downey Jr. There are some really hot women in this movie!
Etc.: Australian film
Awards: none known