Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Starring: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Noel Fisher (Mickey from Shameless!), Kyle MacLachlan, and others
Director: Josh Trank
Genres: biopic, criminal, history
Synopsis: Tom Hardy plays Al Capone (aka Fonse) where he has gotten out of prison, is suffering the debilitating effects of long-term syphilis and is living in a luxurious mansion in FL. He’s under 24/7 surveillance by law enforcement. The film focuses on the dementia Fonse suffers, with liberal flashbacks, and has a side plot of people trying to find out where he allegedly hid a large sum of money.
Impressions: terrible movie. I think it was miscast with Hardy in the title role, but that’s just part of the problem. Nobody, unless it would be his descendants or the children of old mobsters, would be interested in seeing a washed up gangster who is out of his mind sitting in a chair on a patio looking at a pond or laying in a sh*tty bed for 90 minutes! What were they thinking? The bright spot, who is only there in a few scenes, is Matt Dillon. Hardy Hams it up to extreme, making Capone seem more cartoonish than a tragic has-been (but still living in the lap of luxury!) that is too insane to enjoy any fruits of his past criminal enterprises except in his delusions, which are anything but pleasant.
Awards: too new
Starring: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga Benavides, and others
Director: Gareth Edwards
Genres: adventure, drama, sci-fi
Synopsis: Scoot plays a photojournalist who is in Mexico taking pictures of the giant alien monsters who now call Earth home and who the (American at least, maybe the Mexican also) government is trying to violently eradicate with air strikes of explosives and poisons. His path crosses with young female American tourist who also happens to be the daughter of the owner of the publication Scoot works for. When all normal routes out of the country by water are closed, the publisher asks Scoot over the phone if he’ll escort his daughter out by any means necessary. The path they have to choose is through “the infected zone” which is another way of saying full of aliens.
Impressions: THIS IS NOT YOUR NORMAL MONSTER MOVIE. I don’t want to give any spoilers away but watching Monsters had a big impact on how I look at extraterrestrials. I also think it is an allegory about how we regard someone who is different than us. It has aspects of District 9, the excellent South African film, but it’s a lot more low-key. Great close-ups of the jungle and magnificent mountains, etc. I loved the acting by the two main leads and felt a genuine chemistry going on between them. Highly recommend this movie!
Etc.: filmed in Mexico, UK, Guatemala, Belize, and Costa Rica
Awards: 14 wins and 13 nominations
Trivia from imdb: The film was shot opportunistically, with little to no outline of scenes and their direction. The two actors were given a general outline of scenes and simply interacted with one another and the other cast members, all whom are not actors. All the scenes and shots were opportunistic as well.
Frontline: Life and Death in Assisted Living (2013) S31 E15 Frontline PBS TV Series
Writers: Carl Byker, A.C. Thompson
Synopsis: The doc examines the rapidly growing industry of assisted living facilities for seniors, how they differ from nursing homes, and what the risks of placing a loved one in assisted living are. Main areas of focus are the screening process on the front end that assesses whether the client is appropriate for their level of care or may need something more intensive; how much personalized care each client gets; who gives the medications and do they have the proper training and staff: client ratio so mistakes aren’t made; and ‘memory care’ facilities and what that means, including what kind of training for the center and its staff have qualified it/them as a designated memory care facility. Perhaps most importantly it examines case reports, statistics on incidents of harm, neglect, death, etc. of assisted living residents and how profit more than quality of life for assisted living residents is what drives the industry. Professionals in the field are interviewed and lay out how laws governing assisted living are inadequate to keep clients safe. Employees and former employees give insider information about the dark side of the facilities.
Impressions: The show was made in 2013 and I’m praying new regulations and better practices are governing assisted living facilities. Honestly, if you are considering placing a loved one in assisted living and haven’t researched a place thoroughly and don’t plan on visiting them daily at a minimum, based on this series, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014) original title Bai ri yan huo
Starring: Fan Liao, Gwei Lun-Mei, Xuebing Wang, Jingchun Wang, Ailei Yu, Jingyang Ni
Director and Writer: Yi’nan Diao
Genres: mystery, crime
Synopsis: two detectives hunting a serial killer are sidetracked in their investigation. The killings stop, then start again, which draws them back into trying to solve the case. The murder weapon and body disposals are unusual. Add a plot line of a man whose wife deserted him and a possible budding romance, and you’ve got a gritty and compelling plot. Harbin in the dead of winter is the setting.
Impressions: I went into it cold, no pun intended, with no preconceived notions about it. I was knocked over at how good the acting, the plot, and the cinematography were. Every bit of it is first-rate. I will be seeking out more of the director’s and main actors’ work. Reading a few other reviews, there were complaints that the female lead was not from mainland China and spoke with the wrong accent and had the wrong body type, but not being a native Chinese person those complaints were lost on me.
Etc.: Made in China with English subtitles; some gruesome graphic violence occurs.
Awards: 28 wins and 45 nominations
The King of Staten Island (2020)
Starring: Pete Davidson, Bel Powley, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi, Ricky Velez, Lou Wilson, Moises Arias, Carly Aquilino, and many others
Director: Judd Apatow
Genres: comedy, drama
Synopsis: Pete stars as a 20-some still living at home with his widowed mother, the former wife of a fireman who was killed in the line of duty when Pete’s character was a young kid. Pete still doesn’t seem to have gotten over dad’s death. He wants to be a tattoo artist but that’s going nowhere. Things start ramping up when mom gets a boyfriend who doesn’t seem real tolerant of his lazing around ways and who has two small children of his own to worry about. Pete’s character (which is anywhere from loosely to closely autobiographical) struggles not only with getting over dad’s death but with emotional regulation in general. Tomei as the mother has to be the diplomat who is forced to sort it all out.
Impressions: It’s an endearing movie that takes a little while to warm up. The first part of the movie shows a lot of him hanging out with the buddies who live in their parents’ basements and get high all day and talk about dumb stuff. Once mom gets her boyfriend it starts to get interesting. The movie was better than expected. Nice closeup of Staten Island, where it’s set which looks like a blue collar area.
Awards: too soon
imdb.com trivia: Pete Davidson’s father was a firefighter who died in the line of duty. Scott Davidson’s unit, Ladder Company 118 in Brooklyn Heights, responded to the call to the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They were rescuing people in the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel when the tower collapsed on the building. Pete was seven years old.
Indian Horse (2017)
Starring: Sladen Peltier, Forrest Goodluck, Ajuawak Kapashesit, Michiel Huisman, Martin Donovan, Michael Murphy, Edna Manitowabi, and many more
Director: Stephen S. Campanelli
Genres: drama, Native American, independent
Synopsis: The movie starts where Canadian Native American children are forcibly removed from their homes and placed in “Indian Schools” run by Catholic priests and nuns, where education is comprised of dedicated efforts at extinguishing the Native culture by any means necessary. Saul (a Biblical name given to him by his captors at the school) (i.e.Indian Horse) is one of the small boys who live there. When one of the priests decides to build a hockey rink, Saul takes a keen interest. The movie tells Indian Horse’ story with opportunities and challenges along the way. The pervasive racism and cruelty visited upon him continues after he leaves and well into his adulthood. How he handles the PTSD of his horrible experiences is presented but not thoroughly enough.
Impressions: The content of the film seems way closer to fact than fiction. It is difficult to watch regardless of where it lies on that truth-fiction line. More of the story focuses on the school part of the story than what comes after, which makes it feel a little unbalanced. Maybe if it could have had an extra 30 minutes to develop the ending.
Etc.: (from imdb) Based on the award-winning novel “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese. A good portion of this movie was filmed in the surrounding area of Killarney, Ontario, Canada, a small town of three hundred people.
Awards: 9 wins and 10 nominations