Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Besides the ones I will review today, I’ve also been watching the BBC TV Series, New Tricks, that ran from 2003-2015 (just finished S3) and Hinterland (on S2 now) on Netflix, a Scottish series from a few years ago. I highly recommend both of these series.
New Tricks is a cold-case team made up of three post-retirement male detectives and one very talented female rising star team lead. It’s excellent investigation by 3 very different personalities, each with strengths and weaknesses, and a working supervisor that tells it like it is but also has your back when it counts. Wonderfully humorous as well!
Hinterland is one I wrote about in one of my Friday Fictioneers stories a few weeks back, about a homicide team set in a remote area of Wales. Each episode of Hinterland is 90 minutes long and so is more like a feature film. Not much humor in this one, but lots of inner landscapes are examined. I love the sharp eyes of the main detective, a cop who left a wife and one daughter behind in London after the death of one daughter. I adore his partner, a woman who grew up in the area and so knows a lot of important history about the place.
The Final Master (2015) (Shi Fu original title)
Starring: Fan Liao, Jia Song, Wenli Jiang, Yang Song, Madina Memet, Jue Huang, Aoyue Zhang, Jun Ma, Kuan Tai Chen, Xin Xin Xiong, and many more
Director: Haofeng Xu
Genres: martial arts drama, romance
Synopsis: A pre-WWII Wing Chun student whose Master dies leaves him as the sole repository of that style. He travels from his homeland to Tianjin, a city that’s a martial arts hub, with the intention of opening his own school in order to keep Wing Chun alive. He is set with a challenge that he must defeat the best of the best of 8 martial arts schools. If he does it, then the ruling Masters of the schools will allow him to open his own school.
Impressions: I was impressed by how well-made the movie was. It’s as close to Hollywood in China as you’re going to get while still retaining the essence of the Chinese culture. Fan Liao stars and shines as the student with unquestionable integrity, but he’s so much more than a passionate devotee of his martial art. He’s sexy, he knows what he wants, and nothing will stop him. The main villain is not the usual, but watch out, no less lethal.
Etc.: Set in China, English subtitles. Fan Liao starred in Black Coal, Thin Ice, that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I had to buy this one as it was unavailable on netflix or through the library.
Awards: 17 wins and 20 nominations
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Allison Jannie, Malcolm McDowell, Connie Britton, and many more
Director: Jay Roach
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: A group of female newscasters (all hotties) at FOX news take on Roger Ailes for his atmosphere of pervasive sexual harassment and intimidation that included sexual assault upon females if they ever expected to be promoted within the ranks of newscasters at FOX. When the first victim speaks up a domino effect of intimidation intended to keep others’ mouths shut is set in motion.
Impressions: Excellent acting by all cast. The atmosphere created feels authentic. There are few to no warm fuzzies in this one. Stays focused on the story of Ailes and his dominating and often disturbing attitudes and behaviors towards all of the satellites in his gravity of control. Lithgow plays the role with gusto enough to make your skin crawl. Theron doesn’t look at all like herself in this, as make-up transforms her into looking like the real-life Megyn Kelley, who was one of newscasters who stepped forward and broke the long silence regarding the sexually exploiting pervasive atmosphere at FOX. What shocks me is that Ailes wasn’t criminally charged, was allowed to resign, and received a $40million exit package. Say what?
Etc.: based on actual events. Read more here.
Charlize Theron coaxed prosthetic makeup artist Kazu Hiro out of retirement for his work on this film, and he won his second Academy Award for his efforts. He had previously won his first Academy Award for Darkest Hour (2017) after turning Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill, a character John Lithgow had earlier portrayed in The Crown (2016).
Awards: 22 wins and 51 nominations
Frontline: The Vaccine War (2010) PBS Series, S28, E 8
Director: Jon Palfreman
Genres: investigative journalism
Synopsis: Examines the vaccination issue from at least a few different points-of-view. There is a fairly polarizing difference of opinion between the two main camps. One side has firm belief that vaccinations are vital to keeping society safe and that some small risk is worth the benefit the vaccinations provide. The other side rejects the vastly increased number of vaccinations children receive in the first few months and years of life and have connected some of the ingredients in the vaccinations with serious long-term disabilities caused by them.
Impressions: I thought the documentary presented both sides fairly. This was made 10 years ago and I would like to know what new information is out there since it was made.
Frontline: Death by Fire (2010) PBS Series, S28, E12
Director: Jessie Deeter
Genres: investigative journalism
Synopsis: Todd Willingham was killed by capital punishment by TX in 2004 after being convicted of setting arson at his home that ended up killing his 3 small children. The show examines the opinions of the townsfolk and the local police and firemen in regards to Todd’s guilt or innocence, looks at Todd’s social history, and later speaks with scientific-based fire examiners that have studied the forensic evidence left by the fire through collected evidence and give their opinions.
Impressions: The final question left in this viewer’s mind is did the State of TX murder an innocent man. Like the vaccine episode, there is an unbiased presentation of material.
Etc.: I did see there is an update on this episode by Frontline, made in 2014.
BEWARE: disturbing images that may be triggering to some in the trailer
Uniform (2003) (Zhifu original title)
Starring: Kai Han, Hongli Liang, Hua Qin, Xueqiong Zeng
Director: Yi’nan Diao
Synopsis: Han plays a young tailor who works out of his home and who lives at home with his mother and ailing father (scabies are sucking the life out of him!) Father is laid off from the town’s big factory that has been reorganized. Unfortunately the reorganization has left many in the lurch, including dad. The young tailor works hard by day but seems kind of listless and without purpose. Things change when a young police officer drops off a uniform to be ironed and doesn’t return to pick it up. The tailor goes to drop off the uniform and learns from a neighbor the cop has been in an accident. He decides to keep the uniform. Events lead to his putting it on, which has a transformative effect on his life.
Impressions: It’s a good movie for seeing how the working class people live in a bigger city in China. Lots of beat up buildings, people scrambling to make a living, seedy businesses, abusive police, etc. The main character and his romantic interest both do a good job of pulling you in to their stories.
Etc.: Chinese film with English subtitles. The director also directed Black Coal, Thin Ice, a movie I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.
Awards: 3 wins and 2 nominations