Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It doesn’t happen real often, but occasionally I invest a little time in a movie or series and reach a point where I can’t – or won’t – go on. I will include them, not to put them down, per se’, but more as a warning or rationalization as to why I didn’t continue.
Let’s start with this week’s “No-Go.” “Ratched” is a netflix series based on the character of Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a sadistic nurse who works in an inpatient psychiatric unit of a hospital. The atmosphere reminds me a lot of David Lynch’s, “Twin Peaks” as it has the same kind of surrealism to it. The acting reminds me of the over-the-top characters in “Gotham.” The style and cinematography drew me in and that, more than anything, kept me watching at least through the first couple of episodes. Then things took a sinister dip with maliciousness and extremely graphic medical procedures coupled with a jaded sociopathic approach (all in the name of science, dontcha know.) One example is doing a series of lobotomies through the orbital cavities of individuals who’ve already been established as “normal” and inviting the press in to watch as part of a fundraising campaign. At that point, I said, “I’m out.” It may even be based on historical fact. I don’t care. I don’t have to watch it to know it may have happened. Shame on the medical community if it did.
no video is being shared of Ratched
Pele’: Birth of a Legend (2016)
Starring: Kevin de Paula, Leonardo Lima Carvalho, Seu Jorge, Mariana Nunes, Milton Goncalves, Seth Michaels, Vincent D’Onofrio, Andre Mattos, Phil Miler, Rafael Henriques, Felipe Simas
Directors & Writers: Jeff & Michael Zimbalist
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: fictionalized biography of Pele, from his beginnings as a child in Sao Paolo, Brazil to his being chosen at the young age of 17 to play on the Brazilian World Cup soccer team in 1958 for the championship. Probably half focuses on his upbringing as a dirt poor kid who plays street ball with his buddies with makeshift balls because they can’t afford a real one. Pele’s dad begins to teach him the finer points of the game with a “wild style” (forgot the name of it.) The second half has him recruited for a youth league in the big city, where he quickly rises to the team that will face off for the World Cup title, to be held in Sweden. Prejudices of using the “wild style” cause much conflict between Pele and other players, with the coaches, and with the audience.
Impressions: It was good to learn Pele’s story as his name is pretty much a household word in the field of soccer. The performances were believable. Interesting to see close-ups of village and big city life in Brazil and Sweden (or what they show it looked like in the 1940s and 1950s.) There is a commendable heart to the family bonding and the team bonding as they represent their nation in a faraway land called Europe.
Etc.: Filming location was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Awards: none known
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, Richard Carter, Iota, Angus Sampson, Jennifer Hagan, Megan Gayle, Melissa Jaffer, and many more!
Director: George Miller
Genres: action, apocalyptic, adventure
Synopsis: Fury Road is the 4th Mad Max movie and the first one without Mel Gibson. Tom Hardy plays Max here and is a co-lead with Charlize Theron. It’s a post-apocalyptic world where a radiation-mutilated villain maintains a mountain fortress guarded by cult worshippers who will gladly die for him. Drivers of the gasoline trucks that pick up bullets and gasoline from outposts and exchange them for some of the water the villain controls are called Imperators, Theron plays an Imperator that goes rogue. Pulled into the escape attempt are the drifter, Max, who has recently been held prisoner by the villain’s cult followers, as well as the villains prime “breeders,” women held prisoner to try to give the villain a healthy child. Most of the movie is cross-country in desolate wasteland and dust storms, trying to get to “the promised land” while being chased by the cult followers and assorted desert enemies along the way.
Impressions: This is a big movie that I would encourage anyone to see on a big screen if it is possible. The movie is all about the chase, and it has some awesome Frankenstein cars that are all souped up with horsepower and outfitted with various attacking mechanisms. It’s a visual movie, not a huge amount of dialogue. It’s loud. It’s extremely violent with a large body count. The attention to detail is meticulous, and the way they have created a world is impressive. In this world life is cheap. There are some very touching scenes in amongst the carnage. I saw it on the big screen then bought it in blu-ray as soon as it was available. Like the other Mad Max movies, I’ve watched it many times.
Etc.: filmed in Namibia, South Africa, and Australia. The editing for the movie was done by Miller’s wife, Margaret Sixel, who won an Oscar for it. A prequel to Fury Road by George Miller is in the works.
Awards: 242 wins and 228 nominations
The Wind Rises (2013) anime
Starring: (English speaking voices) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, William H. Macy, Zach Callison, Madeleine Yen, Eva Bella, Edie Mirman, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood, Ronan Farrow, David Cowgill, and many more
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genres: adventure, biography
Synopsis: This is a fictionalized biography of a man who designed Japanese fighter planes used in World War II. It starts from his childhood, through professional school, then when he is hired by the Japanese plane manufacturer. It shows trials and errors and also at least one trip to Germany to learn how they design and build their planes. Also included is how Horikoshi met his wife, who had seriously health issues. They also interject dream sequences where Horikoshi receives “spiritual-design guidance” from a famous Italian aeronatic designer.
Impressions: Hayao Miyazaki is the Godfather of Anime. The Wind Rises is his last movie after a long and brilliant career of making anime movies for Studio Ghibli. There is a quality to his movies that elevates them to exalted status in my eyes. He’s the best and his movies are the best. The quality, the spirit, the stories they tell, are mesmerizing. The Wind Rises is one of his tamer, more reality-based movies.
Etc.: Japanese language, dubbed in English
Awards: 27 wins and 53 nominations
Trivia from imdb:
The protagonist Jirô Horikoshi is a fictional character made from a mix of the actual lives of Tatsuo Hori, the author of the short story of the same name, and Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Zero fighter aircraft. The title comes from Hori’s translation of a quote from Paul Valéry’s poem “Le cimetière marin”.
Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis, Georgia King, Rupert Vansittart, Ricky Whittle, Jane Seymour, Ayda Field, Ruben Crow, Demetri Goritsas, Parker Sawyers, Sarah Niles, Anne Gould, Tracy Higgins, Goldy Greaves, Bernadette Chapman, Jools Newman, and many more
Director: Jerusha Hess
Genres: romantic comedy
Synopsis: Russell plays a Jane Austen fanatic who focuses on that rather than her string of failed romantic relationships. She’s is looking for her handsome perfect gentleman and nobody can measure up. When she gets a chance to go to Austenland, a real live theme park that immerses its guests in the world of Jane Austen, she spends her life savings to do it, against the advice of her friends. She soon realizes that historical romantic fantasies aren’t all they are cracked up to be when they butt up against real life.
Impressions: Lighthearted is the ruling idea here. I really enjoyed the first part of the movie and loved “Austenland” the park. As the movie went on, the main character began to grate on my nerves. The other female guests were exaggerated and obnoxious but they had their funny moments. The men, paid to woo the female guests, are handsome and each charming in their own way. Jane Seymour, as the Lady of the House, does a good job.
Etc.: (from imdb) Austenland was filmed at West Wycombe Park near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and was first built for Sir Francis Dashwood.
Awards: 1 nomination
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, Lorelei King, and more
Director: Ridley Scott
Genres: science fiction horror
Synopsis: This is the 5th movie in the Alien series. At the end of the 4th movie, the android played by Fassbender and the character played by Rapace leave for the planet of the extraterrestrials responsible for genetically engineering the aliens. This movie has a pioneering ship headed to another planet with plans to terraform when it gets sidetracked by a distress signal and finds that planet.
Impressions: So many things to say and not many of them are good. I’ve been a fan of the series since the beginning, own and have watched all of the others multiple times. First off, why didn’t they have Noomi Rapace in this movie. Her “replacement” is a sniveling crybaby! Can you see Ripley from the first 3 Alien movies as a sniveling crybaby? Not only that but the captain, played by Crudup, is a sniveling crybaby as well! How in the world could such a mission succeed? Next, there is no balance between good and evil in this movie. It is more like the bad picks off the characters like someone would pick blueberries off of a bush. Thirdly, so many bad decisions are made by every single crew member! Come on now, you’ve got the future of humankind in your hands but you have no common sense? Lastly, Fassbender’s character is grossly evil and overpowered in the movie. The imbalance tips it from science fiction to horror. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed in it and even more disappointed in Ridley Scott for directing it.
Awards: 2 wins and 13 nominations