Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Today there are seven titles being covered. Lots of good stuff this week; a little bit of everything.
Night Hunter (2018)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Alexandra Daddario, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Fletcher, Minka Kelly, Nathan Fillion, Mpho Koaho, Emma Tremblay, Eliana Jones, Daniela Lavender, and many more.
Director: David Raymond
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: A depressed detective (Cavill) tries to catch a wily serial killer (Fletcher) and has the unasked-for help of a team of amateurs (Kingsley and Daddario) hunting the same killer.
Impressions: Middle-of-the-road. Not bad but not all that good. There are some interesting twists in it. Some acting is better than others.
Awards: none listed
Frontline: Opioids, Inc. (2020) TV series S2020 E15
Synopsis: About Insys Therapeutics, headed by John Kapoor, who was charged and prosecuted for pushing a fentanyl-based painkiller 50 times more powerful than heroin. The “pushers” were the pharm reps who enlisted many doctors that were bribed with “speaking fees” to not only prescribe the spray form of fentanyl but were given big bonuses to keep increasing the dosage. This is recent news!
Impressions: This corporation, the reps, and the physicians need to all be imprisoned for long periods of time. They can volunteer in the prison to care for Covid patients. A fine and light prison or probation is not enough.
Etc.: Insys is being shut down but the opioid crisis in the USA is far from over. Per CNBC, “More than 130 people in the nation die every day after overdosing on opioids. According to the CDC, about 218,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids from 1999 to 2017.”
The full documentary is available on youtube.
Starring: Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, Ivan Goris, Rob Morgan, Glenn Close, Mickey Sumner, Kaipo Schwab, Tim Blake Nelson, Phillip Ettinger, Gretchen Mol, Natasha Wagner, Erica Cho, Jacqueline Baum, Ekaterina Samsonov, Hannah Marks, and more.
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Genres: drama, independent
Synopsis: A Columbia University professor is mugged, which draws lives intersecting with the mugging into the spotlight. Lots of existential pondering going on.
Impressions: The movie’s title says a lot about the questions being asked, particularly about struggles in life and how we get through them. Fairly serious all of the way through. Decent acting by all. It’s one of those sleeper movies that has you thinking about it later.
Etc.: imdb says: Tim Blake Nelson had wanted to make the film since the 1980’s.
Awards: none listed
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson, Ellis Rubin, Skylar Dunn, Daniel Everidge, Radu Spinghel and many more.
Director: Michael Gracey
Genres: musical, biography
Synopsis: Jackman is the driving force that makes this movie work. He plays P.T. Barnum, who, for the first time, brings people who are different and shunned out of the shadows and makes them stars. His vision and his unwavering belief in his dreams despite setbacks is now known across the globe. This is a musical so there are many musical scenes.
Orphaned, penniless but ambitious and with a mind crammed with imagination and fresh ideas, the American Phineas Taylor Barnum will always be remembered as the man with the gift to effortlessly blur the line between reality and fiction.
Impressions: lots of great costumes, decent songs, a very energetic cast, and in the middle of it all the man with the dream. It was well-done. Felt a little wooden at times, but still worth seeing. I really like the focus on accepting those who are different than the norm as not only ok but special and unique individuals as every person is.
Awards: 17 wins and 35 nominations
The Photograph (2020)
Starring: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chante Adams, Y’lan Noel, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Rylee Gabriel King, Phoenix Noelle, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Wakeema Hollis, Maxwell Wittington-Cooper, Rob Morgan, Chelsea Peretti, and many more.
Director: Stella Meghie
Genres: romance, drama
Synopsis: Stanfield is a NYC journalist researching the story of a NYC black female photographer who has just passed away. While down south, speaking with those who knew her, his attention is drawn to a photograph in one of the houses. From there the journey twists and turns to his meeting the love of his life. Rae plays a NYC library curator who is the daughter of the recently deceased photographer whose life intersects with the journalist. Plentiful flashbacks into the life of the photographer.
Impressions: Quality film-making. Cinematography is superb. Great NYC scenes as well as down south (NOLA?) Good soundtrack. Stanfield’s acting is ok but he wouldn’t have been my choice to play lead. Rae is straight-up stylish but not pretentious, strong but also vulnerable. I loved her in this movie!
Awards: too soon
The Night Clerk (2020)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, Helen Hunt, John Leguizamo, Johnathon Schaech, Jacque Gray, Joey Miyashima, Austin Archer, Ibrahim Quraishi, Frantz Luizia, D.L. Walker, and more
Director: Michael Cristofer
Synopsis: Sheridan is a night clerk with an Asperger’s diagnosis. Under the guise of needing to practice how to recognize expressions, he plants surveillance and listening devices in some of the hotel rooms and records the guests. At home he has a sophisticated computer system set up to watch these voyeuristic recordings. As this is a thriller, some things happen in the rooms that he witnesses. Because he’s afraid of getting into trouble for bugging the rooms, he does not go to the police and won’t talk to them even when the police come to him. Enter a hot babe (played by de Armas) who is extra nice to him and all pretense that he’s doing what he does to help with practicing facial expresssions flies out of the window.
Impressions: Sheridan is great at the virtually non-verbal night clerk who lives in his overprotective mother’s (played by Helen Hunt) basement; the mother who, contradictorily, never checks to see what exactly he’s doing in the basement. Leguizamo is great as the detective who knows the kid knows something and does his best to find out what. Things do get tense from time to time in the film but I was somewhat disappointed in it. Not sure if it was the editing but am guessing it was.
Awards: too soon
A Perfect Day (2015)
Starring: Benicio Del Torro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Melanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan, Eldar Residovic, Sergi Lopez, Nedad Vukelic, Morten Suurballe, Ben Temple, Frank Feys, and many more
Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Genres: drama, comedy
Synopsis: A ragtag team of jaded international aid workers are presented with the challenge of removing a corpse from the last remaining good well in the region that hasn’t been bombed, booby-trapped, etc. before the corpse rots and spoils the well. The whole plot revolves around the two ATV-riding teams, both together and split up, trying to find rope to get the body out of the well. On their quest they meet an always interesting cast of characters, some more helpful than others.
Impressions: The humor is dark dark and the acting is good good. Del Torro and Robbins are excellent as the two team leads. There are some horrific scenes of gutted/bombed buildings, etc. Not a lot of graphic violence.
Etc.: Spanish movie, filmed in various locations in Spain, but English language spoken; the film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival
Awards: 4 wins and 20 nominations