Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
A Ballerina’s Tale: the Incredible Rise of Misty Copeland (2015)
Starring: Misty Copeland, Diedre Kelly, Susan Fales-Hill, Leyla Fayyaz, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Robyn Gardenhire, Alicia Graf Mack, Daisha Graf, Victoria Rowell, and many more
Director: George Nelson
Genres: biographical, documentary
Synopsis: wikipedia says:
Misty Danielle Copeland (b. 9/10/82) is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On 6/30/15, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history. [Interestingly] Copeland was considered a prodigy who rose to stardom despite not starting ballet until the age of 13.
Misty’s story is told through dance and rehearsal footage, interviews with several prominent ballerinas and people from the world of ballet, and of course, in her own words.
Impressions: Shows the unrelenting rehearsals ballerinas go through and the pain, injuries, etc. Important education on the racist, elitist history of ballet and shows modern-day remedies that have begun, partly due to Misty and her inclusion as a person of color in a starring position within its insular realm.
Etc.: This was also an episode (S17, E9) on the TV show Independent Lens
Awards: 1 win and 1 nomination
Full movie available on youtube!
Term Life (2016)
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Terrance Howard, Jon Favreau, Hailee Steinfeld, Jonathan Banks
Director: Peter Billingsley
Genres: crime, action
Synopsis: Vince plays a career criminal who has watched his daughter grow up from a distance. One of his jobs goes awry, which has some very dangerous people looking to harm Vince and, by proxy, her. He convinces her, now an obnoxious teenager, to come with him. The movie revolves around staying alive and building a shell of a connection between father and daughter into something more substantial.
Impressions: It’s a fairly light-hearted romp through the criminal world. Vaughn is dependably good. Hailee as his mouthy daughter is convincing. Decent chemistry between these two. Vince looks different with a new hairstyle and movie dialogue mentions it.
Etc.: Director Peter Billingsley started off his film career by playing the young memorable character Ralphie in A Christmas Story (1983.); filmed in Georgia (USA)
Awards: none known
Black and Blue (2019)
Starring: Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, Beau Knapp
Director: Deon Taylor
Genres: crime, action
Synopsis: Harris stars as the military veteran, now-cop, who has returned to patrol her old neighborhood. It doesn’t take her long to learn she is trapped between two worlds: a corrupt police force that won’t tolerate an honest officer and the citizens in her old hood who mistrust anyone in a uniform. When she witnesses corruption, the bad cops begin hunting her down. Gibson plays one of her old friends in the hood who gets pulled into helping her stay alive.
Impressions: The plot is unusual in that it isn’t the usual cops v. ghetto dwellers plot. I enjoyed seeing a female lead in it, which is also unusual. Gibson has screen presence and did a great job at not overplaying his role. I also enjoyed the authenticity shown in the settings and in the dialogue.
Etc.: filmed in multiple locations in New Orleans, LA, including the DeGaulle Manor Housing Project, an ugly reminder of institutionalized oppression of the poor, particularly people of color, nobody wants to talk about. Even though this project is shut down, there are similar ones all over the country still occupied.
Awards: 1 win and 1 nomination
Nine Queens (2000) alternate title Nueve Reinas
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Gaston Pauls, Leticia Bredice, Tomas Fonzi, Elsa Berenguer, Rolly Serrano, Celia Juarez, Antonion Ugo, Alejandro Awada, Ignasi Abadal, Oscar Nunez
Writer and Director: Fabian Bielinsky
Genres: crime, thriller
Synopsis: two criminals, one seasoned and one a greenhorn, see an opportunity to steal stamps worth a fortune. An intricate plot unfolds that involves many moving parts.
Impressions: this is the kind of movie you need to pay close attention to. Very polished acting. Another Ricardo Darin feature (I wrote about “The Aura” recently that he starred in.)
Etc.: made in Argentina (Buenos Aires and Capital Federal); Spanish language with English subtitles
Awards: 22 wins and 8 nominations
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (2013)
Starring: Javier Camara, Natalia De Molina, Francesc Colomer, Ramon Fontsere, Jorge Sanz, Ariadna Gill, Violeta Rodriguez.
Writer and Director: David Trueba
Genres: fictionalized music history; comedy; coming of age
Synopsis: blurb from the library:
Spain, 1966: Antonio is a teacher and a Beatles fan, facets he combines by getting his pupils to recite the lyrics from Help in English class. When he learns that his idol John Lennon is making a film in Almeria, he resolves to meet him. On the journey he picks up two young runaways: Bethlehem, a pregnant girl fleeing a convent, and Juanjo, a boy escaping a dictatorial father.
Impressions: This is a real gem of a movie. A must-see for anyone who is a fan of The Beatles, especially John Lennon. Camara is brilliant as the teacher determined to see Lennon. The two young people he picks up along the way are convincing in their roles. The character of the little inn by the sea that they stay at is memorable. There’s more than a little social commentary involving morals and the church and how these three are rebels within the mainstream of Spanish society at the time.
Etc.: Made in Spain, Spanish language with English subtitles;
Awards: Official submission of Spain to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 87th Academy Awards in 2015.
The Gentlemen (2019)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Jason Wong, Eddie Marsan
Director: Guy Ritchie
Genres: organized crime, action, comedy
Synopsis: Set in London, McConaughey’s character plays an American who has built an impressive network of pot-growing facilities across the UK. He wants to get out of the business, which sets up an intricate domino effect across the land and beyond.
Impressions: This movie has a lot going for it. Look at the cast! The ensemble meshes deliciously. It deserves a nomination for costumes. You’re not going to find a more GQ-style around. It’s not only the clothes but the sets are so well-done! What also turns my gears in this movie is the dialogue. Very salty and sharp. You add them altogether (cast, plot, fashion/sets, and dialogue) and you’ve got yourself a winner of a film. Highly entertaining viewing experience. McCon and Hunnam need to make more movies together (reminds me of Redford-Newman.)
Etc.: Hugh Grant filmed his scenes with Charlie Hunnam in five days, and had to deliver over 40 pages of dialogue during the shoot (if you see the movie you’ll be impressed at this info.)
Awards: too soon?