Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Quite an international variety this week.
Starring: Geraldine Hakewill, Mark Leonard Winter, Matilda Ridgway, Tom Wren, Greg Stone, Lucy McMurray
Director and Writer: Michael Bentham
Synopsis: two couples with children are good friends – until the girl of one couple alleges that the two boys of the other couple touched her inappropriately. The film takes place at the poolside patio of the couple with the girl (she is gone throughout the entire movie except at the very end.) The couple with the boys comes over to discuss the situation. The father of the boys is a local politician running for office. The dialogue goes through many moods, from reasonable to abusive to threatening, where the boys’ parents are in total denial that their kids would do such a thing, and the girl’s parents are just as committed to making sure their daughter gets the help she needs and that the boys get the intervention they need to keep other children safe.
Impressions: Very uncomfortable to sit through this very realistic scenario that I’m positive is playing itself out in one form or another across the globe. It’s a good film to discuss with others.
Etc.: Australian film; Public service announcement: sweeping these things under the rug is not a good idea for the victims or for the offenders. Processing can diffuse the trauma for the victim and most of the time neutralize offending behaviors of the offenders (for kids anyway.)
Awards: too soon?
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Emily Alyn Lind
Directors and Writers: Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer
Genres: horror; sci-fi; survival
Synopsis: A pandemic breaks out and a family finds a fully stocked bomb shelter at a school to hide in to stay alive from the menace. The tension builds as circumstances convene that threaten their hidden status and safety.
Impressions: I was ready to hit eject on the remote if it got too scary, but it never reached that level. Skarsgard is extremely attractive not only physically here but in the father character he plays. Even in the extremely restricted space the father, mother, and young daughter live in there are ways to demonstrate good parenting skills. The mom and dad make a great team here, where their attributes complement each other. A parenting how-to as much as anything else, which seems strange to say with this kind of plot.
Etc.: filmed in various locations in Canada; from imdb: “The little girl says ‘They’re here’ – an homage to Carol Anne saying the same thing in Poltergeist.”
Awards: none known
Guns Akimbo (2019)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Grant Bowler, Edwin Wright, Milo Cawthorne, Mark Rowley, Racheal Ofori , Set Sjöstrand, Rhys Darby, Graham Vincent, Tim Foley, and many others.
Director and Writer: Jason Lei Howden
Genres: action; futuristic; dark comedy
Synopsis: Remember the film, Running Man, where Arnold’s character gets thrust against his will into fighting for his life in a deadly reality TV show? Guns Akimbo is a modern version of it. Radcliffe insults the wrong people online and suddenly finds two pistols literally bolted into his hands and must escape the deadliest undefeated champion of “the game” that people are watching across the globe on dronevision broadcast.
Impressions: Good special effects. Lots of action; reminds me of a comic book plot; Radcliffe is convincing as the wimpy coward thrown into the shark tank; the main villain, played by Dennehy, is fairly despicable; and the reigning champion, played by Weaving, gives a lot of texture to her role. I liked this more than I thought I would. Good soundtrack!
Etc.: filmed in New Zealand and Germany; from imdb: “Nix named her pistol Kindness. It’s written on the slide. She literally kills people with Kindness.” Warning: at least one act of unexpected graphic violence.
Awards: none known
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe, Steven Richens, Amanda Payne, and many others.
Director: Ken Loach, Laura Obiols
Synopsis: focuses on the story of 59-year-old Daniel Blake, a carpenter who has suffered a heart attack and has been told by his medical professionals not to return to work or he could die, and his quest to collect social subsidies for (at least) temporary disability from the government agencies in place to help those in need. On the way he encounters others also trying to survive however they can as the system designed to help fails them again and again.
Impressions: Although this is set in the UK, I was struck by how similar their system is to the one in the US. It is chilling how well the system is set up – to deny help to people! There are myriad non-sensical hoops the vulnerable must jump through for a possible maybe of a meager pittance offered. There are scenes in here that I know are based on real events that I can’t get out of my mind. Please, pray you never find yourself in the circumstances this man, who has worked hard all of his life, been a tax-paying member of society, with a clean criminal history who is struck down by a medical condition and needs help from the system he was counting on. Told in a simple but extremely impactful style.
Etc.: filmed in various locations in England, UK; from imdb: “Director Ken Loach is the oldest Palme d’Or winner ever. When he won on 22nd May 2016 for I, Daniel Blake (2016), he was 79 years old.”
Awards: 29 wins and 36 nominations
Trivia from imdb:
From the end credits: «A very special thanks to workers within the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] and PCS [Public and Commercial Services] Union who provided us with invaluable information but who must remain anonymous.»
The Physician (2013)
Starring: Tom Payne, Stellan Skarsgård, Olivier Martinez, Emma Rigby, Elyas M’Barek, Fahri Yardim, Makram Khoury, Michael Marcus, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Townsend, Emil Marwa, Martin Hancock, and many more.
Director: Philipp Stolzl
Genres: adventure, drama, historical
Synopsis: blurb from imdb: “In Persia in the 11th Century, a surgeon’s apprentice disguises himself as a Jew to study at a school that does not admit Christians.” As this movie is 2 ½ hours long, it has the ability to start with the childhood of the main character and travel through well into his adulthood. It goes from England to Persia and back again.
Impressions: It’s an epic story that kept my interest throughout. The book must really be fabulous to read. Lots of things in here about the conflicts between Jewish and other tribes and how it influences the rate of medical learning and advancement. Main character Payne is new to me and he filled the lead role admirably. Of course Skarsgard and Kingsley are the standout performances, with Skarsgard as the traveling “barber” in England and Kingsley as the chief physician at the Persian medical school.
Etc.: 2 hrs and 35 minutes long!; filmed in Germany and Morocco; from imdb: “This movie was based on a best-selling novel by Noah Gordon’s “The Physician”. The book was recorded in 1999 at the Book Fair in Madrid, in the list of the ten most popular books of all time.”
Awards: 5 nominations
Leviathan (2014) original title Leviafan
Starring: Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Aleksey Rozin, Sergey Pokhodaev, Platon Kamenev, Sergey Bachurskiy, Valeriy Grishko, Alla Emintseva, Margarita Shubina, and many more.
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Synopsis: A humble mechanic lives on the outskirts of town with his family in a house he built on a hill with a beautiful view of the water and surrounding natural landscape. The mayor decides he wants the land and attempts to use existing ordinances to force the demolition of the home, then using eminent domain, to take the property. The story focuses on this man’s fight against a system that isn’t in the habit of being denied anything it wants.
Impressions: Being the optimist, I was hoping beyond hope that this simple man who only wanted to be left to his simple life in his small home in a sweet location would prevail. The realist part of me understood his odds were slim. I won’t give away any plot points. I love the style of this director. He takes the time for each character’s development which really pulled me into the story — which has the ring of truth. Breathtaking location.
Etc.: set in various locations in Russia; Russian language with English subtitles
Awards: 35 wins and 49 nominations