Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Only four movies reviewed in this week’s post. I’ve been watching two different series, one on disc and one on netflix. I’m up to S9 on “New Tricks,” which is an excellent detective series set in London, where three retired police detectives join a newly created unit, UCOS (cold case serious crime investigation, sorry can’t remember what the acroynm actually stands for so I put what it does) that is is led by a brilliant younger female working boss. I highly recommend it for its excellent investigation on seemingly unsolvable old cases as well as the humor that runs through it all as this veteran team of old dogs do their thing with Deputy Chief Inspector Sandra Pullman at the helm.
I just finished S3 of an excellent series on Netflix called, “Bordertown” (original title “Sorjonen”,) set in the small town of Lappeenranta, Finland, which is at the Russian border. Kari Sorjonen is at the high end of the Autism Spectrum – and is the SECROS (serious crime investigation unit) star detective that everyone depends on to figure out whodunit. I highly recommend the show for the acting, the creativity of the crimes, the relationships between Kari and his family, and with other members of the team. Although it’s obvious to others that Kari is “different,” they have to respect how he puts his deductive skills to use. There are also ongoing drone shots of the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of the lakeside community in summer and in winter. Some episodes have them going to Russia.
Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Didier Flamand, Fisher Stevens, Marisa Tomei, Adrienne Shelly, Karen Young, Thomas Lyons, Dean Brewington, James Cada, James Detmar, Kurt Schweickhardt, Dee Noah, James Noah, and many more.
Director: Bent Hamer (Norwegian)
Genres: biography, drama, comedy
Synopsis: Set in Los Angeles (but filmed in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and other locations in Minnesota) Hank Chinaski (played by Dillon) is a writer – and a damned good one! — but try convincing anyone to give him a paying job doing it. Hank takes whatever job he can find, but he never lasts long at it for many reasons which are played out in the course of the film. He also has a sexually adventurous spirit in between his alcohol drinking and his betting at the tracks. His devil-may-care charisma attracts a certain kind of woman. Two of them are played by Taylor and Tomei.
Impressions: Matt Dillon is a great choice for the role of Chinaski (i.e. Bukowski) because he’s got the charisma needed to play the role. This is a small movie, and Bukowski wouldn’t have had it any other way. Man’s biggest battle is always against himself. The struggles against the world shrink in comparison. It succeeds in showing how insignificant these dead-end jobs are to a person with a passion for something and who could be great if only he’d get out of his own way. On the other hand are these crawls through hell necessary to season the creative soul?
Etc.: Factotum is defined as “a man who performs many jobs.” Based on the autobiographical book of the same name; imdb trivia: “On 14 April 2005, in Trondheim, Norway, this became the first movie in the world to be shown with a 4K digital cinema projector.”
Awards: 4 wins and 4 nominations
The Seven Five (2014)
Starring: Mike Dowd, Ken Eurell, Walter Yurkiw, Chickie, Dori Eurell
Director: Tiller Russell
Genres: documentary, biography
Synopsis: Tells the story of 1980’s Brooklyn, NYPD’s precinct 75 police corruption at the height of the crack epidemic. Michael Dowd, known as “the dirtiest cop in NYC history,” is interviewed at length and lays out how he got started, how he got in deeper, how he dragged others into his criminal enterprises, and how he was finally caught. Ken Eurell, his right-hand man, is interviewed at length and tells it from his perspective. Also weighing in are others connected with it, including Eurell’s wife, Dori. Lots and lots of archival photos and footage of the time, including when Dowd gives testimony.
Impressions: I’ve watched a lot of documentaries over the years, and this one ranks up there as one of the best. It’s meticulously put together, and to get these guys to go on at length about what they did and didn’t do was impressive. They even had footage with a couple of the big players in the criminal world being interviewed. Also interviewed were the players from the police agencies that were able to bring these corrupt cops to arrest.
Etc.: from wiki: “Sentenced to 16 years in prison, Dowd served 12 years and 5 months.”
Awards: 2 nominations
12 Angry Men (1957)
Starring: In order of juror number, 1) Martin Balsam; 2) John Fiedler; 3) Lee J. Cobb; 4) E.G. Marshall; 5) Jack Klugman; 6) Edward Binns; 7) Jack Warden; 8) Henry Fonda; 9) Joseph Sweeney; 10) Ed Begley; 11) George Voskovek; 12) Robert Webber
Director: Sidney Lumet
Genres: drama, crime
Synopsis: The story begins where a jury – notably all white men! – is sent to the jury room to deliberate on whether the prosecution has successfully proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant, a young man accused of stabbing and killing his father, is guilty. What looks like an open and shut case of guilt becomes an arena for debate, where egos and prejudices rear their ugly heads.
Impressions: This is a great character study. Reginald Rose, the screenwriter, did an excellent job of putting a wide cross-section of different personalities in the mix. Henry Fonda’s character is an admirable study in strength here, but he’s not the only one with strength. It should be required viewing for every high school government class. I also like how the jurors were locked into the room, which heightened the tension.
Etc.: imdb trivia: Because the film failed to make a profit, Henry Fonda never received his deferred salary.
Awards: 17 wins and 13 nominations
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, William Sadler, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Kid Cudi, Amy Stoch, Holland Taylor, Jillian Bell, Dave Grohl, Daniel Dorr, DazMann Still, Jeremiah Craft, Sharon Gee, Patty Anne Miller, and many more.
Director: Dean Parisot
Genres: adventure, comedy
Synopsis: Bill & Ted, now fathers with teenage daughters, are visited by the daughter of Rufus (Rufus, the time traveler from the future, was played by George Carlin in the first two Bill & Ted movies,) who tells the two musicians still waiting to hit the big time with their band that they have just under 2 hours to write the song that will save the world. They travel with her in the egg-shaped time machine to where their futuristic studio is set up to write. They decide to travel across time to get the song from their other selves. At the same time, their daughters travel across time to collect the finest musicians in history to build a band they hope can help to create the song.
Impressions: It’s good to see many of the actors from the first two movies reprising their roles for the reboot. The humor is of the same caliber as the first two. There are a lot of good make-up effects as Bill & Ted keep meeting up with different versions of themselves. There’s a good message at the end of the film. If you’re looking for a light-hearted romp with your favorite two time-traveling goofballs, this movie is for you.
Etc.: imdb trivia: Once the characters are told they have 77 minutes to save the universe, there is actually 77 minutes of runtime left. That means the events of the movie happen in real time.
Awards: 3 nominations