Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Another one in a roll of good batches.
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clemence Poesy, Dimple Kapadia, Himesh Patel, Michael Caine, and many others.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Genres: action, sci-fi
Synopsis: because I need to watch this a few more times before I fully understand what’s going on, I’ll use the imdb synopsis: Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
Impressions: This is a BIG production and reminds me so much of James Bond movies. But James Bond never went to other “dimensions” (my term, not the movie’s term) including a weird future that comes back and messes with the present over and over again. I loved Washington as the Protagonist (i.e. the Bond-like character) and Pattinson as his knowing sidekick. The peripheral support cast is also seamless. It’s the other two main characters that don’t click for me in “Tenet.” Debicki as Kat feels incongruous as the abused wife of the main villain. She always is perfectly garbed and coiffed and impossible to ignore with her model-like 6’4” frame. Branagh as Sator, the main villain, seems lackluster and unidimensional in his role (not his fault, he was written that way evidently.) That said about those two, the dynamic of intimate partner violence is acknowledged well. Fans of Christopher Nolan and mega Hollywood type movies will most likely love Tenet. Washington is the real standout in the movie and has a lot of opportunity to be both suave and a badass in it. The plot was confusing but that’s ok. It’s the kind of movie you’ll probably watch multiple times to unsort a little more each time.
Etc.: filmed in 54 locations in Estonia, Denmark, India, Italy, UK, Norway, and US; budget was $205million; at the writing of this, per imdb, cumulative worldwide gross is $347million; there is a wealth of trivia about the film at imdb.
Awards: 31 wins and 85 nominations
Kitchen Stories (2003) (original title – Salmer fra kjøkkenet)
Starring: Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norström, Bjørn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson, Sverre Anker Ousdal, and a few others
Director: Bent Hamer
Synopsis: Set sometime after WWII, Folke (played by Norström) is employed by the Swedish Home Research Institute, who assigns him and 17 other observers and recorders to travel to Norway in a caravan of cars and small trailers to live in. Their mission is to meticulously observe and record Norwegian volunteers in their homes as they go about their kitchen chores in hopes to design more efficient kitchen space. The fixed mandate given to each observer is never to interact with the volunteers or it will destroy the validity of the research. Folke is assigned to a “cantankerous single man,” Isak’s,(played by Calmeyer) kitchen. And so begins a hilarious premise that makes for all sorts of fun.
Impressions: I laughed out loud throughout Kitchen Stories. Most of the film focuses on these two, in Isak’s small kitchen; the timing is perfect by both of these actors. Also are two main support cast, the humorless boss (played by Brynolfsson) that keeps checking in with Folke on how the research is going; and Isak’s friend, Grant (played by Floberg) whose nose gets bent out of shape by the invasion of his easygoing friendship with his long-time friend. If you like small movies with quirkiness, big heart, and laughs, see this one.
Etc.: filmed in Sweden and Norway, but most of the plot takes place in Norway. imdb trivia: At the beginning of the film, Malmberg (a Swede) becomes ill after having to drive on the right side of the road in Norway. Today both countries drive on the right. In 1967, Sweden switched to the right because making two versions of cars like Volvos and Saabs for domestic and foreign sales was inefficient. Also, there are many unguarded, unmarked border crossings points (unlike the crossing in the film); people would not realize which country they were in and sometimes ended up driving on the wrong side.
Awards: 8 wins and 6 nominations
I Am Vengeance (2018)
Starring: Stu Bennett, Fleur Keith, Alan Calton, Gary Daniels, Keith Allen, Wayne Gordon, Anna Shaffer, Mark Griffin, Bryan Larkin, Sebastian Knapp, Kevin Leslie, Jai Armstrong, Sean Blowers, Cass Pennant, Alex Reece, Leroy Kincaide, and many others.
Director and Writer: Ross Boyask
Synopsis: John Gold (played by Bennett) is an ex-military trained killer who gets a voicemail from the father of his best friend that is cut off with what sounds like violence. Upon investigation Gold learns his friend has been murdered by some thugs who’ve infested the small town John and his friend grew up in. He commits to taking vengeance on each of these slimeballs. Along the way he meets several of the townsfolk and builds connections with some of them.
Impressions: I admit it, I chose this movie because I recognized Stu Bennett from his WWE wrestling days. He’s retired from wrestling but he remains in prime physical form as well as retaining his rakish charm. He does a great job of some pretty strenuous killing in here and he’s up against some other prime physical forms.
Etc.: UK film; a sequel exists, made in 2020 (I am Vengeance: Retaliation.) Warning: scenes of graphic violence.
Awards: 3 wins and 2 nominations
It Might Get Loud (2008)
Starring: Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Genres: music, documentary
Synopsis: shows these three cream-of-the-crop guitarists separately and together in a montage of various locations, guitars, and equipment. Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, The Edge from U2, and Jack White from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and as a solo artist are the holy trinity. Each are interviewed separately. They are brought together to discuss their playing and they play a few songs together.
Impressions: a wonderful film for anyone who loves their work or for anyone who loves electric guitar and wants to learn more about these 3 maestro musicians
Etc.: from imdb: All 3 participants have featured in music from a James Bond opening credits. Jimmy Page reveals that he played on “Goldfinger (1964)” whilst The Edge and Jack White contributed title tracks to “GoldenEye (1995)” and “Quantum of Solace (2008)” respectively.
Awards: 7 nominations
Children of Heaven (1997) (Bacheha-Ye aseman – original title)
Starring: Mohammad Amir Naji, Amir Farrokh Hashemian, Bahare Seddiqi, Nafise Jafar-Mohammadi, Fereshte Sarabandi, Kamal Mirkarimi, Behzad Rafi, Dariush Mokhtari, and many others.
Director and Writer: Majid Majidi
Genres: drama, family
Synopsis: Story of a poor family barely scraping by. They are so poor they have to pay to have first-grader Zahra’s (played by Seddiqi) only pair of on-their-last-legs shoes repaired. The story begins as third grader Ali (played by Hashemian) runs errands for the family, including picking up Zahra’s shoes from the repairman. Along the way the shoes are lost. Not wanting to trouble their hard-working father and ill mother about how they can get Zahra another pair of shoes, the two children concoct a way to share the one pair of on-their-last-legs sneakers that Ali has. Fortunately the two kids go to school at different times which makes it doable (barely!) The big question is: will Zahra ever get a new pair of shoes?
Impressions: The two kid stars of this show couldn’t be cuter or more endearing. Seriously! These two are bonded and are committed to not causing their parents any more worry. The relationships between the family members is truly heartwarming. The real star of “Children of Heaven” is that dad-blasted pair of shoes! Excellent movie for kids as well as adults.
Etc.: filmed in Tehran, Iran; Persian language with English subtitles; First Iranian film to receive nomination for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.)
Awards: 13 wins and 5 nominations