Movies, Movies, Movies! #84 – May 11, 2021

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Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Three movies will be reviewed today. I’m also almost halfway through S1 of the TV series, “Yellowstone.” (Thanks, Fandango!) Western series aren’t usually my thing, but with Kevin Costner as the patriarch and Danny Huston as a recurring villain, how could I resist? I’m liking the series because it covers so many topics of interest for the Montana area: cattle grazing, oil drilling, tourist destination and housing development, Native American sovereign rule, cowboys/ranch hands, horse riding, cattle driving. The landscape shots are worth the time to watch the series alone. And who besides this mega-rich rancher can afford his own helicopter that gets used liberally for any and all reasons? The family drama is the central focus.

Infamous (2006)
Starring: Toby Jones, Daniel Craig, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Isabella Rosselini, Peter Bogdanovich, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Daniels, and many more.
Director: Douglas McGrath
Genres: biography, crime
Synopsis: Truman Capote (played by Jones) lives the high life as a successful novelist and socialite in NYC when he happens across a headline in 1959 that Mr. Clutter, a farmer, his wife, and two children were found murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. From that moment, Capote becomes obsessed with the murder and decides to go there to gather data for a “fictionalized crime novel.” Once the murderers are caught and convicted, the industrious and persistent Capote gets permission to have ongoing interviews with them. Years pass between conviction and sentencing; Capote flies back and forth between NYC and KS, as well as carries on correspondence with the killers. The real book that came out of it is called, “In Cold Blood.”
Impressions: Jones as Capote is flawless and brings the depth of the character to the screen. I can’t imagine anyone more perfect to play him. Capote’s real life best friend, Harper Lee (played by Bullock) is subdued yet honest to a fault and is a faithful support person for him. Daniel Craig as Perry Smith, one of the killers, is a standout performance side by side with Jones. He is able to capture both the vulnerability and the menace with great skill. There isn’t a bad performance in the bunch. The dialogue is intelligent and often cutting from Capote and his socialite friends. I appreciate the portrayal of Capote as unapologetically and openly gay. The story is compelling and has convinced me to read Capote’s book.
Grade: 8.5
Etc.: LGBTQIA+ friendly
Awards: 3 wins and 2 nominations

Red State (2011)
Starring: Michael Parks, John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, Damian Young, Michael Angarano, Deborah Aquila, Nicholas Braun, Ronnie Connell, Kaylee DerFer, Joey Figueroa, Kyle Gallner, Anna Gunn, Matt Jones, John Lacy, Catherine McCord, Alexa Nikolas, Stephen Root, Cooper Thornton, Betty Aberlin, Kerry Bishe, Ralph Garman, Melissa Leo, Molly Livingston, James Parks, Haley Ramm, and many many others.
Director and Writer: Kevin Smith
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: 3 high school guys are looking to find sexual partners on the internet. One guy strikes up a flirtation with an older woman that leads to her agreeing to have sex with all 3 of them at the same time. She lives in a trailer out in the middle of the sticks. The guys realize too late that she is bait that the local religious cult leader put out. Soon the guys are the cult’s prisoners in their fortified compound. At the same time there have been a rash of murders in the area. The police chief appears to be more focused on his extramarital activities than on solving the crimes. The FBI gets called into the situation when there are reports that the cult has illegal firearms in their compound.
Impressions: The movie started out pretty well, but it quickly disintegrated into a mess. Kevin Smith did the editing and I have to shake my head at the end product. Some things were skipped over entirely and others, like the religious sermons and focusing on every worshipper’s face over and over again with little to no change, and the really drawn out part at the end with the FBI, were way too long. Michael Parks, John Goodman, and Kevin Pollak are all big stars, and I can’t help but think they owed Smith favors to get them to be in this. LOTS and LOTS of guns and lots of shooting of the guns. I feel a political message was trying to be conveyed here, but honestly, I don’t see any good guys on either side. The only ones being hurt were the innocent teenagers and the smaller children of the cult members.

I watched this after seeing “Tusk” last week; as in the special features disk, Kevin said that “Red State” was the predecessor to “Tusk.” Other than Parks being in both movies, I don’t see any similarity between these two.
Grade: 6
Etc.: per imdb:

The Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest Red State at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Kevin Smith in turn planned a counter protest which he and his fans took part in. At the premiere the counter-protesters heavily outweighed the handful of Westboro protesters who showed up. This occurred 12 years after Smith’s first film to tackle religious controversy, Dogma (1999), drew protests from certain sects of the Catholic Church, one of which Smith jokingly took part in himself.

Awards: 3 wins and 8 nominations

News of the World (2020)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor, Travis Johnson, Andy Kastelic, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Jeffrey Ware, Chris Bylsma, Justin Tade, Darrin Giossi, Brenden Wedner, and many many more.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Genres: western, action-adventure
Synopsis: Captain Kidd (played by Hanks) is a Civil War veteran who, instead of going back to his home after the war, decides to be a traveling newscaster. He carries newspapers from various places across the plains of TX. The town meets in their meeting space and Captain Kidd reads current events and occasionally addresses the crowd on other matters. He asks for a 10c donation, which earns him enough to get to the next town. Kidd has a routine set up for himself and is a familiar and welcomed face as he travels his circuit. His routine gets disrupted when he comes upon Johanna, a young girl who was kidnapped by the Kiowa tribe years prior after they killed her parents and sibling; but now her Kiowa family has also been killed and the rest of the tribe is being driven to forced settlement or worse. Johanna remembers very little of her life before living with the Kiowa tribe. When Kidd gets saddled with a road trip out of his way to return the girl to her biological relatives, it’s an interesting journey in many ways.
Impressions: I have yet to watch a Tom Hanks movie I didn’t like. He plays Captain Kidd with a genteel and sensitive spirit; just the kind of person that can reach a small girl who has had not one but two families taken from her. There is little sappiness or sentimentality in, “News of the World,” but that is not to say there is not great heart in it. I loved it and recommend it.
Grade: 8
Etc.: filmed in Santa Fe, NM
Awards: 5 wins and 79 nominations!
IMDB trivia:

Twelve-year-old German actress Helena Zengel first came to the attention of director Paul Greengrass after he had seen her dynamic performance in the acclaimed German film System Crasher (2019) at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. Greengrass was particularly impressed by how expressive her eyes were, as this is just what he needed for the role of Johanna who would have minimal dialogue in many of her scenes. Helena went on to attend casting calls in her hometown Berlin, and then in London where she formally met with the producer and director.

41 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed News of the World. I’ve been meaning to get to it.

    ‘I have yet to watch a Tom Hanks movie I didn’t like.’

    I fully agree with this. However, I haven’t watched Larry Crowne (2011), a movie many found very disappointing. Even Tom agred t wasn’t great. I remeber him telling a story about bumping into a fan who told him it was bad, so Tom offered to refund them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      There’s only one being that bats 1000 that I know of. I haven’t seen that one and probably won’t now 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember being surprised that it wasn’t considered good. Especially since Hanks and Julia Roberts are usually very reliable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lifelessons says:

    I remember that murder in Kansas so clearly. I was 12 years old and it haunted my thoughts and dreams and imagination for years, actually prompting this post a while ago: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/12/08/in-cold-blood/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Just finished reading your post about it and commenting there. I don’t remember it but I have known the name of the book for awhile. I remember reading “The Boston Strangler” when I was a young teenager and being unnerved by it.

      Like

      1. lifelessons says:

        I remember that, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. hanspostcard says:

    Have you seen Capote- with Phillip Seymour Hoffman – the greatest character actor of his generation?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I’m sure I’ve seen it but just don’t remember it. I do know that Toby fits the physical stature of Truman which makes a big difference. As I was reading at imdb last night, one person commented that Capote focuses on one part of the story and Infamous focuses on another so they should be considered a complementary set.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hanspostcard says:

        I’ve seen both and like both.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol anne says:

    good reviews ❤ thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      My pleasure!

      Like

  5. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    After Vic posted it the other day I watched it…I had seen parts of it before but he has Truman down perfect. I’ve seen interviews with Capote and it’s so much like him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      So happy you saw the movie. I thought it was so well done! I agree he channeled Capote in this movie.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. memadtwo says:

    I liked the book “News of the World” so much I’m reluctant to see the movie. But you make it sound appealing.

    I read “In Cold Blood” one night when I was a teenager. I couldn’t put it down, nor could I get to sleep after. It would be interesting to revisit it again. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I bet “News of the World” would be a fabulous book. I want to get to “In Cold Blood” sometime this year. Did you read the story Judy wrote about it (she put the link in her comment)?

      Like

      1. memadtwo says:

        That’s a great story. I understand her fears completely.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. J. says:

    The setting, Costner and Hutson are all I need to watch Yellowstone. It’s on my list. News of the World is on there too, but I just keep putting off actually watching it every time I log into Netflix to watch something.

    Shame Red State didn’t strike you in the same way Tusk did. I really like it, but I have a few friends who disagree with me. Also, your write up reminded me that it’s maybe a bit more violent than I remembered!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      To me, Yellowstone shows an insider’s look at a very different culture than I have any experience with. I’m learning a lot from it! If you watch it, let me know what you think.

      Red State is good for showing how bat sh*t crazy the religious cultists like Westboro are, as well as how lacking in ethics some government agencies are. I think with the right editing and adding a half-hour or more to the length to flesh out some parts of it, it could have been way better. There aren’t too many graphically violent scenes but each one is more intense. Lots of guns being shot though!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave says:

    Interesting reviews as always! I think I saw ‘Infamous’ years back and liked it, I didn’t remember the name but the story sounds like it. I couldn’t be bothered with ‘Red State’ when it came out, and reading your review, all the better off for it. I have an interesting “relationship” with Kevin Smith if you will. When ‘Clerks’ came out, somehow I was teh first kid on the block to find out about it and see it & I LOVED it. I worked in retail at the time, so I could relate, and I just was blown away at how low budget it was – his DIY approach . It inspired me in other arts – writing about things I knew for example. I liked Chasing Amy when it came out, I tried to like ‘Dogma’ but found only a few funny bits. Now, I still admire what he did on ‘Clerks’ – film it , release it himself in his own workplace – but it doesn’t grab me that much when I watch it and his others have kind of gone downhill from there. Film’s equivalent to the Sex Pistols perhaps – a trendsetter of importance but not a fantastic talent when it comes down to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks, Dave and glad you enjoyed the reviews. I have liked all of Kevin Smith’s movies up to seeing this one. I saw his Clerks rebooted last year and really enjoyed all of the cameos in it. Not sure if you saw my review last week on “Tusk” which came after “Red State”? Although the movie is a mindbender of the nth degree, it’s also an excellently conveyed story. I don’t blame you for skipping “Red State.” Did you see “News of the World”? I know you’re a Hanks fan and would love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave says:

    no, that one is new to me – don’ t think I’d heard of it – but I will see if I can give it a view!

    Like

  10. Jen Goldie says:

    Have fun with The NYC Challenge Li!!!!!! I know you’ll write something great! ☘📝💡🖋⭐☘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks, Jen! You too! I’m getting geeked up for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jen Goldie says:

        I’m feeling a little jittery but excited!!!
        I’m hoping I get a topic I can work with.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          I saw your name in the list! I’m registered under Jade Li.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Jen Goldie says:

            Oh good! What’s your genre? If don’t want to tell me its ok. Mine’s Suspence/Thriller..UGH!
            I have no ideas right now……..

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              My genre is romance. I don’t write much romance, so we’ll see what happens! Sorry you didn’t get a genre you connect with. Have you ever tried a random word generator? It might spark something for you…

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Jen Goldie says:

                I have something written. I keep tweaking it. Who knows LOL

                Liked by 1 person

                1. msjadeli says:

                  I sent mine in about an hour ago. Good luck with the tweaking. I have every confidence in you. You’ll know when it’s ready.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Jen Goldie says:

                    Thanks J. 😊💜

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Jen Goldie says:

                      Done and Done! 😊🤞

                      Liked by 1 person

          2. Jen Goldie says:

            I just saw your name on the list. Ahhh Romance! 🙂💜

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              Yes, and I’m not the most romantic person out there!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Jen Goldie says:

                LOL You’ll notice I write tons of Romantic “Stuff”.
                You can do it! 😊👍

                Liked by 1 person

                1. msjadeli says:

                  Thanks for the encouragement, Jen.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Jen Goldie says:

                    What are friends for.. 😊

                    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s interesting that in both Infamous and Capote it’s not just the Clutter murder story, but always Truman shoehorned in as the protagonist. Perhaps shoehorned is a harsh word, but I just find it weird that they don’t just tell the story of In Cold Blood. I understand that he’s a fascinating man, but it feels a little… exploitive? Maybe that’s not the right word either. I’m probably wrong – I haven’t watched either film – but I found it interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I agree that it is exploitive. I don’t remember the spin in Capote, but it’s absolutely highlighted in Infamous. Capote was many things and many not complimentary. I thought Infamous did a great job of showing his good, bad, and ugly sides.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s great to know – I’ll try to search Infamous out and tell you what I think!

        Liked by 1 person

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