Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Let’s start with one I started to watch, “For Your Consideration” (2006) where I got close to halfway through when it froze and wouldn’t finish playing. It’s a comedy directed by Christopher Guest and written by Guest and Eugene Levy and stars Catherine O’Hara, Stephen Rannazzisi, Ed Begley, Jr., Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Christopher Moynihan, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Carrie Aizley, Stephen Courtney, Suzy Nakamura, Jim Piddock, and many many others. An imdb plot summary by firstname.lastname@example.org describes it as:
Hollywood send-up. No-name actors are making a low-budget period drama called “Home for Purim,” when an anonymous post on the Internet suggests that one performance is Oscar-worthy. Then, two more cast members get Oscar-related press: buzz in “Variety” and appearances on TV prompt the studio executives to insist on changes in the script in anticipation of a blockbuster. Jump ahead a few months to the days before Oscar nominees are announced: just the possibility of a nomination has changed the actors’ lives. Agents, publicists, make-up artists, local celebrity reporters, and other bit players round out the backstage ensemble. Hooray for Hollywood!
It’s clever, with often cutting dialogue and a lot of sight gags. Looking at the star-studded cast, think Second City TV and “This is Spinal Tap,” and you’ll have an idea of the flavor of the film. I liked what I saw of it but it wouldn’t be fair to rate it without seeing it all.
Cartel Land (2015)
Starring: Tim Nailer Foley, Jose Manuel ‘El Doctor’ Mireles, Paco Valencia, Chaneque, Caballo, Enrique Pena Nieto, Ana Valencia, Estanislao Beltránin, Janet Fields, Nicolas Sierra, Karla, Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, Maria Imilse Arrue, and Shawn Wilson
Director: Matthew Heineman
Synopsis: boots on the ground in the “combat zones” near the US border in Arizona and in and around Sonora, Mexico. Three main groups are focused on: 1) the Mexican drug cartels that pretty much terrorize the villages they operate out of and at least are alleged to often be in cahoots with local law enforcement to keep the drugs being manufactured and distributed both in Mexico and across the border. The cartels use terrorism such as hacking people to bits, killing field workers of farmers who won’t pay extortion fees, etc.; 2) the US self-dubbed vigilantes that patrol areas near the border to keep the lookouts and those who supply the lookouts with supplies from doing what they do. They are a ragtag bunch that don’t seem to have a lot of followers or resources, but they do have the passion and commitment to at least slow down their perceived encroachment across the borders by Mexican drug cartels with their terrorist behavior.; 3) the Autodefensas who are a well-organized, heavily-armed Mexican vigilante group that travels from village to village and organizes armed grass roots resistance to the cartels.
Impressions: The director did a good job of cranking up the tension as there are many shots of very dangerous situations where someone could have been killed at any time. The film also does an excellent job of being impartial when it shows all of the groups, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
Etc.: from imdb: Winner of the George Polk Award for documentary film in 2016. The prize is meant to honor reporters who advanced vital national conversations with their masterful investigative reporting. Filmed in 17 locations in Mexico and in AZ, US.
Awards: 19 wins and 37 nominations
Modern Times (1936)
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford, Chester Conklin, Hank Mann, Stanley Blystone, Al Ernest Garcia, Richard Alexander, and many more.
Director and Writer: Charlie Chaplin
Genres: comedy, silent, drama
Synopsis: Factory Worker (played by Chaplin) is little more than a living cog working in a giant factory with other living cogs on an assembly line where the line boss is always pushing the cogs to go faster. The big boss is always watching with his surveillance cameras. It becomes too much for Factory Worker and he has a nervous breakdown. While this is going on, A Gamin (i.e. street urchin) (played by Goddard) is stealing food to help her family from starving to death. When her father passes on, social services takes her younger siblings and she does what she can to get by. Factory Worker and Gamin meet, fall in love, and work together to try to build a life with each other.
Impressions: Chaplin and Goddard have great chemistry (they were in a relationship from 1932-1942) on screen. The special effects in the factory are amazing for the time this was made. It almost felt like a cartoon brought to life. So many hilarious scenes throughout, yet there is room for tender scenes as well. Chaplin is a flaming ball of energy and he wore me out just watching him.
Etc.: There are 78 bits of trivia at imdb, which you can find here.
Awards: 4 wins and 1 nomination
Hot Summer Nights (2017)
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Thomas Jane, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner, and many others.
Director and Writer: Elijah Bynum
Genres: comedy, crime, drama
Synopsis: Set in 1991, Daniel (played by Chalamet) is a young sheltered teenager sent to spend the summer with his aunt in Cape Cod. A shy misfit, his life changes drastically when he hooks up with Hunter (played by Roe) the older punk who lives on the wrong side of the tracks who is also the area’s pot dealer. Daniel has a good business head and convinces Hunter to become a bigger and better dealer. The two are doing well but conflicts arise when Daniel falls for Hunter’s sister and is warned to stay away from her or else. Further, Daniel’s greed, despite warnings, puts lives in danger.
Impressions: Although put into the comedy genre by imdb, I didn’t see much of it in this movie. There is a lot of heavy stuff going on in it. I liked the three leads, with Chalamet appearing comfortable with having the most screen time.
Etc.: May or may not have been filmed in Cape Cod.
Awards: 2 nominations
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey, Jr., Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin, Jane Alexander, Emmy Clarke, Genevieve McCarthy, Boris McGiver, Marceline Hugot, Mary Duffy, and many more.
Director: Steven Shainberg
Genres: Biography, drama
Synopsis: Set in 1958, Diane (pronounced DeeANN)(played by Kidman) is a wife, mother of two young daughters, and assistant of her husband, Allan (played by Burrell,) who run a photography studio in their large NYC apartment. They do mostly magazine spreads, but occasionally arrange parties where models wearing fur coats from her parents’ fur business promote them. She has a creative life in her head but pretty much fades into the wallpaper – until a new neighbor, Lionel, moves into the apartment just above theirs. He wears garments that hide everything but his eyes, which piques Diane’s curiosity. The bulk of the film shows Diane and Lionel developing a friendship that awakens the creative spirit within her. As her creative self spreads its wings, the blandness of her ordinary life and family recedes.
Impressions: My kind of movie! Deep, dark, and artsy. It reminds me in both plot and atmosphere of “The Shape of Water,” yet with important differences. Diane is a wealthy, extremely attractive woman who speaks and Lionel is absolutely not a gill breathing creature that lives underwater. The two apartments where most of the film takes place feel like two worlds – and they are. One feels sterile and the other a gateway to limitless potential. There is an important message to be taken from the film for those whose creative spirits are being stifled through circumstances. The love story is intense and unforgettable. Kidman and Downey, Jr. sizzle on the screen together. Burrell as the husband slowly losing his wife gives a great performance also.
Etc.: from imdb: The director’s uncle was a close friend of Diane. The film features no photographs by Diane Arbus. The Arbus estate denied approval to use her work in the film.
wikipedia information on Diane:
Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer. Arbus worked to normalize marginalized groups and highlight the importance of proper representation of all people. She worked with a wide range of subjects including; strippers, carnival performers, nudists, dwarves, children, mothers, couples, elderly people, and middle-class families. She photographed her subjects in familiar settings: their homes, on the street, in the workplace, in the park. “She is noted for expanding notions of acceptable subject matter and violates canons of the appropriate distance between photographer and subject. By befriending, not objectifying her subjects, she was able to capture in her work a rare psychological intensity.
Awards: 2 wins