Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! At least two of these were chosen after reading reviews by others in Hanspostcard’s Movie Draft that I’ve been participating in for the past 11 weeks or so.
Starring: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr, Mark Roberts, Ludwig Donath, Donald Douglas, and many more.
Director: Charles Vidor
Genres: drama, noir
Synopsis: Set in Argentina in the 1940’s (but actually filmed in Hollywood) Johnny (played by Ford) a 2-bit street hustler, arrives in the casino town and happens to come to the attention of Ballin (played by Macready) who owns the casino and who also has his hand in other criminal enterprises. Ballin sees an unpolished gem in Johnny and offers to teach Johnny the casino business; before long Johnny is his right-hand man. Johnny and Ballin make a good team – until Ballin goes on vaca and comes back with a wife, the vivacious and irresistible Gilda (played by Hayworth.) The capriciousness of fate reveals that Johnny and Gilda are ex-lovers and now have a mutually intense love-hate for each other. The empire begins to wobble.
Impressions: It’s a stylish black & white movie where the glamor and intensity of the actors makes it hard to take your eyes off of the screen. The costumes for Gilda and the men are worth watching the movie for by themselves. I like how they interject some politics about valuable resources and monopolies on them. The antagonism between Johnny and Gilda gets a little tiresome. I like the character of Uncle Pio (played by Geray) who brought some relief and humor to the film. I enjoyed the musical numbers and was surprised to learn that Hayworth was lip-synching.
Etc.: per imdb: When Gilda is brought back to Argentina by Tom, she slaps Johnny hard across both sides of his face. In reality, Rita Hayworth’s smacks broke two of Glenn Ford’s teeth. He held his place until the take was finished.
Awards: 1 win and 1 nomination
Le Samourai (1967)
Starring: Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Jacques Leroy, Michel Boisrond, and many more
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: Jef (played by Delon) is an experienced hit man that successfully kills a night club owner, and the hit goes off flawlessly except for one thing: those who hired him are now trying to kill him. Jef isn’t one to leave loose ends and begins a search to get them before they get him. There’s also a hot singer-pianist (played by Rosier) that gets thrown into the intrigue.
Impressions: This is what I would call a minimalist film. Not a huge amount of dialogue. More about you following this silent and enigmatic man about town doing what he does. It feels more like art than cinema. There is a lot of repetition in it as he haunts the same areas but there is a calming effect in the repetition.
Etc.: French movie with English subtitles; from imdb: The start of the film is completely dialog-free for almost ten minutes. The first word, “Jef?” spoken by Jane Lagrange (Nathalie Delon,) comes at the 9:58 mark.
Awards: 1 win and 3 nominations
The Prestige (2006)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Samantha Mahurin, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, and many others.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Genres: drama, mystery
Synopsis: Set in London at the end of the 19th century, the film revolves around the rivalry between two magicians, Angier (played by Jackman) and Borden (played by Bale.) Their rivalry has personal origins and becomes obsession for each to one-up the other with amazing new tricks that draw audiences in to watch. There are casualties along the way. When one of them gets ahold of a device created by Tesla (played by Bowie) it notches things up to a whole new level.
Impressions: I enjoyed this movie in so many ways. The cast is superior; the sets are always entertaining and creative; the passions that drive the characters is mesmerizing to watch. I like the twists and turns in the plot with some real whiz-bang reveals along the way. Nolan isn’t considered one of the top directors out there for nothing. I loved seeing David Bowie playing the part of Tesla!
Awards: 6 wins and 45 nominations
Chung Ling Soo was a stage character created by William Ellsworth Robinson, a white man who disguised himself as a Chinese man to cash in on audiences’ enthusiasm for the exotic. Robinson lived as Chung, never breaking character while in public. He died in March 1918, when a bullet-catch trick went wrong. “My God, I’ve been shot” were both his last words and the first English he had spoken on stage in nineteen years.
Force of Nature (2020)
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Mel Gibson, David Zayas, Kate Bosworth, Stephanie Cayo, Tyler Jon Olson, Jorge Luis Ramos, William Catlett, Blas Sien Diaz, and several more.
Director: Michael Polish
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: Set in FL in a high rise during a super storm that hits during the action, the plot focuses on three groups that end up converging in the building. The first group is a pair of cops, Cardillo and Pena (played by Hirsch and Cayo) that are sent with a van to go to buildings to help people evacuate because of the storm. The second group are sociopathic criminals led by John (played by Zayas) that are looking for art worth millions that is owned by an ex-Nazi that lives in the building. The third group are the residents themselves and includes Ray (played by Gibson,) a sick old man who refuses to leave; his daughter, Troy, the doctor (played by Bosworth) who begs the cops to help her get her dad to the hospital; Griffin (played by Catlett) a nice guy with an unusual pet; and Bergkamp (played by Ramos) the man with the million dollar artwork. It’s a cat and mouse game throughout and lots of people die. There is also a sub-plot with the cops, the residents, and their stories as well as a budding romance developing between Cardillo and Troy.
Impressions: The movie does have some things going for it. I like the diversity of the high-rise dwellers. Hirsch grew on me as the plot unfolded. They try to go sensitive with some of the story lines, but it feels incongruous in the middle of a devastating tropical storm tearing things up while being hunted in the building by maniacs with AK47’s.
Etc.: The director and Kate Bosworth are husband and wife.
Awards: none known