Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! There’s a good eclectic mix this week.
The French Connection (1971)
Starring: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcell Bozzuffi, Frederic La Pasquale, Bill Hickman, Ann Rebbot, Harold Gary, and many more.
Director: William Friedkin
Genres: crime, action
Synopsis: Popeye Doyle and Cloudy Russo (played by Hackman and Scheider) are two tough NYC undercover cops in the 1970’s who keep their eyes and ears open when they aren’t harassing the citizens and making petty busts. One night after work, the two are enjoying a toddy in a club when Popeye notices a table of what looks like mafia types that gets his curiosity going. Following clues and instincts these two start to see the makings of a major criminal event about to happen that involves some French players (hence the title.) These two guys are like pit bulls in holding on to what’s about to go down and desperate to get the higher-ups to believe them and give them the backup they need. The movie’s focus remains on catching the bad guys and chasing them down every which-way.
Impressions: Back in its day this was a trendsetting movie with many others trying to capture the gritty inner city atmosphere in movies that followed. Hackman give it his all as Popeye, the noble underappreciated police officer that lives to keep the streets safe with Buddy his loyal partner by his side every step of the way. I like it as an historical document more than anything else.
Etc.: lots of good trivia is to be found at imdb
Awards: 22 wins and 12 nominations
The film is based on actual events described in the book ‘The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy’ written by Robin Moore in 1969. According to director William Friedkin, the film is an “impression of that case” that took place between 7 October 1961 and 24 February 1962. Detectives Jimmy Doyle (Gene Hackman and Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) were based on the real officers on the case, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso. Although their real names were changed for the movie, Egan and Grosso were actually nicknamed ‘Popeye’ and ‘Cloudy’ like their counterparts in the movie.
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Michael Caine, Joaquin Phoenix, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Malahide, Amelia Warner, Jane Menelaus, Stephen Moyer, Tony Pritchard, Michael Jenn, and many others.
Director: Philip Kaufman
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: a synopsis written by Emily H and Janette W at imdb synopsizes it perfectly:
The infamous writer, the Marquis de Sade (played by Rush) of eighteenth century France, is imprisoned at Charenton Insane Asylum (which is still open for business to this day!) for unmentionable activities. He manages to befriend the young Abbé de Coulmier (played by Phoenix,) who runs the asylum, along with a beautiful laundress named Madeline (played by Winslet.) Things go terribly wrong when the Abbe finds out that the Marquis’ books are being secretly published. Emperor Napoleon contemplates sending Dr. Royer-Collard (played by Caine) to oversee the asylum, a man famed for his torturous punishments. It could mean the end of Charenton and possibly the Marquis.
Impressions: As the plot unfolded it became clear to me that the Marquis, who died at age 74 and who spent 32 of those years locked up in asylums and prisons, was more of a political prisoner than anything. The battle of wills continued between him and those in power who were willing to do whatever it took to silence his scathing political commentary that was often couched in sexually deviant scenarios. It was thrilling to watch how the Marquis was able to one-up his opponents again and again, but very sad to realize what a disadvantage he was at being locked in solitary and that over time how it played out for him. Not only does it show how his behavior affected him, the spotlight in the film also shone on the Abbe’, a kind-hearted man who is trying to resist his own lustful self, and the real sadist in this scenario, Dr. Royer-Collard. Great cast with believable performances by all. Rush as the Marquis was a standout performance. I think the real Marquis would have been pleased by it. I was impressed with the meticulous attention to small details in the film. It made me feel like I was there with them all in the asylum.
Etc.: warning: several scenes of graphic violence and other shocking acts; the tune that the Marquis de Sade keeps humming throughout this movie is the French children’s song “Au Clair de la Lune” by Jean-Baptiste Lully, the second line of which becomes increasingly relevant, roughly translated, it is “lend me your quill so I can write a word.”
Awards: 18 wins and 45 nominations
Concrete Cowboy (2020) netflix
Starring: Idris Elba, Lorraine Toussaint, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Method Man, Byron Bowers, Ivannah-Mercedes, Jamil Prattis, Charles W. Harris III, Liz Priestly, and many more.
Director: Ricky Staub
Synopsis: Cole (played by McLaughlin) and his mother, Amahle (played by Priestly) live in Detroit after having left Philadelphia years prior. Cole keeps getting into fights at school and is facing expulsion. His mother can’t keep taking off time from work to deal with his ongoing drama that, according to him, is never his fault. She decides to ask Cole’s dad, Harp (played by Elba,) who is still in Philly if Cole can spend the summer with him – unbeknownst to Cole! – who only finds out when he notices his packed bags in the back seat of the car as mom drives out of town. He started with a bad attitude that goes off the charts as mom pretty much abandons him in the street in front of his dad’s house after she confirms dad’s on his way home. He quickly learns that his dad has a much different parenting style than mom does. He also learns dad is a real live cowboy and that horses are ridden freely in Philadelphia. Of course a little more conflict cranks things up when his childhood friend, Smush (played by Jerome,) who drives a nice car, enters the picture. It becomes a tug of war between life with dad and the cowboys or a dangerous street life for Cole. Who or what will win?
Impressions: “Concrete Cowboy” is so much better than I imagined it was going to be. It is about as for real for real as it is going to get with the neighborhoods, the parenting relationships, the tug of war, the street crimes, incarcerations, etc. It is also much much more. It shows how the stables, the horses, and the riders bond with each other in a wholesome way, where the younger riders learn from older positive role models in what essentially is in the middle of a war zone with the main enemies being dead-end or no jobs, old homes and buildings in various states of disrepair, and the ever-encroaching gentrification that is trying to drive the poor from their neighborhoods. I love love love the relationship between Harp and Cole. I also like the way they depicted the police officer, Leroy (played by Method Man,) in this. Leroy has grown up in the neighborhood and knows everyone. He also has a genuine affection for the stable and its purpose. We need more police like Leroy!!!!!!!!! Be ready with the Kleenex! I recommend anyone who works with inner city juveniles have your kids watch this movie. Hell, have their parents watch it too. It’s a template for healing in so many ways.
Etc.: The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club really exists! At least a few real people who are a part of it are in the movie. Please find out more about this amazing century-old organization here.
Awards: 1 win (deserves so many more!)
Promising Young Woman (2020)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Adam Brody, Ray Nicholson, Sam Richardson, Timothy E. Goodwin, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Alli Hart, Loren Paul, Scott Aschenbrenner, Bo Burnham, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Chris Lowell, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, and many more
Director and Writer: Emerald Fennell
Genres: crime, drama, feminism
Synopsis: Cassie, medical school dropout, almost thirty, still living at home with her parents (played by Brown and Coolidge,) in a dead-end job at a coffee shop and refusing offers for promotions, is still grieving her best friend. What her parents and Gail, her co-worker (played by Cox,) don’t know is that late at night she dolls herself up and goes to clubs and pretends to get falling down drunk as bait to unscrupulous men who don’t think twice about exploiting a vulnerable female. Once the men take the bait she flips the script on them to teach them up close and personal what b*stards they are for doing it. When Ryan (played by Burnham,) an old med-school colleague, randomly drops into the coffee shop and ends up asking for a date, Cassie’s life appears to take a turn on a healthy path. But can she get past her grief?
Impressions: From where I left off on the synopsis, where things were proceeding in a fairly predictable fashion, things go off the hook in a big way. You’ll note I included feminism in the genre section. Cassie is one that knows how to take the bull by the horns then ride that sucker all over town. It’s my belief that any females who watch this movie will cheer at Carrie’s actions and probably a fair-to-middling percentage of the men will also. Watching this movie brought shock and discomfort to my senses in several ways, probably mostly because Carrie does things many women have thought about doing when encountering these types of men — and I daresay ALL women have encountered at least one of them — but haven’t chosen to act on. I love the way this film depicts the difficulty in holding date rapists accountable at many institutional levels, especially if the rapist has wealth or other social standing. The lengths Carrie is willing to go is difficult to forget once seen.
Etc.: from imdb:
The title is likely a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. The judge sentenced him to only six months in prison on the basis that he was a “promising young man.”;
there is a lot of good trivia at imdb: ; warning: at least one scene of graphic and/or disturbing violence.
Awards: 109 wins and 169 nominations