Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It’s a kind of odd, eclectic mix this time. One of the films has a single digit spine # in the Criterion Collection, which is pretty amazing. Please let me know if you’ve seen any of them or if not, any pique your interest.
The Nest (2020)
Starring: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Oona Roche, Charlie Shotwell, Tanya Allen, Tattiawna Jones, Marcus Cornwell, Wendy Crewson, Michael Culkin, Adeel Akhtar, Annabel Leventon, Peter Hamilton Dyer, Bamshad Abedi-Amin, Oliver Gatz, and many others.
Director and Writer: Sean Durkin
Genres: drama (and romance, per imdb, but I just don’t see it)
Synopsis: Set in the 1980’s, Rory O’Hara (played with passion by Law) is a charismatic entrepreneur originally from London. The story opens with Rory and his family: wife, Allison (played by Coon,) daughter, Sam (played by Roche,) and son, Ben (played by Shotwell,) living in a fairly decent home where all family members seem relatively content in their daily lives – except for Rory. He drops the bomb on the family that they are relocating to London as his old company has a great position waiting for him. The family gets triggered into resistance, as it soon becomes apparent that this is not the first time Rory has uprooted his family on a wild hare. They all go, resistance intact, and move into a rambling, crumbling country estate that is far from the action and far above their means. Things go from awkward to downright gloomy as a domino of events begins to fall.
Impressions: I’m not sure what the title is supposed to represent in the movie. It almost sounds like a horror film, but this isn’t horror. It’s more like a growing malaise that permeates everything. Don’t expect any sunshine from this one. The events that unfold were difficult for me to connect with, as they do not take place in any realm I’m familiar with. For example, high stakes stock brokerage; start-up acquisitions’; rich dinner parties where business deals are made; pushy, desperate wannabes; sprawling mansions that feel abandoned; horse ownership and care. What does feel familiar is the emasculating wife, the obnoxious teenager, and the neurotic boy. I like Coon as an actress, but I did not like her character in this at all. This is the kind of movie where it is difficult to find someone to root for. I did find the ending somewhat surprising and satisfying.
Etc.: filmed in Canada and the UK;
Awards: 5 wins and 22 nominations
Starring: Nick Robinson, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Yun, Jimmi Simpson, Paul Blott, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Daniel David Stewart, Kenneth Miller, Alexandra Shipp, Katie Aselton, Lexi Rabe, David DeLao, Beth Bailey, Mark Silversten, Will Ropp, Jason Coviello, Paul Walter Hauser (Keith on Kingdom!) and many more.
Director: Tiller Russell
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: Ross (played by Robinson) is a very bright 20-something who has an idea that he turns into Silk Road, a “dark net website” where people can anonymously buy illegal drugs using cryptocurrency to avoid detection and prosecution. Rick (played by Clarke) is a police officer who has bungled some big things in his department. Yet he’s close to retirement so they assign him to a desk job in the cyber crimes unit until he’s put in enough time to get the gold watch. The thing is, Rick isn’t the kind of cop who just sits around playing solitaire on his desk computer or twiddling his thumbs. Rick is a pit bull who has picked up on some suspicious online activity and ends up pretty much acting alone to try to bring to justice and shut down this exponentially growing international hub for illegal drugs that unfortunately has expanded to other unsavory illegal items being bought and sold.
Impressions: “Silk Road” is what I characterize as a “B” movie, not high budget. Still worthy of a watch if you want to learn more about the dark net. I like Jason Clarke as an actor. I hope he gets a breakthrough role soon. Robinson and Clarke are both good in it.
Etc.: filmed in New Mexico; The afterword in the credits said this is based on a real person who is currently in prison for a very long time. Rotten Tomatoes said, “Inspired by larger-than-life actual events…” I was very surprised to find an entry in wikipedia about Ross.
Awards: too soon
A Night to Remember (1958) Criterion Collection spine #7
Starring: Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Anthony Bushell, John Cairney, Jill Dixon, Jane Downs, James Dyrenforth, Michael Goodliffe, Kenneth Griffith, Harriette Johns, Frank Lawton, Richard Leech, David McCallum, Alec McCowen, Tucker McGuire, John Merivale, Ralph Michael, and many others.
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: A very short imdb synopsis:
“On its maiden voyage in April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.”
This movie, that clocks in at 2 hours and 3 minutes, takes the audience through the series of events just prior to the ship setting sail, events that led to the ship hitting the iceberg, and the many events that happened afterwards, including attempts to get other ships to come and save survivors once sinking became imminent. It also shows the ship sinking and what happened afterwards. The chronology is admirably detailed and gives the viewer a comprehensive awareness of what happened. How the people on the boat were chosen for the insufficient number of lifeboats is focused on. How various individuals on the ship reacted to the news that the ship was going to sink was examined. The leadership and how it was or was not effective is covered.
Impressions: This is a quality film that spared no expense in bringing the experience up close and personal. How they were able to film it so realistically is impressive. The special features disk interviews the author of the book the movie was based on and how meticulously he researched for it. The director (?) talked about how it was filmed and there are a lot of archived clips of the making of it. If you have any interest at all in the sinking of the Titanic, this film is a must-see. It brings history to life.
Etc.: There were at least a few of the actual survivors in the movie; filmed in England and Scotland; budget was ~$1.7 million; there is a wealth of trivia at imdb on the movie.
Awards: 2 wins and 3 nominations
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Eve Hewson, Eli A. Smith, Josh Hamilton, Lucy Walters, Luna Jokic, Kyle MacLachlan, Dan Bittner, David Kallaway, Karl Geary, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and many more.
Director and Writer: Michael Almereyda
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: Tesla (played by Hawke) is a brilliant oddball from Serbia who gets pulled into the race for who will put electricity in homes across America. The competition is between alternating current and direct current and the players are Westinghouse and JP Morgan. Tesla is shown here as not caring as much for the politics and who will get rich as much as on advancing his work with electric current. He is exploited by several people who take his ideas and his patents and get very wealthy. He is not good with people but he does catch the eye of Morgan’s daughter, Anne (played by Hewson.)
Impressions: I saw “The Current War” which is another movie about Tesla that was very well done and had a bigger budget, but I liked the way Tesla was portrayed in this one. In the other movie the focus was on the current war, whereas this one is more focused on Tesla the man. Also it has some nice artsy flourishes in it that I enjoyed very much. Hawke is really good in it, as is Hewson.
Etc.: per imdb:
Ethan Hawke is the fourth actor to have portrayed Nikola Tesla in a feature film after David Bowie in The Prestige (2006,) Nicholas Hoult in The Current War (2017,) and Petar Bozovic in The Secret of Nikola Tesla (1980.)
Awards: 1 win
French Exit (2020)
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Valerie Mahaffery, Susan Coyne, Imogen Poots, Danielle MacDonald, Isaach De Bankole’, Daniel di Tomasso, Eddie Holland, Matt Holland, Christine Lan, Robert Higden, Larry Day, and many more
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Genres: comedy, drama
Synopsis: short blurb by imdb:
“An aging Manhattan socialite living on what’s barely left of her inheritance moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son and cat.”
Frances (played by Pfeiffer) and her son, Malcolm (played by Hedges) live in a fancy schmancy place with their cat and spend what they wish – until the administrator comes and tells Frances she’s out of dough. He suggests she liquidate everything before creditors take it away. She is offered the apartment in Paris that a friend owns but doesn’t get to visit much. She and her son and the cat leave America with her carrying a box of cash that can get them by for awhile and maybe a long time if rationed properly. But any restraint is not Frances’ way. Lucas is peeved at leaving America as he was just about to drop the bomb on mom that he was getting engaged to Susan (played by Poots;) but he loves his mom and is a rather aimless, pampered young man with no means of supporting himself so he goes to Paris and leaves Susan behind. The rest of the film revolves around Frances squandering what cash is left and Malcolm mooning over Susan. Oh, and they meet a cavalcade of interesting, quirky characters that make things not so bad and so much more interesting. There are some “woo-woo moments” in it as well.
Impressions: This is an artsy type of movie but it’s also got a very good mother-son relationship story to it. Pfeiffer is full of attitude. Hedges got a plum role as Malcolm. It’s always nice to see Poots in a movie. There is a lot of fairly decent dialogue. The settings are small and intimate (and posh.)
Etc.: filmed in Paris, per imdb:
A “French exit” – also known as a “French leave” – is a slang term for leaving an engagement or situation without warning or without saying goodbye.
Awards: 1 win and 7 nominations