Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Hoping you’ve seen some of these or are enticed to see one.
Fantastic Fungi (2019) netflix
Starring: Brie Larson, Andrew Weil, Giuliana Furci, Paul Stamets, Art Goodtimes, Jay Harman, Peter McCoy, Bill Richards, John Stamets, Roland Griffiths, and several more.
Director: Louie Schwartzberg
Synopsis: blurb lifted directly from imdb:
Fantastic Fungi is a descriptive time-lapse journey about the magical, mysterious and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth that began 3.5 billion years ago.
Impressions: The show is a visual feast as much as a primer on what fungi are and how underappreciated they are as the “earth’s digestive system.” By the end of the show you understand at least how integral and indispensable they are to the ecosystem. I’d seen Stamets on a TED Talk before and was impressed with him. Like the fungi, he may have been an underappreciated oddball before, but he’s getting some well-deserved recognition these days. I loved watching every bit of this 81-minute documentary.
Etc.: Filmed mostly along the west coast of the US and in British Columbia, Canada.
Awards: 1 nomination
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gerry Robert Byrne, Elijah Wood, Thomas Jay Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams, David Cross, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, and many more.
Director: Michel Gondry
Genres: drama, romance
Synopsis: Clementine (Winslet) and Joel (Carrey) are a couple that may or may not be mismatched. Set in a future where memories of another person can be meticulously wiped out of one’s brain, Clementine decides she wants to wipe Joel from her memory. The big questions in the film are whether or not compatibility and love can be controlled and whether Clementine and Joel will, or even should, stay together.
Impressions: Thanks to Liam for convincing me to see this one. I enjoyed the movie but it does get irritating in how it keeps jumping around in time. There’s a lot of absurdity in it that is entertaining. There’s a very good support cast, most of them in the roles of the memory-wiping service. Philosophical questions that consider the ethics of such a practice and the competence of those performing the service are covered. In a stretch, this could be a velvet gloves discussion of lobotomy.
Etc.: from imdb:
Virtually all of the most bizarre and fascinating scenes in this movie were created with old fashioned camera, editing, lighting, and prop and set tricks. The use of digital effects was very limited. The striking kitchen scene with Joel as a child was created with an elaborate forced perspective set-up similar to some used by Peter Jackson in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Awards: 73 wins and 111 nominations
The Kid Detective (2020)
Starring: Kately Chalmers-Rizatto, Adam Brody, Kaleb Horn, Wendy Crewson, Jonathan Whittaker, Brent Skagford, Steve Gagne, Giovanna Moore, Jesse Noah Gruman, and more.
Director and Writer: Evan Morgan
Genres: comedy, drama, young teens level mystery
Synopsis: Abe (Brody) was a child detective in his small town who helped solve a big case. The town rewarded him with his own office and the ice cream shoppe guaranteed free ice cream for life. Now Abe is 32 and going nowhere fast. He has become an embarrassment to his family and a laughingstock of the town. When Gracie (Chalmers-Rizatto,) a very serious high-schooler comes to his office and asks Abe to help her solve her boyfriend’s murder, the case becomes a vehicle to redeem Abe.
Impressions: I saw a trailer of this on another DVD and thought Brody looked cute and so borrowed it. Right away I noticed that no matter if Brody was cute or not, the movie isn’t funny and it’s targeting young high-schoolers as the audience. If you have a kid this age, they would probably enjoy it but no guarantees. Wow, just checked and it has an R-rating. Nevermind.
Etc.: filmed in North Bay, Ontario, Canada
Awards: 5 nominations
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) Kari-gurashi no Arietti (original title)
Starring: (English voices) Luke Allen-Gale, Stephen Alpert, Moises Arias, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, Ray Gillon, David Henrie, Peter Jason, Karey Kirkpatrick, Phyllida Law, Frank Marshall, Geraldine McEwan, Gracie Moore, Amy Poehler, Dale Sison, Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong.
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Genres: children’s anime (and for adults who like anime)
Synopsis: A young boy who has heart problems and is pending an important surgery that he might not survive comes to stay at the family’s country home that his aunt owns but visits infrequently. An older female servant takes care of the boy. Also living in the house are a family of “borrowers,” very small (4” tall) people who live under the house. They are called borrowers because they borrow things from the humans. They are secretive and are experts at not being seen – until Arrietty is accidentally seen by the boy. Once discovered, the borrowers must move on to another place as it’s too dangerous to stay. The bulk of the film revolves around avoiding being discovered and the growing friendship between Arrietty and the boy.
Impressions: It’s a cute story, suitable for any audience. It’s slow-paced. The anime is well-done. I like how they brought the myth to life. It also does a good job of showing sensitivity to those in fragile health as well as tolerance for those who are different than us. The housekeeper shows intolerance for the borrowers, but the boy is accepting of their presence.
Etc.: Hayao Miyazaki is a producer on the film and the style of the anime is that of Miyazaki ; The story takes place in 2010 in western Tokyo’s neighborhood of Koganei. Koganei is also where Studio Ghibli is located; Seven million five hundred thousand people saw this movie in theaters, an all-time record in Japan for a movie with a first time director; the film’s budget was $23 million and its cumulative worldwide gross is over $145 million.
Awards: 12 wins and 6 nominations
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, and many many more.
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Genres: psychedelic surrealism, “comedy”, PR for Mexican vacas
Synopsis: Barb and Star (Wiig and Mumolo) are gabby, airhead, best friend widows who lose their jobs at a furniture store and decide to take a vacation to Vista Del Mar together. They are unwittingly drawn into a revenge plot to destroy the town by a crazed villain that bears an uncanny likeness to Mike Myers as Dr. Evil who sends her handsome but clueless puppy dog henchman (Dornan) to Vista Del Mar to carry out the nefarious plot.
Impressions: I would not recommend this movie to anyone that isn’t stoned out of their minds on psychedelics. The bright colors, the surreal plot, the insipid dialogue might work that way. I don’t like to trash movies, but one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Jamie Dornan, what were you thinking by agreeing to be in this movie!?
Etc.: filmed in Mexico and the US
Awards: 3 nominations
Layer Cake (2004)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Jamie Foreman, Sally Hawkins, Burn Gorman, Brinley Green, George Harris, Tamer Hassan, Colm Meaney, Marcel Iures, Francis Magee, Dimitri Andreas, Kenneth Cranham, Garry Tubbs, and many more.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genres: Action, Crime
Synopsis: XXXX (Craig) is a successful mid-level drug dealer looking to retire from the business, but he’s given an unpleasant assignment of finding the daughter of the big boss’ business associate. There is a convoluted plot in this layered cake of English organized crime where it takes the right people working with you and sharp savvy to not only survive but to vanquish those who would stand in your way to the top.
Impressions: I read somewhere that it was Craig’s role in this movie that led to his being chosen to play James Bond. He’s at his sexy finest here and shows his chops in being able to handle a leading role. This is a tough and thrilling crime movie that will keep your interest. You have to pay attention to follow the plot. Great support cast in here with standouts being George Harris and Colm Meaney.
Etc.: UK film, set in UK; English writer JJ Connolly wrote both the novel and the screenplay for the movie. The first draft of the screenplay was four hundred eight pages long. The book on which it was based is three hundred forty-four pages.
Awards: 2 wins and 9 nominations