Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Another short week with only 3 movies to review, but each one of these is pretty intense.
Black 47 (2018) Netflix
Starring: James Frecheville, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Andrew Bennett, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene, Jim Broadbent, and many more
Director: Lance Daly
Genres: action, drama
Synopsis: Set in Ireland during the Potato Famine (i.e. the black summer of 1847,) it tells the story of Feeney (Frecheville,) who has just returned home as a deserter. Up until deserting he was an Irish Ranger, a paid soldier who was fighting abroad for the British Army. When Feeney sees how the British have been taking food from starving Irish mouths and evicting Irish sharecroppers from land the British somehow own, he goes on a mission of payback. The English higher-ups sent Hannah (Weaving) on a mission to apprehend the trained killer Feeney. Hannah, no stranger to trouble himself, is ambivalent at best about attempting to catch Feeney, as, “he’s the best soldier I’ve ever seen.” (paraphrasing or verbatim, not sure which)
Impressions: Older son saw this one and recommended it to me. The landscapes range between stark and grim, saturated with images of suffering and death. It’s difficult to watch at times but I think it is also important that the information about how much worse the famine was than it needed to be gets out there. Frecheville is a formidable actor in this role. Feeney’s seething emotions are bubbling just under the surface, yet he’s very strategic and cool-headed when exacting his revenge. It was good to see Weaving in this.
Etc.: from imdb: The knife used by Martin Feeney is a kukri/khukuri. Originally from the Indian subcontinent, it is mostly associated with the Nepali speaking Gurkhas of Nepal and India. First seen by the British during the Anglo-Nepalese War or Gurkha War of 1814 – 1816.
Awards: 2 wins and 6 nominations
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domnhall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Maddalena Ischiale, Vincenzo Amato, John Magaro, Luke Treadaway, and many others.
Director: Angelina Jolie
Genres: action, biography, war
Synopsis: The story begins when Louis Zamperini (O’Connell) is just a young kid who has delinquent leanings when his older brother convinces him to take up running. This hobby not only straightens him out but takes him to the Olympics. Unfortunately World War II interrupts his upward trajectory and he becomes a soldier on bomber missions. When the plane goes down over the ocean, he and the survivors are rescued by Japanese military and are sent to a Japanese P.O.W. Camp under the command of a sadist, Watanabe, aka “The Bird.”
Impressions: Based on the life story of Louis Zamperini, it is a testament to human courage and endurance. It truly is a remarkable story. O’Connell is great in the starring role. Gleeson is another standout performance, as is Miyavi, the sadist camp overseer. The torture scenes are intense and difficult to watch.
Etc.: Filmed in 16 locations in Australia and 1 location in California.; per imdb: The real Louis Zamperini passed away on July 2, 2014. He was able to watch a rough cut of the film on director Angelina Jolie’s laptop while in the hospital before he passed.
Awards: 14 wins and 33 nominations
Captain Fantastic (2016) available on Netflix
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Elijah Stevenson, Teddy Van Ee, Erin Moriarty, Missi Pyle, Frank Langella, and many more.
Director: Matt Ross
Genres: comedy, drama
Synopsis: Ben (Mortensen) and Claire (Moriarty) are the parents of six or seven kids (sorry, can’t remember.) Claire has chronic mental health issues and as the story opens she is in inpatient treatment. Ben and the tribe live deep in the Pacific Northwest forest and are given an education that few children are privileged and blessed to receive anymore: survivalist training and a quality academic learning experience. The children at first glance appear feral but they are anything but that. They have learned to think for themselves but much of their beliefs are shaped by their unorthodox parents. Of course their ways of living and speaking are considered crazy and even dangerous by many, including their own extended family members. The plot surrounds the clash between the two schools of thought.
Impressions: I loved Mortensen in this role and it may be his finest performance to date. The way he parents his children is a true joy to behold. The kids are each charming in their own way. Frank Langella as the stern grandfather is another stellar performance.
Etc.: from imdb: The alternative lifestyle of the family seems very realistic in the film – this is actually a detail Viggo Mortensen especially paid attention to and questioned Matt Ross to make sure all the living components were accurate. Luckily for Matt Ross, he actually drew on his own childhood growing up with an alternative off-grid lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest, not at all dissimilar from that in the film. Warning: brief scene of full frontal male nudity.
Awards: 15 wins and 50 nominations