Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It’s great to be back in the blogging saddle again. Hoping you’ll see one or two films you recognize, find intriguing, and/or plan to see. One change you might notice in the format is I’m restricting the number of cast to the top 5 or so. If you want to know who else is in it, you can search imdb.com.
Tender Mercies (1983)
Starring: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley, Ellen Barkin, Allan Hubbard
Director: Bruce Beresford
Genres: drama, music
Synopsis: Mac (Duvall) was a rising country music star when he left it all behind. Now he’s a drunk and a drifter. When he drifts into Rosa (Harper) and her young son’s (Hubbard) world, he begins a new chapter of his life and may even re-visit old chapters of it.
Impressions: Danged good character study, romance, and music-based film. Duvall and Harper give memorable performances as the two broken people who try to put the pieces back together with each others’ help.
Etc.: imdb trivia:
The film was originally released on March 4, 1983 in only three movie theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This was due perhaps in part to poor test screenings, which had caused Universal executives to lose faith in the film, but also because Universal Pictures had released the far more expensive and anticipated Scarface (1983) the same year, and was spending most of its advertising budget to promote that film instead. Willie Nelson was nonetheless one of several country performers who were impressed by the authenticity of Robert Duvall’s performance, and offered to help promote it. However, studio executives told Duvall that they did not understand how someone like Nelson could help publicize it. Duvall later reflected that this was indicative of the studio’s lack of understanding about both the genre and the film.
Awards: 9 wins and 14 nominations
Bonus Video! Let Marc Maron convince you to see, “Tender Mercies.”
Mao’s Last Dancer (2009)
Starring: Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Christopher Kirby, Suzie Steen, Kyle MacLachlan
Director: Bruce Beresford
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: anonymous summary from imdb:
A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.
Impressions: It’s a decent film with a plot that feels familiar for anyone who has watched many biopics of athletes, artists, etc. that grow up under an extremely repressive government and get a taste of a place that is free by comparison.
Etc.: Chi Cao, the star of the movie’s, parents were two of Cunxin Li’s former teachers at the Beijing Dance Academy. Li wanted Cao to portray him.
Awards: 7 wins and 20 nominations
Finding You (2020)
Starring: Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre, Katherine MacNamara, Patrick Bergin
Director: Brian Baugh
Genres: drama, romance
Synopsis: Finley (Reid) is a young adult violinist who has lost a big audition and decides to take a trip to Ireland to study abroad for a semester. The location of her semester abroad coincides with the making of another sequel in a series of fantasy adventure films that has Beckett (Goodacre) as the heartthrob star. Fate seems to keep throwing each of them in each other’s paths. Each are going through personal issues. As their friendship starts to turn into more, each finds a way through their barriers with each other’s support.
Impressions: Geared more as a young people movie, I still enjoyed its innocence. Lots of wonderful shots of Ireland in it. Very likeable leads and support cast.
Etc.: Irish movie filmed in 5 locations in Ireland as well as Nashville, TN, NYC, and Los Angeles, CA
Awards: 1 nomination
The Hurricane (1999)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Karah Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya
Director: Norman Jewison
Genres: drama, biography
Synopsis: Remember that Bob Dylan song about Hurricane Carter, the boxer who was convicted of murder? The Hurricane tells the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. 2.5 hours long, it gets into the nitty gritty of the story and sheds light on so many interesting and amazing facets of Mr. Carter’s life! I would strongly encourage anyone who has even a passing interest in the story to check this movie out.
Impressions: Denzel does a good job playing Carter. It felt good to learn much more about the framing, his personal idiosyncracies, and the way others made it their mission to put and keep him behind bars; yet more importantly those who became devoted to getting him free from his wrongful conviction.
Etc.: The Hurricane is considered the third and final part of a loose trilogy of racism-themed films directed by Norman Jewison. The first two were In the Heat of the Night (1967) and A Soldier’s Story (1984.)
Awards: 7 wins and 18 nominations
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden
Director: Mick Jackson
Genres: biography, drama
Synopsis: excellent synopsis found at imdb:
Based on the acclaimed book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” DENIAL recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s (Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz) legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (Cannes Award winner Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system in Defamation, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. Also starring two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson, the film is directed by Emmy Award winner Mick Jackson (“Temple Grandin”) and adapted for the screen by BAFTA and Academy Award nominated writer David Hare (THE READER). Producers are Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff. Written by Bleecker Street
Impressions: This is a cerebral yet emotional courtroom drama that brings history to life. The thought that the trial really happened still stuns me. The drastic difference between the English legal system and American system made it particularly interesting to watch as they developed strategy for their case. Weisz and Wilkinson are both riveting in their performances. Spall is also but more difficult to praise him because he is such a worm of a character in this. It was good to learn about this piece of history; it needs to be taught in school.
Etc.: 10 filming locations, including: Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Oswiecim, Malopolskie, Poland; London; and Atlanta, GA, USA
Awards: 7 nominations