Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! This installment has quite an eclectic mix, but what else is new. Hoping you find something you’ve seen, read/watch something that makes you want to see something that you haven’t, or reminds you of something wonderful. As you might guess, I watched movies all of November, so I am way ahead of watching and way behind in reviewing. It’s not great, as the freshness of my impressions can wear off. Hoping I’ll catch up or keep it interesting anyway. That said, here we go!
Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genres: film-noir, mystery
Synopsis: Dr. Peterson (Bergman) is a staff psychiatrist at a large inpatient psychiatric hospital. As the story begins, Dr. Murchison (Carroll) is retiring and a new Chief of Staff, Dr. Edwards (Peck,) has just arrived. The astute Dr. Peterson discerns that Dr. Edwards isn’t who he says he is. At the same time, she has fallen head-over-heels in love with him. What is presented is a great mystery that needs to be solved, and Dr. Peterson, with a little help from a friend, is able to help unravel it.
Impressions: I really enjoyed watching Bergman at the helm in, “Spellbound.” Peck as the brooding Dr. Edwards is perfect for his role. There are also great supporting roles in Carroll and Chekhov. Despite this film being over 75 years old – yes! 75 years old! – it stands the test of time. I love it having the psychiatric angle, dream interpretation, and how cleverly it is all put together. Thanks to Liam at Panorama of the Mountains for his review of it that piqued by interest.
Etc.: from imdb:
The dream sequence was designed by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and was originally supposed to run slightly longer. It included a scene in a ballroom with hanging pianos and still figures pretending to dance, followed by John Ballantyne (Gregory Peck) dancing with Dr. Petersen (Ingrid Bergman), who then turns into a statue. In order to create the illusion of a room of great size, little people were used in the background on a scaled-down set, which did not satisfy Alfred Hitchcock or Dali. The sequence was cut from the final movie, due to lack of time. Only part of it was filmed, and even less of it ended up in the released version.
Awards: 5 wins and 6 nominations
The Harder They Fall (2021) (Spanish title: Más dura será la caída) Netflix
Starring: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beets, Edi Gathegi, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Genres: western, action, drama
Synopsis: Everyone for the most part is an outlaw but there are good guys and bad guys – or are there? Nat Love (Majors) and Mary Fields (Beets) were long ago lovers who reconnect. Their gangs join forces when it comes to stopping Rufus Buck (Elba,) one badass hombre who somehow was released from prison. Nat has good reasons for wanting revenge on Rufus. Rufus is an imposing and shrewd enemy who has some real dangerous gunmen in his corner – yet so do Nat and Mary.
Impressions: I really enjoyed these cowboys with aptitude and attitude. I was a bit upset to see Elba playing a villain, but he gives this villain a little texture, which I liked seeing. Lots of star power is in the engine of it. I had seen Majors star in “Lovecraft Country” and knew he’d do well in this one as the lead. Keep your eyes on him. He’s got a big future in cinema.
Etc.: Nat Love, Mary Fields, Rufus Buck, Cherokee Bill, Bill Pickett, Jim Beckworth and Bass Reeves are all real historical figures of the old west.
Awards: 2 wins and 8 nominations
Mysteries of Mental Illness (2021) PBS mini-series (4 episodes)
Writer: Peter Yost
Synopsis: There are 4 episodes and iirc correctly each one is either 90 minutes or 2 hours long. E1 “Evil or Illness” looks at how the mentally ill were regarded historically. Two main schools were possession by the devil or a physical malady that needed physical healing. Both were given “treatments” that often left the patient dead. E2 “Who’s Normal” takes a look at varying perspectives that range based on what cultural beliefs are at the time and whether science has any role in stepping in. E3 “The Rise and Fall of the Asylum,” is about how mental asylums first came into existence, what they morphed into, and what has since replaced them. E4 “The New Frontiers” looks at cutting edge modalities that were surprising especially since some of them feel like they are taking a step backwards.
Impressions: The first 3 are fairly good primers, and the 4th one presented new information to me. Since I think that understanding mental illness is still in its infancy the psychiatric and other attempts to make a positive difference in the comfort level of those suffering from it is hit and miss at best. I am left with an impression that there are vital pieces missing with how we regard a human’s mental state and how the mind and body work together for health (or illness.)
Deadwood: The Movie (2019)
Starring: Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Paula Malcomson, Gerald McRaney
Director: Daniel Minahan
Genres: western, drama
Synopsis: Set in 1889, the movie brings back virtually everyone from the series. Ten years have gone by in Deadwood, South Dakota. Swearengen (McShane) still runs the saloon/whorehouse but has some serious health issues. Bullock (Olyphant) is still Sheriff and is now a daddy of at least a couple of kids. Hearst (McRaney) who is now a California Senator, has come back to Deadwood to buy large swaths of land for the telephone lines coming through, but some don’t want to sell. This sets up a battle royale between the townies and the rich and powerful outsiders.
Impressions: If I had to do it over again, I would have watched the 3 seasons of Deadwood again before stepping into the movie. I kept trying to remember it all and failed. I think the movie tried to cover too much territory and ended up doing an inadequate job on every part of it. Another whole season would have been much better. Warning: profuse profanity and graphic violence
After Season 3 ended, David Milch made a handshake deal to make two Deadwood movies to conclude the series with then-HBO chairman and chief executive Chris Albrecht. Mr. Albrecht was arrested in Las Vegas for assaulting his girlfriend in a parking lot. After HBO fired Albrecht, the Deadwood movies were not made as planned. It has been speculated that if a contract had been signed to make the two Deadwood movies before Mr. Albrecht was fired, the conclusion of the series would’ve most likely been completed over a decade ago.
Awards: 3 wins and 37 nominations
Crimson Peak (2015)
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Genres: drama, horror
Synopsis: Carter Cushing (Beaver) is a wealthy businessman with a beautiful daughter, Edith (Wasikowska.) There is a budding friendship that could turn into more between Edith and the handsome-yet-sensible Dr. Alan McMichael (Hunnam) when two mysterious siblings Lucille and Thomas Sharpe (Chastain and Hiddleston) come to town and attempt to get Mr. Cushing to invest in Thomas’ new earth-drilling invention. The arrogant Mr. Cushing brushes off the sales pitch, but not before the dark and dashing Thomas has swept naive Edith off of her feet. Lucille and Thomas cart love-stricken new bride Edith back to the Sharpe ancestral home, known as Crimson Peak, nicknamed after the blood red clay that the home sits on. From there things turn full throttle, mind-bendingly scary.
Impressions: del Toro as director pulled me to see this, but at the same time I held off for quite awhile before seeing it out of fear it would be too scary. I’d seen Pan’s Labyrinth which was scary enough to make me cautious. Knowing Charlie Hunnam was in it convinced me to give it a try. I honestly see this film as more of a drama set in a haunted house than a horror movie with dramatic flourishes. The cast are all well-seasoned actors and do a decent job of bringing the story to life. It is the house though that is the star. They spared no expense in special effects. The house and the dramatic shift in atmosphere remind me a lot of, “From Dusk Til Dawn.” I was a little bit disappointed in how it ended. Still worth a watch! Warning: some disturbing images and concepts are depicted.
Etc.: filmed entirely in Ontario, Canada
from Bustle Magazine writer, Johnny Brayson:
[del Toro’s] … movie seems to show off the author at the top of his game… Master of horror Stephen King said the film was “Gorgeous and just f***ing terrifying,” while del Toro himself has referred to it as the most beautiful film he’s ever made… Crimson Peak a film about a haunted mansion in turn-of-the century England, features visuals that are so breathtaking they often end up stealing the spotlight from the movie’s notable stars (Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston chief among them), and the most stunning visual of all has to be the house itself, a creepy and opulent mansion.
Awards: 6 wins and 42 nominations