Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! We’ve come to the last installment of the series for the year. Next week I will be posting a list of my favorite films made in 2020 or 2021 that I’ve seen. I am including the tail end of 2020 because some weren’t available to borrow from library at the end of last year. I’ll do the same next year.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Cassandra Violet, Julia Bray, Adam Arkin
Director: Michael Sarnoski
Synopsis: Rob (Cage) was once a top chef in Portland, OR, but years ago he decided to walk away from it to live a rustic lifestyle in the wilderness with his pet/friend, Pig, the pig. Rob and Pig find truffles and sell them to brokers who work with the finest restaurants. The truffle sales make enough to allow Rob to survive in the wilderness. The story opens when robbers come in the night and kidnap Pig. Rob doesn’t know who stole Pig, but he knows who will. He returns to the city, his old haunts, and his old connections on his search for his beloved Pig.
Impressions: Pig is an insider’s view of the fine cuisine industry in Portland, and I’m guessing about any big city’s elite dining establishments. Not only that, it shows how deeply the main character’s being was invested in that world – and why he walked away. Nicolas Cage has been playing a string of off-the-hook characters in fringe (Mandy; Willy’s Wonderland) and direct-to-video (Primal) films. Not to say those films don’t have their own charm, Pig gives Cage a chance to remind us of what a damned good actor he is. Alex Wolff, who plays the truffle broker, is a fresh face to me and does a decent job. Alan Arkin, who plays the villain, is menacingly convincing as a power player who can back up his threats.
Etc.: from imdb:
When the main characters walk through a Portland restaurant on their way to find the underground passageway, they’re actually walking through Huber’s, Portland oldest restaurant and bar (established in 1879). The owner James Kai Louie (who’s family has run Huber’s since 1912) was used as an extra and can be seen standing next to one of the tables wearing a suit in the background as the characters walk through.
Awards: 10 wins and 28 nominations
Boys from County Hell (2020)
Starring: Jack Rowan, Nigel O’Neill, Louisa Harland, Michael Hough, John Lynch
Director: Chris Baugh
Genres: horror, dark comedy
Synopsis: Set in modern day Ireland, when a local construction company is given orders to bulldoze over an ancient stone cairn relic that is reported to hold the original vampire that Bram Stoker wrote about at bay, the workmen scoff at the local legends. When horrific events begin to happen after they bulldoze the relic, they understand that the legends are true.
Impressions: Why I chose this horror DVD is a mystery. I had to stop watching probably 80% of the way through. Boys from County Hell is budget horror that isn’t very well done. Might be a good one for Mystery Science Theater to dub.
Etc.: from imdb: After a location scout on the film Yesterday (2019) director Chris Baugh wrote the screenplay in five days while in his underpants and drinking vodka after visiting Stokers actual grave in Golders Green. Warning: graphic violence and saturation profanity
Awards: 1 win and 2 nominations
A Gift from Bob (2020) aka A Christmas Gift from Bob
Starring: Luke Treadaway, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Bob the Cat, Phaldut Sharma, Aretha Ayeh
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Genres: holiday, drama
Synopsis: The second movie about the true story of Bob the Cat and James Bowen, the man Bob adopted on the streets of London. (The first one was, A Street Cat Named Bob (2016.) This one opens with James (Treadaway) and Bob attending a posh author’s holiday party that James leaves as he feels out of place. James’ book is a best-seller which has enabled him and his best buddy not to live on the streets anymore but doesn’t pay the bills; James continues busking around town with Bob’s cuteness pulling in the audience with their tips and their kindness. When a disgruntled animal control officer decides to harass James about his poor cat care for making Bob sit outside with him in the cold, James ends up shoving the officer, which gets captured on video. Animal Control opens an investigation and James begins to doubt whether he is giving his buddy the best life possible or if someone else might do a better job.
Impressions: I have no idea if London’s Animal Control is that well-funded and that diligent in investigating possible neglect and/or abuse of animals, but if they are, I commend them. Bob the Cat was obviously happy being with his loving and caring person, so what a waste of resources! Anyway, the story is heartwarming as James and Bob are surrounded by a blanket of support by the many who are aware of what a good pair these two make.
Etc.: Bob the Cat died before the movie was finished. It is dedicated to him.
The Protege (2021)
Starring: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, David Rintoul, Patrick Malahide
Director: Martin Campbell
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: good blurb from imdb:
Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin, Moody (Jackson,) Anna (Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows.
Impressions: Very well put-together action flick. Maggie Q is new to me. She brings Anna’s character to life. Reminds me a lot of James Bond movies. Jackson as the eccentric assassin and Keaton as the smooth cleaner round out the top cast and make it hum. I liked the edginess of it and genuinely not knowing what was going to happen next. Good fighting scenes and interesting locations.
Etc.: Filmed in Romania, Vietnam, Bulgaria, and the UK
Awards: none known
more trivia from imdb:
In Moody’s room (where he received his birthday present) two paintings are visible. The one on the left is Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s ‘The Summer‘ (1563), the one on the right is Arcimboldo’s ‘Spring‘ (same year). Arcimboldo painted the portraits in what is called “double images paintings” in which a main image is created with other items, in this case, the figure of a face is built with pieces of plants, flowers, etc. It could represent double nature in both main characters: assassins and regular law-abiding citizens.
F9 (Fast & Furious) (2021)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Charlize Theron, John Cena, Finn Cole, Sung Kang
Director: Justin Lin
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez) are trying to live a quiet life on a farm with their small child (I apologize for not knowing whose child this is! I haven’t watched all of the Fast & Furious installments) when their old crew shows up with a call for help from an old friend who is asking (iirc.) They get all vehicled up and armed for the job. What they don’t know right away is that Dom’s long-lost brother, Jakob (Cena,) is involved and working with the bad guys. There is a lot of backstory fill-in on what happened to estrange Dom and Jakob from each other, which helps to understand what is motivating Jakob to do what he does.
Impressions: It’s a lot of crazy stunts with motor vehicles, super-charged weaponry, exotic locations, explosives. There’s a good cast, but when your script is hobbled by all of that other stuff, it’s difficult to go deep with the relationship subtleties. Teenagers might love this for the cars, guns, and booms.
Grade: 7 for all of that other stuff, but less for everything else.
Etc.: from imdb: The budget was $200million dollars, and the cumulative worldwide gross was estimated to be $721million!; During the first 10 minutes, a 1970 Dodge Charger 500 can be seen inside the barn of Dom’s and Letty’s farm. This is the same infamous car that Dom drives in The Fast and the Furious (2001), Fast & Furious (2009), and Furious 7 (2015). Towards the endings of the prior movies, the car keeps on getting destroyed, but Dom keeps on repairing it afterwards offscreen.; filmed in the country of Georgia, Thailand, and the UK
Awards: 7 nominations