Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! Fingers crossed you find something that sounds good or one you’ve seen you can make a comment about.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Cristoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Belluci
Director: Sam Mendes
Genres: action, adventure
Synopsis: why reinvent the wheel? Here is an excellent synopsis from imdb:
A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Belluci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (which is an acronym for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) Meanwhile, back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre of National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Miss Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. As the daughter of the assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot. As Bond ventures towards the heart of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., he learns a chilling connection between him and the enemy he seeks.
Impressions: I have nothing remarkable to give for impressions. It’s more standard fare for Bond movies with lots of chase scenes, daring acts of physical prowess, tough villains, and a convoluted as all get out plot. I did enjoy the opening scene of this one, set at The Day of the Dead in Mexico. The support cast is better than usual and I liked learning some back story on Bond.
Etc.: There’s a wealth of trivia at imdb. One bit:
The opening scene, set during The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) parade, is quite unique for a James Bond movie, in that it marks the first time it appears to be shot in one take. Actually done in three shots, it begins from the moment the camera pans down to the massive crowd, following a masked Bond and his lady partner, following them back to their hotel room, and ending at the point Bond has his gun sight set on Marco Sciarra. The interior of this shot is the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. The exterior is another building, a few blocks away, which is across the street from the Palace of Mining (the large building in the background as Bond is walking on the roof). When Bond has his gun sight set on Marco Sciarra, he is on top of the building where the Mexican Senate met for eighty years.
Awards: 8 wins, 37 nominations
Nine Days (2020)
Starring: Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Zazie Beets, Lisa Starrett, Tony Hale, Bill Skarsgard
Director: Edson Oda
Genres: drama, fantasy, futuristic
Synopsis: Will (Duke) is an angelic being in human form that lives in a small dwelling in the middle of the wasteland. Despite Will’s job, which is to interview/test individuals who have been wandering for an undetermined amount of time in the wasteland in order to choose who to fill “soul openings” as they become available, he still has an unseen overseer to answer to as well as assistants who give feedback to him during the process. The story begins when an opening for a soul becomes available and the new batch of candidates begins the process of being assessed for suitability in both capacity and disposition for the very demanding position of being alive on planet earth.
Impressions: The set is very simple. The action takes place almost entirely inside of the dwelling. This is a philosophical banquet that gets you thinking and would be a rich one to discuss with others who have seen it. Duke as the angel feels more human than is probably good for the candidates as he is biased based on his own history as a human; yet that is probably also a good thing as he knows just what the position of being human calls for. There is a decent support cast. Although the set is appropriate for the plot, its monotony starts to grind after awhile.
Etc.: Winston Duke (Will), Zazie Beetz (Emma) and Benedict Wong (Kyo) all play characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Awards: 3 wins and 20 nominations
Your Honor (2020 – 2021) 10-episode Showtime series (available on DVD)
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Hunter Doohan, Hope Davis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Carmen Ejogo
Director, with # of episodes directed: Clark Johnson (3,) Edward Berger (3,) Eva Sorhaug (3,) Bryan Cranston (1)
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: Cranston plays New Orleans Judge Michael Desiato. The story opens with the 1-year anniversary of Judge Desiato’s wife’s murder approaching. Besides her husband she leaves behind her sensitive and emotionally dysregulated high school age son, Adam (Doohan,) and her battle-axe mother, Elizabeth (Margo Martindale.) In the first episode another monumental tragedy strikes, where the rest of the season is spent trying to keep the truth of the matter from coming to light.
Impressions: It’s a slick tutorial for how local judicial and law enforcement branch gears churn. It is an indictment on what justice means in the American court system. Cranston is perfect for the role of the judge. His emotionally impaired son really begins to grate on my nerves after awhile! There is a large and talented support cast in this one. There is supposed to be another season coming in 2022.
Awards: 1 win and 7 nominations
Once Upon a River (2019)
Starring: Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Ajuawak Kapashesit, Lindsay Pulsipher
Director: Haroula Rose
Genres: indie, drama, Indigenous Peoples
Synopsis: Margo (DelaCerna) is a half-white, half-Indian teenager who lives along the Stark River with her Indian father, Bernard (Tatanka) but right next door to her white mother’s side of the family. Her mother, Luanne (Pulsipher) has abandoned the family, whereabouts unknown. This is the story of Margo’s decision to begin a journey on the river in search of her mother, in a small boat she inherited from her maternal grandfather.
Impressions: The story is a hero’s journey. Margo is challenged and rewarded along it every step of the way. This is a very low-budget indie film with a very big heart. DelaCerna is admirable in portraying a shining soul looking for meaning in this world.
Etc.: filming locations are Antioch, IL and Woodstock, NY.; first feature length endeavor for the director
Awards: 11 wins and 15 nominations
Howl from Beyond the Fog (2019)
Starring: Suguru Inoue, Michiyo Ishimoto, Akane Kanamori, Tomohiro Matsumoto, Nana Nagao
Director: Daisuke Sato
Genres: animation (puppet) and fantasy
Synopsis: Set in the Meiji era of Japan, it tells the story of a Takiri, a girl blinded out of stupidity; Eiji, an orphan boy relative who comes to live with the family; and Nebula, a kaiju (giant dinosaur-like creature) that guards the mountain and the surrounding natural area from development.
Impressions: The movie is 66 minutes long. Also with the DVD comes a special feature that goes into great detail of how the “puppet film” was made. I loved the artistic aspects of the set and the story, the sensitivity of the telling, and the underlying message that we need to honor Mother Nature, not callously nor unthinkingly destroy her for monetary gain. It’s geared towards younger people and even children, but I appreciated it as an adult.
Etc.: According to wikizilla:
It is inspired by the 1951 short story “The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury, which also served as the basis for the 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
Starring: Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin, Lilou Siauvaud, Deanna Dunagan
Director: Tom McCarthy
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: The story begins where Bill (Damon) is traveling from OK, where he works as a “roughneck”, to Marseilles, France, to see Allison (Breslin) his college-age daughter who is in prison for a murder conviction. The plot revolves around Bill’s attempts at solving the murder his daughter says she is innocent of committing. While that is happening, Bill finds Virginie (Cottin) who helps him navigate some very awkward and dangerous places and circumstances.
Impressions: I liked the movie, but I have to wonder if an Okie could so easily and seamlessly assimilate into French society and find a way to investigate a murder. Damon, Breslin, and Cottin are really good in this. I also was enchanted by the little girl who plays Virginie’s daughter. I enjoyed seeing Marseilles, France. It’s enjoyable to see another part of the world. There is a movie-enhancing special feature section of the DVD where it talks about why the director chose to set the movie in Marseilles.
Awards: 2 nominations