Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! This week’s batch is a tasty bunch.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris,
Director: Sam Mendes
Genres: action, adventure
Synopsis: Another excellent synopsis lifted from imdb:
When James Bond’s (Craig’s) latest assignment goes gravely wrong and Agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Dench) to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows, aided only by field agent, Miss Eve Moneypenny (Harris), following a trail to the mysterious Tiago Rodriguez, a.k.a. Raoul Silva (Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves. Written by JoaoBond
Impressions: It’s what viewers have come to expect from James Bond movies: exotic locations, jaw-dropping stunts, beautiful women, and convoluted plots. I liked Skyfall a little more than I usually like 007 films and think Bardem as the villain, along with the rest of a star-studded cast has a lot to do with it. I like the moral nuances in this one as well.
Etc.: budget is estimated at $200,000,000 and cumulative worldwide gross is estimated at $1.1 billion; filmed in 53 locations; In fifty years of James Bond movies, this is only the second one in which Bond suffers a gunshot wound. He was also shot in Thunderball (1965.) There are reams of trivia on the film at imdb.
Awards: 67 wins and 123 nominations
The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)
Starring: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo
Director: Natalie Krinsky
Genres: comedy, romance
Synopsis: Lucy (Viswanathan) has rotten luck/taste in men. She is also what I will call a “heartbreak hoarder,” where she keeps mementos of each one, until her room is cluttered with the stuff. She is hooked on her emotions, high when “in love” and low when another heartbreak happens, but sees no way to interrupt the pattern. Then she meets cute “cab driver” Nick (Montgomery) by mistake. Nick is also going through hard times with a bistro hotel he’s trying to renovate. Together, their friendship has a positive impact on both of their hardships.
Impressions: It took me a little bit to warm up to Lucy and her friends, as they are so young and their struggles didn’t pull me in. I’m glad I stuck with her though. This is a genuinely entertaining and innocent story. It was a refreshing change that there is little swearing, violence, capriciousness, or gratuitous seduction or sex in it. The plot and the characters remain clear of the usual clutter. I really liked the two leads and look forward to seeing them in future films.
Etc.: filmed in Toronto and NYC; directorial debut for Krinsky
Awards: 1 win and 2 nominations
Deli Man (2014)
Starring: Ziggy Gruber, Steve Auerbach, Adam Caslow, Alan Dershowitz, Fyvush Finkel
Director: Erik Greenberg Anjou
Synopsis: The imdb blurb says, “A look at the history of delicatessens in the United States.” Much of the focus of the doc, however, is on Ziggy Gruber, now an adult “deli man,” who has been in business since he was a youngster as his grandpa’s favorite.
Impressions: Although many take delicatessens for granted, they shouldn’t. They are on the wane. There are fewer than 150 left in the U.S. They need to be preserved as living national treasures, whatever it takes. If the the U.S. government can subsidize art galleries and cattle ranchers, they bloody well can make sure no more delis go under.
And if that teaser whetted your appetite, here it is, the whole movie!
Starring: Sverrir Gudnason, Lance Henriksen, Terry Chen, Hannah Gross, Viggo Mortensen
Director and Writer: Viggo Mortensen
Synopsis: John (Mortensen) is a gay man living with Eric, his husband (Chen) in California when he gets a message from his father, Willis (Hendricksen) who is still living and running a farm somewhere, saying he’s decided to sell the farm and move out to California. Unfortunately Willis is suffering a nasty combination of dementia and vicious verbal abuse on others. The story travels back and forth in the flashbacks of father (young adult Willis is played by Gudnason) and the son, shedding glaring light on what has led to the now. A dilemma presents itself in whether or not Willis should stay in California or return to his farm in his compromised state of mind.
Impressions: The chemistry between father and son crackles with energy, most of it of the toxic variety. These two couldn’t be more different from each other. The flashbacks are a wise format choice to try and sort out what is going on between these two strong-willed, independent characters. Trigger warning: those who have been verbally and/or physically battered may be triggered by the pervasive nature of it in the film.
Etc.: filmed in Ontario, Canada and California
Awards: 4 wins and 17 nominations
I also found a really good interview where Mortensen talks about the making of the movie:
Old Henry (2021)
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Gavin Lewis, Trace Adkins, Stephen Dorff
Director: Potsy Ponciroli
Synopsis: Henry (Nelson) and Wyatt, his teenaged son (Lewis) are eking out a rough living on a broken down farm. Henry has made it his mission to live an example of integrity and hard work that Wyatt can see and experience to build his own character. Wyatt is counting the days when he will be a man and leave the gritty, thankless farmstead behind. The farm’s unvarying day-to-day existence is interrupted when a saddled horse without a rider wanders in. Henry backtracks the horse to find Curry (Haze) a ¾ dead, injured, unconscious man. Tending to the man’s wounds, they save his life. When he regains consciousness he tells them his life and theirs are in danger from a gang that’s looking for a pile of cash he has in his saddlebag. Will Henry and Wyatt turn the stranger over to the gang or take a stand against them?
Impressions: Nelson as the raggedy farmer doing his best to teach his son the right way to live is impressive. I’m thrilled someone chose to give him this peach role. The rest of the small cast is well-chosen. The tension tweaks up nicely to the slam-bang end.
Etc.: There are no females in the movie. This is Tim Blake Nelson’s fifth western genre outing after Holes (2003), The Homesman (2014), the TV mini-series Klondike (2014) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018). I also loved him in “O Brother, Where Art Thou” with George Clooney and John Turturro. Filmed in Watertown, Tennessee.
Awards: 3 wins and 1 nomination