Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It’s a mixed bag this week.
Starring: Theo Rossi, Clive Standen, Samira Wiley, Chazz Palminteri, Don Johnson
Director: Tom DeNucci
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: from imdb:
Vault tells a story about a group of small time criminals in 1975 who attempt to pull off the biggest heist in American history: stealing over $30 million from the Mafia in the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island.
Impressions: For an organized crime type of movie, I’ve seen better but I’ve seen worse. I enjoyed seeing Theo Rossi (who played Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz on Sons of Anarchy) take the lead role. I also thought Standen did a decent role as the other half of the crime duo. It was fun to learn about this real bold robbery that nobody was expecting.
Etc.: filmed in CA and RI
Starring: Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Alexis Louder, Toby Huss, Chad L. Coleman
Director: Joe Carnahan
Genres: action, crime
Synopsis: Bob (Butler) and Teddy (Grillo) are two dangerous criminals who are hightailing it cross-country (filmed in New Mexico), where one (Bob) has been hired to kill the other (Teddy.) I forget how, but both of them end up getting arrested and put into the same remote jail in cells across from each other. Despite this being a large, state-of-the-art facility that is well-staffed, when Anthony (Huss) a 2nd hitman — who is also a scorched earth maniac — who wants to cash in on bringing Teddy in, shows up, it quickly becomes apparent that all of that isn’t enough. Deputy Valerie Young (Louder) is the only one of the deputies that seems well-trained and gutsy enough to stand against the odds.
Impressions: I was hoping for more out of this one with Butler and Grillo as antagonists. Most of the time they are in their cells in verbal exchanges that don’t amount to much. Another substantial portion has them wheedling with Deputy Young to convince her to let them out of their cells before Anthony kills them all. Where the first half dragged, the second half was frenzied action where it was hard to keep track of what was going on. The police are shown in an extremely uncomplimentary light in this except for the one exception. Being brutally honest here, I didn’t care much for this movie.
Etc.: from imdb:
for the role of Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) was asked by director Joe Carnahan to watch some Clint Eastwood movies as inspiration since her character is a gunslinger in the movie. Some of the movies she watched included, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and “Dirty Harry”.
Awards: 1 nomination
Wild Indian (2021)
Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Cromarty, Tres Garcia
Director: Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr.
Genres: crime, drama
Synopsis: As the story opens, Makwa (Greyeyes) and Teddo (Spencer) are Native American kids going to Catholic school on the reservation. Where Teddo’s life seems halfway decent, Makwa’s parents are grossly negligent and abusive to him. Nobody at the school seems to notice or care about the bruises and the shabby way Makwa looks or picks up on his demeanor. At some point it twists Makwa which results in a terrible tragedy. Years go by. Both men are adults. Makwa has relocated and is now a very successful businessman. Unfortunately Teddo has just been released from a long stint in prison. Where one seems untroubled by what happened, the other has been eaten alive by it. The two men find each other again and a reconciliation of sorts is made (don’t want to give away any spoilers.)
Impressions: I think Greyeyes is a good actor and hope to see him in more films. This one was difficult to watch in a lot of different ways, with the parental abuse and neglect, the violent tragedy, and some other disturbing events that happen in it. Warning for all of the above.
Awards: 1 win and 7 nominations
The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Starring: Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao
Director: Wayne Wang
Synopsis: from imdb: “The life histories of four East Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.” The story opens as a celebration of life (equivalent of an Irish wake) is taking place for one of the mothers in the story who has passed away. The rest of the movie shows cutaway flashbacks for all of the women that serve as threads that are woven together up until the present.
Impressions: Exceptionally good movie and how the stories were woven together was skillful. First class acting by all parties, lots of interesting locations, wonderful sets and costumes, real dialogue about real issues. I saw this when it first came out and watching it again through new eyes of my older self was enjoyable. Highly recommend this one.
Etc.: based on a novel by Amy Tan; filmed in California and China
Awards: 4 wins and 5 nominations
more from imdb:
In a 2018 NPR interview, executive producer Janet Yang recalled that director Wayne Wang (who she said usually had “the most lovely personality”) lost his temper in a marketing meeting because the studio had presented him with the choices for posters to advertise the movie, and all of the options avoided showing the face of an Asian person. Either the designs were very abstract (for example, a decorative woodcut) or they were photos of the actresses’ backs.
Into the Night (2019)
Starring: Kate Li, J.D. Benjamin, Paul Benford-Bruce, Ashley Risteen, David Snook
Director: Kate Li
Genres: murder mystery, noir
Synopsis: from imdb:
Jane (Li) is a bright young woman who longs for, but always feared change. Following the sudden murder of Chris (Apostolov,) her fiancé, she quickly finds herself caught in a web of manipulation and dark plot created by Troy (Benjamin,) a successful bar owner, and Claire (Risteen,) his estranged wife, both of whom claim to know about the truth of her fiancé’s murder and try to persuade Jane to believe their side of the story. Detective Braddock (Benford-Bruce,) who is leading the investigation, is a long-time friend of Jane’s. His good heart and belief in “innocence until proven guilty” leaves Jane questioning if he is capable of bringing actual justice to this very personal case. When the facts surrounding the murder fail to match the explanations put forth, Jane is forced to rely on her own judgment to piece the puzzle together and come to a resolution that brings her peace.
Impressions: filmed in b&w and in a very noir-ish way, this art film captured my full attention. Not sure where I heard of it, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. The small ensemble shines. When I learned what the budget was I was flabbergasted. That aspect of it reminded me of Robert Rodriguez and his 1992 movie El Mariachi, which had a budget of $7,000 and ended up earning over $2,000,000. The chemistry between Li and Benjamin (a real-life couple) is off the charts. I cannot wait to see what this duo comes up with next.
Etc.: black and white; budget was only $6,000!!!!!
Awards: 4 wins and 1 nomination