Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It’s a short list today. Family matters are taking up a lot of my time and energy. Hopefully things will be back to “normal” soon.
A Journal for Jordan (2021)
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Chante Adams, Jalon Christian, Robert Wisdom, Tamara Tunie
Director: Denzel Washington
Synopsis: 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King (Jordan) keeps a journal for his unborn son and continues it until he is killed in action in Baghdad. The story jumps around in history and pieces together a story of two people, King and Dana (Adams,) who meet, fall in love, and have a child together. Their son, Jordan (Christian,) is a teenager by the end of the movie, and it shows how he turns to the journal that his father wrote for him to get through challenges in his life.
Impressions: A Journal for Jordan is one of the most transparent, wholesome movies I’ve seen in a very long time. King and Dana are genuinely decent people who take their time to get to know each other and to fall in love with each other. Each becomes the beloved that the other leans on. I really like Jalon, who portrays Jordan, and who also happens to be the real live son of the real 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King, the man this story and movie are based on. There is a very moving scene at the end of the film that had me weeping for all of the soldiers who have died, been maimed, etc. in active duty and also for all of the loved ones left behind. Denzel is as good of a director as he is an actor.
Etc.: filmed in NYC; this is the first movie that Denzel Washington has directed that he didn’t star in; the movie is based on an essay written by the real life Dana, who is a journalist. In the special features part of the DVD she talks about it.
Awards: 3 nominations
Starring: Michael Caine, Dominic de Tommaso, Lena Heady, Samuel Leakey, Sally Collett, Rafferty Law (Jude’s son and he looks just like him!)
Director: Martin Owen
Genres: action, drama
Synopsis: This is a modern spin on Oliver Twist, where kindly old duffer Fagin (Caine) runs a stable of various con artists, including Molly (Collett,) who has been assigned a recruitment task of pulling Twist (Law,) a homeless kid after his mom’s passing, into the fold. We soon learn that Fagin has a boss over him, the cruel and heartless Sikes (Heady,) who cares nothing about the expendable hoodlums but everything about making sure she gets what she wants.
Impressions: This is a Guy Ritchie wannabe film that falls flat. I tried to like this one, and it was neat to see the younger Law in a movie, but this film was not very good. They under-utilized Caine and they way over-charged Heady in her role. She was terrible in this! Younger people who like parkour might find that part of it interesting. The hoodlums are agile, run and jump rooftops, etc.
Etc.: filmed in Romford, Essex, England;
Awards: 2 nominations
House of Gucci (2021)
Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Jack Huston
Director: Ridley Scott (!)
Genres: drama, crime
Synopsis: The plot is ambitious, so it is good the movie is over 2.5 hours long. It primarily focuses on the generation of Maurizio Gucci (Driver,) a studious young man whose father, Rudolfo (Irons) keeps him on a short leash. Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga) meets Maurizio at a dinner party on a fluke and sets her sights on the awkward bookworm. In what feels like an act of defiance against his father, Maurizio marries the working class Patrizia. Where Rudolfo disowns his son for it, Uncle Aldo (Pacino) welcomes the newlyweds in with open arms. Patrizia is an enterprising and ambitious woman, and her chemistry added to the family mix causes some major changes in the business. As Maurizio finds the Gucci family star rising, he changes into a very different person from the studious young man he once was.
Impressions: I found the movie to be entertaining but it was extremely difficult to muster any feelings of affection for any of the individuals in it. They are people that swirl in a galaxy so far from anything I can relate to. I was kind of surprised that Ridley Scott directed this one. He pulled it together very well. There are many glamorous locations as well as beautiful nature scenes. Lots of costumes with pizazz and lovely homes. Lady Gaga was superb in her role, way better than I expected her to be.
Etc.: filmed in 19 locations in Italy and in New York City; from imdb: At Uncle Aldo’s birthday party, Aldo says they are missing a player. The men fighting, wrestling, and throwing a soccer ball are playing “Calcio Fiorentino” (Florentine Football), one of the most violent organized team sports, in which punching and kicking are legal.
Awards: 13 wins and 72 nominations