What’s up gang? You feeling ok? Good. Cause I’m back at it with the weekly roundup. And it was all good this week. There is a rewatch of a previously seen classic in here. But the rest is all new and all enjoyable. And we get a new release inside, a big release of a series that I’ve anticipating for a while. So take a look inside guys. It’s a good time.
Romancing The Stone (November 1st, 2015)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Manuel Ojeda, and Danny Devito
Raiders of The Lost Ark hit like an atomic bomb in the 1980s, Spielberg and Lucas just making one of the best movies ever made. And much like the knockoffs coming after the releases of Jaws and Star Wars had in the 70s, this collaboration between the two saw plenty of knockoffs as well. And one of the most successful of those knockoffs was this entry by Robert Zemeckis, future Spielberg collaborator. What makes this one work, apart from having a legit filmmaker behind it, was that it wasn’t focused on the same thing that Raiders was. Raiders was trying to be an old school serial, going for the thrills and the cool. This one here was going for the supermarket romance novels with a little wink in it’s eye. Romance and humor is the name of the game in this piece, and it works pretty well. The action is nowhere close to the action in Raiders, but very few can match Spielberg in that regard. But it is more romantic and funny. Raiders has its love story that works pretty well and has some damn funny moments in it, but this one is all about those moments. This one is also building to the coupling of Turner and Douglas, where the romance between Indy and Marion is secondary to the quest at hand. Hell, you don’t even know what the hell is being searched for in this movie until you find it. And when you have Danny Devito in your movie, it’s gonna be a funny time, especially when he’s playing a goofball NY criminal. This is a nice change of pace and a smart move for them to make if they wanted to chase that Indy money. It doesn’t even come close to reaching the cinematic highs of Indy’s first (or even third) outing. And romance isn’t normally my favorite cinematic flavor. But Douglas and Turner have good chemistry and their pairing at the end works for me. Zemeckis shows some restraint here, something he’s not normally known for. He likes to go big with his ideas, seen in his debut flick Used Cars and his future work. No technological achievements or mind bending storytelling. Just a simple little movie, which he needed to do to prove himself. And it paid off, as he would get to make Back To The Future off of this ones success. Also gotta give a nice shoutout to Dean Cundey, the cinematographer of this one. His work is great in it, but not even close to the best work he did this decade. His work so perfectly encapsulates the 80s for me, I always remember 80s movies as if they were shot through his lens. So it’s a fun little movie, one that may entertain the ladies in your life more than some men. But it’s fun for all, so give it a look.
Skyfall (November 3rd, 2015)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, and Judi Dench
For more opinions on this and the other Bond movies, click here.
Redbelt (November 4th, 2015)
Director: David Mamet
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alice Braga, Tim Allen, and Emily Mortimer
I haven’t seen much Mamet stuff, or at least stuff that originated in his brain. I’ve seen The Untouchables and Hannibal, but only Glengarry Glen Ross from his mind. And that movie was great, a real masterful piece of writing and acting. I’ve heard great things about this movie in my journeys, so I figured it was a good time to give it a go. A leading role for my man Chiwetel, a smart mans take on a Kung Fu movie. I was definitely intrigued. And what I got did not disappoint. Going in pretty cold led to a great experience with a very Zen, humane movie with a kickass spirit in it. Chiwetel plays Mike, a Ju Jitsu expert who runs his own training facility. His gym isn’t very economically successful, so when problems start to arise in his life and he needs money, a fighting tournament tempts him for a quick buck. But Mike doesn’t believe in competitive fighting. So we spend most of the run time watching Mike deal with all the issues arise and bump up against his ideals, seeing if he will bend to the weight on his shoulders. It takes some interesting twists and turns too, with some really emotional turns we wouldn’t expect to see coming. For a movie that could have easily been a simple beat em up, as the story isn’t in and of itself a unique idea, but Mamet brings his talents to it and elevates it to something great and poetic. I don’t wanna get into this too much since so many people probably wouldn’t even know about this. It’s an under the radar masterpiece that speaks to what it means to be a man and how we need to stick to our morals. A real fucking knockout of a movie that’s got plenty of heart and some really good asskicking too. Must see.
Spectre (November 5th, 2015)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes
For more, click here.
Escape From Alcatraz (November 7th, 2015)
Director: Don Siegel
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Larry Hankin, and Fred Ward
Clint Eastwood movies are like medicine for me. Not in a bad way. When I’m in a bad mood or I’m feeling down, Clint movies can always make me happy. So I had to throw one on this day to feel a little ok, and it did the job pretty damn well. Clint plays a prisoner who was such a troublemaker in other jails that he gets sent to the famed Alcatraz. Alcatraz is supposed to be unescapable. But Clint being Clint, the rascally rebel he is, don’t take too kindly to such an assertion and starts to plot his escape after seeing how unlikable the prison is. There’s no real surprises in this movie. If you’ve seen a prison flick before, this probably inspired it. The main pleasures this movie gives out is that Clint is great and that it’s a gritty little flick. What’s interesting about this one, something that tickled something in my brain, is that none of the guys we’re following are innocent. Usually with these kinds of movies, an escape flick, the main guy at the very least is wrongfully accused and you want him to break out. Look at The Shawshank Redemption or even the recent Escape Plan. This reminded me of the Stallone flick I watched a few weeks back, Lock Up. Stallone in that admitted he deserved to be in prison and was content with serving his time. But because he was put in a prison with epically shitty conditions, he has to break out. That’s the same here. It makes you really ponder your allegiance to Clint and his crew. Because they aren’t even about escaping simply for being in a shitty place. There’s mention in this about them trying to escape a bunch of other prisons before this. So these are pretty much unapologetic bad guys. That morally dubious storytelling is interesting to me. Also interesting to me? An accidentally hilarious subplot, obviously added to pad out time, involving a big fat queer trying to rape Clint throughout the movie. And obviously, Clint just beats him senselessly. It’s a grand ole time, a relic of the time when homosexuality was considered adorably weird. I enjoyed the hell out of the picture. It is far from perfect. A little too long and some of the acting isn’t great by the supporting cast. But it entertained me wholly.
3. Escape From Alcatraz
5. Romancing The Stone