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Thursday, November 16, 2017

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN


Goodbye Christopher Robin, a British historical drama film about the lives of Winnie-the-Pooh creator A. A. Milne and his family, especially his son "Christopher Robin", is very good. Directed by Simon Curtis and written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Simon Vaughan, it stars Domhnall GleesonMargot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald, who are all quite engaging in their roles. It's charming, sometimes a little dark, and very beautifully shot.

And It's about a lot more than a famous series of books for children. It's about PTSD and war and writer's block and where creative ideas come from and about father/son relationships and about the trappings of fame, and the toll that success can take on a family.

Young Will Tilston is remarkably cast as Billy, the child that Christopher Robin was based on. He landed the role in his first ever audition, and seems to have been born to be in this film. Alex Lawther, who played the young Alan Turing in the phenomenal Imitation Game, is convincing as the older version, even though the two actors look absolutely nothing alike. He is effective in expressing how negatively mega-fame can affect a child, and his performance in this role sheds some light into why some child actors and pop stars turn out the way that they do.

It's safe to take the kids, but it's not really a kids film.

Good film, though...

Recommended.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

VICTORIA AND ABDUL


If I had to choose a favorite season of the year, it would definitely be the one we're in now, and not just because of the cooler temperatures and beautiful fall foliage, but because it's when the summer blockbuster movie season is finally, thankfully (for me) over, and Hollywood begins to trot out their important, "prestige" films for Oscar consideration. 'Victoria and Abdul' should be at the top of that list.

Based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, it's a film about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim, and it's very, very good. It's being touted as the unofficial equal to the 1997 movie 'Mrs. Brown' in which Dame Judi Dench played a younger Victoria, and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She should definitely win one for playing the British sovereign in this one, because she's perfection in it.

The story is touching and intriguing, and addresses more themes about human relationships than I care to even go into here (love,  regret, friendship, the trappings of fame, racism, religious intolerance, aging and death, to name a few). The first half is comedic, even romantic, and made me think of several other movies, including 'Harold and Maude' and 'The King and I'.

Ali Fazal is wonderful in the role, and especially during the first part kind of makes you fall in love with Abdul as you feel the Queens feelings for him move in that direction, as well.

The second half takes on a darker tone as several realities of life set in with the two principles, and it doesn't have what one would call a necessarily happy ending. But the life-affirming examination of how one life can affect another will not be lost on you. In that sense, it's a ver powerful film.

Excellent movie-making.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

BATTLE OF THE SEXES


'Battle of the Sexes' is a pleasure. The biographical sports film, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is loosely based on the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and it's really good.

Emma Stone (who can basically do no wrong on the screen, as far as I'm concerned) pretty much channels BJK, a la Streep, and Steve Carell (who is really a very good actor) puts in a performance that is at once funny and a little heart-breaking. In real life, Bobby Riggs often came off as more of a cartoon character than anything else, but Carell definitely humanizes him here, which is no small task. The rest of the cast, including Sarah Silverman, does a great job with what they have to work with. 

I also love when a period pic gets it right with the look and feel of the time, and this one totally does. It's pitch-perfect as a time-travel trip to the early part of the "Me Decade".

The movie isn't just about a battle of the sexes on the tennis court, it's also about King coming to terms with her own sexual orientation in real life, and that part of the story is handled with a kind of sensitivity that I personally could relate to, and found to be very moving. Anyone from the LGBT community who knows what it's like to honestly and sincerely spend the majority of your life trying to be something that you're not because you think it's the right thing to do, and because of the people in your life and because of the pressure of public opinion will get this movie on a very deep level...especially anyone who was married to the opposite sex and really loved and respected their spouse, and never wanted to hurt them. The way the movie handles King's relationship with her husband at the time, and the way that he is portrayed in the story is quite inspirational (and there's a happy ending for them in the end credits)...

Btw, women should make the same that men make for doing the same job.

Good flick. Good message.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MOTHER!


I was interested in seeing 'mother!' because the trailer looked really cool and creepy, and I like everyone in the cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris) a lot. I intentionally didn't read anything about it beforehand, and went to see it not knowing what to expect. For the first 30 minutes, it appeared to me that it was going to be a kind of re-make of the horror classic 'Rosemary's Baby', but that's not what it is at all.

What it is is a strange combination of a study in what fame can do to a relationship, and what the demands of sacrificial, unconditional love can do to a person, along with a kind of bizarre and very violent biblical allegory, complete with an Adam and an Eve and a Cain who kills an Abel and even a very insightful yet disturbing observation of religious Christian communion.

The last half kind of makes you feel like you're hallucinating because of the fast pace of it, and as soon as it was over I admit that I had to read about it to fully understand what the heck I had just seen.

It's well done for what it is, and I'll give it kudos for originality, but it's not the kind of film that you actually enjoy. It's more of the kind of film that you appreciate. Can't say that I necessarily recommend, unless you're a fan of director Darren Aronofsky's work.

Monday, August 28, 2017

LOGAN LUCKY


I hate giving bad reviews, and really wanted to like this one because I like these actors and this director a lot, and am even a huge fan of 'Raising Arizona' and 'Talladega Nights' (the previews made me think that my affection for those other films would ensure that I would like this comedy). 

Alas, I did not.

I can't even remember enough about it to tell you why.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

RETHINKING CASABLANCA


OK, OK...I take back anything I may or may not have said that may or may not have sounded negative about Casablanca! It's not that I hated it, or even disliked it, really...I just have always thought that it was a little overrated, especially for the way that it's generally put in the league with the big classics like Citizan Kane, etc. 

I mean, I know all about it. I know that famed director Michael Curtiz won the Best Director Oscar for it, and I know all of the lines that have become a part of our American lexicon. As a rule, I wholeheartedly agree with the consensus of AFI, or other such organizations that consider it to be in the Top Ten of films appreciated for excellence in cinematic achievement., but I just never thought it was really all that.

Until tonight.

I actually just went to see this evening it because it's the only vintage classic that they're showing this year at the Fox Theatre Coca-Cola Summer FILM Festival (a travesty, but I digress)...and, well, I repent for not appreciating it like I should have, because it's awesome.

I won't review the film itself, because I don't need to, but I will review the evening. It was just a wonderful experience seeing it on the big screen, and with an audience that knows it well, and really loves it and gets it. I've grown so accustomed to seeing dumbed-down modern flicks with dumbed-down modern audiences that it was a pleasant surprise to be a part of a crowd that got the wit and the humor, and laughed in all the right places, and didn't talk over the lines, and generally showed their appreciation by their appropriate response and reaction to all of it. 

An added pleasure was seeing it at the Fox itself...not just because it's my favorite theatre, but in particular because of the Moroccan architecture and motif. Rick's cafe and the external shots of Casablanca looked like an extension of where we were sitting. It was a heady experience. 

I loved, loved, loved every single frame of it, and I'm so glad that I went a got a paradigm shift!

Here's looking at you, Casablanca!




Helen Hedrick Griffin You are a writer also. I'm going to come see you soon on Ponce my important friend

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Chuck Longino Bish, Ingrid Bergman is the classic screen equivalent to Suzanne Pleshette for me. Big time crush. First time I saw the movie was "Academy Award Theatre", Sunday morning on TBS. Glad you enjoyed it and I'm jealous as heyull that you saw it at the Fox.

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Jim Swilley We saw a few things there together over the years...hope you had a great birthday!

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Chuck Longino Thanks bro

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Deb Perkins Muehlstein Glad you you saw the light... Ha... Ha... I've always enjoyed the movie... when you said what you did before... I actually went back & watched it again... I take your movie reviews seriously... glad we can now agree on this one... 😊❤️

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Jim Swilley ❤️

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Michelle Reyna I was there too! I agree with everything about this post. It was such a different way of seeing it and I largely have the audience to thank for it. Being surrounded by the fans made it such a cool experience.

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Jim Swilley Yeah, it was great

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