Grey Gardens (Audio Podcast)

We see here a mother and daughter living in squalor and talking together about their lives as quasi famous relatives of Jackie O. It reminds of dependence in family and co-dependence when poverty and mental illness prevent advancement. They also eat meals in their beds. In this episode I am joined by my return guest Hermione Flavia as we talk about fame, the film industry, and Grey Gardens. Listen below:

Grey Gardens (1975)
PG | 1h 34min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama | 27 September 1975 (USA)

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.
Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles | 2 more credits »
Stars: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers

This film has 4 directors. I am struck by how 4 well known directors can see this subject matter as worthy of filming. It definitely sends some powerful messages. For me, the strongest one was about fame and how we can be guilty of measuring our worth or level of success of how famous we are (or are not).

There is so much space between squalor and mega fame. Why don’t people focus more on everyday success. Why do we as a culture worship fame in its current forms. I watched this film and recorded a podcast with my guest Hermione Flavia.

Sound of My Voice

The centerpiece here that makes this film worth watching is Brit Marling. She is a largely overlooked talent and gets a lot of screen time here to show just how talented she is. As a time travel film, I came up wanting but the ending is still well done and deserves a watch.

Sound of My Voice (2011)
R | 1h 25min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 3 August 2012 (UK)

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
Two documentary filmmakers attempt to penetrate a cult who worships a woman who claims to be from the future.
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Writers: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling
Stars: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling

Director Zal Batmanglij wrote this film with longtime friend Brit Marling. He also directed it. You can watch more of their escapades together as penniless writers in the film he also directed “The East.” The direction here is top-notch. I think it would have done better to focus on central themes that mattered, not inhalers and stupid stuff that come up repetitively and mean nothing to the twist. An example of direction that does this very well is M. Night’s “Signs.” Leave the drivel out please. We’re solving a puzzle here.

I thought the ending was ok but there was a lot I needed either explained or reminded of to make it give me goosebumps. I think “Another Earth” has a more subtle and effective ending. So, I give this film a 7/10. I do recommend it, it is something entertaining and different AND of course, there is Brit Marling!

Another Earth

This is that movie you always thought existed about your doppelgänger on another planet. Hasn’t everyone wondered if someone looks just like you somewhere going about tasks but with a different result and identity? It’s more about choices though and how they affect our destiny.

Another Earth (2011)
PG-13 | 1h 32min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 12 October 2011 (France)

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.
Director: Mike Cahill
Writers: Mike Cahill, Brit Marling
Stars: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach

Mike Cahill, Director, would later work on “I Origins” which, if you’ve seen it, explains a lot. In that film an odd yet interesting premise is explored about an “Eye Print” of two people existing the same.

This is an ethereal film that definitely stands apart from other sci fi of its decade. I do have some questions about its realism. Should he have slept with her? Would he be so furious? These are very tough choices for the writer. The end was not what I expected but it was glorious nonetheless. Brit Marling is gorgeous to look at and plays this complicated role quite well. All in all, I found it delightful and I look forward to more films like this and “I, Origins” from Cahill in the future.

Morvern Callar

We would later see Samantha Morton in many things including the currently running show “Harlots.” This is where she made her entrance. She’s got such a combination of calculation and innocence. She really brings that out for her role in Morvern Callar. After all, that is her character’s name.

Morvern Callar (2002)
R | 1h 37min | Drama | 1 November 2002 (UK)

After her beloved husband’s suicide, a mourning supermarket worker and her best friend hit the road in Scotland, but find that grief is something that you can’t run away from forever.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay by), Liana Dognini (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Linda McGuire

If you’re like me, you’ll ask yourself time and time again “Is she to blame?” Don’t we all make decisions in our private worlds that might be seen as immoral? Well, there is one thing here I probably would not do. I wouldn’t have the stomach for it. That is what makes this film by the amazing Lynne Ramsay a bit of a horror. To quote my wife about the incident, “Who does that?” Maybe more on her background would have helped me answer that.

Getting lost in travel, color, and music, you’ll be prompted to make your own conclusion. Is Morvern a victim or another reason it’s the ugly place it is. This is a standard requirement for film students in my opinion and a feat for a female director who is now thriving. 9/10.

Cemetery of Splendor

I won’t try to overstep my grasp of this film. I figure readers like to read something by a guy who knows what he is talking about and at the very least comprehends what is happening. I can’t say I do 100% in this film. BUT, I will take this review opportunity to tell you exactly how I took this film and the hedonic components as they revealed themselves to me. I call this sort of film impressionistic hedonism and let me tell you, it’s not for everyone. Note this partial genre: fantasy. Available From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video.

Cemetery of Splendor (2015)
Rak ti Khon Kaen (original title)
Unrated | 2h 2min | Drama, Fantasy | 2 September 2015 (France)

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A group of soldiers in a small town on the Mekong River in northern Thailand are struck with a bizarre sleeping illness.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram

I love Thai food. I also love Buddhist temples. There’s one close to us here in Southern California that I have gone to many times “when I was confused” (quote from the film and also my life). What was I confused about you might ask? As in the film, the answer would be “love.”

In the last 1/4 of the film there is this contraption that propels water and yet doesn’t move. Actually it’s impossible to tell if it is propelling or being propelled. It make the sound of a free shooting sprinkler and it’s magnificent. There were many times in this film I got that relaxed feeling you get after a good meditation or even a massage. Thailand appears to be so beautiful. There are numerous scenes that appear chosen in color and framing as if to hang in a temple. The only thing missing is a padded stool and lovely incense. Is there a story here? Oh yes but it’s a lot like the hedonic imagery, you better not make a judgment, better to just relax and accept that everyone around us is dead. Not sad, dead.

Shall we pretend that we’re dead? Like the water propellers, there are a dozen or more deeply fascinating and ethereal objects & images. I collect these types of images in my mind. If you don’t, you won’t get it.

There are a few women, one in particular, who take care of men in a comatose state. We find out why they will never wake up at some point. Then we learn more about the living women and what their life is all about. Or is it life? This film was great for breathing exercises and armchair traveling in my lazy boy. For those who would like that and “get that” I recommend to you 8/10.

Skyfall

Since this is my first Bond Films experience, I decided to not get to big for my breeches. I picked three high points and that’s what I’ll share with you. There is a LOT that makes this film work but I’ll save the advanced stuff for the experts in this franchise.

Skyfall (2012)
PG-13 | 2h 23min | Action, Adventure, Thriller | 9 November 2012 (USA)

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade | 2 more credits »
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris

But before my 3 things: The director gets a nod: Sam Mendes. Here’s a list of what the guy has done:

2015/I Spectre (directed by)
2012 Skyfall
2009 Away We Go
2008 Revolutionary Road
2005 Jarhead
2002 Road to Perdition
1999 American Beauty

I haven’t yet seen Spectre but know a little about it. I am looking forward to it. Revolutionary Road is a hard watch and definitely gives couples something to think about. Kate Winslet was married to the director at that time. They have since divorced. There is no such impressive acting in most action films and this Bond film doesn’t have it probably by design but that’s okay. The Road to Perdition and American Beauty are also character and dialog driven films, unlike this Bond film. So, how has the director made this film “work” for so many people it’s first on the majority of lists ranking the franchise? Here are three memorable components I noticed, again as I said, there are many more.

The views over and in Shanghai are breathtaking cinematography. Instead of focusing only on the action, Mendes envisioned so much more for this film. I felt like the armchair traveler reading and SEEING what he is reading on the other side of the world. One might see the film in this movie as a cheap vacation idea. It really took me away and drew me into what Bond was up to.

The villain played by Javier Bardem was scary and abrasive. I really wanted Bond to kick his ass. As the film continued though, I could empathize with him. He is not altogether a bad guy. Still, he had to be dealt with in the plot of the story. The parts where he removed his teeth were chilling and worked so well.

The Bond girls were all mysterious and sexy, which I’ll bet is true in all the films. They are also scary and NOT SOFT. In so many films the villainesses persuade the protagonist to stray from his task but nit here. This Bond has been around the block. It fun to watch the Bond girls in this film even while they are cold as ice beneath their beauty.

There are my three mentions about this film. I truly liked it and will definitely continue to the next in the series. I have a body horror podcast to do tomorrow so I will be reviewing films for that but I am sure next week you’ll be hearing from me on this blog about my next Bond film pick and review. If you have a second, why not leave me a recommendation. This one was tops! 10/10.

Still Waiting for First Reformed and Some of My Predictions

If you are a fundamentalist Christian who puts the Bible before humanitarianism and reason, you may be offended by my article below. You’ve been warned. That’s not to say it will offend all Christians. I am a person raised Christian but somewhat dissatisfied with the current state of it in my country. It still lives in my heart.

I’ve been really interested in this movie, it sounds like a challenge against modern Christianity. Challenge breaks up the soil and either kill the weak crop or make it stronger through reform. Most Christians making headlines and faith-based social media statements fear challenge. I say: you’re killing people and even worse, people’s inspiration to live, be challenged.

I still haven’t seen the film but it sounds like a story of a weak preacher played by Ethan Hawke who is a small part of a large mega-church machine. When people really need help, he is like “I got nothing.” Amanda Seyfried is part of his choir and her husband wants her to get an abortion because the world is doomed and they shouldn’t bring a baby into it. There are some explosive moments and religion is challenged. The director Paul Schrader is legendary for a 40 year career in writing and directing films. He wrote the script and story for Taxi Driver in the 70’s.

This is the first preview I’ve written in quite sometime. I feel our world needs a “come to the table of sanity” rebuke film towards Christianity. Some of these Christian films that have come out like “God is Not Dead 2” are borderline embarrassing to our human race. I don’t think this mass of Chrstians running around blessing each others’ day are healthy for the world. Things could change of course, when free thought outweighs the dusty black book.

The best rule is to expect nothing, some of my favorite movies were seen that way. When it does come out you can expect to see my review right here at “Riley on Film.”

The Beverly Hills Cop franchise REVIEWED – on the Damien Riley Podcast

Have you listened to this one yet? I had the pleasure of Hermione Flavia as my guest on these episode. We review all tree of these landmark action/comedy films from the 1980’s. Have a listen.

Announcing another great guest! Hermione Flavia ( on twitter @hermioneflavia ) agreed to appear on the show and when we talked about movies to cover, she came up with “Beverly Hills Cop” which I agreed with right away. I had a lot of fun with her recording the show! Have a listen and enjoy.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
R | 1h 45min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 5 December 1984 (USA)

A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.
Director: Martin Brest
Writers: Daniel Petrie Jr. (screenplay), Danilo Bach (story) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

I’m a big fan of the franchise and of Eddie Murphy’s work. It was very exciting to rewatch and discuss these films with her! What you hear in this episode is our discussion on these 3 films. We take a few birdwalks but were pretty good about coming back on topic 🙂 WHICH as you may know is a bit of a challenge for me sometimes. She’s agreed to come back and we’re making plans for her to be on the show again very soon.

My guest today is Hermione Flavia from Wildfire Movies. Check her out on Instagram as well: hermioneflavia.

Foxcatcher

Creepy performance by Steve Carrell. This is also a very creepy TRUE story that only features wrestling as a theme. There is a LOT more going on here. 8.5/10 I say that because I avoided it for many moons since I don’t dig wrestling much. A must for Steve Carrell fans as well as fans of dark stories. It was annoying at times because I don’t understand nationalistic sport bullshit but the story was adapted well. Rent in SD $2.99 on Prime Video.

Foxcatcher (2014)
R | 2h 14min | Biography, Drama, Sport | 16 January 2015 (USA)

Foxcatcher is a movie starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo. U.S. Olympic wrestling champions and brothers Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz join “Team Foxcatcher”, led by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, as they train for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, but John’s self-destructive behavior threatens to consume them all.
Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo