The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

IMDB’s number one movie shouldn’t be fucked with right? Well, it has its imperfections. The reason they picked Tim Robbins will always be a mystery to me. All the other casting is good. It’s an inspired Stephen King novel and that’s why it’s good (and the only reason why), in my opinion.

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Director: Frank Darabont
Writers: Stephen King (short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”), Frank Darabont (screenplay)
Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

Most people who see this film have a visceral reaction. It’s not boring in any way. I like prison films and this is sort of a sing-song one. Still, it’s a great prison film and I like it a lot.

You get to see what happens on the inside from a kinder, gentler, machine gun lens. Part of that is due to Stephen King. You know, he is very tame compared to some of the other horror writers. There is a bent in a lot of his stuff against traditional religion. I can definitely relate with that bent.

There is also a lot of Murphy’s Law. I probably don’t need to recommend this since it’s done quite well for decades on its own. Still, I recommend it to fans of prison movies and Stephen King’s outlook on things. Beware of a sing-song nature. This isn’t the hard, deep stuff of life as it claims to be.

3/5 Shamrocks
3/5 Shamrocks

 

The Godfather

Everybody knows the Godfather right? Well, that isn’t necessarily true. I think people about my age take it for granted as an amazing classic. We assume all movie fans have it memorized. I know my podcast cohort isn’t fond of it. As strange as that sounds, I must accept it is true. I’ll tell you what appeals to me about it.

R | 2h 55min | Crime, Drama | 24 March 1972 (USA)
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Mario Puzo (screenplay), Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay)
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

There’s something powerful about Don Corleone. He’s amassed wealth and an empire entire outside of society’s machine. He has become a new machine. He does “favors,” usually entailing crimes, for the butcher, the baker, and the candle-stick maker. Then they owe their allegiance to him and his family mafia. What we see in the film is a powerful crime family made up of those people, built one by one.

There is a bunch of violence but it’s righteous. You get me, I get you back. That’s how it works in the mafia. This film changed the world and especially changed movies. The way things are done now is warped in a twisted and beautiful way little bit because of the Godfather. I recommend this film to people who can take righteous violence and who enjoy amazing period pieces with thick character development. Also, who can miss the best of Marlon Brando?

5/5 Shamrocks
5/5 Shamrocks

Network (1976)

In these days of the Hunger Games, this movie makes a pale statement. Still, it was fun watching this 1976 film make its statement against the media, specifically the news. Some of it even reminded me of the stuff trump is pulling these days (lowercase is intentional).

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The story is basically in a news station. A crazy newscaster who the world has grown used to and familiar with has a psychotic break and begins making promises that he will take his life on television. Instead of getting rid of him, the network sees the ratings go up and puts him on camera again and again.

We see the greed of the network from all angles. We also see the sheep-like nature of the audience. There is a culminating event that wraps the whole cynical point up nicely. There are some great classic actors in their 30’s like Faye Dunaway. I love films from 1976 and thereabouts. They are simply showing the buildings and attire of the day and yet it looks like the best retro modern films can offer.

I recommend this film mostly for political cynics. Besides that, it’s a tense but well made drama from 1976. I recommend to all.

Manchester by the Sea

I went into this film expecting too much I think. It’s getting unheard-of high scores on all the major rating sites. It didn’t merit that in my view.  It looked like a romance, it isn’t. It looked like a chance for actors to shine for Oscars, it wasn’t.

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The story here is fairly simple, though it’s presented in and out of sequential time. That makes it a little harder to get your head around. Casey Affleck is a handyman, a dad, and a husband. He does the unthinkable. He suffers the unimaginable. Of course it’s devastating and sad. It’s told by jumping around in time. When his brother dies, he is chosen to take care of his brother’s son. That alone could have been the theme of the movie but there is something else big, ferocious, sad, and overwhelming that almost overshadows it.

The problem with this film is that it only offers a surface image of it’s many situations. Stories are delved into and not fully developed through the characters. You’ll find tears well placed but it wasn’t enough to bring me into the movie. I saw it, heard it, and interpreted it but only to see what was happening. There was only one spot where I really felt what was happening. The scene way after the tragedy when Michelle Williams’ character meets up with Casey Affleck’s is certainly a tear-jerker moment.

I have always found Casey Affleck to be a flat character. In this film, he is once again flat. I’m very surprised this film has received so much acclaim. Specifically, I wonder why so much praise has been given to Casey. He does an ok job but I think almost any actor could walk in his shoes here. This is a decent film worth watching. I recommend it but not as high as the critics seem to be doing. But, art is relative and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My final word? It’s a decent to very-good drama, that’s it.

Split

This one is tough to offer you a review of. The first hour is excellent. You see subtleties in McAvoy’s acting and M. Night’s directing that draw you in, entertain you, and even educate you about this mental illness. It’s all done in a respectful way. After that point, the movie becomes a slow trainwreck and culminates in the worst twist M. Night has ever offered.

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We get a glimpse into the field of psychotherapy in the first half of the film. It’s intriguing to watch a therapist demonstrate trust with a client and test the boundaries between personalities in this case. Many reviewers are asking “who was your favorite personality?” Most are naming the 9 year old child because he’s innocent and fun and it seemed he had the most screen time.

This film could have had an 8/10 from me and stood as an amazing view into multiple personality disorder. The problem is the second half along with M. Night’s signature “twist.” There is no twist in the actual film. There are some supernatural things that can’t be explained away without one though. Therefore, there is a twist. It’s like eating sushi and oysters on the half-shell when all of a sudden you’re force fed an oversized Snickers bar. M. Night, how could you make such a connection? I wanted to like this film but I have more class and style than that. I am really let down by the twist in this film, it eradicates the movie as a stand-alone film. It might as well have never been made, after such a twist. I can recommend the first hour, no more.

Steve Jobs

This was a daring second movie about Steve Jobs. The first, you may know, failed miserably. This film has an urgency and a sour tone to it making it impossible to look away from. It presents Jobs the man as a mess socially and in personal relationships. Despite that, it shows how he developed the incredible imac. Instead of trying to tell the whole story, it focused on a slice in time.

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The relationship with his daughter is the most notable here. It chronicles the beginning where he basically tried to deny she was his up to the end of the film that ends with the imac being unveiled. She holds out hope to really know her dad throughout the film but sadly, it is a very slow process of him accepting her. Some things he says about her are ice-cold, I found this part of the film very sad. I never knew this side of the man.

The film raises the age-old concept that geniuses are not good at personal relationships. In addition, it adds an element of Jobs being a shrewd businessman. Everybody knows shrewd businessmen aren’t good at relationships either. So, we are left with a vignette of a man who invented the Apple computer and alienated almost everyone around him. This film paints that picture and shows you a slice of time where you see how he was. It’s not a feel good film but it’s great nostalgia for computer lovers who lived through the 80’s Apple boom. I recommend this film as a drama with much to talk about over coffee afterward.

Watchlist Completed 1/13/2017

As has been my custom lately, I picked a week’s worth of films to watch and review. Here’s are the fruits of my labors. Two are absolutely amazing, some are medium and one is to be missed at all costs!

  1. The Walk 01/12/17 A stunning spectacle and how he made it happen. Fear of heights folks will be challenged!
  2. Krisha 01/12/17 This tried to be something with all its might, so I gave it 2 stars.
  3. The Confirmation 01/11/17 The best film I saw last week! Thoroughly enjoyable drama of father and son on a quest where both grow and learn.
  4. Margot at the Wedding 01/11/17  Wanted to … just couldn’t like this one.
  5. It Had to Be You 01/10/17 Quite excellent romantic comedy. I can’t fault it for anything! Great comedy presented in a somewhat similar way but with it’s own modern charm.
  6. The Infiltrator 01/14/17 1] Dud alert.

The Infiltrator

This is one of those stories about the guy in the background and what’s he’s all about. Despite the film centering on the Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar, it watches more like a “Where are they now” episode on Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston.

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Having seen all seasons of Narcos in their entirety, I was hoping this would be more on Pablo Escobar. It wasn’t, in fact, he wasn’t even in it. I actually thought from the trailers that Bejamin Bratt was playing Escobar and was oddly curious about that. As it turned out, Escobar never graces the screen and this film is just a jumbled mess we’ve seen the likes of before. An undercover writer and cop decides to take part in a sting that will take down Escobar. Namely, the undercover dude is Bryan Cranston, who incidentally looks way too old for the part.

There is some stuff like, I dunno bowling, drinking beer, a few scantily clad women which there are never enough of in bad films. There is very little character development and I say that because I don’t care what is happening to anyone throughout the film. I don’t recommend this film. Pass if you get the chance.

The Walk

People with passion give life and inspiration to the world. Philippe Petit is one of those passionate people. His story rocked Netflix audience a few years ago in the documentary Man on a Wire. Robert Zemeckis saw the opportunity to make this event a major motion picture and he did it, and it works!

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Speaking with an authentic sounding accent, Josh Gordon Levitt plays Petit and he nails the part. The film brings a theatrical aspect the biography didn’t have. Mostly, the film parallels the biography but there are times Zemeckis is able to do things the biography missed, like showing the walk itself. The biography stated that all movie footage was lost of the walk. There are only stills.

What I got from it was that we all have an idea of what we need to do with our lives. That can be as small as wanting to work in a certain trade or art capacity or it can be as big as wanting to be a astronaut. In Petit’s case, he is wirewalker and he wants to put his wire in amazing places. As I watched his story, I got very inspired t teach better, blog harder, treat people more kindly, and dust off my guitar once in a while. For that inspiration, I thank Petit and Zemeckis. The man on the wire is a microcosm of what we all our in our own universe.

Krisha

Different movies for different folks. I’m sure you would agree with that. This is a film I can get into a little bit but not fully. It’s an art project that delves into the discomfort of addiction. It takes its viewers there through the character of Krisha. Sound like a fun ride at the movies? It really wasn’t for me.

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As if we need more family members like this in our lives. Krisha gives us the tension of Thanksgving. When they are looking at the turkey, we see a fish-eye view replete with knives glistening in the kitchen light. The sounds of laughing in the house are almost deafening. I assume this is all meant to recreate Krisha’s perception of the day.

It’s a creepy transition into talking and conversing with people who seemingly have no use for her anymore. Still, she is reaching out to them. She’s been lost but doesn’t seem to want to be found. She carried a pill container the size of a tackle box and seems versed in when to take her multiple meds throughout the day. Is this existence even worth living? Sometimes the critics rally to praise a highly uncomfortable film, this is one of those cases.

I recommend this as a wobbly experiment in discomfort, all in favor go for it.