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Saturday, July 8. 2017
Criminal — Perhaps Kevin Costner's best movie.
Arrival — The greatest 'space aliens' movie — that barely features any aliens.
Hidden Figures — A terrific move featuring NASA's early days
The Accountant — Perhaps Ben Affleck's greatest movie.
Juicy goodies below the fold.
In a world of marvelous Kevin Costner movies, this is at the top of my list. The crude, unblemished, uncaring, unempathetic role he plays is so far removed from his usual 'dashing' roles (Waterworld, The Postman, Robin Hood, et al) that it's hard to put into words. It also stars Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Ryan Reynolds, so it's no slouch in the stardom department.
Oh, and Gal Gidot plays a large role. You remember her, right?
Yes, that Gal Gidot.
The movie also has one of the most beautifully surreal endings I've ever seen. What makes it so different is that, after two hours of hard-bitten action, the final moments have this soft, uplifting song playing in the background. At that point, the only word is ethereal.
Here's a clip from the movie. I was tempted to use one of the brutal fight scenes, but since there might be young children and liberals in the audience, I didn't want to do any permanent mental damage. Here's a clip from the beginning that sets the tone.
This movie has a wonderful premise. Twelve alien ships have arrived at various spots around the globe, including one in America. A master linguist is recruited to try to communicate with them. Their language is so guttural and dissonant from human speech that our heroine decides that the best way to communicate with them is through written words.
It's been hypothesized that the more one learns of a foreign language, the more one's mindset begins to change. In this case, the aliens can see into the future. So, as our heroine learns more and more of their written language, she suddenly has flashes of future events. The movie culminates with her seeing a futuristic event in real-time as she's talking with a Chinese general on the phone who's about to launch a nuclear strike on what's now been perceived as a hostile force, whereupon she grabs his attention in a way that no other human being possibly could and ends up saving the day.
Amy Adams stars ('Lois Lane' in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Jeremy Renner ('Hawkeye' in the Avengers movies) co-stars.
Here's the transitional moment.
My sincere thanks to BonafideView who suggested this terrific flick in the comments section of my last movie review. I've now seen it four times. I'll let him give the introduction:
Doing much of the calculating is a group of twenty black women. When suddenly the prestigious Space Task Group, which does the launch and re-entry data, needs a real brainiac, the pool of white women can't come up with someone with the required skills, whereupon one of our heroines is chosen. Another goes to the engineering department which is designing the actual space capsule, and the third eventually masters this new-fangled "computer" thing that's arrived.
This is taking place in a segregated 1961 where the colored women have to use their own bathroom, etc. But what makes the movie almost unique (by today's liberal all whites are racist meme) is the way the movie puts on display how many white Americans weren't particularly racist at the time, they were just going along with the culture mores of the day.
That librarian might not have had a racist bone in her body, but, still, here in 1961, that's just the way it is.
And then there are just those who were so wrapped up in their engineering or mathematical worlds that they were simply unaware of how much racism was going on around them. At one point, our heroine's boss, played by the remarkable Kevin Costner, is perplexed why she's away from her desk for such long periods. She explains that there's no bathroom for coloreds in the building, so she has to run to the nearest one a half-mile away. Costner explodes, grabs a large crow bar, goes over to the colored ladies bathroom and tear down the sign. He then turns to the crowd and says "There you have it. No more colored restrooms. No more white restrooms. Just plain old toilets. Go wherever you damn well please. Here at NASA, we all pee the same color."
As for the clip, there were three 'blackboard scenes' that stood out. Here are the two handing-over-the-chalk ones, separated by a brief take on what a classy guy John Glenn was.
One could call this 'the ultimate job of casting'. Affleck has been criticized for his 'wooden' acting in the past; that is, not showing a lot of emotion, so what role does he play here? An emotionless autistic man. Perfect! Like many autistic people, he does have a couple of higher brain functions that he excels at. In this case, accounting and gunplay.
A brilliant analyst for the Treasury Department has been brought in to nail the guy. She sleuths her way through the thin data and eventually finds him. Unfortunately, her boss is holding back a dire secret, so her quest is ultimately thwarted. In fact, she, too, relinquishes her grasp on him at the end in a wonderful surprise ending.
Playing superb supporting roles are Anna Kendrick, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Hollywood legend John Lithgow.
As a small side note, if you read my review of John Wick a few weeks ago, you'll remember that I made note of how Hollywood's latest vogue when it comes to gun play is the head shot. You'll see more of that here.
Movie suggestions in the comments are always welcome.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:00 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
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I was not a big fan of the Accountant but it was pretty good. The others I haven't seen. One that I liked a lot was "Eye in the Sky" with Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman in his last movie. The story is about drones and terrorism. One of the plot lines involves a drone the size of a bumblebee that has a camera. I examine military recruits and I was talking to one about the time I saw the movie and mentioned the tiny drone. He said, "I work on them at Raytheon."
Obviously, I don't go to new movies much. It takes a lot to get me out of the house and away from NetFlix and my library of classic DVDs.
"Eye In The Sky" got a 7.3 rating on the IMDb, so the crowd liked it. I'll definitely give it a shot. Hope you get around to watching some of others in my review. 'Criminal' was really an incredible performance on Costner's part.
I recently watched Gravity and thought it was a good, solid sci fi movie. I recommend it. I look forward to watching it again with my wife (I watched it alone).
I don't know what it is about George Clooney. He bugs me to no end. He's kinda the same character in every movie. But, he fits his roles well. I like the movies he's in. He either takes direction very well or he's very picky about what movies he signs up for. That is really what makes the difference between good and bad actors. Even Tom Cruise was good when he shut up and did what Stanley Kubrick told him to do.
The ironic thing about 'Gravity' is that... there wasn't any! At least, not until the last few minutes of the movie. One nice touch is that they used Ed Harris as the voice of Mission Control. He played John Glenn in 'The Right Stuff' and the flight director in 'Apollo 13', so it was a fitting honorarium.
Aw, I missed your review of John Wick. Will definitely look that up.
I found The Accountant so interesting in addition to wildly entertaining. The sketches of his family's life were sort of tantalizing in their brevity, but captured a complexity that and in depth study would have perhaps crushed.
Book of Eli
Draft Day - Costner again
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, but not his Vertigo.
And, sorry, but Despicable Me always makes me laugh.
A real "true" story of determination and following your dream?
Don't be put off by the "Disney" label. Great film. Diane Lane shines as the the first woman owner in the sport.
I loved the flick. I have it prominently mentioned here:
'Seabiscuit' was also wonderful.
Never heard of 'Baby Driver' -- it's on the list!
As for "crappy summer", I thought 'Dr. Strange' was pretty good, and, of course, 'Wonder Woman' sounds fabulous. Also, the upcoming 'Ghost In The Shell' looks pretty cool.
I love Secretariat but would like to learn how to edit all the Disney crap off the DVD.
Well, assuming you wanted it to end up on DVD, it'd be a 3-step process. First, rip the DVD to the computer and convert just the movie to a computer file. Next, edit out anything in the movie (like the Disney intro) that you don't want. Finally, convert it back to DVD and burn the disc. Since it would be just the movie, that's what would start playing when the disc is inserted.
The process isn't particularly pretty, but it can certainly be done.
.....And don't miss "Baby Driver". The only smash hit of a crappy summer for films, and for good reason. Creative and original take on the worn out heist flick. Great cast. Terrific soundtrack. One hell of a car ride!
Book of Eli - One of Denzel's best. I haven't counted, but I'd guess I have more Denzel movies in my collection than anybody else. I think 'Déjà Vu' might be my favorite, or maybe 'Inside Man'.
Draft Day - I remember seeing it listed on the IMDb, but somehow never got around to it. Will do so.
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window - For some reason, I just never got into Hitchcock. Probably because I saw the 1963 'The Birds' in the movie theater at age 13 and had the pants scared off me. :) I'll give 'Rear Window' a try.
Despicable Me - Haven't seen a good animation in a while. I'll give it a shot, and t'anks for the suggestions.
Thanks for the clips - I've gotten really leery of Hollywood's usual "products" in the past several years; I need to see an actually-representative bit from a flick before I'm able to get interested - too often, the "official trailer" turns out to be pretty much the only substantive part of the whole film...
Both Criminal and The Accountant stand out for me...I'd also like to see Hidden Figures, I think, since it's mostly-fact-based, despite the rather-obvious "political"-subtext involved. The Accountant clip you showed was of particular interest; as nearly as I could tell, that appears to be the very first time I've seen/heard a realistic filmic usage of a handgun suppressor (aka: "silencer"), with a pretty realistic sound-track, at least in part, of what such a weapon actually sounds like in real-world usage.
RE: Hitchcock - I would concur on Rear Window being excellent, and Vertigo being not-very-good; Vertigo, though, was a fairly-early Hitchcock/Jimmy Stewart-collaboration, and Hitch was yet to hit his full stride on "big" films, so some of the results were rather on the weak side...
If you liked "Arrival" - read the short story that it was based on. Puts a whole different spin on it, and is a great one in its own right.
The movie was different enough to be enjoyable as a standalone effort. The short story was phenomenal, though.
It's primarily about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (and while it focuses on the portion which has been proven to be untrue, it does make an interesting case for the overall value of the hypothesis), but it does a GREAT job of explaining some difficult physics.
Re: Hidden Figures, the movie takes place during the MERCURY program, not Gemini, which followed the Mercury program with the original 7 astronauts. Somewhat ironic that Dr. Mercury missed that. Great movie, nonetheless, and a fascinating story that finally saw the light of day.