Movies you've seen recently

Yeah, I’ve been reading up on her a bit and I was aware of the movie you cited. She had such talent, both as a pianist and a vocalist. Watching this movie I was all in with her until she started reading that poem; then I was all WTF-ey.

I should note that she suffered from bipolar disorder.

mmm

I watched Green For Danger, a solid Brit, Agatha Christie-like mystery. It stars several actors I like: Alastair Sim, Trevor Howard, Leo Genn, Megs Jenkins.

It’s set in wartime England. A man dies on the operating table, and murder is suspected. Who among the surgeons, nurses and anesthetist done it? Alastair Sim plays the Scotland Yard detective trying to prod the truth from all the medical staff involved.

I liked it a lot. I’m glad I bought it through Amazon Prime so I can watch it again in the future, and try to spot clues as they occur prior to the big reveal at the end.

I don’t think he’s a good actor. His emotional range, as Dorothy Parker said of Katharine Hepburn, runs the gamut from A to B. I’ve seen him in a lot of movies and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him raise his voice, laugh, groan or be anything other than a bland, zero-affect WASP occupier of space.

Pig

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Gist: A thoughtful and powerful performance from Nicolas Cage

I have not seen a lot of advertising for Pig and mostly came to it through word of mouth, but my understanding is that it is being advertised at least somewhat as a John Wick movie featuring Nic Cage. Let me be clear. This is 100% NOT the case. It is a slow paced drama that succeeds because Cage delivers a solid performance throughout. It is easy to divide today’s Nicolas Cage movies into two categories.

Paycheck movies - Willy’s Wonderland, Kill Chain, Primal, Grand Isle

Artistic movies - Mandy, Color Out of Space, Pig

Pig is his most recent “real” movie and he delivers a great performance. It’s simply about a man who loses a pig that means a lot to him. This does not seem to be the type of premise that should work as a serious movie, but it does. When Cage is at his best, he is impossible to look away from and this is definitely a great performance from him. He commands the screen the entire time he is on it.

Pros:

  • Stellar performance from Nicolas Cage
  • Gripping drama about loss
  • Tells a unique story that really should not work, but does

Cons:

  • Aside from the strong performance from Cage, it is just not great enough to push itself into the upper levels of great movies.

Mandy is the best Nicolas Cage movie I have seen the past five years or so. Pig is most definitely his second best, though. Mandy is an incredible movie and an incredible experience and is a very high bar to try to achieve again. Pig is far more standard and a lot more calm than Mandy, but it is also….well, just not as amazing.

If you like performances that you can not look away from and are prepared for a serious drama, I do recommend this movie very highly.

Spy

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Gist: A guilty pleasure for sure, but a downright hilarious comedy

I am not a fan of Paul Feig comedies and I’m not entirely sure how my wife and I ended up watching Spy a few years ago when it first hit DVD. I’m glad we did, though. It is a surprisingly funny movie and while I have not seen many Melissa McCarthy movies, this is clearly the best and funniest performance I have seen her give. Very noteworthy is the fact that Jason Staham is also in this movie and gives an incredible, hilarious performance that is very memorable.

Pros:

  • Laugh-out-loud funny for most of its run time
  • Jason Staham surprises everyone as a great comedic actor
  • Melissa McCarthy is known as a comedic actress and this is the funniest I’ve seen her
  • Some great small supporting performances that also deliver big laughs

Cons:

  • Takes 20 minutes or more to become really funny
  • Final 30 minutes is cute and somewhat funny, but does not live up to the middle hour or so of the movie
  • Weak plot, if this sort of thing matters in a comedy like this

I went into this movie originally thinking it would be a Spy send-up like Austin Powers. It’s really more like a decent espionage movie that happens to be extremely hilarious and is filled with amazing performances. Worth your time for sure.

Note: My recent viewing was the extended cut. I actually recommend the original theatrical cut, as many added and extended scenes were really better as deleted scenes and alternate takes. It’s slightly less funny to see funny moments extended.

I watched that, too. Wanted to see Sim in something other than Scrooge. It was … okay.

Watched Eternal Boredom of the Spotless Mind today. Should have run away as soon I saw Jim Carey’s name, but watched it anyway. Lost interest pretty darn fast. Hard to follow, kinda stoopid and gets worse as it progresses.

Kate Winslet’s hair was fun to watch however.

Not everybody, he was very funny in Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, his first few movies.

It’s “Statham” (two Ts) but yes, Statham is much funnier than you’d expect, particularly when he is sending himself up. And Spy is my favorite McCarthy movie.

The Verka Serduchka cameo was completely gratuitous but fuck it, Verka is always fun.

The only thing missing was Jason Statham getting on stage and dancing with them to maintain his cover. How they did not realize this was a great idea is beyond me.

Major Grom: Plague Doctor. A Russian film based on a Russian comic book, this is pretty much a litany of genre cliches so familiar that I can’t really spoil the film because you already know what’s going to happen.

He’s a renegade cop that breaks all the rules but gets results. His partner is an earnest rookie whom he despises but manages to win his respect in the end. There’s a beautiful woman with whom he starts out fighting with but eventually there is kissing involved. There is an evil rich bad guy bent on wreaking havoc and breaking down society for nefarious ends. The renegade cop goes too far and loses his badge but continues with the investigation anyway. He then has to fight against both the authorities and the bad guy. There is more than one fight on a tall building/rooftop. He learns to rely on other people in the end rather than insisting on working alone. There is a mid-credits scene in which the bad guy plans to break out and wreak his revenge. I mean, if you didn’t expect any of that, you somehow missed the entire “renegade cop” genre of the 1980s and '90s etc.

That said, for what it is, it’s pretty well done. God knows I’ve seen a lot worse examples of this type of film. It runs over two hours for no real reason, but it’s fine. And Major Grom will be back presumably at some point, hopefully in a more original storyline.

ETA: One notable difference from the genre: as it’s not American, the number of gun battles is actually quite small. There is, however, a lot of fire.

The Limehouse Golem

★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Yikes, what a disappointment. Begins as a very interesting serial-killer mystery being investigated in the 19th century by Bill Nighy. Then…he just interviews and investigates in a very boring series of scenes and we get to the end and find out the truth. It begins so well and I love Bill Nighy, but it is just a snooze.

Bill Nighy tries so hard and is so good an actor, he almost saves it. But, alas, it’s just too dull and uninspired to make any real impact.

Boringly edited and directed, more like a TV movie with a large budget.

I was looking forward to it, but it was quite dull. If you really like murder mysteries, you might find something here.

That’s being kind. I think I fell asleep during it. I’d say 2 stars, tops.

I can’t muster enough energy to disagree. I guess the opening was good enough and the ending…kind of pulled me in. I’m just being nice because of Bill Nighy’s real attempt to make the movie work.

Agreed it could be lower.

I saw it and don’t remember it well, nor do I remember well the novel it’s based on, which I also read:

I really enjoyed “Spy” as well, but I thought “The Heat” was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a very long time.

I’ll have to check it out some time.

I’ve also been meaning to watch, “Can You Ever Forgive Me”.

That’s definitely not a funny movie by any stretch, but I enjoyed it, and thought it was a great serious role for McCarthy.

ToD is my favorite one. That movie moves at a break-neck pace. Wall-to-wall good action.

Re-watched Saturday Night Fever not long ago. I was in my teens when it came out and I probably hated it. At some point, though, I noticed that it was getting good reviews from trusted critics and that there’s a lot more to it than Travolta doing that little prance of his on the dance floor, with the exaggerated walking movements (some of his other moves are pretty good). Several intersecting subplots were written, acted and filmed very well, especially the developing relationship between the two main characters. Consider, for example, their first “date” at a cafeteria and his nervous attempts to keep up with her conversation, and a later scene where he helps her move into an apartment and ends up learning a lot more about her.

I had to laugh when Travolta’s character said the word whore and pronounced it as who’re (rhymes with tour). Is that how it was pronounced around New York at that time?

I see lots of potential for a remake. In my very-uninformed opinion, popular dance has come a long way since then, and it wouldn’t be hard to film better dancing in a remake. The film does a great job of capturing the intensity created by the circumstances that lead up to the two main characters winning the dance contest (it really looks like they’re only aware of each other), but there’s too little of the black couple and even less of the Hispanic couple, and the viewer is practically left to imagine why they’re considered better dancers. Also, the fight with the Puerto Rican gang is comically bad and could easily be better filmed in a remake.

A remake, though, would require a complete overhaul to reflect modern times, and that might be too tall an order.