The Taking of Pelham 123 (Directed by Joseph Sargent)
From my review: The most fascinating character, in my opinion, is Mr. Blue, the head of this quartet of criminals. The audience will eventually learn he’s Bernard Ryder, a former British Army Colonel who became a mercenary in Africa. We’re never entirely sure how this crew came to be, but we can assume they met in prison or after getting out. Blue is a rotten man, down to his core. He sees no value in human life but is also calculating. He’s not going to run in shooting; he’ll figure out the angles and force his opponent’s hand. Mr. Green, on the other hand, is, as his name implies, not confident in this criminal activity. Green got involved in the drug trade and was arrested in a bust; upon release, he had trouble getting a job of any means. We learn he operates an airport forklift and leaves in a hole of an apartment. One is utterly unsympathetic, while the other will likely elicit empathy from the audience. Green doesn’t want to kill anyone, but he has gone all-in with this crew. Society seems not to have a way to reintegrate these people, leading to the revolving door of crime.
It seems like Spider-Man; there is always a Batman reboot just around the corner. A long time ago, I gave up on caring about films adhering to a singular vision of a character. I wouldn’t say I am hyped about this due to Matt Reeves’ involvement. I think the recent Planet of the Apes films are okay. I am, however, interested to see Robert Pattinson as Batman. Pattinson has made some fantastic career choices recently, and I want to see if this one was purely for the paycheck or if they are doing something special with Batman. The tone of the trailers has been pretty spot on, a good mix of Nolan’s gritty world with the inclusion of other elements we haven’t seen in a while. I am curious to see Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, as he looks unrecognizable.
I hadn’t reviewed as many movies on this blog as Seth has. Also, if this list intermixes with his, we watch a lot of films together. I will choose a few others to show just how cool I am.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World Directed by Adam Curtis
Adam Curtis is like the Ken Burns of the emotional state of the Western World. There is a particular stomach-turning sensation when watching Adam Curtis’s films. You’re quietly begging for him to perhaps deliver some good news only for him to carve in deeper into the history to remind you just how insane it is. Not a lighthearted watch. You can watch it all here right now.
As I expected with COVID-19 still being very much out there and continuing to kill and disable, there were quite a few films pushed to 2022 and beyond. However, this was a much better crop of movies than what we got in 2020. Below are just brief thoughts and links to the full reviews of movies I saw. Then we have the ones I haven’t seen yet split into “will eventually” watch and “not likely” piles. These all come from the Most Anticipated Films of 2021(2) posts made last year.
From my review: We get a darkly complex story about the unnoticed rise of fascism and how humanity is composed of abused & downtrodden people who take advantage of each other. This story will not deliver a fairy tale ending and features characters you will have a deeply hard time liking. Such a shift by del Toro, a director who has spent his career delving into worlds of magic, is pretty jarring. The only figure who deserves an ounce of empathy in the picture is the poor geek, forced to bite the heads off chickens while living in an opium/alcohol-induced squalor. Even Molly is guilty of running a con; she just doesn’t want to go as far as Stanton is willing to reach.
From my review: Shawkat continues to give the best performances of her career so far. Physically she has a shaved head (forced upon her by the Twink), and there’s a disconnect in the way she moves. She cowers continuously, compared to last season, where she played the seductress, using her sexuality to manipulate. By the end of season four, she is genderless in many ways. She walks with a gait that could never be considered “feminine” by American cultural standards. I think this is important because it notes that Dory has played several roles as she’s dug herself deeper into the predicaments in her life. Now she’s reached a point, having convinced the public of her innocence while feeling the enormity of her guilt, that she is no one. The Twink takes full advantage of this and further breaks Dory down throughout the season.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, dir. Martin Scorsese)
From my full review: Scorsese delivers a pitch-perfect comedy-drama that never once feels phony. He ends up presenting one of the most honest mother-son relationships I’ve seen in a film. Alice is by no means a conventional mother, and she regularly engages in arguments with her son that seem more appropriate for a friend. She is still a parent and is determined to keep her son out of trouble while allowing him space to make mistakes and learn. The things she exposes her son to might cause some viewers to judge her for being immature and irresponsible. Tommy is present when Ben becomes violent with Alice. When Alice gets involved with David, Tommy is a part of their going out. It makes sense, though, because Alice’s life has a big chunk devoted to Tommy, so any person she might partner with is going to need to understand and get along with her child.
From my review: The story begins with Lauren, still a teenager, living with her father, stepmother, and brothers in their gated community. The people have barricaded the walls and gate and, under the guidance of Lauren’s father, created a tenuous but self-sustaining system. The story begins with very episodic moments, signs that things aren’t great, and as the narrative continues getting worse. Butler focuses her themes on the balance of individual & collective survival. Lauren begins preparing in secret for the day the walls don’t hold the hungry & wanting out anymore. She learns everything she can from her father’s library about survival in the wilderness and then goes about creating a go-bag with everything she would need to set out. At the same time, there’s a strong emphasis on teaching these skills to others. Lauren knows she could be perfectly prepared, but it will be much harder for her to survive independently. While most people in this future are becoming more savage, Lauren understands life without human connection is simply not worth it.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (directed by Robert Altman) Robert Altman is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s a shame this movie doesn’t come up more often in discussions about westerns. It isn’t a cowboys vs. Indians shoot ’em up. Instead, it’s a bleak & hopeful melancholy love story. John McCabe (Warren Beatty) is a gambler that stumbles into a small Western Washington town. He quickly takes a position of prominence and control in a place populated mainly by lethargic miners. To keep control, he builds a brothel and pays for three sex workers from a few towns over to live there. One of them, Constance Miller (Julie Christie), has excellent business acumen, and the two become partners in building up the town. Unfortunately, their business decisions make them a target of more prominent, more powerful men, which can only lead to tragedy. In addition, opium comes to their home, and that serves to further complicate things. Altman referred to the picture as an anti-Western, and it’s clear because it completely subverts all the tropes you expect from such a movie.