Now that things are back into full swing in my life, I’m making more strides in planning out my movie watching. Since I’ve largely limited myself (for now) to films that area available through the major streaming services, it can make it interesting. More after the list of films for this week:
|1/7||Brave New Jersey||2016|
|1/9||Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story||2017|
|1/12||Hang ‘Em High||1968|
Day 7 of my 2019 Movie Challenge!
Today was the movie Brave New Jersey, a comedy set in 1938 that finds a small farming town caught up in the hysteria of hearing Orson Welles’ famous broadcast of “War of the Worlds”.
It’s an OK film, funny but not over-the-top and while there’s some depth, it didn’t resonate as much with me. There’s a reveal about halfway through that they never do anything with and that’s unfortunate, because it could have led to a much more powerful climax. But if you’re a “War of the Worlds” fan or just like a light, small town comedy, this is a good one.
Day 8 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2016’s Camera Store.
Imagine if Arthur Miller had written Clerks instead of Kevin Smith. That’s this movie. It was pretty well shot, and John Laroquette and John Rhys-Davies were magnificent… but holy f**k was this depressing for me! The very last bit of the movie offered a sliver of positivity that just wasn’t enough to stop the mini-spiral of sadness that it triggered for me.
It’s worth a watch, but be prepared to watch a struggle that feels all too real and current (even set in 1995).
Day 9 of the 2019 Movie Challenge brought me the 2017 PBS documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.
This was an amazing woman. A Hollywood star during the late 30s and early 40s, considered one of, if not the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. But she harbored a secret… she was a nerd! (Dun dun DUUUNNNN!)
Not really, but in addition to her time in Hollywood she also was an inventor and that’s what this documentary talks about. In fact, odds are good that the only reason you’re reading this post right now is thanks to the technology she patented during World War II. It’s a great story that deserves to be heard and recognized, so check it out!
Check out the documentary. You might also want to see one of her movies as well. A number of Hedy Lamarr’s films are available on the various streaming services, including her first Hollywood picture, Algiers, which will now be my pick for tomorrow’s movie!
Day 10 of the 2019 Movie Challenge!
As mentioned after viewing Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story yesterday, today I decided to watch the 1938 film Algiers, which was her first Hollywood movie.
It’s a remake of a 1937 French film and we see Charles Boyer as a thief/scoundrel named Pépé Le Moko*, a man who both kind of runs and is trapped in the Casbah section of Algiers. While he puts up a good front to his cronies and the rest of the Casbah, he wants nothing more than to go home to Paris. However, the police are constantly looking for him for various crimes committed. His situation comes to a head when he meets Gaby (played by Lamarr), a woman who is trapped in an engagement to a man she doesn’t love.
Essentially, this is something of a forerunner to the legendary Casablanca, and in fact was one of the inspirations for that movie. Watching it now, you can also see elements of other films like Titanic on display in this classic.
*Interesting bit of trivia – Mel Blanc based the voice of suave cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew on Boyer’s character.
Day 11 of the 2019 Movie Challenge, and I decided to slightly change tack and watch something really silly. So I picked 2015’s Lazer Team!
An early original feature release from YouTube, it’s basically a silly version of a superhero origin story. An alien set of armor, meant for Earth’s true champion, is accidentally shot down by a group of small-town misfits who each end up with a different part of the set. Hilarity ensues as they attempt to come together as a team before fighting off an oncoming interstellar invasion.
This was pretty funny at points. It took a bit for it to really land with me, but I liked the story and the performances were solid as well. Obviously, enough other folks liked it as well, as they released Lazer Team 2 in 2018. (I’ll be watching that another day!)
Day 12 of the 2019 Movie Challenge finds us going back to the Old West for a Clint Eastwood flick, 1968’s Hang ‘Em High. When Clint is mistaken for a cattle rustler/murderer and gets hung by a posse of vigilantes, he survives and hunts them down.
This is admittedly not a great synopsis, as he becomes a marshal after surviving the initial hanging and the story goes into a larger exploration of law vs justice vs power. The film’s a bit of a mess, to be honest, but it was the first film released by Eastwood’s production company Malpaso (and they’ve gotten a lot better over the years). This also played out more like a TV show, which makes sense since it was written by Leonard Freeman (most famous for creating Hawaii Five-O). Overall, it could’ve been a lot better, but it was a good first time running things for Eastwood, who would eventually take over directing his films as well just a few years after this.
Day 13 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today I actually went to the movie theater to see 2018’s Aquaman, which just passed the billion-dollar mark in its worldwide box office.
I thought it was an OK film — good, but not great. Wonder Woman was definitely better overall, but Aquaman also has an more positive tone than the Nolan Batman films, Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And I did enjoy the story overall, too. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling things, but it is a worthy addition to the DCEU and I’m glad they made it!
Definitely the winner for this week was Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. I’m still obsessing over this documentary even days later! It was a fascinating look at a classic Hollywood beauty who had far more going on than most people bothered to see. I’ll recommend that one again! I was aware of her and I knew a little of her non-acting accomplishments, but it was fascinating to get the whole story. To be fair, all the other films from this week moved me in some fashion, too (expect maybe “Hang ‘Em High”). But this documentary was definitely the best.
I will say that I just managed to squeeze in Aquaman (barely!) after driving out to view the venue that I’ll be performing in in a couple of weeks for the first of three public library performances for the Atlanta Radio Theater Company. We’ve been working towards these performances since November, preparing a bunch of short scripts with a small cast that will also be directing individual scripts, sound designing others and doing live foley effects for still others. There have been some hurdles in our preparation (as usually happens when you’re volunteering for unpaid theatre work), but I imagine the end result will be just fine. If you happen to find yourself in the Atlanta metro area on January 26 and are looking for something to do, this is a great FREE show to come check out!