|3/5||The Russian Revolution||2017|
|3/6||My Name is Jerry||2009|
|3/9||Thunderbolt and Lightfoot||1974|
Day 63 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2003’s Shattered Glass, the dramatized version of a real-life event that happened at The New Republic, a respected D.C.-based news magazine. Stephen Glass, one of their star reporters, was fired after it was discovered that more than half of his stories were either partially or completely fabricated.
Hayden Christensen did a good job with the lead role, at points almost channeling Jeff Goldblum and others as a vulnerable young man, desperate for love and acceptance, who is exposed as a chronic liar. I’d also point out that this came in between his work on Star Wars episodes 2 & 3. He gets a bit of a bum rap for his acting in those films and it’s not completely unjustified. But I have seen him in other films and he was terrific. Peter Sarsgaard is great as the editor who eventually figures it out and there is some good additional supporting work from folks like Hank Azaria, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn & Rosario Dawson.
This is different from most films I’ve seen in that it feels like the movie was too quickly paced. Screenwriter Billy Ray made his directorial debut with this film and it’s a good one to start with, as it’s one that’s a lot more forgiving to moviemaking mistakes than some other projects would be. Those mistakes were gone by his next directing effort, 2007’s Breach (which I highly recommend).
Day 64 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Ended up choosing a short one today, due to time pressures as well as technical difficulties. But I managed to squeeze this in! Today’s film is 2017’s The Russian Revolution, a documentary about… well, the Russian Revolution.
I don’t have a lot to say about this one… it’s a pretty straightforward “talking head” documentary. I like that it sheds some more factual light on a period I only know lightly. It’s a good companion piece if you watched the Amazon Prime original (and confusing) series The Romanoffs and want to spend an hour learning the basics of the story behind that series.
Day 65 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s movie is 2009’s My Name Is Jerry. Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery, The Shape of Water) plays Jerry, a salesman struggling to find meaning in his life and reconnect with his estranged daughter. A chance encounter with a young bartender changes his life and helps him see the world anew.
I really enjoyed this film. Doug Jones is a fantastic actor, his incredible expressive given a good venue outside of the monster makeup or alien foreheads he has donned time and again throughout his career. He carries this film effortlessly (at least it looks effortless!), and gets some great supporting actors around him with Warehouse 13 badass Allison Scagliotti, That 70s Show TV dad Don Stark, 7th Heaven TV mom Catherine Hicks, and a pre-Walking Dead Steven Yeun. There are some really hilarious moments as well as some really moving moments in a good balance. This was a Ball State University film (Jones himself is a Ball State alum), but it is very professionally done. Good job!
Day 66 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2010’s The American, starring George Clooney as an assassin who hides out in a small Italian village while completing “one last job”…
This is a pretty decent film. Incredibly formulaic, along similar lines to Polar which we watched back in January, but not nearly as comic-book like. It’s a very quiet movie — no a lot of music and several periods of little to no dialogue. Clooney’s character is very taciturn throughout the picture as befits his profession. And there are some great scenes with Thekla Reuten playing a femme fatale (check her out in the first season of Sleeper Cell… she’s great!) and Violante Placido, in her first Hollywood film, as Clooney’s love interest.
It’s not a roller coaster of a film but, not unlike 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, it really ramps up the tension by having things slow down, as you wait and wait for that shot to ring out, or some guy to jump the hero (?) from an alleyway. It’s definitely worth seeing once, but I don’t know how effective it could be with repeated viewing.
Day 67 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Today’s film is 2016’s Kickboxer: Vengeance, a reboot of the action franchise that started with Jean-Claude Van Damme and 1989’s Kickboxer.
The plot is largely the same: Kurt Sloane learns muay thai in Thailand after a sinister muay thai master kills his brother in an illegal underground match. Stuntman Alain Moussi steps into the Van Damme role as Kurt Sloane, and JCVD himself returns to the franchise, this time as Kurt’s teacher. Dave Bautista is terrific as the villain Tong Po, but I feel like he was a bit underutilized in this film. He really is giving acting his all… and I think he’s quite good at it. (See my review from Jan 26 on Bushwick.)
The film itself is nothing to crow about, as it’s a fairly straight retread of the original movie, although it adds a police corruption subplot that is kind of forgettable. Moussi does a passable job as Sloane, enough so that may made a sequel with a third film on the way possibly later this year. There will probably be a review of the sequel before too long here…
Day 68 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! Going back in time today for 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, an action comedy starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. A bank robber comes out of hiding and reluctantly reunites with some of his old gang to pull off another heist, aided by a young drifter.
This movie wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as overtly comedic as I had hoped, but there were several funny moments. Screen veteran George Kennedy is terrific an angry colleague and character actor Geoffrey Lewis is a lovable oaf in this movie. It’s a pretty good script by Michael Cimino, as well as his directorial debut. (He’d later follow this with the classic movie The Deer Hunter and the now-infamous Heaven’s Gate.) There’s only sporadic gunplay in the movie, most of which occurs long before the heist happens. Other than a small stretch in the middle that felt like it dragged a bit, the movie pressed on at a good pace.
Day 69 of the 2019 Movie Challenge! New movie today in Captain Marvel, the latest of the MCU, with Brie Larson in the title role. A Kree warrior escapes captivity and lands on Earth in the 1990s, searching for the source of her missing memories.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
This movie was terrific. As much as I’m suffering from “origin story fatigue”, I enjoyed this tale. Brie Larsen is wonderful as Carol Danvers, a woman living a life that is not really hers and discovering not only her true power but reclaiming her identity. Samuel L. Jackson does great as early-era, two-eyed Nick Fury courtesy of digital de-aging technology (slightly rougher on Clark Gregg’s appearance as Coulson). Ben Mendelsohn is great as Talos, the Skrull leader who may not be exactly what Danvers was led to believe. Jude Law & Annette Bening also turn in some great work as well as Danvers’ bosses in both sides of her life.
There is a lot more comedy in this movie than any of the trailers let on, because it’s a Marvel movie. But it also has a great amount of the feels as well. One of Stan Lee’s final cameos was a great nod to his own on-camera work also check out the studio opening logo… great tribute). Danvers’ reunion with her best friend Maria Rambeau and daughter Monica* is very touching and I’m also glad to see the earlier versions of SHIELD tech that we’ve grown very accustomed to in the other films. You even get to see the reveal of how Nick Fury lost his eye! (HINT: Stupid flirkin…)
There are some issues with this movie, but most of it pertains to how it doesn’t fit well into the rest of the MCU and how she’s being worked into the upcoming Avengers: Endgame in just a few weeks. The Tesseract is a central part of the plot and that fortunately does not cause major problems with its centrality to earlier MCU films Captain America: The First Avenger or The Avengers. But a big question is the super-pager that we see Fury using in a post-credit sequence in Infinity War. He receives it from Danvers at the end of the movie for “emergencies only”. But why was it not used before now, given the events of the first two Avengers movies? Ultimately, this movie is a prequel to the MCU, coming super late in the line-up as the last 11-12 years of work are coming to a head at the end of next month. As a prequel to the major story, it presents some problems. But as a straight-up Marvel movie, it’s wonderful, pretty positive and absolutely worth seeing!
*In the comics, Monica Rambeau took on the mantle of Captain Marvel herself for a time and has her own set of powers (later going by other names like “Photon”).
While I’ve been considering things for a while in terms of improving my health, like many folks I still hadn’t really taken the dive in terms of focusing on actually doing something. But I was prompted a bit by this YouTube video posted this past week by my VO coach where he got kind of vulnerable about some of his own past & present health challenges. It was surprising to hear from him, as he’s usually a rather private individual when it comes to his personal life, but also rather inspiring to me personally. I’m glad he said what he did and I hope other people were motivated like I was as a result.
So I started with a workout regimen the other day, courtesy of Darebee, a great site that offers up easy-to-follow workouts for all fitness levels. I’m using the Foundation Light workout for 30 days, then I’ll see what I want to do from there. The first couple of days weren’t too horrible, although the Day 1 cardio kind of kicked my butt.
Next step is improving my food intake. I’ve been a vegetarian (by choice) for almost 6 years, but it really hasn’t improved my health much. To be fair, though, I’ve been making some not-great choices in terms of what I eat. It’s entirely possible to be a vegetarian or even a vegan and still eat like crap.
Before I forget, the best movie I saw this week was probably My Name is Jerry. Yes, Captain Marvel was really awesome, but I didn’t count it as I knew it would already be at that level and it’s brand-new.