Saturday, November 30, 2019
Knives Out. This is a twisted web, and we are not finished untangling it, not yet. A donut hole inside a donut hole. Love a Agatha Christie style whodunit. Gosford Park. Fucking great. Manhattan Murder Mystery. Get the fuck out. Murder Mystery. That was supposed to be trash. Loved it. The Ghost Writer. Ate that shit up. Shit, I'd put The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which also stars Daniel Craig, in that boat as well. Movie was tits. This one, better than those even. Greatest movie of all-time you say? I do.
Rotten Tomato Consensus: Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson's stellar ensemble.
Gist of the movie is that famous and massively wealthy mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (played wonderfully by Christopher Plummer) is found dead of an apparent suicide at his massive estate the day following his 85th birthday party. But there are issues and someone has anonymously hired famous private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to investigate. Everyone of Thrombey's horrible and dysfunctional descendants are suspects after they all get cut out of the will. Then there is his beautiful and seemingly kind nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), whom the family finds suspect. Thats about all you need to know. Don't want to spoil the surprise.
Directed by one Rian Johnson, he also did Brick (which I saw way back when and don't remember caring for, little dark for my taste), Looper, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (meh). He is married to Karina Longworth, the host of this podcast that I fucking love called You Must Remember This, you have to check that shit out if you are into old movie stars and Hollywood history, which is pretty cool. The movie stars de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) who is just perfect, Craig, Evans, Plummer, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield. In case you don't know, that cast is fucking sick.
This movie is so in my fucking wheelhouse. No way I wasn't going to like it. But I genuinely loved it. I wait for years for these types of movies and lose my fucking mind when they come out. This was fucking great and I loved the experience of it (even though it was a packed house and the guy setting behind me smelled horrible). I'm definitely going to see it second time, no fucking doubt.
Something super clever I noticed was how no one listens to "the help." There are three times this hilariously comes to light. In one, every time the family mentions Marta's family, they say that they come from a different country, never getting it right. By the time they make the third reference to it, you are definitely LOLing. The second time, the housekeeper, the one we see deadish with the spider on her face in the trailer, is trying to explain the whole murder plot to another character, which would totally have ended things way sooner, but the person doesn't even try to follow along. This was subtle and low-key the funniest one. Then there is when she straight up, point blank says who the killer is and no one really gets it. A bit about the woman that plays this character Fran. Her name is Edi Patterson. Before a couple of months ago I had never seen her in my life. Now, I can't get enough of her. She is legit hilarious and is kind of having a moment between her work on this and in the television show The Righteous Gemstones, which I cannot recommend enough.
MVP goes to Chris Evans. That guy is really something. In a movie with all that talent, I think he probably won the movie. His performance is complex and layered. No Captain America, that is for sure, this guy is a douche-bag. It's obvious that Evans loved it and it shows. Plummer and de Armas are solid honorable mentions, though there isn't anyone who isn't just amazing (have heard some shit about Craig's ridiculous accent but I think it works and I loved hearing yuck it up about how the case was like a donut, no a donut hole, no a hole within the donut hole, and so forth).
Friday, November 29, 2019
Death Proof. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. And I have promises to keep. Miles to go before I sleep... I'm the horniest motherfucker on the road! 2007. Part of the Greatest Years in Cinema Project I'm working on. One of my least favorite films by Quinton Tarantino. That being said. Still a huge fucking fan. Both of the movie and Tarantino. I mean, dude makes movies that I fucking love. When this came out, people who said Tarantino has lost his edge I thought were insane. Not instant classic like Inglourious Basterds. But still a goddamned solid picture.
Rotten Consensus: Death Proof may feel somewhat minor in the context of Tarantino's larger filmography, but on its own merits, it packs just enough of a wallop to deliver sufficiently high-octane grindhouse goods.
With Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, which was also solid and probably a movie I'm going to rewatch soonish, was part of the "Grindhouse" double feature. This confused the few people in the theater where I originally saw the pair. Supposed to recreate the experience he loved as a child of going to exploitation double features. Tarantino's portion follows Stuntman Mike played by Kurt Russell who gets off by killing young women by crashing into them with his stuntman, death proofed car. But first he likes to fuck with them.
The movie is split into two halves. The first set, whom he meets at a bar in Austin, Texas, he hits head-on, crushing one, ejecting another from the car, ripping off one's leg, and running over the other one's face. This is after he has killed a woman played by Rose McGowan whom he is "giving a ride home" by pinballing her around in the non-death proofed side of the vehicle. It is probably the most terrifying moment in any of Tarantino's movies when McGowan's character, after ignoring many red flags and is in the stuntman's car, when he asks which way she is going and she says "right" and Stuntman Mike explains that they are going "left" and if she had been going left too, it would have been a while before she had gotten scared. The girls in this section consist of pretty lady Vanessa Ferlito whom I've never seen in anything else before or since, Jordan Ladd who is the daughter of Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd, and Sydney Tamiia Poitier who is the daughter of Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier. This was sort of the second movie, the first being Jackie Brown, where Tarantino started using the children of stars he admired but the first that he really started to go all in on it (he has since done this again with Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood). This portion of the movie also features Michael Parks who became sort of a Tarantino and Kevin Smith favorite late in life (he played the villain in both Red State and Tusk), Eli Roth who plays a frat boy type, and Tarantino playing the bartender.
Second part of the flick, spoilers, Stuntman Mike tries something similar, trying to run a group of women off the road, one of whom, stuntwoman Zoë Bell, Uma's Kill Bill stuntwoman, playing herself, has strapped herself to the hood of a car in some dangerous as fuck thrill seeking shit. Unfortunately for Stuntman Mike, the women he has decided to fuck with include a legendary stuntwoman (Bell), a fictional stunt driver played by one Tracie Thoms whom I don't know, and pissed off hair and makeup person played by Rosario Dawson who wears shit-kicking boots and throws a hell of a punch. After Bell is finally thrown from the front of the car, Stuntman Mike tells them that "that was fun" but he doesn't get to enjoy the moment as Thoms breaks out a gun, wounding him with a shot to the arm, and then the ladies go on the offensive, eventually running him off the road, pulling him from the car and beating him to death. This was Tarantino's chick/car movie, obviously.
Couple of things that stuck out. Tarantino and the feet thing. There are multiple scenes featuring woman's feet, per usual. Feel this is the first one where it is like a real joke, notably when Dawson's character is sleeping with an eye mask on in her friend's car with her feet out the window and Stuntman Mike comes up to her and is a huge disgusting creep. Sort of Tarantino being like, "you think I am creep with the feet stuff? Here is some real creepy shit." There is a lap dance scene where one of the girls that dies in the car crash. This is pretty unnecessary and just sort of weird. You definitely don't like it when you see what this asshole does to her sort of thing. Finally, has one of funniest scenes from any of Tarantino's movies. The girls in the second part are trying to test drive this classic car they are into owned by some hillbilly (whom I remember as the lazy eyed dude in a couple Adam Sandler movies). As collateral on the car, they leave this actress/model dressed as a cheerleader played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (she is extremely attractive) they are hanging out with. They imply that she will suck the guy's dick, unbeknownst to her. The guy asks Dawson's character how he knows her. "She is an actress," she says. "From porno movies?" he asks. "Yes, from porno movies," Dawson says. Funny shit but it gets scary as they take off and he walks up to the girl with a disturbing grin on his face. "Gulp," the cheerleader says.
Hard to say who won the movie, really, but I'd probably go with Russell. He plays a pretty convincing maniac, and without this role, I don't think we get The Hateful Eight and possibly not Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood (it is rumored that the Russell and his longtime stuntman were maybe the inspiration for the movie [or maybe Burt Reynolds and his stunt guy]). A case could also be made for Bell who went from stunt person to legitimate actress after this flick. Also, the minute or so that Parks is in the movie is an incredible heat check. That guy always made the most out of his 30 seconds or whatever of screen time.
Rotten Tomato Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, legendary director. Jack Nicholson, yeah, that guy, plays Jack Torrance. There are a few shots where it seems like a Kubric film. But more than that it feels like a Jack Nicholson movie. Nicholson definitely wins the movie, by the way. Total fucking psycho. Goes from being a prick to everyone to being a complete psycho. Also staring in the flick are Shelley Duvall plays Wendy Torrance, Danny Lloyd as Danny (his sweater game is on fucking point) and does a hell of a job for a very young child actor who thought he was in a family drama, and Scatman Crothers (mostly remember him from this, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and as the coach of the Harlem Globetrotters on various TV shows) plays Dick Hallorann, the psychic chef. Few other people in the movie but no one you are likely to recognize. Most notable are Philip Stone as Delbert Grady, Joe Turkel as Lloyd, and hottie Lia Beldam as the young woman in the tub in room 237 who makes out with Jack.
As I said before, me and this movie go way back. Used to watch it yearly, it felt like it was always on TV, but it has been more like every five years for the last 15 years or so. Still, every time I notice something new. Tis' how it is with Kubrick movies I guess. In this viewing, picked up on a bit of comedy I'd never noticed before. It comes when Jack is in the ballroom and Grady bumps into him and spills some custardy, thick, yellow beverage all over Jack's hands and jacket. Grady convinces Jack to go to the restroom with him to wash off. "It tends to stain," Grady says. It is then that Jack pats Grady on the back and leaves a hand print. Pretty sure he did this on purpose.
Also picked up something Jack says early in the movie. He tells Wendy that he "felt like he had been there before." Of course at the end we see him in the July 4th Ball photo from 1921. Hard to say if we are to take this literally or not. Hard to say what the fuck Kubric was ever thinking. Shit, I mean, he once called The Shining his most optimistic movie because it showed some sort of afterlife. Alright, buddy.
Think part of my affinity for this flick when I was young came from my mother being the spitting image of Shelley Duvall in this movie. It was crazy, though they have since adopted vastly different looks. Also, she was a a super fun mom, always playing with her little guy, just like my ma when I was a wee one. Aw. I love my mom. Wendy is a super sympathetic character as well. Husband is a major asshole but she is stuck there with him, eventually realizing that he is insane. I mean, the day before everything goes to shit, she just thinks her husband is an asshole, which is sort of crazy to think about. The next day she is beating him down the stairs with a baseball bat and then dragging him to the dry goods storage room, hoping to lock him in before he wakes up. Something else I noticed this time around, Wendy did all of Jack's work. She was the true caretaker, ironically, keeping the place that is trying to kill her and her boy from burning to the ground. She is the only one that gets anything done, the true hero of the movie.
So that, is The Shining, I guess. Something else I get now that I am older is Jack's freaking out after being interrupted while writing. That is exactly how I feel at work like 75% of the day. I bring this up as my female companion tells me that the trash is full and that I need to deal with it. Bebe. Darling. Light of my life...