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A few reviews
I'm not sure how showing more Jackie and other Kennedys helps tell O'Donnell's story, but I guess it depends on what kind of film you're looking for.  My specific ideas were just off the cuff, the point is to more clearly tell the story through the POV of a lesser-known but important individual that was central to the events.  You could do this a lot of different ways, like in Sicario, or in Blade Runner, or in Almost Famous, etc.  Admittedly, most people are probably more interested in the Kennedy White House than in O'Donnell, but any scenes not involving him or his family really move this away being unique.  (I actually think the film got very muddled results so I'm not trying to be an advocate for it, though.)
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The Guest (2014)
'The Guest' is a nice throwback to the era of John Carpenter horror/sci-fi and 'The Terminator', plus it's playing with some of the same chips as 'Stranger Things' (but filmed a couple of years before) including a brooding synth-wave score. Dan Stevens once again shows his versatility as David the titular "guest", a stranger who claims to be the war buddy of a families dead son. He turns up his smiling good looks and softly spoken southern charm so far that it teeters on menacing. It's best to not know anything more about the film because it goes off in some wild directions. I thought the cutaways to other people explaining David's backstory came too early and felt random and out of place, when the tension could've built right to the last act without them. I later read they were re-shoots based on test audiences wanting more exposition, a mistake in my opinion. I look forward to seeing what director Adam Wingard does with the forthcoming 'Godzilla vs. Kong'.

...and some actual John Carpenter...

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
I don't think I've ever watched 'Assault on Precinct 13' in HD before, so I was surprised by how beautiful this micro-budget movie looks on the Scream Factory blu-ray transfer. John Carpenter insisted on shooting on 35mm anamorphic Panavision because it was the cheapest way to make his first "proper" movie look expensive. Under his usual array of pseudonyms, Carpenter directed, produced, wrote, edited and of course composed the iconic sinister bass-heavy synth score. After the LA police murder members of a street gang in cold blood, the group leaders swear a blood oath of vengeance and descend on a random, soon to be decommissioned, police station and terrorise the occupants who must fight to survive the seige. It's a simple stripped down premise, so Carpenter makes it stylish, witty, action packed and populates it with bold, memorable characters.  Austin Stoker plays Lt. Ethan Bishop, a mild-mannered but tough Cop on his first day in the precinct. Darwin Joston plays the brilliantly named Napoleon Wilson, a mysterious and sardonic prisoner on his way to Death-Row. The two characters make a great hero/anti-hero team, earning respect for each other as the battle for survival intensifies.  Joston's performance is so badass, he's very much a pre-'Escape from New York' Snake Plissken type.  It's a shame this is pretty much the only major role Joston did before changing to a career behind the scenes of the movie business. There's an alternate timeline that I'd be curious to see where Carpenter never met Kurt Russell and cast Joston in all his movies instead.

I probably first heard JC's theme via it's remix from the 1989 Amiga game 'Xenon 2: Megablast':

(08-25-2020, 08:42 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: I'm not sure how showing more Jackie and other Kennedys helps tell O'Donnell's story, but I guess it depends on what kind of film you're looking for.

Not to belabor the point, but I'm simply looking for the most compelling examination of how the crisis was resolved. JFK was the ultimate authority on the American side, and it was his decision to secretly offer the removal of the Turkey missiles that seemed to win the peace. Given that O'Donnell argued against that gambit throughout, I don't know why one would choose to focus on him more than JFK himself. My two cents. Blush
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Marathon Man (1976)
Director John Schlesinger brings nuance, visceral anger and psychological complexity to this exciting espionage/crime thriller. Dustin Hoffman plays a Jewish New York history Ph.D. student and amateur runner who becomes mixed up in a plot involving ex-Nazis, the Holocaust, US spies, his father's suicide, the McCarthy witch trials and diamond trafficking.  Laurence Olivier is absolutely chilling as Nazi 'Dr. Christian "the White Angel" Szell' who is of course a proxy for Dr. Josef "the Angel of Death" Mengele (who was still evading capture in 1976). The two scenes where Olivier performs dental torture ("Is it safe?") and his pursuit through NYC's Diamond District by Holocaust survivors are rightly iconic.  Schlesinger's documentary style, voyeuristic lens often lingers on visual reminders of German cultural presence in NYC, Bavarian restaurants, German Shepard dogs and Mercedes cars. Michael Small brooding score has a real appropriate malevolence.

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
A wonderfully uplifting "finding yourself" comedy drama inspired by Huckleberry Finn but also influenced by co-star Zack Gottsagen's discussions with Directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. Zack plays a young orphaned guy with Down's syndrome (also called Zak) who has been basically incarcerated in an old people's home because the authorities don't have anywhere else for him. He makes a daring midnight escape and goes off on a cross-country adventure, meeting and befriending Shia LaBeouf's Tyler (like the Director), a troubled loner. Zak is pursued by Eleanor, a kind but sad care worker and Tyler is being chased by some gun-toting fisherman who he's p*ssed off, so they both consider themselves "outlaws". Along the way they meet all kinds of eccentric and unexpectedly beautiful people, as these three emotionally damaged people find healing chasing a silly dream. The sun lit shots of nature, backed by bluegrass, folk and spiritual music is magical.  When did Shia LaBeouf become such a subtle, yet powerful actor, it's one of the best performances of recent years.

The trailer gives away a bit too much and makes it look schmaltzy and slapstick, which it isn't really:

This scene is a better sample of the tone:

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21 Bridges (2019)

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Watched this one a few weeks ago, but didn't write about it because there didn't seem much to say - it's a solid and unremarkable NYC cop thriller in the vein of 16 Blocks, The Taking of Pelham 123, and goodness knows how many others. Alas, it's now rather more notable as one of Chadwick Boseman's starring roles in his too-short career. The cast is solid, with a cameo from DS9's Dr. Bashir and a standout supporting performance from Stephan James, and Boseman himself is of course a commanding presence at all times.

Grade: B
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^ I've been planning on watching that but I might move it to the front of the queue. I didn't realize Dr. Bashir was in it!

Beastie Boys Story (2020)
Seemingly the only thing that would make it worth having Apple TV+ (if they weren't giving it away) is this Spike Jonze "live documentary" about Beastie Boys.  It takes the form of a chronological career retrospective, delivered in the style of a TED talk by surviving members Mike D and Ad-Rock. It shouldn't work but it (almost) does. Sometimes it's awkward but more often, it's a heart warming trip in to the past with plenty of self-deprecating humour, moving discussions about friendship and praise heaped upon departed member MCA. Stick around for the end titles because they're packed with outtakes, that honestly look more entertaining than the main film. Still, if you haven't listened to Beastie Boys for a while, this will definitely have you excitedly reaching for 'Paul's Boutique', 'Ill Communication' and 'Hello Nasty' afterwards.

Sorry We Missed You (2019)
Ken Loach's latest feels very much a companion piece to his previous film 'I, Daniel Blake' but it worked less well for me. Instead of the Orwellian nightmare of a part-privatised welfare system, it's the Orwellian nightmare of the exploitative "gig economy". The use of non-professional actors sometimes makes it visceral and truthful but other times it's just wooden. I know the events are based on the testimony of several real "self employed" delivery drivers but the catalogue of misfortune and disaster felt exaggerated for one guy, in what seemed like a few weeks. On the other hand, the portrait of his wife, a time-managed care nurse, felt completely authentic. The family relationship is beautifully portrayed too. As always, Loach's anger and compassion bursts off the screen.

Midnight Run (1988)
I really should have watched this "odd couple" action adventure much sooner, I really enjoyed it. I think it was the first time Robert De Niro dipped his toe into comedy but it's extremely funny preciously because he's not playing it for laughs (like he does now), he's still short-fuse angry De Niro. He plays a bail bondsman tasked with bringing back slippery mob accountant Charles Grodin, with dim-witted gang assassins, an irritable FBI agent and a hated rival bondsman on his tail. Catching Grodin proves easy but getting him back home proves harder because he's determined to escape, or failing that just make every inch of the journey a frustrating misery for De Niro. There's a touch of Die Hard's John McClane, about the bondsman character, which coincidentally came out in the same month.

Jennifer 8 (1992)
After making two cult-classic films in the UK for the independent HandMade Films ('Withnail and I' and 'How to Get Ahead in Advertising') Director Bruce Robinson decided to try and forge a career in Hollywood by writing/directing the crime thriller 'Jennifer 8' for Paramount. The experience was so dreadful that he decided to never direct again... although he did eventually return two decades later for 'The Rum Diary'. Knowing this, I'd always assumed 'Jennifer 8' was a heavily compromised disaster but seeing it was on Amazon Prime (in HD) I gave it a go and it's actually really good. I couldn't find much information on what went wrong, as it's quite an obscure film but I believe the studio cut as much as 20-minutes. The only time I felt something was off when it got to the end, where there's a great little shocking twist resolution, then a quick cross-fade to the characters (in an uncharacteristically sunny scene) saying things like "Well that wraps that up" and the credits roll. Robinson also had to fight the studio to have Al Pacino for the lead role and Christopher Young for the score but they insisted on Andy Garcia and Maurice Jarre. Robinson eventually got his way on the soundtrack (even after Jarre had scored the film) but not on Pacino. Garcia is really good but a few lines of dialogue hint at the character being written as older (more like Pacino's 52, instead of Garcia's 35).

Garcia plays a burned out LA cop who takes up the invitation from an old friend to join his quieter rural police department. However the instant he arrives he becomes obsessed with cracking a local serial killer cold-case when body parts are discovered and soon falls for a beautiful blind witness (Uma Thurman). Lance Henriksen is great value as his hard drinking, sarcastic partner. John Malkovich turns up late into the film to play an FBI agent grilling Garcia and just about steals the movie from everyone else. I've never seen anybody wheel around on an office chair in such an intimidating way! Robinson throws around a lot of red herrings to keep you guessing who the killer is in a Giallo mystery way. The moody cinematography by Academy Award winner Conrad Hall looks terrific. If you liked 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Se7en' (and who doesn't) this has the same kind of tone, from the same era and not too far away from the same quality.

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Narcos: Mexico S1/2 (2018-20)     (Netflix Original)

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(OG Narcos review here)

Meet the new drug war, same as the old drug war. Actually, since this spinoff series ends halfway through the time frame of Narcos' first season, as plotted by a redditor, this is the old drug war: indeed, the tale of DEA Agent Kiki Camarena, played here by Michael Peña, was told (a bit anachronistically, it appears) in an early episode of Narcos S1.

Fans of OG Narcos will know what to expect: solid performances from first-rate actors, both international stars and comparative unknowns, cinema-quality production values, and storytelling that's both gripping in its life-and-death stakes and yet somewhat blandly repetitive in its jaded cops vs. gangsters plotting. The series has yet to be officially renewed, and, what with the pandemic uncertainty, who knows what'll happen. If this is the end, it's a solid one.

I think it absurd to conclude, as a recent The Verge article does, that "Narcos: Mexico is a show for people who want the drug war to last forever." The show may not end with the actors breaking the fourth wall to extol drug legalization, but the series nonetheless makes clear that there's no end, and few victories, in sight for all this. Interestingly, showrunner Eric Newman is now working on a dramatization of how Big Pharma gave the US its prescription opioid crisis, which should provide a fascinating companion piece. I may not want the drug war to last forever, but as long as the Narcos franchise remains this strong, I for one will keep snor - er, watching, it.
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Breitbart, which I'm sure is your favorite site Gaith, did a little article on some inaccuracies on season 2 of Narcos: Mexico. The first 2 of the 5 that they go over are very different than what is on the show and pretty disturbing. It shows that these guys will absolutely get revenge and it'll be much worse than what they show on tv.

Wait, what did I miss?  Did Breitbart become an outlet for unbiased facts?  Also, maybe better to stick to trade articles so as to not bring politics too much into this wonderful little respite from that world?
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