Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking… an excellent film, with Sean Penn and 
Susan Serandan.  Couldn’t get much better, and the theme 
is pretty universal, when you get down to it… Live or give up. 

But this isn’t about the film, or even about the soundtrack 
cut with Bruce Springstein, which i share with you.   
This was the Name i began calling him, and for many months…

Alcir…………..something had happened while i was gone, 
and likely it was just an extension of what had been occuring 
for years, decades between then and now.  But he was 
different, perhaps showing me, or unable to Hide, a side of 
him that was complex, fractured, and unavailable to me. 
I arrived so full of hope, and the way i am, i always believe 
that it can work out, if we want it badly enough… 

So…. it’s midday.  New Year’s Eve has been told, and has
passed… so you know what i was left with.  
A very hung over, very still-drunk man, who was unavailable
to me.  I’d come 5,000 miles, and he held an equal distance.

 

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MOVIE MADNESS # 188 NEBRASKA

Loving Indy films, I figured I’d once again trust the ole intuition,
and give this one a try.  NEBRASKA…….Highly Recommended!

Bruce Dern plays an older, slightly demented fellow who believes
it when he gets the subscription teaser that tells him he’s won
a million.  He’s so obsessed, he just starts walking to the big
city to cash in.  His son keeps picking him up, til finally he figures
he’ll just take him there, and settle the whole thing, which has by
this time, become a gigantic family issue.

The Mom is on the war path, the rest of the family is somewhat
strange in their own special ways, and in all it’s a slow ride into
middle American, and human idiosyncrasies.

Fun, funny, tender, and quite real, I enjoyed it immensely, and
came away with new admiration for Dern, and the director
Alexander Payne.  Seems this film got lots of awards, including
Best Actor for Bruce at Cannes.  If you enjoy Indies, don’t miss it.

MOVIE MADNESS #199 … The BUTLER

This is a film you should See… it has every element necessary for a
film to be More than good, and worth the time invested.

The cast is stellar… Forest Witaker, Oprah, Vanessa Redgrave, on and
on the list would go.  The Story is Epic, chronicling the period of
violence and chaos that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement. 
It is true to history, and shows the complexity through it’s characters,
as well as some footage from the time itself.

The story is real, centering around a man who Butlered in the White
House through not only 50 years of historical times, but closely with
Eight Presidents.
By involving us in the lives of the characters who people the story, you
are able to clearly see them as stepping stones to where we are now,
as history gives each their changing perspective.

The cast includes many surprises, especially when Ike is played by
Robin Williams (subtle),  John Cusak plays Nixon  (excellent),
and Witaker works with Lenny Kravetz, Cuba Gooding, and Terrance Howard.

Throughout the backs and forths of leadership,  he remains true to
himself, always elegant and glad to be of service, in the most refined
way.  He is described as a combination of Henry Fonda and Colin Powell.
Oddly, we never see several of the Presidents, but Kennedy has a large
part in the changes that accelerated during his term, and is well played.
When Obama is elected, we are able to deeply feel the impact
of the moment.

Director Lee Daniels shows brilliance in his casting choices and his
clear ability to draw the best from each actor.
Highly recommended as Art, and as a brush up on the changes
we lived through.

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MOVIE MADNESS #79 … The Place Beyond the Pines

ryan gosling

HEY, saw a really good one last night…
The Place Beyond the Pines…

Ryan Gosling is his dynamic self, so very much the new Steve McQueen, with his Daredevil motorcycle physicality, and that ice
blue Cool thing he’s got.  He’s great at playing dangerous volcanic types, living double lives and wrought with inner conflict.
If you liked  DRIVE,  you’ll love this one.

He’s only in the first half or less… and I was sad when I realized…
I am a big fan, and have made a point to see all of his films.
But then Bradley Cooper takes center stage, and the film continues
so smoothly, I found myself engrossed and didn’t mind….
Gosling’s presence lingers, with such a strong and intense impression left from his time on camera.

Dealing with the inevitable connections between fathers and sons,
in this film the generational aspects come to play in surprising ways,
and original twists.

Very well written, with some amazing young actors, (Emory Cohen, who was so very Brando, was my favorite;  and Dane Dehaan is so very Benicio del Toro dark), and I hope to see more of them…

It is one of those films that holds you til the end.
Excellent direction, writing and editing, with flowing and concise timing, and not one weak link.

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Movie Madness # 77… BANDITS

What do escaped bank robbers, the son of Fonda, and a gorgeous
red head have in common?
Great writing and complete belly laughs humor.

Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis break out of prison, begin
robbing banks, pick up Kate Blanchett wearing searing red hair,
and find Troy Garity for their get away driver (a special effects guy
and total babe), and they’re off!

Smart and funny, with completely unexpected humor, and a
soundtrack with the likes of Dylan, Knopfler and others of the
same ilk,  all personal, edgey and raw.

Kate is brilliant, sparkling with madness and some hilarious dancing.
Billy Bob plays a suggestible hypochondriac, Bruce a suave ladies’
man, and Troy…. oh that boy is so adorable, a combination of a young Dustin Hoffman and some hot lanky rodeo cowboy with California tendencies.
When he’s on camera, I just cant take my eyes and ears off of him.
His timing, his instincts… it’s genetic, man.

One of the best moments is when Billy Bob thinks he has a brain tumor,
and can’t find his legs… who knew?

When Kate sings “Walk on By” on the beach, auditioning for their
future  Mexican Hot Spot, to be opened with their new found money,
it is one of the more sensational spoofs ever.
Do you know how hard it is to sing badly???

Don’t miss this!!  You will laugh out loud, all by yourself.

… movie madness – kirk douglas …

Last night I watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea…
Not knowing what to expect, I just sat back and let
it all flow in, and I was pleasantly surprised.

One thing I noticed right away… the film is not dated.
It really isn’t. It still works, and without all that
god awful too-loud-crashing music that insists on
accompanying so many of those late 50s/early 60s films.
I tried a few, and I was so distracted by their attempts
at evoking emotions, I had to shut it off.
Not so this film!

The next thing I noticed was that when Kirk Douglas is
on screen, you can’t take your eyes off him! He has
that Thing they talk about, like Dean, like Taylor, like
Brando, and your eye just can’t leave.
Yes, he’s a camera ham, and yes he finds more excuses to
take off his shirt, but still…he has IT.
Like James Mason’s Voice. When he Speaks, any one else
sounds like a whimper.

Oh, I want that 4-string parlor guitar he plays in the
famous “Whale of a Tale” song. It’s pure Art…gorgeous.
The song is cute when he sings it, throwing the guitar
around and flashing his famous grin, but then Disney takes
that song and bends it a thousand ways throughout the
entire film… a minor trend here, an atonal theme there,
so That perhaps is my only itch.

It was great to see Peter Lorre, although they could have
worked him a lot more, but in all, the Four men…
The Sailor, The Captain, The Scientist and The Sidekick,
were just Perfect foils to eachother.
And the Best of all? That Ship! that fantastic ship of
Steam Punk Dreams and Yellow Submarine Futures, completely
captures us, especially when entangled with the Giant
Squid, that animated silhouette staying with me from the
first time I saw it as a child, until tonight, when I
truly believed Seals are Indeed just Water Dogs!

As well, it is clear to me now that Kirk is the singular
reason for my life long infatuation with Sailor Boys.

… movie madness … again

oh, there are so many great films, and I am not easily pleased!

Watched two films last nite, both excellent.
Both with one of our more Promising Female Actors,
and both with excellent writing and editing.
SLIDING DOORS…  Gwyneth Paltrow, young and so promising.
Have you ever wondered how different your life would be, if you
just didn’t miss that train or that cab…. or if you took the train?
Alternate realities, side by side, at first disconcerting, and later
a smooth weave that intertwines and converges into sensibility.
A lovely film, with compelling dialogue, well written and witty in
that way that Brits have with wordplay.  The fellow played by
John Hannah is truly beyond witty, and with a Scottish accent that
adds so much charm to his sincerity, one can’t help but hope for
him to somehow reach the finish line.  Gwyneth is as always…
intelligent, winsome, sincere, candid and playfully herself.
BEST LAID PLANS…. completely and unexpectedly, this Most
original story line,  with twists and turns, holds you to the end.
Reese Witherspoon is her amazing self, and so early in her
career.
 Well written and well played,
you will be drawn in and unable to leave until you
know what is the truth.
So tonite I am watching the last BB, getting ready for the release
of the last season, late November…
Weeds is coming, and there are other delights on the horizon.
be well, warm and happy………………..C
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… movie madness – gone baby gone …

Deeply touching and acted out with subtlety, this film
staring Casey Affleck comes in unexpectedly, slowly,
deliberately, and builds to one of the better movies
I’ve seen in a long time.

I first saw Casey in the Jesse James film with Brad Pitt,
and was impressed with his intelligence and again…subtlety.
The understated portrayal of the man who shot Jesse was
impressive, brilliantly conveying a certain smallness using
tone of voice and physical hints of childish pettiness,
filling in the character with a very human understanding.

This film dealt with the touchy subject of child abduction,
yet it took us to a place where something my mother would
have called Situation Ethics took over the mind, and we
end up with that terrible quandary of right and wrong,
black and white, and those eternal grays.
Astoundingly powerful stuff.

With screenplay by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockhard,
and from a novel by Dennis Lehan, (who also wrote Mystic River,
a devastating film with Sean Penn)  it is  Directed by Ben as well,
and once again brilliantly, perfectly.

Impressive stuff, this, and aside from the deep and thoughtful
subject matter and the way it untangles , the Pace of the film
is a slow and steady walk, not run, no rushing here, yet no drag.
Perfect pacing.

Ed Harris plays a complex character, showing facets that surprise
and build. Morgan Freeman is a secondary figure, yet in a role
around which much of the story unexpectedly revolves.

Excellent casting everywhere, with  Michelle Monaghan
playing the essential soft and feminine foil, as Casey’s partner in
work and in life.
She provides a certain mature reflection, a more intuitive and
right brain wisdom to his left brain, black and white idealism.

Don’t miss this film.
Impressive, with a certain stick to the ribs quality
not long forgotten.
You will end up with deep appreciation for the writer, yes, but
most especially those intelligent and talented Brothers Affleck.

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movie madness…….never let me go…

Every once in a while a film comes along that knocks me off my feet, and leaves me adrift for a time…..    This film was that exactly.                               ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a Sci Fi, yet done in a very Non Sci Fi way, and it deals with the ethics of futuristic progress…  Very different, yet dealing with the same issues, it brought to mind Philip Dick’s  ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’,  made into the film, Blade Runner.                                                                     The Author Kazuo Ishiguro has painted a similar world, where humans are treated as things, to better the life of the privileged.   The ethics of manipulation, the theme of us and them, and the reflections of those caught in the processes are all dealt with, within this eerily pasturial setting.

And like the ‘Replicants’ in Blade Runner, created artificially, who were treated as things, yet still very human, these characters wrestle with their place, their designated destiny, and deal very directly with Emotions and Love.                   In the end, they question if any of us is really different at all.

Magnificent Film, with remarkable casting, themes imparted with such gentleness and ease, and a beautiful background in the old English Countryside.