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Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Could not be any worse
This film has almost no redeeming qualities. The plot is dull and boring. Really boring. The music is too loud and dramatizes every little thing. The photography spends about an hour with closeups of Gosling. How they could take a great film like Blade Runner and produce this garbage is beyond me. BTW - the 3-D version really has no 3-D visuals, so it's a rip off.
Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)
This film has wonderful acting from everyone involved, especially the two young kids and Benicio del Toro. The script is excellent, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your feet. The music and photography only add to the merits of this well-crafted film. The only fault I can find in this film is the direction that moves too slowly for my tastes. The director Susanne Bier isn't known for her action films and I enjoyed her pacing in "The Night Manager", but here it is a little too slow.
Weak portrayal of legendary lawman
Wyatt Earp (1848 1929)is probably the most famous lawmaker from the old west. He appears in this 1955 film.
Earp is most famous for the "Gunfight at the OK Corral", made famous in novels and films. Earp was first featured in the 1923 "Wild Bill Hickok" where he was played by Bert Lindley. Earp himself worked behind the scenes with his buddy William Hart (who played Hickok). He appeared again in "Frontier Marshall" (1934) based on the novel of the same name. George O'Brien played Earp. John Ford produced the first notable film about Earp, called "My Darling Clementine" (1946) which many people consider a great film. Henry Fonda played Earp and Victor Mature played a wonderful coughing Doc Holiday.
The "Wyatt Earp" TV series (1955 61) had Hugh O'Brian as Earp. The series gave birth to the 1957 film "Gunfight at OK Corral" with Burt Lancaster as Earp. John Sturges directed this film and re-visited the era with "Hour of the Gun" (1967) with James Garner (Earp), Jason Robards (Doc) and Robert Ryan (Ike Clanton).
In the 1990s, "Tombstone" (1993) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994) gave us more intense portraits. In Tombstone, we have Kurt Russell as Earp and in "Wyatt Earp" Kevin Costner.
For my tastes, the best Earp was Hugh O'Brien on the TV series, followed by Kurt Russell ("Tombstone") whom I think was the more realistic Earp.
Joel McCrea does a really poor job as Earp. McCrea was a great Western actor and he was terrific in "Ride the High Country". But he adds nothing to the Earp legend in this one.
Babe Ruth (1998)
A decent intro to the "Bambino"
If you're a fan of Babe Ruth (and who isn't who knows anything at all about baseball) then you won't find much new here. But if you think "Babe Ruth" is a candy bar, then this is mandatory viewing and will give you a good introduction to the Babe - his remarkable pitching abilities, the "king of swat", and his personal strengths and foibles.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Doesn't get any worse
This film is just about the bottom of the barrel. Dumb script, uniformly bad acting, blaring music and ridiculous special effects do not a good movie make. If it were any worse it would be a spoof, but it isn't a spoof, it's trying to be real. What's more amazing is that such good actors would do such a poor film, without even a wink in their eye.
Mr. Mercedes (2017)
The plot is a little slow and the characters are not attractive. But the acting - the acting is marvelous. Harry Treadaway gives one of the best "psycho" performances ever, and he gets better as the series progresses. Teamed with him is his mother, Kelly Lynch, and you can't take your eyes of them in their scenes together. Holland Taylor and Brendan Gleeson give us what we expect - great acting, and newcomer Jharrel Jerome is also a delight.
Rolling over in his grave
Boy is this film bad. It consists of talking heads going back and forth, talking about people we haven't met or even know about. It's all Greek to me, but it's Italian, and for a goodly portion of the film it looks like it's been dubbed, which it hasn't. I guess the track is off kilter.
The language itself is pure modern, with almost no hints of the true nature of Greek speech in 400 BC. And none of the beauty of Socrates speeches.
It was so bad I didn't see it through to the end. So maybe it got a lot better after the first 30 minutes.
American Assassin (2017)
All the right ingredients
This isn't a great action film, but it is good. It's got good/bad guys and bad/good guys. There's even a good/bad/good girl. Good fight scenes, car chases, nuclear bombs, betrayals, and all the rest you'd expect. The direction is taut. Michael Keaton is surprisingly good in his role. Dylan O'Brien needs some seasoning but Taylor Kitsch gives another good performance.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
What might have been
To appreciate the film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid needs to be seen in a movie theatre, but it rarely gets released so the next best thing is to get a really big TV screen and play the music loud. Sit down with some good friends and be prepared to turn off your phones, and spend 2+ hours watching the film evolve, because it is the passage of time that is one of the central characters in the film, and this can only be understood and experienced without interruption.
You'll also need to see it all at once because it is difficult to keep track of the many characters. In his other films Peckinpah was a master of developing distinct characters (think of Strother Martin and LQ Jones in The Wild Bunch, or James Drury and LQ Jones in Ride the High Country), but here they are a blur. Thus, when they are dispatched (Holly at the bar) it's hard to understand the linkages between the actions that set up the scene and the resolution. As edited, a lot of the action is questionable (why does Billy leave Paco's daughter all by herself min the middle of nowhere?). Watching the film straight through will help, but the truth is it's still hard to keep track of what's happening among the character actors. This isn't a fatal flaw, but in a film by Peckinpah,. it stands out.
This isn't one of the greatest westerns of all time. The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, Jeremiah Johnson, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and a few others round out the top ones. But this could have been "the" greatest had it not been for circumstances not the least of which were the warped lens, the crew's sickness, the a*hole studio head, and of course, Sam Peckinpah himself.
Flawed as it is, the film nonetheless is memorable and impactful. There is a listfull, lyrical mood, almost deterministic, with a man who is waiting to be caught being circled by a man who doesn't want to catch him. The West is changing and Billy won't change because being "the Kid" is all he has. Garrett will sacrifice everything he has to change with the West, even killing his old friend, and in essence, both are doomed.
Wonderful photography, unsurpassed music, and great performances from most of the characters still don't compensate for the many script flaws and inconsistencies. This is why this isn't the best western ever made. But sit back and enjoy it and dream about what it might have been
The Cars That Made America (2017)
Nice overview of cars and their impact on society
This series is a nice overview of the development of the car industry and its impact on society, which is obvious from the name of the series (The Cars That Made America"). It's not a biography of any of the major players, although they certainly are there, warts and all. Nor is it a documentary on cars per se. While it does give us lots of biographic details and lots of engineering drawings, etc. the focus of the series is on how cars changed the way we live. The producers succeed admirably.