I’ve been promising The Judge a list of reasonable DVD distractions.
We folks might not be able to afford a shopping trip to Paris, as the one Michelle Obama, the Royal Grandma and Girls took courtesy of the taxpayers, but we can all kick back with a reasonable film and some home-made popcorn, and try and forget our odious overlords for a short while.
Here are a few picks, ranked from best to worst.
1) “Doubt” with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams. Excellent performances and a powerful lesson about gossip. I liked the analogy of a slashed feather cushion. The feathers fly away, irretrievable like gossip. I don’t know about Christianity, but a Jew is prohibited from bad-mouthing another. Of course, this is a sin we all commit.
I suspect the story was also meant to poke at the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church. However, that minor folly can easily be ignored.
2) “Changelin.” With the edification of our friend Thomas Szasz, we covered the topic in a previous blog.
3) “Hard 8”: excellent acting. This 1996 film is a real old-school flick. The characters are well-developed, the plot unexpected, and an emphasis placed on what drives the protagonists. When I say the storyline was good, I mean this: Most film scripts these days offer such thin gruel for stories that, I don’t know about you, but by the time 10 minutes have passed, I’ve figured out the next 1.5 hours.
4) “Gone Baby Gone.”. A respectable directorial debut from Ben Affleck. More than respectable: this was a good, gripping story. It brought into sharp relief the damage self-righteous, know-it-all do-gooders can cause.
5) “The Stone Merchant”: Starring Harvey Keitel as an Italian convert to Islam for whom terrorism is a religious duty. This [is] a highly improbable tale, which also features F. Murray Abraham, Jordi Molla and Jane March.”
It’s barely passable.
6) “Rain.” An obviously obscure movie, since I am unable to find a trace of it online. And, no; it’s not this “Rain.” The “Rain” I saw was a torrid, Oedipal tale of a woman who kills her husband, and, unbeknown to her, has an affair with her … son. She resolves the latter conflict as ruthlessly as the former (husband). It’s well acted, but morbid.
7) “Lakeview Terrace“ with Samuel L. Jackson is poor, but even poorer is our #eight, “Righteous Kill.” Robert De Niro can do no wrong in my eyes: he’s always good. Al Pacino, on the other hand, is the most overrated actor living. He can’t act, even though he has had the benefit of good roles. He bellows and screams and gesticulates and annoys the hell out of me. But you may be more patient than I with Pacino’s once-you’ve-seen-one-you’ve-seen-’em-all performances. He gives me a fat headache. The script is weak too.
Update (June Eighth): I must have seen “October Sky” at the same time Dan did, and had the same thoughts he expresses hereunder. It’s a true story. I loved it so much, I looked-up the title and hero at the time. The young man went on to great achievements.
There is another fine film I stumbled on in the manner Dan described. It’s with Robert Redford as a frontier man; fabulous too. Anyone recall the title? In fact, I think the Judge will find the last two films mentioned the best of the bunch.
Was channel surfing the other day and came across a movie called “October Sky” as it was starting. Had never bothered with it before because I assumed it would be formulaic. Anything but. Great movie, inspiring, well-acted. A West Virginian high school student gets inspired by the launch of Sputnik and decided to give rocketry a try. Worth every second.
How is that highly improbable? Apparently Deborah Young of Variety hasn’t been following the news. Even in 2006, when Young wrote her review, we had already seen several converts to Islam that believed that “terrorism is a religious duty”: John Walker Lindh, Richard Reid, Jose Padilla, and numerous other lesser known converts to Islamic jihadism.
Was it “Jeremiah Johnson“?
[Great; thanks; did you too like it as much?]
One of Robert Redford’s most popular movies was “Jeremiah Johnson” made in 1972. Great camera work. That might be the movie you were thinking of.
Check out Israeli films “Beaufort” and “Waltz with Bashir”. Excellent works of cinema, they both were nominated for foreign film oscars in 07 and 08. They were obvious shoe-ins for the win but obviously lost to highly inferior films.
Both manage to not be stupidly anti or pro-Israel, while offering powerful commentary. They show the toll that war takes on the conscripted Israeli soldiers themselves (as sitting ducks for Hezbollah as in Beaufort, or the psychological effects of witnessing the sabra and shatila massacres as in Waltz).
Gran Torino comes out on DVD tomorrow. What a movie this one is.
To each their own but an unknown I recall enjoying was In Pursuit of Honor with the usually bland Don Johnson. Best- EP