Are you paying close attention? You’ll probably want to if you’re watching Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, adapted from the John le Carré novel. Not only does Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tinker from here on out) feature an incredible complex plot, filled with codenames, spycraft, a wide array of characters, and deceit, the film also features a complicated nonlinear structure, with multiple narrators. For those willing to give Tinker the patience it deserves, the payoff justifies it all.
This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty, adapted from a novel by the late Elmore Leonard, is endlessly fun, funny, and all-around entertaining. Featuring a top-to-bottom cast of stars and character actors, Get Shorty is a crime thriller with a real sense of humor to it, the kind of light film that makes for a perfect watch at any time.
The 1990s featured a spate of big films about crime and criminals, many starring some of the greatest actors working in Hollywood. Films like Goodfellas, Casino, A Bronx Tale, Ronin, Donnie Brasco, and Cop Land helped to define an era of the genre, and few actors were more important to this era than Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Michael Mann’s Heat features both of them, at the peak of their abilities, and thanks to Mann’s memorable neo-noir style, Heat manages to be among the standouts of the genre.
Scanners, a 1981 science fiction film crafted by sci-fi/horror master David Cronenberg, tells the story of Cameron Vale (a dry Stephen Lack – he’s not an actor and it shows; he has the right look, but can’t deliver dialogue at all), a man with extrasensory abilities. Despite a weak lead performance, Scanners overall feels of a piece with much of the sci-fi that came out in the 1980s and early ’90s, sci-fi featuring the earliest of modern technology (wow, computers!).
The Essential Music Video series features different music videos, both new and old, that are great or historically relevant in some respect
Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.”, from his 2017 album 4:44, is an absolute masterpiece on every level, a song that scathingly explores racial politics, and the accompanying video is every bit a perfect match to the content.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Legend of the Sword from here on out) is a bad movie. Guy Ritchie, known for his slick crime thrillers, probably wasn’t the right choice to direct this. In fact, he makes a lot of really bad choices here. Legend of the Sword is all over the map; half the time, it’s trying to be the kind of cool heist movie that Ritchie excels at, half the time it’s trying to be an epic action movie. Ritchie has no handle on the action portions of the film, which end up looking like something out of a video game. And the heist portions feel at odds with the basic premise of the film. Legend of the Sword is a mess.
Hidden Figures is a rote, by-the-numbers biopic, with dime-a-dozen filmmaking preventing any real performances from a series of great actors and actresses. There isn’t an original beat in this film, every moment note-for-note copied from dozens of films before. The grudging earning of respect, the breakthroughs made, the peaks and valleys and ups and downs – all of this has been done so many times before. Continue reading “2017 Movie #70: Hidden Figures (2016)”