Review

In a Nutshell: Hostiles (2017)

Hostiles_film_posterWow…Excellent…what more can I say? I’ve just finished watching Hostiles (2017) and I really am speechless…well, almost I guess. It has been absolute ages since I’ve finished watching a movie and the only thought I have is “that was brilliant”.

The story, on the surface, is rather simple: a brilliant captain is asked, no, instructed, to escort his arch nemesis home safely. That is, Christian Bale’s Captain Joseph Blocker must deal with his extreme hatred of Wes Studi’s Chief Yellow Hawk (who likewise has issues with Blocker) in order to get the ailing Chief and his family back to the Cheyenne ancestral lands. They encounter Rosalee Quad (Rosamund Pike) who has narrowly survived the massacre of her family by Comanche warriors. Naturally this adds a further dynamic to the situation. As do some other circumstances.

All masterpiece-fully (is that a word? But you know what I mean) done. The inner turmoil, the external actions, and a whole lot more (but if I mention them I’ll spoil it) are superbly portrayed by the entire cast. Oh how each and every actor/actress is absolutely perfect for their role. I’ve always enjoyed director Scott Cooper’s works…he never disappoints (well, of those I’ve seen).

This is definitely one for my collection. And will need a few more watches once I’ve had enough time to mull over my first viewing.

 

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Non-english Language Blogathon…Snabba Cash (Easy Money) (2010)

Well, the big Blogathon day is here but I face the usual dilemma as the host…which movie do I write about? The problem is this…the reason I picked this Blogathon was because I had so many movies in mind…should be easy to single out one to write about then, shouldn’t it? But no, I just can’t decide. Especially with this particular topic…

…I have so many to pick from because I absolutely love watching movies from different countries where I’m exposed to different trains of thought, opinions, approaches, cultures, stories…and the list goes on…

The best solution I could come up with was this:

I’ll write about a few non-English language movies. In that way, I’m not showing any favouritism, hee, hee.

To start off, I’m going with one of the first movies that come to mind – Snabba Cash. And, I’m going to cheat (sooorrrryyyyy 🙂 ) and reuse most of a post I published in 2017 – I still feel the same about this powerful movie. (I promise my other posts will be first-time published ones)

Amelie_LamguageBlogathon2During the course of last year, while randomly watching a “mainstream” movie, I came across Joel Kinnaman (I’d never heard of him before) and therefore “found” Snabba Cash (Easy Money) a Swedish movie

Well, well, well…what a wonderful visual experience. You won’t get a wild action movie but instead, an introduction to the characters, their hopes, their motives, their relationships and then, a build up of the story. But don’t be fooled…it definitely isn’t boring. You’ll be intrigued as to how this will all come together and then unfold. If you’re like me, you’ll start feeling for the players. Sympathising with them. Hoping they’ll make it out so they can realise their dreams. Even though they are criminals and they should be behind bars.

Every scene is perfectly set up and captured. I really appreciate the reflections, backgrounds or the various interesting composition of shots supplementing character decisions and states of mind. Accompanied by an atmospheric musical score where needed. In my opinion, not just a movie but a well thought out work of art.

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Oh…I forgot to tell you the very, very high level story. Based on the novel by Jens Lapidus and directed by Daniél Espinosa it is set in Stockholm and has three main characters: JW (Joel Kinnaman), an economics student,  works as a taxi driver to keep up with the lifestyle of his rich friends. When he meets Sophie (Lisa Henni), whom he wishes to impress, he becomes involved in cocaine dealings in the hope of earning easy and substantial amounts of money. Jorge (Matias Varela), a prison escapee, knows the cocaine business but also has one last score to settle with the mafia boss who put him behind bars, Radovan (Dejan Cukic). And finally, Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic), the man sent by Radovan to take out Jorge, whose job is complicated when social services leave him with custody of his young daughter.

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Superb, thought provoking movie that isn’t just action scene after action scene. Well worth watching.

Of course, because this is the “non-English” language Blogathon, you’ll need to watch this one with English subtitles (unless of course you understand Swedish). Reading those subtitles is worth every moment.

For more wonderful entries into this Blogathon by hosted by moi…head on over here: The “non-English” Language Blogathon.

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Simply Splendid…Serendipity

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To start…I apologise for poor layout or incorrect spelling…you have no idea how hard it is writing a post on a phone. Anyway…

You know you’re in for a treat when the opening scene of last minute Christmas shopping is accompanied with Louis Armstrong’s Cool Yule. And that can only mean something light but special is heading your way. Serendipity is just that. Besides, how could a movie with such a title not be special?

It all starts during that last minute shopping rush…over a single pair of gloves. She wants them (for herself) and he wants them (for his girlfriend). They spend a wonderful evening together and leave the rest up to fate – a dollar bill with his name and number on it. A book sold to an used book store with her name and number. Life unfolds for both of them but somehow neither can forget the other.

The way this light romantic movie unfolds is simply magical. As the viewer it is such a pleasure (and often frustrating, in a good way) watching them, and fate, miss each other by seconds yet in doing so, working their way to each other. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

Set in New York, mainly during the Christmas period, it has some beautiful sights to show with my favourite being the snowy evening (two of them in fact) on the ice rink of Central Park.

Ah, I simply adore this one. Oh..“them“ is Sara and Jonathan…Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. They work so well as a couple.serendipity

For more wonderful Winter in July posts, head on over to Moon in Gemini.

Retirees in full force…

Red_ver7That’s exactly what we have in R.E.D. That is Retired, Extremely Dangerous. So dangerous that they need to be knocked off. Oh yes…you read right…

Former Black-Ops Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is going about his much slowed down life. The regular highlight being him tearing up his pension cheques so he has an excuse to chat to pension office administrator Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). In the early hours of one morning all that changes when he is targeted by some assassination team. Needing no further excuse to actually meet Sarah (he believes whoever is trying to kill him is a threat to her because of their phone calls) he surprises her one evening in her apartment. She naturally thinks he’s totally crazy and won’t go with him…but he has his means.

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Together they round up Frank‘s former team in order to get to the bottom of the assassination attempt…Joe Matheson who’s supposedly dead for about the umpteenth time but very much alive (Morgan Freeman), cellphone-sattelite-technology-of-any-sort-phobe-conspiracy-theorist Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and femme fatale Victoria (Helen Mirren). The retirees.

They make for one feisty foursome. And their respective personalities and idiosyncrasies make for an entertaining team. Frank is trying to deal with his new-found “broad” that he quite likes (and has to convince Marvin not to knock her off – Marvin believes everyone is out to get him). Marvin, well, need I say more with John Malkovich in this role??? He’s absolutely nuts but often right with his hunches. Joe is the perfect balance to this team and I like his calm, intelligent reasoning – figures that he was the former mentor of Frank…but he’s perfectly mischievous in his retirement home too. And Victoria…she’s a woman to be scared of despite the posh appearances…”I kill people, dear” she explains to Sarah.

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Add Sarah, who actually quite enjoys the whole “secretive” thing, William Cooper (Karl Urban), the CIA Agent instructed to track and kill Frank, exRussian Agent Ivan Simonov (Brian Cox), Henry, the Records Keeper (Ernest Borgnine) and you’ve got a movie that is a joy to watch.

I always find myself grinning in the two scenes where William Cooper tells Frank…”Grandpa”.

So, if you’re up for something fun and light but still in the action direction, give this one a watch. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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For some more Foursomes, head on over to MovieMovieBlogBlog and The Favorite Foursome Blogathon.

Lust in the Dust…oops, I mean Duel in the Sun…

..is my entry into The 4th Annual Sex! (Now that I have your attention) Blogathon. I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to what movie to write about for MovieMovieBlogBlog‘s Blogathon (whom I’m sure had given up hope on receiving an entry from me despite my promise to submit 😉 ). I’d picked a movie, yet wasn’t quite convinced…and then it hit me…how could this Blogathon not have a post on Duel in the Sun (1946)? It is suggestive from the very beginning…and never really lets up…

Just look at the very first image we see…

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Come on…it gives such a clear indication of what is yet to come…before it has even started.

So, while many don’t like it (even I have a love-hate relationship with it), it did receive two Oscar nominations (for Jennifer Jones (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Lillian Gish (Best Actress in a Supporting Role)). But it’s quite the story…loaded with sexual innuendo throughout. The introduction of the movie (during the Overture section), gives us hints…”Duel in the Sun, 2 years in the making, is a saga of Texas in the 1880s. When primitive passions rode the raw frontier of an expanding nation.” Maybe I’m looking too deeply into it (and things were interpreted on a more innocent level way back then) but the words “primitive passion” and “raw frontier”, for me, are as provocative as anything.

Once the movie starts we see Pearl (Jennifer Jones), who the narrator describes as “quick to blossom” (need I elaborate?) dancing, supposedly innocently, but we soon see the sultry side to it (after seeing the actions of her mother as well as the comment made by an acquaintance “Like mother like daughter….I like the daughter better”). At this stage, and often throughout the movie, I think she is sometimes ignorant of what her subconscious really wants. Or…she knows.

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Maybe she is still naive at the early stages of the movie (the unstated undertones are definitely there though)…she’s quite happy to change into a green dress for the “good son” Jesse (Joseph Cotton) right there and then on the wagon as they ride home from town. And she’s only known him for a few hours, if that.

But of course, it all gets steamy when we meet (for me, the ultimate bad boy), Lewton/Lewt (Gregory Peck). First thing he does, before his mother even has a chance to introduce him properly, is look Pearl up and down. And boy is this a looking up and down. No words can explain. Things are already heated up and he hasn’t even said anything. As for their simple phrases “Pleased to meet you Lewton.”

and “Pleased to meet you (pause)…Pearl.” – never have introductions been so steamy. Totally confirmed as she drops her eyes to the floor. And we know he’s just desperate to get to know her when mother Laura Belle (Lillian Gish) shows Pearl to her room telling her that she and Lewt will have plenty of time to get to know each other later. “I’m sure we will” utters Lewt out of the ladies’ earshot. Yes Lewt, I’m also sure you will.

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Oh my…the screen is sizzling.

And I don’t think it is only Lewt who has some ideas about Pearl. Nice boy Jesse just doesn’t make it as obvious. He’s the lawyer after all. There are expectations in society. Read between the lines when he tells her “I think you’d better go to bed. Like a good little girl.” moments after this:

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But fear not…he might send her off to preserve their dignity but Lewt has no problem with showing his desires. He just doesn’t give a damn. He’s waiting for her:

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And as she closes her bedroom door after telling him “good night” (while he’s still outside), her gaze to the door tells us she probably does want him coming to visit. She’s intrigued.

Duel in the Sun if filled with such scenes. Nothing romantic (well, not for me), they are purely about lust. Even Lewt “innocently” showing off his horse is simply a different approach to his one goal. One that is visually confirmed in the scene where he chases after her on horseback. Never have two horses galloping had more sexual meaning.

But make no mistake. Pearl isn’t so innocent in all of this. Those swaying hips and fluttering eyelashes don’t help the situation. It doesn’t even go unnoticed by the other cowboys working on the ranch. There’s bound to be trouble at some point. And yes, plenty there is.

I could go on and on about the endless scenes, but by now I think it is very clear what this one is about. Possibly this it isn’t the best movie out there but it is undeniably sensual. And you thought no western could be that, didn’t you? No wonder it was nicknamed “Lust in the Dust”. And if you don’t believe it…once you’re done watching the final dusty and sweaty scene, there won’t be much doubt in your mind.

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For my entries into this Blogathon for 2016 and 2017 (and a lighter more romantic movie), head on over here (for Subtly Sexy Pride & Prejudice) and…oh no!!!! I’ve just realised I covered the same movie here last year…well, I honestly hadn’t checked what I’d covered before…promise. Right this minute, as I was finalising and about to publish (while adding the links) I see my entry from last year…gosh, should have stuck with my original choice for this year. Oh well, so, totally new material today, just the same movie as last year (Heated Lust with Duel in the Sun). MovieMovieBlogBlog, I’ll make it up to you in The 5th Annual version of this Blogathon (too late to write a new post now). I guess it pays to know what you’ve written about in the past. Spreadsheet, here we come…

 

You learn something every day…

broadwaybanner51Yep, there’s always something new. I mean, can you believe that only recently (I’d say late last year, early this one) I discovered that there was actually a Broadway production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? The movie I’ve been watching ever since I can remember (it comes tie with the number of times I’ve watched The War Wagon, also ever since I can remember). I absolutely adored this musical when I was young (and still have a very soft spot for it now), especially Milly (Jane Powell) and her wonderful dresses. Not to forget her fluttering eyelashes and that wonderful voice.

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So, one evening, fairly recently as I’ve mentioned, I was wondering what else Jane Powell and Howard Keel starred in together (and was also curious about all the other brothers and sisters of said movie) while surfing (or rather, trawling) the web, as is bound to happen,  along came a webpage with characters that didn’t look familiar. Huh? What’s this? Ah, not a remake or such but a stage production. Broadway in 1982. And various others too.

When the Broadway Bound Blogathon came along I got all excited to enter this movie but, alas, looking at it in a bit more detail, I read that it wasn’t really successful on Broadway or subsequently in London. Well, I guess the “original” was (is) special so, while I’m sorry that the live performances didn’t make it, in a way I’m also relieved that my precious childhood movie treasure stays exactly that…special. Although, not all is bad – the Broadway version did receive a Tony nomination for best musical score.

I’m not going to go into the story…I’m sure you all know it by now. So, at risk of warbling on and on, I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Rather head on over to Taking Up Room  over here to read up some more Broadway entries…or read my second entry in this Blogathon, a personal little gem called Proof, over here.

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Proof…a little gem..

Proof_poster…in my humble opinion. If I remember correctly, it didn’t get too many positive reviews (but then, I don’t really care about reviews anyway…it’s all about personal preference, isn’t it?).

Having watched this one when it first came out on the “big screen”, I’d only realised afterwards that it was based on a play by David Auburn which won both a Pulitzer Prize as well as a Tony Award in 2001. As to who wrote the screenplay, I’m a little hazy…one source says David Auburn, another Rebecca Miller (I love her works) and yet a third credits them as co-writers. Anyway, the play that this movie is based on was originally staged Off-Broadway (I’m learning new things from this Broadway Bound Blogathon hosted by Taking Up Room) and was later moved to Broadway.

broadwaybanner51What’s the story? Often told in flashbacks immediately after brilliant mathematician Robert’s (Anthony Hopkins) death, this is about Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow), also a mathematician struggling to deal with her father’s death, her potential brilliance and at the same time, the fear that she, like her father, may be mentally ill. To complicate matters, Robert’s former student Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) spends many hours at Catherine’s (and formerly Robert’s) house sifting through endless notebooks believing that something noteworthy is to be found. Add Catherine’s prim and proper (or is that uptight?) sister Claire (Hope Davis) to the mix and you have some sums working and others not (ok, sorry, that wasn’t a good line)…let me retry that…you have quite a mix of characters which make for some interesting dynamics.

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The cast, for me, works well. Gwyneth Paltrow and Hope Davis are the contradicting sisters…one not worried what she looks like, the other totally obsessed with appearances. In the flashbacks, Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow have a believable father-daughter relationship. Jake Gyllenhaal rounds off the equation as academic/hobby-musician.

And it’s not only the play that received accolades, but the movie too. Gwyneth Paltrow was nominated for a Golden Globe in this role. Well deserving. She’s excellent…just enough balance of normal and loopy. You’ll find yourself wondering about her sanity long after the credits roll. I’m still not sure what to make of her after multiple viewings…hmmmm.ProofScene3