Sunday, July 5, 2020

Cloud Atlas (2012)

I've seen the movie twice now, and I still don't know what to make of it, except I really think it is probably a great movie. Not sure yet, but I really think so. It was not a tremendously reviewed movie with only a 55 score on Metacritics.

The actors led by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry , Jim Broadbent all play a variety of characters in six inter-connected stories (two in the past, one in the present, and two in the future) that take place over five centuries.

In the film what happens in one story has ripple effects in to the other future stories. So the film is a little hard to follow because what happens in one story not only effects the future in that time period, but also affects the stories in the future.

 Needs to be seen more than twice, but I think it will eventually emerge as one of my favorite movies.

Decoy (1946)

Every once in a while a movie will come by that will shock you that you haven't seen it before. I was shocked when I saw Decoy. It didn't have great rating but I usually record noirs playing on TCM and I'm really glad I recorded this one. In reviews people have called it the "lost noir" because of the long period when it wasn't available.

The movie was directed by Jack Bernhard and starred his wife, British actress Jean Gille.  Soon after this movie they divorced and within three years  Gille's died of pneumonia.

The movie opens with a man hitching a ride to San Francisco. He enters a hotel, then a room and shoots a woman. A cop following enters the room and sees the man, who had shot himself, and the woman he had shot. He picks up the woman who says "Hello JoJo". She tells Sgt. Joe Portugal to get her the box. She says "It's all mine now".  We then see in a flashback the story as Margot Shelby tells the story.

Margot's boyfriend Frankie held up an armored car and robbed  $400,000. He then his the money. Margot wants to get the location before Frankie goes to the gas chamber, but he won't tell. Margot seduces gangster Jim Vincent and gets him to help her. 

Magot comes up with a plan. She had read about a chemical called Methylene Blue, that can revive a man executed by gas poisoning. So Margot seduces a doctor, and gets him on board.

So after Frankie is executed Frankie and his men steal the body. Love smitten Doctor Craig administers the antidote. The revived Frankie gives Margot half the map to where the treasure is buried, but keeps the other half of the map.

Once Frankie gives Margot the map, Jim Vincent shoots and kills him again (he probably only lived for 10 minutes this time). Margot kisses Jim and the Doctor Craig walks he in. He knows he's been duped. 

Doctor Craig is hooked in because of what he has done, and he drives Margot and Jim to the where the treasure is. They stop at a diner and Margot lets the air out of a tire. When Jim gets out to fix it, Margot runs him over (in the original uncensored movie she backed up and ran over him twice more). She isn't sharing with anyone. She grabs a gun and the map from Vincent's dead body. She then puts the jack back in the car.

Margot and the doctor go and dig up the box. Margot tells him that all their plans are there in the ground. When Craig digs up the box Margot shoots him and then laughs hysterically. "It's all mine now" she screams. She runs laughing all the way back to the car.

The movie then returns back to the first scene. Margot is dying. The tough cop, Jojo tries to comfort her. Margot says "Jojo please, just this once, come down to my level." Portugal bends down to kiss her and she laughs in his face.

Portugal opens the box. There is the message from Frankie. "To you who double-crossed me... I leave this dollar for your trouble. The rest of the dough, I leave to the worms."

The movie was definitely low budget, and the acting wasn't great, but Margot is one of  the great femme fatales of film noir. She killed two guys, had another killed, and laughed all the way through it.


Sergeant Joe Portugal: [Reading a note from Frankie] To you who double-crossed me... I leave this dollar for your trouble. The rest of the dough, I leave to the worms.

Bartender: Louie asked her how old she was. She said 23.
Sergeant Joe Portugal: If she's 20, I'll eat that glass.

Frank Olins: Nothing comes out of that money, until I take it out myself. Vince will pay for the Doctor.
Jim Vincent: I into you for 60 G's already.
Frank Olins: 60 thousand? For what?
Margot Shelby: Do want an itemized account of what is cost to save your life?

Sergeant Joe Portugal: Don't let the face of yours go to your head.
Margot Shelby: Or to yours?
Sergeant Joe Portugal: It would matter if did... People who use pretty faces like you use yours, don't live very long anyway.

Margot Shelby: Do you remember the first time I came to see you in your office? Your dingy, gloomy office in that dingy dirty street, the rotten smell of the factory chimneys pressing down on the shabby little houses, the slovenly old women, the gray-faced dirty little children starting out with everything against them. I remember that street.
Dr. Craig: Do you love me?
Margot Shelby: Yes, but I can't forget your street. I remember every little thing about it, and if I had never seen it, I still could have described it because that street runs all over the world. I know because that's the street I came from 6000 miles from here in a little English mill town. But it's the same rotten street, the same factories, the same people, and the same little gray-faced children!

Frank Olins: Lay out the dough Vince. You know you'll get it back, soon as I can out of here.
Jim Vincent: No Soap Frankie. You've just been gassed. How do I know what kind of shape you in? Maybe you wouldn't be able to pull through an operation.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Troy (2004)

I guess Troy can be considered a guilty pleasure for me. The critics didn't like it (56 on Metacritics) but I thought it was really good. I really like movies that take on a literary or historical topic and educate you about the plots and themes. Like most films, Troy took some liberties with Homer's The Iliad, but in general the basic plot is presented. In 1250 BC Helen, Queen of Sparta, leaves her husband Menelaus for Paris, the Prince of Troy. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon then set off with 1000 ships for Troy, looking to get Helen back and to conquer Troy.

The battle between Achilles and Paris' brother Hector highlights the siege that ends when the Trojans roll in the giant horse that they think the defeated Greeks left as a tribute for them. 

The movie had a great cast with Brad Pitt, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, 

They don't make many movies like this any more. Not as good as Gladiator, but still pretty good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Best Actor of All Time?

When experts are asked the best actors of all time they usually respond with Lawrence Olivier or Marlon Brando, and these were two really good actors. 


Let's take a look at what they did in the movies and their IMDB ratings over 7.5. 

Olivier had Rebecca (8.1), Sleuth (8.0),  Spartacus (7.9), Romeo and Juliet (7.6), Wuthering Heights (7.6), Hamlet (7.6), Marathon Man (7.5),  and A Little Romance (7.5)

Brando had The Godfather (9.2), Apocalypse Now (8.4), On the Waterfront (8.1), and A Streetcar Named Desire (8.0).

On the other hand, my candidate for best actor of all time, Jimmy Stewart, had It's a Wonderful Life (8.6), Rear Window (8.4), Vertigo (8.3), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (8.1), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (8.1), The Shop around the Corner (8.1), Anatomy of a Murder (8.0), Rope (8.0), The Philadelphia Story (7.9), Harvey (7.9), You Can't Take It with You (7.9), The Mortal Storm (7.8), Destry Rides Again (7.7), After the  Thin Man (7.7), The Shootist (7.6), Winchester '73 (7.6), The Man Who Knew Too Much (7.6), and The Flight of the Phoenix (7.5).

In addition James Stewart was second amongst  IMDB Top 250 movies appearances by an actor. He was in eight (Rear Window, It's a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rope, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Harvey and The Philadelphia Story). In addition Stewart was the actor, who along with Anthony Mann, came back after World War II and redefined the way we looked at our heroes. In the Mann Westerns , Winchester ‘73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), The Far Country (1955), and The Man from Laramie (1955),  Stewart played a dark and troubled hero who was more acceptable to the post-war movie audiences. One of Stewart's lower rated movies, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) won the Best Picture Oscar.

Robert De Niro also was in nine (The Godfather Part II, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Once Upon a Time in America, Heat, The Deer Hunter, Casino and The Joker).  De Niro was also in The Irishman, A Bronx Tale, The Untouchables, The King of Comedy, Silver Linings Playbook, Jackie Brown, Midnight Run, The Mission, Mean Street and Wag the Dog, all movies that I love. 

It's one thing to have potential, it's another to go out there and perform. Stewart and De Niro have left a great body of work, while some other actors have left a reputation largely based on people talking about their potential.

Best Actor of All Time : Jimmy Stewart (or maybe Robert De Niro - it depends on your point of view).

It's a Wonderful Life

Rear Window

Winchester '73

The Shop Around the Corner


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Some movies just get better with each viewing, and this is definitely one of them. I've probably seen it seven or eight times and each time it gets better and better.

This is a film for people who love movies (like me). Toto grows up in a small town in Italy and pesters, and then helps the projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso, Alfredo.

One of their main chores is cutting out the scenes that the local priest censors by ringing a bell on his first viewing of the film before the people are allowed in. Alfredo ends up with piles of clipped film that he sometimes forgets (or can't find the place) to splice back in to the film again.

When a film catches on fire the Cinema burns down and Alfredo is blinded. Toto then takes over an Alfredo spends time in the booth with him.

Toto falls in love with a girl named Elena, but they are separated and Toto loses touch with her.

Alfredo encourages Toto to leave the town and go to Rome and make a life for himself, and toto does. He becomes successful and doesn't reurn to the village for thirty years, although he does support his mother. But when Alfredo dies, his mother tells him and he comes home for the funeral.

 In the longer version of the movie Elena and Toto meet again at the the funeral but in the shorter version they don't. Which version is better? I'm not sure. I have to see the longer version again.

But in either case, it is a great movie.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Winchester '73 (1950)

Director Anthony Mann made some great film noirs in the 1940's, including T-Men (1947) and Raw Deal (1948). After the war the film audience suddenly became more sophisticated (or jaded) and were not as accepting of the hero in the white hat riding in and saving the day.
Mann made a series of movie with James Stewart in the '50s that are among the best ever made, and really stand-up strongly today.

Mann and Stewart made five "psychological" Westerns that dealt with a flawed hero looking for revenge, violence and a deep seated rage looking to be quenched (Winchester '73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), The Man from Laramie (1955), The Far Country (1954)).
In Winchester '73 we find Lin McAdam (Stewart) searching for his brother and then for a rifle he won in a shooting match.

The movie has a little bit of everything with Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson overseeing a shooting match, Rock Hudson playing Young Bull and leading an Indian charge, noir star Dan Duryea as Waco  (Wacko) Johnny Dean, Shelly Winters as a reforming dance hall lady and in a very early role, Tony Curtis.

Mann and Stewart made some great movies together but this is one of the Western Greats.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Vertigo (1958)

I watched the restored version of Vertigo,and I think I can finally understand how it was voted the #1 movie of all time, by the most prestigious film poll, Sight and Sound, in 2012. Vertigo replaced Citizen Kane, which had previously been on top.

I think I now have to place Hitchcock on the top of my list as the best director of all time. I have eight of his movies ranked as 10/10 which is probably more than any other director (Rear Window, Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Dial M  for Murder, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt, Foreign Correspondant, and Saboteur). And then I have 18 of his other movies rated 7.0 or higher.

Great story, great acting, great music, great color (with the restoration) and great pacing. Vertigo was a great movie by the greatest director of all time.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Jojo Rabbit

I didn't know what to think about this film the first time I saw it. I knew it was entertaining, and funny, but inside I didn't know if it was appropriate to be entertained by a movie on Nazism. But I have been entertained before by movies about Hitler and about Nazism.

The Producers (1967),  To Be, or Not to Be (1942)  and The Great Dictator (1940) are three of my favorite movies, and two of them were made while the war was still going on.

But times might be different now. In 2017 in Lennox, Massachusetts, the decision to include The Producers in a summer stock play series immediately drew protest from groups that said that the play normalized the Nazis.

I can see how that can be said about Jojo Rabbit too. Jojo's mother and father were both part of the Resistance, but Jojo was indoctrinated in to being a Nazi. Was he a bad person? No, Jojo was just a normal little boy who fell in with what was sweeping across the country and taught to him in school. And Sam Rockwell played a Nazi Captain who seemed to be a good guy who just went along with all the nonsense.

But I don't really think Taika Waititi had his target on Hitler and the Nazis. I think he had his sights on more contemporary hate groups and was pointing out how easy it was for people to fall in with them.

I don't think he was giving them a pass but was using them as an example to show us how easy it is (millions of Germans did) to give in to peer pressure, and join in with groups that promote hatred and divisiveness.

I think Jojo Rabbit was a really good, perhaps bordering on great, movie.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

I watched two movies directed by Pedro Almodovar since seeing his auto-biographical Pain and Glory (2019).
Bad Education (2004) showed what happened to Aldmodovar after his mother sent off to the religious school and it wasn't pretty.

Bad Education is listed as a Crime, Drama and it is certainly both of those things as it explores the wanton sex abuse of the boys at the hands of the priests during the Franco era in Spain. Probably required viewing for those who want to understand Aldomovar.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) is a mad cap comedy that pays homage to, but somehow manages to pass in some ways the best of the screwball comedies of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges.

In the film, Pepa (Carmen Maura), tries to discover why her lover has suddenly left her.

A great movie that will definitely get better with repeat viewings.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Pain and Glory

I've only seen two other of  Pedro Almodóvar's other movies (Talk to Her, All About My Mother), and I know I didn't appreciate them as much as I should have. I really didn't know much about him, where he was coming from or what he was trying to get across. After seeing this great movie, which I think is as good as any movie about the process a director goes through to make a movie (8 1/2, Day for Night, The Player, Cinema Paradiso).

This was a very honest movie and I am really looking forward to seeing all of Almodovar's movies now.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Once Upon a Time on a Parasite

I watched Parasite and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood again, and I realized that I really did like the movies, but to me the endings hurt both of them.

Parasite was a really good comedy. Seeing the Kim family, who smelled of poverty, find occupations with the Parks and get them to share their wealth was really funny. Like all good upstair / downstair movies we see that both families, despite their monetary situation, have problems. Having the third family who were really living downstairs and were actually displace as parasites by the Kims just made the social commentary more interesting.

In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino created a love letter to the television and movies of the 50's that he grew up on. The movie brought us behind the scenes on Wanted Dead or Alive, Lancer, and the spaghetti westerns. The movie was touching, funny and interesting.

Both movies ended reverted with the directors reverting to their favorite genre : horror. And even though I still liked both movies, I think they both could have been better if they could have finished the movies in the genres they started in.

But I still think both movies were really good and two of the best movies of the year.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Rambo : Last Blood (2019)

I liked the name and I liked Rambo : First Blood from 1982. But this movie has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I usually only see movies that are well reviewed but I thought I would give this a chance, since i had seen all of the other movies in the series. But it was a mistake. The movie ends with Rambo pinning the villain against the wall with four arrows and then he goes up and cut out his heart.
I don't like horror or slasher movies and I guess this is what they are like. Now I've seen one, but it was a mistake.
The Razzy's aren't out yet but this has to win Sly a prize as Worst Actor, Worst Writer and it has to get the Worst Picture Award.
It was so bad that I had to keep watching it because I just couldn't believe how bad it was. This officially ends the series.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lord of the Rings

I never saw the whole series. I think saw the first one,  and then just bits of pieces of all three of them through the years. When I saw them it would just seem like random battles scenes, mostly with good guy looking people fighting orcs.

Bu all three movies stayed in the top 15 on Imdb through the years, so I decided to watch them all from beginning to end. Nine hours later, as someone who doesn't really like fantasy, I have to admit I was wrong. They were really good, and probably border on being great.

Great cast and cinematography with a very good story which makes sense when you watch it all in a row (not separated by years).

What I thought was really cool was that while Frodo was the heroic protagonist in the story, I think that it is Sam who evolves into the real hero as the story goes on. Without Sam, Frodo would never have made it.

Sometimes it's the little fellow that saves the day. Great trilogy, which really only makes sense when you see them all together.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Joker (2019)

I used to love super-hero movies, but as Marvel and DC competed and pumped out movie after movie quickly saturating the field. There were two men super-heroes running around trying to keep aliens from getting magic stones and things that would end the world as we know it.

But then Joker came out. A brilliant movie about a man taking meds and struggling with his mental health and getting no help from the underfunded social services. Arthur Fleck is a stand in for many people in today's world who have been abandoned, and left to fend for themselves.

I thought the origin story was really good, and I think it was interesting how it tied in the Joker origin story with that of Batman's. In fact, the I think the movie suggests that the Joker and Batman are half-brothers. I'm sure we'll find out about that down the road.

The movie really was a one man show as Joaquin Phoenix was on the screen for almost the entire movie. He was really good and is very deserving of a Best Actor Oscar.

Really well done. I was really surprise at how much I liked it. I'm sure it will do really well at the Oscars.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Peterloo (2019)

Director Mike Leigh is one of the best English directors of all time. He has been nominated five times for writing and/or directing for Another Year (2010), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Vera Drake (2004), Topsy-Turvy (1999)  and Secret and Lies (1996).

Peterloo, made in 2019, marks the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. A crowd of 60,000 people from Manchester England and surrounding towns gathered in St. Peter's fields to demand reform and an extension of voting rights. The peaceful protest was broken up by government troops and as many as 15 were reported dead with up to 700 wounded. Many historians have credited this event with leading to the Great Reform Act being passed thirteen years later.

The movie follows a poor family, a famous radical speaker Henry Hunt, Prince Regent George IV, and the local authorities looking to suppress protest. The movie flips between the various groups as we come to see how the events at Peterloo could possibly have taken place, but the film is mostly seen from a working class perspective (as most of Leigh's films are).

Leigh could have made a more popular movie by having a film star as the protagonist and then following that star through the movie. We then could have identified with that character as we moved through the story. Leigh decided to give us glimpses of different groups, and see their points of view. He also decided not to use any stars that might sway us to a particular point of view.

Peterloo  looked at a world 200 years ago but it was also commenting on today's world. People are still asking for a greater share of the wealth. People are still working hard, but living in poverty. Peterloo is an important movie because points out how important it is for people to get involved and how important it is for everyone to have the right to peacefully express their point of view.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Little Women (2019)

I had never read the book, or seen the earlier versions of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this movie.
I enjoyed seeing small town New England life during the Civil War and how the March family lived while father was away at the war.
I don't think I would have liked it as much if the cast wasn't so good. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Timothy Chalamet are really good young actors. Meryl Streep. Laura Dern and Chris Cooper are some of our best older actors.
It was interesting how director Greta Gerberg (Lady Bird) had Jo take on the role of Louisa May Alcott in the film.
Overall, really good.

One Child Nation (2019)

This documentary tells the story of China's one child per family room that started in 1979 and ended in 2015. During that period there was severe pressure for families to have just one child per household for the good of the country.
In some places it meant fining, tearing down houses or even forcing abortions for those not following the rule.

Fascinating and, at times, very hard to watch. But it does raise some interesting questions. It shows how a propaganda machine can make people believe in a 1984 or Brave New World kind of way, what they want them to believe, and how effective that propaganda is when backed by force.
The people seemed to know that what they were doing was wrong and even horrific, but the propaganda, peer pressure and the threat of economic devastation made the policy work. In many ways the effect was very similar to what the Germans went through under the Nazi regime.
Here we are in the twenty first century. Sometimes it seems we are not making progress as a civilization. Are the horrors actually getting worst? Is it possible we could be headed for another Dark Age?
Watching this film leaves one feeling very pessimistic about our future.

Transit (2019)

This movie was on many critics (and Barak Obama's) Top Ten lists for the year.
The movie starts out with the familiar police siren. Two men are having a dialog. "Why are you still here? Paris is being sealed off."

Based on a 1944 novel about a Communist Jewish German trying to leave Vichy France for Mexico. Through a series of events the man gets a chance to assume the identity of a dead man who has a visa out of France.
The interesting thing about the movie is that there are no Nazis. Many of the things in the movie are contemporary such as the cars, weapons, police uniforms. But there are also typewriters and sets more reminiscent of 1944. The movie is clearly a metaphor for the similarities of the 1944 Jewish refugees in Nazi Europe and the current problems of refugees in our contemporary world.
A very good film with a really interesting experimental style.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

A movie about an actor and his stunt double who cross paths with Sharon Tate and the Charles Manson and his family.

I really liked the look back at the early TV shows I had watched growing up. Dead or Alive and Lancer were two shows I can recall vividly. The music in the film was also really great, playing many of the one hit wonders, now  forgotten, of the sixties.
The movie also worked for me because Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were so good. They seemed to be so natural and to be having such a good time working together.
Like many of Tarantino's film, the movie starts in a somewhat normal, although consistently quirky world. It then drives the film off the cliff, and then finishes up as if nothing out of the ordinary really just happened.
I really enjoyed the film and I think it will do really well at the Oscars.

The King (2019)

This Netflix streaming film really didn't get any love from the critics. The movie was about Henry V, and was based on real events and the plays of William Shakespeare.
I think that the reason that I liked the movie so much is because I really am pretty ignorant on Shakespeare and I really didn't know that much about this king, although I do love history.
I think I came away from watching this film knowing a little more about Shakespeare's works, and a little more about  this fascinating period in English history. In 1415, Henry embarked on war with France in the ongoing Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) between the two nations. His military successes culminated in his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) and saw him come close to conquering France. Taking advantage of political divisions within France, he conquered large portions of the kingdom, resulting in Normandy's occupation by the English for the first time since 1345–1360. After months of negotiation with Charles VI of France, the Treaty of Troyes (1420) recognised Henry V as regent and heir apparent to the French throne, and he was subsequently married to Charles's daughter, Catherine of Valois.
All characters existed in real life, except John Falstaff. In Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, William Shakespeare based Falstaff loosely on the historical Sir John Oldcastle, a companion of Prince Henry. He renamed the character because of Oldcastle's powerful family. Falstaff is a companion of Prince Hal in these two plays, but doesn't appear in Henry V. The movie brings Prince Hal's friend into this period too, and made him less comic  and more heroic than Shakespeare did.

The film had a good cast Ben Mendelsohn as Henry IV, Timothy Chalamet as Henry V, Joel Edgerton as Falstaff and Robert Pattinson as the Dauphin.

The movie moved a little slow, but I liked it that way. It gave me a chance to figure out what was going on. So many historical movies rush through the plot to get to the action scenes, but this one took its time and let you keep pace with what was going on.
A very good film that I am really surprised did not do better.


Written and directed by first time director, Mati Diop, who which she became the first black female director to be in contention for the Cannes Film Festival's highest prize, the Palme d'Or. At Cannes, Atlantics won the Grand Prix.

The film is set in Dakar and follows a young girl named Ada who has been promised to a rich young man named Omar. The wedding is being planned, but Ada is in love with construction worker Souleiman.
Ada has to choose between being comfortable or being happy. Being happy is not so easy though because it would mean being poor and disappointing her family.
Ada's choice is made easier. Souleiman has been part of a crew constructing a new building, but they haven't been paid in months. The young men take off for Spain a boat and an unhappy Ada gets married.
For me the first part of the movie is beautifully done as we look into the life of the poor in a different culture.
The movie then takes a drastic turn when the men, who have died and their ship has sunk, come back and inhabit the bodies of the women they loved and others. The zombie like creatures now try to get the back pay of the dead men.
Interesting, worth seeing, but the second half didn't work for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Best Movies of 2019

  1. The Irishman
  2. Joker
  3. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood
  4. Parasite
  5. The King
  6. Jojo Rabbit
  7. 1917
  8. Marriage Story
  9. JoJo Rabbit
  10. Pain and Glory
  11. Just Mercy
  12. Peterloo
  13. Little Women
  14. Knives Out
  15. Uncut Gems
  16. The Farewell
  17. Harriet
  18. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  19. Alita : Battle Angel
  20. American Factory
  21. Rocketman
  22. Late Night
  23. Ad Astra
  24. Transit
  25. Atlantic
  26. The Two Popes
  27. Ford v Ferrarri
  28. Ash is the Purest White
  29. The Peanut Butter Falcon
  30. Long Shot
  31. Booksmart
  32. The Report
  33. One Child Nation
  34. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  35. Midsommar 
  36. Motherless Brooklyn
  37. Rolling Thunder Review
  38. For Soma
  39. Chopsticks
  40. Dolemite is My Name
  41. Best of Enemies
  42. Sword of Trust
  43. Hail Satan?
  44. The Devil Next Door
  45. The Lighthouse
  46. Blinded by the Light
  47. Brittany Runs a Marathon
  48. The Highwaymen
  49. Glass
  50. Triple Frontier
  51. Knock Down the House
  52. The Kid
  53. Yesterday
  54. Shazam!
  55. Captain Marvel
  56. Photograph
  57. Deadwood : The Movie
  58. John Wick : Chapter 3
  59. Spiderman : Far from Home
  60. Hustlers
  61. Someone Great
  62. Zombieland : Double Tap
  63. Wine Country
  64. Rambo : Last Blood

To See
  1. The Souvenir
  2. Richard Jewell
  3. Invisible Life
  4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  5. A Hidden Life
  6. Honeyland
  7. Honey Boy  - prime
  8. Birds of Passage 
  9. The Nightingale 
  10. Under the Silver Lake  - prime
  11. Dark Waters
  12. Waves

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Children Are Watching Us

In 1942 Vittorio De Sica made this film. We see the movie through the eyes of the child, Prico. Prico sees his mother talking to a man (Roberto) and he knows something is not right. When his mother runs off with Roberto, Prico and his father are both heart broken. Nina does come back and Prico's father, Andrea, takes her back for his son's sake. The couple reconcile and it seems that the affair seems to have been forgotten.

The family takes a vacation at the seashore. When Andrea has to return to work, Nina and Prico stay at the shore for a few days. Nina again hooks up with Roberto who has followed her. Prico sees them together and runs away but is soon returned to his mother.
When they return to Rome, Nina leaves again for Roberto. Andrea eventually enrolls his son at a private Catholic School. Andrea then kills himself in Rome. When Nina visits the school to see her son, Prico turns and walks away from her in one of the greatest endings ever to a movie.

The film is really interesting on many levels. Not as renowned as De Sica's Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D. or Shoeshine, which are among the best films, and in particular, among the best neo-realist movies ever made. But The Children Are Watching us might actually have been the first neo-realist movie ever made. Traditionally the first neo-realist movie is considered Open City (1946) by Roberto Rossellini. DeSica's movie was made in 1942 (released in 1944) and has many of the characteristics of the neo-realist style.  It is shot on location, the most important character, Prico, is played by an amateur and it definitely doesn't have a Hollywood ending.
De Sica might have been particularly effective with the theme of betrayal and abandonment because he was doing the same thing to his family at the time the film was being shot. He was in the process of leaving his wife and his daughter for an actress he had met while directing. It's particularly interesting with the suicide and the child's rejection of the cheating parent at the end of the film.
De Sica is a great director and I would add this film to the three great movies he is usually associated with. Not too many directors have four great movies on their resume.