Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994)

The final film in the Three Colors trilogy is Red, this is also the final film that Krzysztof Kieślowski ever made. The first one Blue is about Liberty (liberté), the second one White is about Equality (egalité), and Red is about Fraternity (fraternité). Rouge is the anti-romance of the three film. As Roger Ebert put it in his review of Red “This is the kind of film that makes you feel intensely alive while you’re watching it, and sends you out into the streets afterwards eager to talk deeply and urgently, to the person you are with. Whoever that happens to be.” Spoilers to follow.

The film is a bit complicated to explain, the basic premise is communication. The main character is a student in Geneva, Valentine Dussault (Irène Jacob) who is a part time model as well, she has a giant ad for chewing gum (which gets referenced later). She runs over a dog and meets a retired judge, Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant), he owns the dog and doesn’t care what happens with it so Valentine takes the dog to a vet and takes it. Several days later money is delivered to Valentine’s place and she takes the dog for a walk, it runs off back to Kern’s house. Valentine learn that he sent the money and Kern is secretly listening to his neighbor’s phone calls. One of the phone calls that we hear is from one of Valentine’s other neighbors Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) who is studying to become a judge, talking with his girlfriend. Valentine confronts Kern about eavesdropping on his neighbors. Valentine and Kern develop a nice friendship. More things happen and all the main characters from the trilogy end up on a ferry that capsizes in the English channel and they, Julie and Olivier from Blue, Karol and Dominique from White and Auguste and Valentine from Red, are among the seven survivors. The film is about relationship and how we are all connected and who know when our paths will collide as Valentine and Auguste live across the street from one another but it isn’t until the end when they finally meet. It’s a nice film and provides a happy ending to all three films.  Now to watch one of these film is to put the others on your to watch list.

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Justice League (2017)

Justice League the DC Extended Universe version of the Avengers is assembled at least the beginning of it. The DC Comics movie universe is the second one to get off the ground with Marvel having started a decade ago and basically owning movie theaters for about the same time. DC Comics movie universe has only been around for five years and that is the same amount of time that the MCU had before the Avengers showed up. So I don’t see the big deal with them going this quickly sure they only dealt with Superman and Wonder Woman along with Batman sort of however those are the biggest name from DC Comics so why not team them up the basically did it in the second movie (BvS:Dawn of Justice). Spoilers to follow, although we basically all know how this movie was going to end before it was made it’s the title.

Now, remember that in Batman v Superman, Superman died and was buried. Batman is doing his thing in Gotham, and Wonder Woman is restoring art or something in Paris. The film begins thousands of years in the past with Steppenwolf trying to turn Earth into his home world, by pushing together three “mother boxes” Steppenwolf’s plan is foiled by a group of Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, mankind, and the Green Lantern Corps.  They separate the three boxes one going to the Amazons another to the Atlanteans and the third hidden somewhere on Earth by men. Steppenwolf returns and takes the box from the Amazons. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince go about getting a crew together to try to stop Steppenwolf from getting the other boxes. Bruce Wayne makes a trip to find Arthur Curry (Aquaman) and Barry Allen (The Flash) asking them to join up while Diana Prince goes to find Victor Stone (Cyborg) and asks him to join. Out of this first go round only Allen agrees to join up. Aquaman goes back to Atlantis where Steppenwolf is attacking and takes the second box. This prompts Aquaman to join the fight. Cyborg reluctantly joins after his father and other S.T.A.R. Labs employees are kidnapped by Steppenwolf to try and find the last box, the one hidden by mankind.

With the team assembled they learn that Cyborg’s dad used the mother box to save his son. Bruce Wayne decides that the mother box could be used to resurrect Superman. So Superman is back after a grand total of a movie being dead. There is more but it’s just what you’d expect Superman is revived and joins the team Bruce and Diana get a Justice League HQ and Lex Luthor show up at the end and prompts the idea of a Legion of Doom.

The movie isn’t as bad as many people make it out to be. It is a decent film and has some highlights Gal Gadot  shines as Wonder Woman yet again and Ezra Miller is pretty funny as Barry Allen. Sure Batfleck seems over it all already in only his second film. The biggest problem the film has is that it has to try and straighten the course after the disappointing previous movies were blown out of the water by the mega blockbuster Wonder Woman, making it a bit lighter and hopefully this trend continues with Aquaman coming this winter and Shazam! coming next year.

 

Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert

On Sunday, NBC had the latest televised live musical event and perhaps the only one this year, well Disney Channel does have Freaky Friday airing sometime this summer. As for Bye Bye Birdie, the long gestating next live musical on NBC has been pushed back to 2019 and Fox is slated to be doing Rent Live on January 27, 2019. While this is a long time from now we got one of the better television musicals in recent years could that be based only on the choice of actors or how it was staged or even the musical itself.

Jesus Christ Superstar first came out as a concept album in 1970 and had success on the Billboard Pop charts topping them for the year over Carole King’s Tapestry. It started with rock and musical theater singers so why not capture this again, as they’ve done numerous time through the years. Having it staged as a concert also helped since it didn’t have to worry about sets, PBS has broadcast several other shows in concert were they are sort of semi-staged like this and they are always enjoyable to watch. Perhaps they could shift to these concert versions for a while or start picking shows that people know and aren’t afraid to watch.  Jesus Christ Superstar is being widely recognized as the best of all the “live musicals” that both NBC and FOX have done in this latest go round of televised musicals.

The reviews have all been praising Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas as the highlight of the event Dixon  recently was Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Sara Bareilles and John Legend also got some good reviews however Legend more so with for his singing and his vocal range as opposed to his acting chops. This seems to be something that the musical already has written into it as Judas plays a more compelling role in the show. The biggest problem that seemed universal was the costuming with most of the cast in sort of leather/pleather made no sense.  If you haven’t watched it yet I’m sure that NBC has it On Demand so check it out.

Bugsy Malone (1976)

Now Bugsy Malone is a movie that is very unique, to start off it is a musical loosely based on events in New York and Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931 during Prohibition, specifically Al Capone and Bugs Moran. The content is lightened up for the children who are the only actors in the film, most of which were under the age of 16. The film has a wide variety of people in it from the likes of Jodie Foster, who won two BAFTAs for her role (with Taxi Driver), and Scott Baio to the Florrie Dugger and Jeffery Stevens.  The film itself was very popular in the UK and Japan but didn’t receive the same notice in America. It is 353rd on the Empire list of 500 best films from 2008 and 19th of the 100 greatest musicals chosen by Channel 4 viewers in 2003 as well as being one of the most screened films in secondary schools in the UK. The film eventually was adapted for stage.  I first learned about this in “Crocodile” the third episode of fourth series of Black Mirror which featured a song at the end of the episode. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a member of Fat Sam’s gang getting “splurged” by members of Dandy Dan’s gang, using rapid-fire cream-shooting “splurge guns” (this was to make the film children friendly). Fat Sam (John Cassisi) introduces us to Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) as well as Blousey Brown (Florrie Dugger), an aspiring singer who wants to audition for Fat Sam’s speakeasy. Bugsy runs into Blousey and is smitten at once. Fat Sam sends his gang to try and find some of these “splurge guns” but this ends up not so well as they are splurged. We find out Sam’s girlfriend Tallulah (Jodie Foster) is the lead singer at Sam’s Club, she flirts with Bugsy and plants a kiss on him when Blousey shows up for an audition.  She gets hired, but refuses to speak with Bugsy. Sam gets Bugsy to drive him to meet with Dandy Dan, but it turns out to be a trap. After safety getting Fat Sam out of there he gives Bugsy $200. Bugsy and Blousey reconcile and Bugsy promises to take her to Hollywood. Bugsy get beat up and his money stolen he is saved by Leroy Smith, a black tramp with a talent for boxing. Bugsy brings Leroy to Cagey Joe to help train him. Sam calls up Bugsy for another small job offering him $400 to steal some “splurge guns”. Bugsy gets the guns with the help of a soup kitchen filled with down and out workers. They bring them back to the speakeasy just before Dandy Dan’s gang show up there is a huge “splurge gun” fight with everyone getting covered with cream, both gangs realize that they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

That is the plot more or less. On top of this remember it’s a musical as well so we’ve got some crazy music from Paul Williams with adults singing the songs with them coming from the kids voices. Looking back on the film both Paul Williams and director Alan Parker aren’t sure if this was the best idea. If you are in for a weird film this is one to look up. It’s got some real cool things in it as well like those cars are pretty awesome, they are peddle cars that look like old cars. As well as the idea of having kids play all the roles I doubt that anyone would have approved of this if it were made today. It is by far the best G-rated gangster film I have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They realize they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

Trois couleurs : Blanc (1994)

Blanc is the second of the well regarded Three Colors Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The first one is Blue based on Liberty (liberté), this one is White and based on Equality (egalité), and the next one Red is based on Fraternity (fraternité). Roger Ebert calls it an “anti-comedy between the anti-tragedy (Blue) and the anti-romance (Red)”, which seems to be the best description of the film that I can find. Spoilers to follow.

This time around the main character is a shy man Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), an immigrant from Poland. We meet him before going into a divorce hearing and despite his limited knowledge of French he learns that, his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy), doesn’t love him and that the reason for the divorce is that the marriage hasn’t been consummated. Humiliated by his wife Karol has lost everything but a 2 franc coin. He is left to busk in the Métro de Paris where another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). recognizes a song Karol is playing on his comb harmonica and they become friends. Mikolaj offers Karol a job to kill someone. They make their way back to Poland with Karol smuggled in a suitcase. Now back in Poland Karol become a wealthy man and decides to humiliate his ex-wife to get back at her for all that she did to drive him from Paris.

Oscars recap

Alright, there were some big surprises notably Jordan Peele winning Best Original Screenplay and Shape of Water taking home Best Picture. These weren’t seismic changes as both had previously won awards in their respective categories at other awards shows. So out of the big awards that I guessed those 13 from Saturday I got nine right. Missing those Best Documentary and Foreign Language films aren’t that big of a surprise as I had not seen any of the films. There were some cool moments in general one Bil Keane’s son Glen (Billy in Family Circus) picked up an Oscar for Dear Basketball with Kobe Bryant. Dunkirk picked up most of the technical awards (Sound(editing and mixing), make up and editing). Phantom Thread picked up the award that we all though it was going to get Costume Design. Blade Runner 2049 won Cinematography and Visual Effects.

I really liked how they took moments to honor the military and the average movie fan during the show as well.

90th Academy Awards Predictions

Alright, on Sunday the 90th Oscar Ceremony will take place in LA so here are my predictions although it seems that there are so many front runners having won the other awards this year.

Best Picture:  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Best Actor: Garry Oldman as Churchill in Darkest Hour
Best Actress: Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell as Officer Jason Dixon in Three Billboards
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney as LaVona Golden in I, Tonya
Best Adapted Screenplay: James Ivory for Call Me by Your Name
Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards
Best Animated (Disney/Pixar) Film: It’s Coco this year.
Best Score: Alexandre Desplat for Shape of Water

As for the tougher ones
Best Song: Hope it’s that song from Coco
Best Foreign Language film: This is one of those shots in the dark The Insult? from Lebanon
Best Documentary: Another shot in the dark Faces Places

Those technical awards and short film awards well those are categories that most people don’t really care about so

Something Rotten!

Something Rotten is a musical that is a grand old love letter to Broadway musicals. It tells the story of Nick Bottom and his brother Nigel, who are desperate for a hit show in 1595 England. Since Nick hates William Shakespeare because of The Bard’s success. The patron of Bottom’s acting troupe learns that it  seems like Shakespeare will be doing Richard II, the play that Nick and Nigel are working on. Their patron leaves saying they need a new show by tomorrow or he will no longer patronize them.  To make a sure fire hit Nick goes to a soothsayer and it’s Nostradamus, Thomas Nostradamus, the nephew of the famous one, to find out what the next big thing in theater will be, it turns out to be a musical. Nick is convinced and tries at first but his attempt with a musical about the plague doesn’t go over well.  So Nick goes back to T. Nostradamus and ask what Shakespeare’s biggest play will be, and that will be the musical, it’s Hamlet but Nostradamus misinterprets it as Omelette instead, a musical about breakfast food. That’s the main story for the first act.

This turns out to be the greatest thing ever from the audience’s perspective as there are references to just about all of musical history from Oklahoma and South Pacific to Mary Poppins and Wicked. If you are a fan of musical you are bound to have some good laughs and who would have thought that have a recipe for an omelette in a song is the best thing in the world. If you have the opportunity to go see this I would highly recommend it. In a few year I could see this being one of the popular shows done at high schools.

2017 in film

On Monday the Razzie nominations came out and on Tuesday the Oscar nominations came out. These awards will honor  the Best and Worst in film in 2017. We will start with the Best.

Oscars
Best Picture we have nine nominees and they as follows, with a brief plot overview of sorts.

Call Me by Your Name
 – coming of age in the 80s gay romance, Drama
Darkest Hour
 – The early days of Winston Churchill in WWII
Dunkirk
 – The Battle of Dunkirk evacuation
Get Out
 – A black man visits the family of his white girlfriend at their home, the housekeeper and groundskeeper are black and act strangely.
Lady Bird – Coming of age in the 2000s daughter/mother relationship. Comedy
Phantom Thread
 – London’s couture world in the 1950s
The Post
 – The struggles to publish The Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post
The Shape of Water
 – A mute custodian befriends a secret merman at a top secret government facility in Baltimore in the 60s
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
 – A mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder, it’s a black comedy.

 

One of the best things about the awards in general this year is there are going to be many first time winners. All of the Directors, 4 of the five Supporting actors/actresses, and 3 of the five best actors and actresses. It will be hard to predict the Best Foreign film since the film that won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice is not nominated. Coco should win Disney/Pixar yet another Animated Feature Oscar.

On to the worst The 38th Golden Raspberry Awards. It’s been a rough year in film as there have been a bunch of poorly received films. For Worst film it is between Baywatch, The Emoji Movie, Fifty Shades Darker, The Mummy and the latest Transformers movie. This is a four horse race, sure Baywatch was a bad film but it wasn’t/isn’t the worst. The Mummy seemingly killed the whole Universal Monster movie universe, Fifty Shades was unfortunate and so was Transformers.