I have been busy with travel the past couple of weeks. This allowed for some airplane viewing time with Delta. Delta has a new free wifi service on some of its planes that allows you to watch films from their own app, as well as in-plane texting (which is slick!).
I decided to watch a couple of old friends instead of the newer fare (of which there is very little that I want to seek out).
So I re-watched Gladiator, although I have to admit that it is the less intense version with less language and certainly far less graphic blood. In the end, and upon further review, this film and its CGI still bothers me. The Coliseum that I have stood in, in real life, comes across here as a video game. The flags and people and all are so not real, that they are a distraction. My other main complaint is with Joaquin Phoenix, who is such a whiny, crying baby all the time. There is NO WAY a reigning Caesar would have a thought about squashing a difficult gladiator. The Imp simply would disappear, never to be seen again by the fickle crowds. Problem solved. Hans Zimmer’s score is excellent throughout and something I can have in the background while working any time. Brilliant.
I also re-watched The Matrix on Netflix on Sat night. I do like that film. From the great work of Agent Smith and his delivery, to the performances of the entire human team working in the real world. The camera angles, the showering down of empty shell casings from the helicopter to the battle between Neo and the agents all resonate with me. The interrogation scene with agent Smith remains a great launching point where as a viewer you realize this is not a typical film, in a typical world.
As for new films, I watched the 2016 film Frank & Lola with Michael Shannon, and Imogen Poots. Shannon is steadily growing on me as someone who I will seek out for his roles. He has driven past the mono-layered bad guy General Zod from Superman and become a much more full force. He says a lot without saying much at all, and here is a really good example of it. Here he plays a 40-something accomplished chef living in Las Vegas. He has come across this 20-something woman who has captivated him. “Love is blind” or so they say, and here you can see the truth of it. The film begins with the lovers in bed overlooking the Vegas skyline. As he gets to know more about her, he sees and questions certain things that are revealed, and then looks for concrete answers. The journey takes him to Paris where he looks into her past, all the while working on a new opportunity for himself. Men swirl around his lover, and he is skeptical about all of them. His trip to Paris looks into what turns out to be recent past for her, and there he must find a way to deal with what he finds. On the way, he must cope with his doubts and his desire to not know. The best of Shannon shows when he is steaming and simmering inside and palpably ready to explode in a fit of rage. You can sense it as you look at him; his posture, the facial expressions, his whole body. Another well-known saying is that you meet people for “a season, a reason or a lifetime”. I think that the Shannon character here could be able to sit back upon reflection and pick out which was most appropriate for him. It’s worth a view and only takes 1.5 hours of your time.