Hard to believe that my youngest is 14 years old today, how time flies – and how old am I ?!?! This past weekend was checking out an oldie, a goodie and an interesting character sketch. All of these were on Netflix. We were tempted to go see Sharkwater Extinction, but he decided to stay inside instead.
I note that 22 July which was reviewed by me at TIFF (see TIFF Edition Sept 17th) is now available on Netflix. None of this out to DVD and Pay-per-view stuff first, it is being shared and streamed almost straight away from theatrical release. Netflix has done this before (and likely that is the point) with movies like First They Killed My Father, which Alison at last moment pulled out of seeing at TIFF, which its impending free showing. So if you are looking for a Netflix stay in night, perhaps have a look. Or if you are looking for something a little more “out there” check out Annihilation with Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac. It too is available on Netflix recently.
At the theatre for First Man Saturday they previewed the latest (and endless) superhero movie to come to theatres shortly. This time it is Captain Marvel. I confess that I am NOT a superhero movie fan. Certainly Alison knows this well. It is an exception rather than the rule if I actually like a superhero movie. For me the pinnacle was the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy with Christian Bale. He IS Batman for me. They were dark, they were brooding and they had a real life human dealing with human issues. But back to the trailer, we have Brie Larson, who I really liked in Room and for which she won an Oscar, playing the lead role. Not being a comic book guy, I am not sure whether Captain Marvel was a female. But I’ll go with it. Brie since Room only filled out a tank top nicely in Kong Skull Island, and I have not seen any of the other smaller films that she has done. Now she is becoming Captain Marvel. I don’t need to see this – nor any of the Avenger films and they won’t get any of my money. Here is the trailer for those who haven’t seen it already. What did Hollywood do for movies BEFORE superheroes? Hard to remember really….!
First Man: Everything I have ever heard about Neil Armstrong was that he was a very private and somewhat reclusive man. He happened to be a world icon as the first human being to ever set foot on the moon. But he was a reluctant hero and felt that it was pure happenstance that he became this iconic figure, as Apollo 11 just happened to be the flight where all the other precursor projects were completed. After the Apollo program he left NASA and became a professor, but still kept some interests with the NASA activities.
A Star is Born: First off I have to admit that I am not a Lady Gaga fan. And I think mostly that it had to do with the whole persona, with the clothes and the over-the-top wackiness of her. She just seemed so made up and created with no one very real underneath. So I came into this film, that was given good reviews from TIFF with some reservations, and few expectations. I also wasn’t sure that this re-make of another re-make (1976) of yet another film (1954) needed to be made. And some impressive talent have played the Ally character before, namely Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand!! Pretty hard to get more talented than that! Yes Bradley Cooper being the Director was likely enticing, and making this a more modern film adaption might make some sense but still. The theatre on Sunday was packed for a 9:15PM showing, which surprised me actually. But all of that is background.
The film is good, and I think the best part about it is Gaga herself. She is fresh, and wholesome – her “normal” hair and look in the beginning of the film along with her street-wise attitude make for a compelling protagonist. She talks at length early on about the music business and being told that her nose is “too big” although she can sing. Well, let me emphasize this with underlines, that SHE CAN SING. The film includes all original songs and they are very good. Gaga simply nails it. In many ways this is a concert film, because there are many songs performed in full. But from a singing stand point, Cooper was a revelation. I didn’t expect it. He plays the guitar and performs live (even alone and in a bar after it is closed) he sings really well. The biggest distraction for me was the Cooper speaking voice. He’s channeling co-star Sam Elliott who plays his brother and has his gravelly voice and drawl. I think also he is adding some elements of Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. In truth I think there is much of Crazy Heart tone, and look and the feel of Cooper’s character. But this voice I guess is to make you see this character and not Bradley Cooper but every time he’s talking I think that it’s not him. It seems put on, and it’s not really necessary. When he’s engaging with Sam Elliott then it shows this mirroring and they are really good together. Anyway, from a strong movie and performance, it likely didn’t need to go there.
This past weekend was a busy one for films.
Since starting this blog, here is my first live update to it, rather than uploading past materials. So hot off the presses and with no further adieu, here it is:
A Simple Favour: this is a film starring Blake Lively, and Anna Kendrick. It was given 3 stars by reviewer at Ebert.com and I decided to check it out. The premise is pretty simple with the Kendrick character a do-good, geeky single Mom who is super involved in her son’s class at school (she volunteers for everything and takes it to extreme levels) in Connecticut. In steps the Blake Lively character who is very busy with her high powered job in NYC, and her son. She is married to a writer, who isn’t writing much and they have financial stresses. Lively’s character swears and has firm views, likes to drink hard and press Kendrick about her darkest secrets. A modest “friendship” ensues between the two, with Lively not really seeming very into it. Then things happen. And more things happen with twists and turns that are expected and unexpected. They story moves to a who-dun-it in somewhat of a Gone Girl way. Kendrick can play annoying very well, and she is believable. Lively shows some range and is a presence. The men generally are toyed with and played to various degree. Henry Golding as Lively’s writer husband is good. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it. It’s not a big screen film, but in a time when things were slow it was a quick escape for a couple hours. Lively is seemingly getting more confident and has been the focal point of a couple films now (Shallows and All I See Is You).
Jane: On Netflix I saw the new documentary had been added which was at TIFF a year ago. I had tried to seek this out in the theatre but couldn’t find it. This is an updated documentary with never before seen footage with Jane Goodall and her experiences and findings about chimpanzees in Africa. It is fascinating. You are told some of the history of Jane taking a project to do first hand accounts observing chimps and it starts slowly for her. She needs to gain the trust of the resident apes. When they realize that she is not a threat after a time, one particular ape shows the others that she is okay. More importantly is her work that showed that we as humans are not the only creatures on the planet that use tools. The chimps use long grass and thin sticks to insert into any hills and eat the ants that cling to them as them pull it out. The apes are also shown to think and feel deeply as the story of Flint and his mother Flo unfolds. This was and is important research and change animal research methods going forward. The pictures are fascinating and if you are an animal lover at all the cuteness factor with baby chimps is off the charts. Jane herself claims that Flo the chimp actually made her a better mother. There is a delicate balance of protection but also freedom to explore and try new things. Today’s parents could learn a thing or two from an ape. I heartily recommend this film.
Reversing Roe: another documentary newly out on Netflix is very good too which speaks about the history and future of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the US for abortion (Roe v Wade). The decision has been under attack by the States since the Feds insisted on access to abortion for women. States like Kentucky (with only one existing clinic) and Texas are anxious to eradicate these clinics in their areas. They put extreme regulations on them which have been forcing them to close their doors, regulations which are ONLY used against such clinics and not other clinics that provide other procedures (like colonoscopy services). You see politically a filibuster in Texas. You also see how the President and his choices for Supreme Court Justice change the balance on this issue. Presently with the new Trump appointments, the Court is now leaning towards Pro Life. The Pro Life movement (and Christian voters) are a powerful lobby group and sway the minds of those who want to be elected. They also change the context for the debate by addressing late term abortions, which only account for 1.3% of all abortions performed, but they are the focus. In the end, this is viewing to be informed, and to be able to talk intelligently about the discourse whatever political bent you may have. If you let politicians think for you, then they may do things that impact your life (or your kids lives) down the road. Is it just me or does the US seem to regress in these areas that other Western countries have progressed to support women and their lives (Germany, UK, Canada, Australia etc). This is gun control, but that is a story for another day, and another movie!!
TIFF was a really good experience this year, and I enjoyed the three movies that I saw. I had a conflict with hockey on Sunday and missed The Elephant Queen documentary.