December 31st, 2018 (New Year’s Eve edition)

As I entered into the last week of 2018, I was fortunate enough to be able to see one of my favourite movies of all time on the big screen once again;  Jaws!   I had the added bonus of sharing the experience with my youngest son (14yo) who had only ever seen this film with me on the small screen at home.   He was introduced to seeing this with a live audience and with huge sound and screen, the way it was originally intended.   It was a late showing (9:45PM) but still an almost full theatre with people who collectively hadn’t all seen (or possibly remembered) the scary parts because there were audible gasps and jumps at some parts.   How refreshing!    This is a classic story for me, told in two parts.   The first part is establishing our new police chief in small island town (Amity) Roy Scheider and his family (wife and two boys).   This tourist town prepares for the summer high season and when a shark stakes a claim off its shores and injures some bathers and the town politics enters into it (the scene with Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) trying to talk about the shark tooth to the town mayor (Murray Hamilton) in front of the town billboard is priceless).   The stronger half for me is the adventure on the ocean as three men go out to find and kill this great white shark.  They are lead by Quint (Robert Shaw) who is a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, and has taken his life’s work to avenge the deaths of fellow sailors from that ill fated ship in WWII in the Pacific.  Quint, Hooper and the Chief have a terrific chemistry.    The music adds so very much to the tension and the story.  John Williams is brilliant in adding to the sense of where the shark is (and isn’t) along with the chase scenes.   In big sound, it takes on added importance.

Even after dozens of viewings, this movie still holds new things for me to see, or at least view them differently.   For me this viewing showed me more of the deep seeded impact on Quint of his war years and the ship sinking.   He takes it to a manic stage through his actions with the radio on the boat as well as driving the boat in such a way as to ensure that it is inoperable.   All of this taking place with full protest by his captive ship mates, Brody and Hooper.  He’s a colourful character and delivers the most memorable lines in the film from a Steven Spielberg perspective (USS Indianapolis speech, which Shaw himself helped to craft).   I also had not remembered the very end scene with Chief saying out loud “show me the tank”.   Finally, this was a very clear and bright print of the film, and the opening beach scenes have always been darker and hard to see more clearly.   This print allowed the viewer to see Crissy and the young man more clearly as they ran the beach to go swimming.    Adam liked seeing the two live shooting stars that are in the film too.   This is a movie that ushered in the summer blockbuster age, and I left feeling charged and excited for both me and my young son.   He finally saw one of my favourites as it was meant to be seen.   Jaws is on the big screen at TIFF Lightbox Wed Jan 2.

On Netflix, I saw the new film from Sandra Bullock Bird Box.  It has an impressive cast, adding in John Malkovich, Tom Hollander, Sarah Paulson, and Jacki Weaver.   This is a suspense-thriller in the same genre as A Quiet Place.   In fact, I feel as though without the success of A Quiet Place, that this project doesn’t get green lighted.   The structure is basically the same, but this time people around the world are seeing something and then going crazy or having mass suicides.   It begins in Russia and Europe and is reported in the US where Bullock plays an artistic woman who is pregnant.  The father has absconded and she is not really very enthusiastic about having a child.   She through flashbacks is seen before the incidents as the creatures (unseen in any meaningful way as opposed to A Quiet Place) enters and force people indoors and avoid seeing the outside world.   Things happen, both expected and unexpected.   Bullock goes on a perilous journey which is the opening scene in the film as she heads down a river in a metal rowboat, but without the ability to see where she is going.   There is a level of disbelief that one has to have here, and some aspects just didn’t make much sense.   If you want to see a suspense-thriller set with an invading species, the better movie to me remains A Quiet Place.    Still there was some interesting scenes here with some good supporting roles.

A quick word while on the topic of horror about the Canadian A Christmas Horror Story from 2015.   This stars William Shatner, as a radio personality who is broadcasting on Christmas Eve in this small town.   Strange things are happening and there are scenes with a family going on a road trip, and another group of teens looking to explore a recent killing of fellow students at a school.    Then there is the scenes of Santa Claus himself looking to deal with elves who have turned in a tragic way.   This is not classic cinema, but it held my attention.   I think that the genre of the Christmas themed horror movie could be explored much more deeply.   The Krampus character is introducing something I have not ever heard about before.   But once again it is interesting.   If it pops up the small screen somewhere, it might be worth a little light-hearted fun.

Turning the page on 2018, I look forward to Awards season and there are more films I want to see in the theatre.   It was a good year for film, although maybe not as strong as 2017.   Wishing one and all a very prosperous and fun 2019 with plenty of good movies.

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December 10th, 2018

In a recent conversation I had, I was told that women’s relationships are far more complex than those of men.  Having seen the new film The Favourite about UK’s Queen Anne in the early 18th century, and her entourage I can believe this.  The movie explores principally three female characters and their interactions.  All three performances have been nominated for Golden Globes.   Two supporting roles for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, and one for Actress for the excellent Olivia Colman.  Colman is the new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown for Season 3, she has also done plenty of TV and some smaller parts (The Lobster and Iron Lady).  Here she plays Queen Anne who was as pictured an unpredictable and unstable leader.  Her most trusted consort (Weisz) is the wife of a general, but manipulates and directs the sails of the Queen through her physical and emotional connection to her.   Weisz enjoys a place of privilege and is the real power behind the Queen.   Along comes Weisz’s cousin (Stone) who was disgraced when her husband was caught doing bad things and her station has been relegated to commoner.   She has other ambitions for herself as she reconnects with her cousin and sees the position of power that she wields.    The rest unfolds beautifully as the drama and the intrigue builds between the two ladies of court and they struggle and battle to keep their positions of power.   All the while the Queen relishes all this newfound attention while she physically deteriorates.   Colman is excellent in this regard.  The film really shows and explores the dangers of having a rogue element at the top of a country directing where things will go.   The real power lies unsteadily in the hands of various people with their own agendas.   It further shows how corrupt and poor behaviour of the trusted servants can be rewarded as the leader can be swayed on a regular basis.   The parallels to today’s political climate are not lost on the audience.  This film was really good, and it has been nominated for Best Film as well.   It has funny moments, it has disturbing moments and there are three fine performances.

One further comment about the moviegoing experience.  I will state that I prefer the theatre experience to that of seeing films on my own at home.  Despite having a really good quality TV and sound system, the audience can add to the enjoyment as there can be collective laughs and shared enjoyment.   Here the film was disrupted by a buffoon who sat in the row beside me, and managed to bring in a 6-pack of beer all the while laughing outrageously loud at times when things just weren’t that funny.   It detracted from the film and robbed me of the quiet at times that was welcome.   I do not understand those who somehow believe they are still in their living rooms and feel as though the theatre is an extension of it.    Do what you want, and act as you will in the comfort of your own home, but when you are in a crowded theatre, then tone it down and be more appropriate and sympathetic to those around you.   This was similar to the Crazy Rich Asians experience I had.   Ugh!!  “It’s really snowing outside!”
A comment too about the Golden Globes, for the nominations were made this past week.  I was pleased by some nominations, surprised by others and disturbed by the snubs.   My biggest issue was the snub of Widows and more importantly the lack of a nomination for Viola Davis.   My post earlier this month explained my love for this performance and I am genuinely surprised how she was not nominated.   This is a fine film, and I don’t understand the snub across the board.   The other snub was for A Quiet Place, which also was a really good film and was a box office success story.   No performances acknowledged.   The only nomination for (blink) Best Original Score.   Weird.   On the other side I am not sure of the love for Bohemian Rhapsody.   Rami Malek was the reason to see this film, but it doesn’t go beyond that for me.   Others have disagreed with my interpretation, and that is what movie and art is for.  So I am surprised.   Clearly Vice with Christian Bale in his Musical or Comedic performance should be seen, and apparently so too should be Mary Poppins Returns.   We will see about that, even though I am a big Emily Blunt fan.   She should have been nominated for A Quiet Place, so maybe two nominations, but can two different Mary Poppins win awards?   Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Mary Poppins.   Green Book is on my list of films to see as it won People’s Choice Award at TIFF already.    For me the classifications of films are surprising, as in A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody could easily be called Musicals, and The Favourite and The Vice should be considered Dramas.   I am genuinely pleased for Lady Gaga, I am not impacted by Bradley Cooper and surprised at snub for Sam Elliott.  So let the debating begin!!

May 7, 2018

I will echo the positive review by Alison about A Quiet Place.  I will say that her review noting that she jumped a couple of times prepared me and I was not really startled – in the back of my mind I am thinking “this seems like a pretty good spot for a jump to occur”.   Anyway this film is pleasantly NOT a horror film nor a gross out, like a Friday 13th, or Nightmare of Elm Street, Saw etc.  Instead it is a thriller about a family set in the future after some extraterrestrial incident.  It’s a movie where you feel exhausted from clenching your stomach muscles tightly for 1.5 hours.   It takes ordinary actions and situations, and let’s you realize how difficult they all would be if they had to be done silently.  But it also explores the dynamics of a young family and surviving through difficult times.   I really enjoyed this.

On Netflix, besides getting caught up in the Monty Python wave that has come to it with interviews and old shows and then the movies (Holy Grail and Life of Brian are just priceless) – last night I watched a new documentary entitled End Game.  It documents the stories of a few people of varying ages in San Francisco area hospitals and hospices.   They are all dying and soon.  They have doctors, nurses and other people there to assist in this process.   It is very emotional as you see a Mother and husband grapple with a Wife/daughter who has cancer and there is nothing more that can be done for her.    It shows to me that I want to be crystal clear with those around me on my end of days wishes and intentions for me.  I don’t want to see people already under stress wondering and worry about “what would Robbie have wanted to be done at this stage?”.   No.   They will be able to provide their own filter and thoughts on their own feelings, but knowing what I want, will be clearly known.   I found that the doctor who had his own story to not be very helpful in some aspects, I’ll let you make your own choice if you choose to watch this.   TIFF film Euphoria addressed some of these issues.   Here it is in the US, and we have reality entering into the lives of all these people, when clearly they would rather it not be the case.   Still – good to watch, but not easy.