September 28th, 2020

Capone: Crave is showing the Tom Hardy movie Capone. The story chronicles the final year in the life of the notorious Chicago gangster from the 1930s. He, as we know, was imprisoned for tax evasion which Hollywood showed in the film The Untouchables. Robert De Niro played Capone there. Capone was imprisoned at age 33. Now in this film he has been released to a mansion down in Florida. For someone who was hit with tax evasion charges, he still lives in a palace. This is changing because with no income, he is struggling and looking to auction off some of his various statues and assets on this property to keep it. I say “he” but that really is a stretch since he, at the age of 48 is suffering from dementia and the effects of syphilis, and not really very coherent. He smokes a cigar incessantly while shuffling around in pajamas and rambling a combination of English and Italian profanities. He is suspicious of those around him, even those closest to him. Tom Hardy playing him LOOKS with all the makeup to be in his late 60s or 70s, and learning that he was late forties makes me pause. He looked terrible and sounded even more so. The story is slow, and there were two paths that it took; one story about a potential $10M hidden away somewhere, for which he can’t remember and the communication with an estranged adult son. And though there are some (unintended I think) comic relief moments, like moving Capone away from cigars, in the end it seemed odd to show this very normal aspect of this well-known person’s unusual life. Capone lived more interesting days, these weren’t any of them. So it became almost as entertaining as the vault of his that Geraldo spent hours trying to find and open on live TV. With the cast involved with this project, it was a shame that there wasn’t better material to focus on.

Robert The Bruce: This new release is starring Angus Macfadyen, the same person who portrayed the role in the Mel Gibson’s 1995 Best Picture winning story about William Wallace. Macfadyen also produced this new film and helped write the screenplay. Clearly he was looking to relive the glory days of his past. It’s sad though on the choice of years that he has chosen for his famous Scottish King. At the end of Braveheart, it was a footnote that Robert the Bruce united the clans and won Scotland her freedom. This isn’t that story. Instead, we have an Unforgiven-like story of an older soldier/warrior who is uncertain about his place and looks to find a way to quietly disappear. It is explained that after Wallace’s death, Robert took arms against England initially and failed at turn after turn. It was at this moment, Robert has his moment of doubt, disbands his small group of followers and heads out alone. He ends up injured and found by a woman and three young people. They take in the King and nurse him back to health in an isolated farm house. The woman’s husband died fighting with Wallace. Two of the young people had their father die too. This describes the first 90 minutes of this slow-moving story. In the end, like Capone, Robert the Bruce lived a storied life for which movies are produced. This particular set of years for him, even if true, are not the most interesting part of his life. In fact it is a footnote, and I would have rather seen the time AFTER this movie takes place, with him uniting the clans and defeating the English to gain Scottish independence. That would be a much better movie.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018): I was encouraged to watch the sequel to the original Mamma Mia from 2008. Firstly, it has been 12 years since Mamma Mia – wow! The original was based on the Abba songs, of course, but also the stage play which I have seen on both NYC and Toronto. It was a fun musical, and the signature moment in it, for me, is the song “The Winner Takes It All”. In the movie, Meryl Streep stars as Donna, who has a daughter, with potentially three fathers. Donna has a place in Greece that she is fixing up. Her two friends assist. The three men are played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard. All three accomplished actors in their own right, including an Oscar for Firth (The King’s Speech). The cast has reunited to address the continuing story of the hotel in Greece. Daughter Sophie is looking to renovate and re-open the hotel after the passing of her Mom. Yes, the Meryl Streep character has passed away. Much of this movie goes back into the past with young Donna (played by Lily James) after her graduation from university and finding this place, along with introducing these three young men. The Abba songs are mixed throughout with mixed success. For me, not knowing the Abba catalog intimately, I felt as though the well known “hits” were in the first movie. So this was the “B-sides” as it were. In truth, as I noted during my viewing of the movie, that there were quite a few well known songs like “Waterloo” or “Knowing Me, Knowing You” or “SOS”. Some were repeats like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia”. Still there were others which were unknown to me, and for a reason. For whatever reason, they decided to let Brosnan sing again! Ugh! He was terrible in the original, and follows up with an equally dull rendition here. They also had notoriously hardened character Skarsgard crying/weeping. It was unusual and not typical, nor overly believable. This should be taken as intended I suppose; mind candy or some time away from everyday life. The scenes of Greece are amazing, those filmed there anyway. It can be a good travel log. Some of the songs are known and familiar. My main challenge revolves around the storyline with all the stories seemingly coming to their happy conclusion. The Andy Garcia story just seems a little too convenient. I find Lily James not really a good younger version of Meryl, and I find her a little over-the-top with her mannerisms and lip synching. It’s all just a little too “up”. Anyway, in the end, if you are an Abba fan and want to see more of their music set in Greece then this could be a sequel for you. If you want to know more about Donna and her hotel, and the parallels between her life and Sophie’s it is also something to view. For the actors, I see why these Oscar winning talents want to take part – because they get paid to spend time in Greece! Not a bad gig!! I won’t spoil the ending of this film, and leave it to those that are curious.