Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pirate Radio: Rock'N'Roll!

Pirate Radio was released in 2009 but I didn't have the chance to see it in the movie theatre.  But it's been on my list.  Then I found out it was on my son's list.  So, it went to the top of the Netflix Q.  Today, we sat down and watched it together.  We rarely do this.  Only once in a while do we go to the movies or watch a movie together.  Our lives intersect a number of times on a daily basis and we spend time together, but we rarely have the time to spend two hours to sit and watch a movie.  So, when we do, I appreciate it all the more for the company I'm keeping.  And, since this is a movie about rock music, it interested us both.  Though I do feel I should mention that the last movie we saw in a theatre was Men Who Stare At Goats, and we both really liked it.  It was gently funny all the way through.  Not a "laff fest" one would expect with a Ben Stiller-Owen Wilson movie.  Plus, George Clooney looks so much like my brother, its uncanny.  His kids used to see pictures of George and say "Dad, look! there's a picture of you!".  So, you might want to check out Men who Stare at Goats with an open mind....... it's very silly.  But fun.  And you just might laugh gently throughout.  Also, lots of other good actors are in it, I think Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Robert Patrick (I love Robert Patrick- he was in the X-Files and Terminator II as the second terminator and he was SOOO cool!).

And, on to Pirate Radio.  First a few interesting facts.  This movie was very loosely based, and when I tell you loosely, I think it really, really means loosely, on an illegal radio station based in the North Sea in the 1960's.  The station was called the Radio Caroline, a popular pirate radio ship with a similar history and style.  Its purpose was to circumvent the hold record companies had on the broadcast of popular music in the UK.  Radio Caroline was founded in 1964 by Ronan O'Rahilly to broadcast popular music in the UK.  The station continues to broadcast today as a satellite and internet broadcaster, with occasional transmissions from the final offshore ship, the MV Ross Revenge.  But it is such a wonderful, fun story.  And it makes a great movie, especially when you have the actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans (who is allowed to come into his own) in the film. 

So, yes.  I give this movie all thumbs up.  The music is great.  Of course it is.  A lot of great music, a lot of great scenes and action.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderful as the American DJ, Bill Nighy is great as the moneybags, there are several other DJ's who are great, and Rhys Ifans- who has played many second banana roles, character roles, is now in a more dominant role in an ensemble movie and it suits him very well.  Ifans handles the role and does it with great aplomb.  As for other surprises, Kenneth Branagh plays a rather dull member of the government and doesn't impress.  The only fun part is that his assistants are named Mr. Twatt and Ms. Clitt.  The best part is that Emma Thompson has a short cameo.  I knew that actress was somebody and she kept hiding behind high collars and sunglasses......

Last but not least, as this is a movie about rock music, apparently, I wasn't paying enough attention but someone slipped in a song or two that was anachronistic.  (I read that on IMDB.)  I do remember that one of the songs was "Fire" by Arthur Brown and to my memory, that came out in 1965 (I think) because my older brother Matt called me into his bedroom, turned on a radio? tape recorder?  he was always obsessed with radio and tape recorders.  Anyway, he said, "Jane, listen to this..... "Fire! (da DUM, da DUM,) well, you get the point, it was Arthur Brown's Fire and I heard it the first time when I was 20 years from being born because I am not telling you how old I am.  But you've probably guessed that I was not born yesterday since I have a son.  Anyway, I remember sixties music.  The background music and soundtrack are fantastic in this movie and is reason to see it alone.  I am not going to tell what else it is, that is for you to discover.  I know it brought me back, even those songs that shouldn't survive. Crimson in Clover, over and over...... thankfully that was silenced quickly, but I still remember where I was when I heard it first.

Sources for the preceding:  IMDB and  Just in case you wondered.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Never Let Me Go

This movie, Never Let Me Go, is one I truly wanted to see.  I had read about it, knew what the movie is about from reading reviews and a synopsis, looked forward to it.  I was not disappointed.  My problem is, now, how to review it for you without spoilers and without making you run in the other direction.

The movie is sad.  But not tearjerker, twenty tissues, honking, blowing noses sad.  The movie is based in a world very much like our own, but different.  At first, there are no discernable differences.  But it comes clear in the story line. 

It is the story of three people, raised together in an orphanage (or what appears to be so), in the English countryside.   We follow Kathy (Carey Mulligan, who is wonderful here), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and their inter-relationship, how it forms and changes. 

Back to the story.  We are at a country orphanage/school for children.  Hints are dropped here or there.  The children must be sure to keep their bodies, including the insides, healthy.  The art work done by the children is routinely collected for "The Gallery".  Miss Lucy, "a guardian" comes to teach fourth grade and tells the children what their fate will be.  Needless to say, Miss Lucy is gone the next day.  Eventually, as young adults, they move to the outside world, to live in the Cottages with others like them.  Here, they await their fate and we learn a little more, some of which we never learn the answer to.  By now, the young people know what their destiny is, the purpose of their lives.

I liked the movie for its story, its cinematography, its choice of Carey Mulligan (loved her in "An Education").  Keira Knightley's performance reminded me a bit of Angelina Jolie's performance in "Girl, Interrupted" to tell the truth.  I was hoping for a bit better from her.  Makes me consider if she's reached her limits.  Andrew Garfield was great to watch, I haven't seen him in much yet.  Charlotte Rampling played the headmistress of the school and did a great job.  The ending, which I consider to take a while, consisting of a group of scenes involving various characters, I found very interesting.  There is some food for thought there.  The overall subject will not be a new one.  But it is one that will bear thinking about as time progresses and our moral codes come into play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hereafter: Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood team up again

The movie Hereafter is a story that considers what happens after death.  Of this, I will try to write no more.  In my first draft (just moments ago), I gave it away.  If you have seen the previews, you know it involves a tormented man, a tsunami and maybe other stuff. 

After reading several reviews and then seeing the movie this afternoon, I have several thoughts.  The first is that, no matter what anyone says, if you want to see the movie, see it.  Go in with an open mind.  Enjoy it.  Leave the theatre, think about it.  Decide how important or unimportant it is.  Maybe it's just entertainment.  It could just be an old man's musings on what happens in the hereafter.  It could just be that there have been so, so many stories told by people brought back from the brink of death that all have the same quality and images.  I will warn you of this:  it is slow paced and each moment is carefully crafted.  Of the four of us who saw the film together, two felt it dragged and was boring in places.  Two of us felt every moment was interesting and never dragged.  But back to the first part- some will expect the movie to go further in its exploration and it won't.

Now, my opinion.  Yes, I always have one as everyone, especially my family, knows.  I just loved this movie.  There are probably several areas of the movie that can be criticized but I loved the concept, the music (Clint wrote it as he mostly does these days), I found the manner in which the stories were told to be deft and careful.  The story lines are brought together in a bit less than perfect way but how the ending occurs is a bit amusing, at least to me.  And yes, one of the story lines is quite the tearjerker.  I do believe Clint tries not to make it so, but I am one of those people who will drop a tear.  The movie is not manipulative, it is just a presentation of a thought, an idea.

It seems the run-up to Oscar season is starting.  This film will have more than one nomination, I think.  Not sure what categories.  Depends on the competition.  Good luck, Clint.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Streamed a few movies: Star Trek, The Duchess, Young Victoria, Bottle Shock

Yes, a bit of a mixed bag.  Most people wouldn't put period pieces in with Star Trek (well, it is a period piece, now that I ruminate), but Bottle Shock is more fictionalized documentary, though, again, could be a period piece.  Hmmmm, maybe I should re-title this after all.

Star Trek:  The reinvention of the myth.  What can I say?  I loved it.  The movie lived up to all the hype.  The references were pitch perfect.  And no, Uhuru never reveals any other name, first or last.  Come to think of it, neither did Spock.

The Duchess:  Interesting period piece with Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley.  Story basically about how unfair it is that men can have affairs and women can't.  Takes place during the suffragette era in England.  Nothing particularly exciting but the clothes and especially the hairstyles are fun.  Its good for streaming on netflix.

Young Victoria:  Well, I am a sucker for a love story.  Especially when it involves a young lady who stands up for herself and refuses to be controlled.  And, is played by the lovely Emily Blunt.  She does a very creditable job here.  I enjoyed the film, yet another Netflix streaming event. 

Bottle Shock:  A movie all Wineaux should see.  In essence, the follow up to Sideways.  I was recently enlightened:  the wines grown in Burgundy, and thus most burgundies, are pinot noirs.  Unless they are Chablis (i.e. Chardonnay grapes, grown in Chablis).  None of this has anything to do with Bottle Shock or Sideways, except that Sideways dealt with Pinot Noir.  But back to Bottle Shock.  It is based on the true story of how Napa Valley wine bested French wine in a blind taste test in Paris in 1976.  Chateau Montelena 1973 (I think I got that right) won first place with its Chardonnay and Stag's Leap won first place with its Cabernet Sauvignon 1973.  Alan Rickman plays the Englishman (Stephen Spurrier) who sets up the tasting, Bill Pullman plays the vintner of Chateau Montelena.  This is the tasting that put Califorina wines on the map.