What We Learned This Week: November 4-10

LESSON #1: SOME FILMS DO NOT REQUIRE A REBOOT— Last week, the lesson was “Some films don’t require a sequel.”  This time, we have to clap that lesson back and trade the word “sequel” for “reboot.”  News spun across Variety this week that DreamWorks is planning to restart its Shrek and Puss in Boots franchises.  First, you need a true generational gap and eight years since its last chapter, Shrek Forever After, isn’t long enough, even for the rapid aging of its core audience demographic.  More importantly, I have to ask what I consider to be a necessary qualifying question when it comes to remakes and reboots.  Have the originals aged to the degree where they are obsolete?  Sure, Shrek was corny and dated as soon as the SmashMouth song comes on, but have the narrative fairy tale angles changed or the artistic technology that made the movie?  I say they haven’t and a new one will just retread over familiar ground and not be unique or worthwhile artistically.  I say let some films stay what they are as benchmarks and time capsules for their eras.  The ’00s have their Shrek the way the ’10s have their Despicable Me/Minions.  Let them stay there.  I’m at looking at you too, The Grinch.

LESSON #2: SAY HELLO TO DISNEY+ AND GET YOUR CREDIT CARD READY— After months of little here-and-there clues and rumored plans, Disney finally and formally announced the details for its vaunted new streaming service, Disney+, coming late next year.  Housing its entire artistic arsenal from Pixar to National Geographic with all of the heroic adventure in between, the lineup depth, including original films, is undeniably impressive.  The thing I’ve been waiting to hear this entire time is price point.  While that number isn’t defined exactly yet, the linked article references a $8-14 monthly price tag.  The closer that is to $8, the more successful it’s going to be.  Disney+ will be the test to see if a la carte single-studio entity services can work because the selling point of its Netflix and Hulu competitors is the ease of variety under one service roof.  If Disney+ succeeds, it will be like dedicated cable networks for single teams or schools like the New York Yankees.  Watch everything splinter because each studio will want to create and keep their own money.

LESSON #3: PARENTS NEED TO RESPECT AND FOLLOW FILM RATINGS— For fifty years now, the MPAA has championed the film rating system to warn, screen, and catalog film content for consumers.  They are proper and they have evolved to do their job better.  Whenever there is a breakdown of outrage over a film’s rating, like this recent story of content from A Star is Born triggering troubling reactions in New Zealand, it’s not the rating’s fault.  R is R for a reason and it was labeled correctly so.  The perceived outrage is the consumer’s fault.  They either didn’t listen to the rating or didn’t commit to the due diligence to properly screen or research a film before subjecting it to younger viewers. The loopholes of the MPAA are few and far between, whereas careless parenting is rampant.  This critic and school teacher implores all parents to see any questionable film for themselves before sharing it with their impressionable children.  That’s the bare minimum.  If you don’t do it, let some solid website like Common Sense and ScreenIt do it for you.

LESSON #4: TREAT YOURSELF TO “NOIR-VEMBER”— If you want to expand your film palette to one of the most interesting and entertaining film genres under the sun, scroll your way into some film noir.  Often imitated and rarely duplicated since its hey-day, experiencing film noir is essential understanding the full scope of the cinematic art form.  That and its comprised of simple damn good movies that can still put modern thrillers to shame.  Start with this list of ten essential noirs from the journal spot Oh Not They Didn’t.  They’re all gold bathed in stark black-and-white.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

You Should Be Watching: September 28 – October 3

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

Note, as of September 28, Jeremy Saulnier’s (Blue Ruin; Green Room) anticipated new film Hold The Dark is now available to watch on Netflix.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Scarlet Street

  

Year: 1945

Director: Fritz Lang

Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay, Jess Barker, Rosalind Ivan, Charles Kemper, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Samuel S. Hinds, Vladimir Sokoloff, Arthur Loft, Russell Hicks, Richard Abbott, Rodney Bell, Richard Cramer, Dick Curtis, Tom Daly, Edgar Dearing, Joe Devlin 

Edward G. Robinson highlights this Fritz Lang all too relevant morality tale. Robinson plays the uncomfortably timid Chris Cross, a man embarrassed about and unhappy with his job as a cashier for a clothing store. He’s found himself stuck in a marriage to a shrew of a wife named Adele (Rosalind Ivan), who berates and belittles him constantly and has no respect for his only true interest of painting.

It’s no surprise that Cross’ misery leads to him falling for another woman, especially one as captivating as Kitty March (Joan Bennett). His relationship with her starts innocently enough, as these things so often do. He finds her being attacked and rushes in to help, unaware the assailant is her boyfriend. In their subsequent conversation, she falls under the impression that he is a wealthy painter, setting the stage for a con and a trap exploiting his attraction to her. A terrifically dark film with great performances, memorable dialogue, a tough message, and a minimal score.


Remember

Year: 2015

Director: Atom Egoyan

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Henry Czerny, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow, Kim Roberts, Peter DaCunha, T.J. McGibbon, Liza Balkan, Daniel Kash, Heinz Lieven, Stefani Kimber, Jane Spidell, Sofia Wells, Janet Porter, Amanda Smith

An elderly, frail Christopher Plummer impresses in this lesser-seen A24 studios film. First-time screenwriter Benjamin August’s inventive take on the revenge tale is directed by Atom Egoyan. Not only does it involve a necessarily elderly survivor finally discovering who killed his family at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II, but dementia and a ticking clock also plays a role as Plummer’s main character Zev is trying to accomplish his mission before he completely loses his mental faculties. This angle provides something of a Memento feel, though the plotting was not nearly as intricate.

At first, Plummer comes across as very old and almost helpless, but life infuses his body as purpose grows in him. He’s kept on track by a letter he keeps referring to which reminds him of all the important details of who he is and the importance of what he’s doing. Dean Norris provides a small but noteworthy, disturbing, and tension-filled performance as neo-nazi John Kurlander. It’s scary to think there are people just like him.


A Brighter Summer Day

 

Year: 1991

Director: Edward Yang

Genre: Drama, Romance, Crime

Cast: Chang Chen, Lisa Yang, Elaine Jin, Chen Shiang-Chyi, Chang Han, Lawrence Ko, Weiming Wang, Chiang Hsiu-Chiung, Wang Chuan, Chang Kuo-Chu, Stephanie Lai, Wang Chi-tsan, Tan Chih-Kang, Chang Ming-Hsin, Jung Chun-Lung, Chin Tsai

This incredibly ambitious nearly four-hour effort by director Edward Yang covers four years in the life of Xiao Si’r (Chang Chen), the fourth child in a large family living in mid-20th century Taipei. Featuring an enormous cast–nearly 100 relevant characters–and detailed set designs for the many locations within the village it’s set in, this is a dense film. It’s packed full of universal themes such as those accompanying adolescence, rival social groups, love, parenting, financial hardship, and life during political upheaval. Yet, the story explores life in a very specific time and place. Given all the diverse plot threads, it practically demands repeat viewings to be able to appreciate the diversity of characters and themes.

The village this film is set in, its homes, streets, and school feels very much lived in. There’s always activity going on around the characters, and sometimes the camera itself even seems to become distracted as it effortlessly shifts from following one character to another who happens to be passing by. The main plot itself often takes a backseat to the general exploration of post WWII Taiwanese culture and society. In lesser hands, that could just create a mess, but Yang handles it with care by creating rich back stories for every single one of the speaking roles. Everybody feels important. Everybody matters.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

September 29
The Commitments (1991)

September 30
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Cinderella Man (2005)
The Departed (2006)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Inside Man (2006)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
The Lost Boys (1987)
The Mask You Live In (2015)
Menace II Society (1993)
Real Genius (1985)
Sin City (2005)
Trading Places (1983)

October 1
Out of Sight (1998)

October 2
Dheepan (2015)

October 3
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

October 5
The Beauty Inside (2015)
The BFG (2016)

October 7
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

October 13
The Babadook (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

September 29
Carrie (1976)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Miami Blues (1990)
Spaceballs (1987)
Stargate (1994)

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Crow (1994)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The Graduate (1967)
Hoosiers (1986)
Insomnia (2002)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Witness (1985)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

October 1
Raging Bull (1980)

October 3
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

FILMSTRUCK

September 28
Accattone (1961)
Being There (1979)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Ben-Hur (1959)
The Breaking Point (1950)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
East of Eden (1955)
The Gospel According to Matthew (1964)
JFK (1991)
Kes (1969)
Local Hero (1983)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Pianist (2002)
Rain Man (1988)
The Right Stuff (1983)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Teorema (1968)
Winter Soldier (1972)

October 5
White Heat (1949)
Infernal Affairs (2002)
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Gigi (1958)

October 12
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

HULU

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bound (1996)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Ladies Man (1961)
Miami Blues (1990)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rock (1996)
Sleepers (1996)
Spaceballs (1987)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Nappily Ever After–NETFLIX FILM (2018)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
City of Hope (1991)
The Golden Coach (1952)
Henry Fool (1997)
The Illusionist (2006)
I Never Sang for My Father (1970)
Limbo (1999)
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)
Robot & Frank (2012)

FILMSTRUCK

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009)

HULU

Iris (2001)
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 28
Hold the Dark (2018)

October 1
Black Dynamite (2009)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Empire Records (1995)
The Green Mile (1999)
Life of Brian (1979)
Mystic River (2003)
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
The Shining (1980)
V for Vendetta (2005)

AMAZON PRIME

October 1
Carrie (1976)
Election (1999)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The General (1998)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
The Illusionist (2006)
Let Me In (2010)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Raging Bull (1980)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
RoboCop (1987)
Starship Troopers (1997)
The Strangers (2008)
Trees Lounge (1996)
Wild Bill (2011)

HULU

October 1
American Psycho (2000)
Bitter Moon (1992)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Closer (2004)
Election (1999)
Frida (2002)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Insomnia (2002)
The Others (2001)
More than a Game (2008)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
The Music Never Stopped (2011)
Platoon (1986)
Raging Bull (1980)
[REC] (2007)
RoboCop (1987)
Starship Troopers (1997)
Trees Lounge (1996)
Wild Bill (2011)

October 2
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

October 3
Dheepan (2015)
RBG (2018)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

You Should Be Watching: September 21-26

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Ben-Hur

 — Expires Sept. 28

Year: 1959

Director: William Wyler

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History

Cast: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, Frank Thring, Sam Jaffe, Ady Berber, Finlay Currie, André Morell, Terence Longdon, Lando Buzzanca, Giuliano Gemma, Marina Berti, Robert Brown, Liana Del Balzo, Enzo Fiermonte

With 11 Academy Awards won–a record yet to be surpassed–, a career-defining performance by the dynamic, self-assured Charlton Heston as the titular Judah Ben-Hur, and the largest budget and most elaborate sets of its time, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur is a monumental achievement and the very definition of Hollywood epic. Everything about it is huge, from the 10,000 extras to the centerpiece chariot race, to the 3 1/2-hour runtime to Miklós Rózsa’s majestic score. Adapted from the 1880 Lew Wallace novel and a remake of the 1925 silent film, Ben-Hur is in the vein of the classic BIble epics, even interacts with events in the Biblical narrative, but remains its own story.

Judah is an early first century Jewish nobleman living in Jerusalem who is knowingly and wrongfully accused of attempted murder by his once childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd). Now a Roman commander, Messala shows himself willing to destroy the life of a family he once held dear all for the sake of Rome’s glory. The betrayed Judah will have to endure intense undeserved hardship and face his desire for revenge as he struggles to get back what he lost and encounters one who was more deserving of revenge than anyone who has ever lived.


We Need to Talk About Kevin

      

Year: 2011

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell, Rock Duer, Ashley Gerasimovich, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Alex Manette, Kenneth Franklin, Leslie Lyles, Paul Diomede, Michael Campbell, J. Mallory McCree, Mark Elliot, Wilson, James Chen, Lauren Fox, Blake DeLong, Andy Gershenzon

This is a dismal but important film by a director who has made a career of such films, Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)The story centers on the lives of Franklin and Eva Khatchadourian (John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton) and their troubled son Kevin. All three actors who play Kevin at his different ages–Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, and Ezra Miller–display such smug, manipulative attitudes it is downright scary. Franklin acts as a cautionary figure. He is easily manipulated by Kevin, receiving all of his love and affection, and refuses to listen to his wife and look deeper, causing his relationship with Eva to fracture. Eva falls into misery and isolation because her child has a clear predilection towards rebellion, manipulation, and downright evil from the time he was born.

The narrative jumps around the timeline of their lives, but a painful sense of dread hangs throughout as Kevin’s true nature becomes increasingly difficult to ignore as well as the knowledge that there are many Kevins in the real world. But by God’s grace, any one of us could be a Kevin or have a child like him.


The Third Man

Year: 1949

Director: Carol Reed

Genre: Film-noir, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Paul Hörbiger, Ernst Deutsch, Siegfried Breuer, Erich Ponto, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Alexis Chesnakov, Thomas Gallagher, Herbert Halbik, Hannah Norbert, Eric Pohlmann, Carol Reed, Annie Rosar, Frederick Schrecker, Hugo Schuster, Karel Stepanek, Brother Theodore, Jenny Werner

Voted the greatest British film of all time by the British Film Institute in 1999, the Third Man is a film-noir like no other. It starts out as a merely an intriguing murder mystery where a writer named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) has arrived in Vienna at the invitation of his childhood friend Harry Lime only to find out he has died, but it becomes something else entirely as the story, written by Graham Greene, develops.

With the genre already being rooted in German expressionism, director Carol Reed takes the idea and runs with it, creating one of the most distinctive combinations of sight and sound on film. From the outset, the energy and tension of the film is established through Anton Karas‘ musical score, consisting of a single instrument, the zither. Reed uses Dutch angles galore that perfectly enhance the off-kilter tone of mystery and the post war environment itself without ever coming across as pretentious. And Robert Krasker’s Academy Award winning stark black and white cinematography sets a deep contrast between shadow and light to further accent the mood. Not only is the film set in post WWII Vienna, which becomes a character itself, but many of the Austrians speak German, which is often left unsubtitled, putting the audience in the same state of confusion as Holly as he tries to work out the mystery of Harry Lime.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

September 22
Trollhunter (2010)

September 25
The Assassin (2015)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

September 29
The Commitments (1991)

September 30
The Departed (2006)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Rust and Bone (2012)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Menace II Society (1993)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Inside Man (2006)
The Lost Boys (1987)

AMAZON PRIME

September 23
Shutter Island (2010)

September 29
Carrie (1976)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Miami Blues (1990)
Spaceballs (1987)
Stargate (1994)

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Crow (1994)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The Graduate (1967)
Hoosiers (1986)
Insomnia (2002)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Witness (1985)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

October 1
Raging Bull (1980)

October 3
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

FILMSTRUCK

September 21
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Mean Streets (1973)
Night Moves (1975)

September 28
Accattone (1961)
Being There (1979)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Ben-Hur (1959)
The Breaking Point (1950)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
East of Eden (1955)
The Gospel According to Matthew (1964)
JFK (1991)
Kes (1969)
Local Hero (1983)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Pianist (2002)
Rain Man (1988)
The Right Stuff (1983)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Teorema (1968)
Winter Soldier (1972)

October 5
White Heat (1949)
Infernal Affairs (2002)
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Gigi (1958)

October 12
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

HULU

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bound (1996)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Ladies Man (1961)
Miami Blues (1990)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rock (1996)
Sleepers (1996)
Spaceballs (1987)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

The Endless (2017)
Role Models (2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
The Third Man (1949)
The Witch (2015)

AMAZON PRIME

Angels Wear White (2017)
The Big Combo (1955)
Blow Out (1981)
Charade (1963)
The Conformist (1970)
Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
Locke (2013)
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)
Western (2017)
Wild Bill (2011)
Woman on the Run (1950)
Zombie (1979)

FILMSTRUCK

Ball of Fire (1941)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
Full Moon in Paris (1984)
Wuthering Heights (1939)

HULU

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
The Queen (2006)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 21
Nappily Ever After–NETFLIX FILM (2018)

September 25
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

September 21
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)

HULU

September 21
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)

September 24
Iris (2001)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

You Should Be Watching: July 12-18

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

This week, I’m featuring a 90s Jim Carrey film that is as relevant as ever, classic Billy Wilder that blurs the lines between true Hollywood and fantasy, and a powerful New Zealand film about mental illness, gang life, and chess.

Be sure to see Bringing Up Baby, expiring from FilmStruck on July 27, and then listening to the associated Feelin’ Film Connecting With Classics podcast. Same goes for All the President’s Men. Also on FilmStruck, Rio Bravo has a short-term engagement and will be leaving July 26. Also, the Jaws franchise has arrived on Amazon Prime, and Blue Valentine and Gone Baby Gone on Netflix.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


 

The Truman Show

Year: 1998

Director: Peter Weir

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris, Brian Delate, Paul Giamatti, Peter Krause, Blair Slater, Heidi Schanz, Ron Taylor, Don Taylor, Ted Raymond, O-Lan Jones, Krista Lynn Landolfi, Harry Shearer, Jeanette Miller, Philip Glass, Una Damon, Joe Minjares, Philip Baker Hall, John Pleshette, Terry Camilleri, Joel McKinnon Miller

 

Most of you have seen The Truman Show, but chances are, it’s been a while, so you might be surprised to hear how well it holds up. On its surface, this is a vehicle for Jim Carrey to show he’s much more than just a rubber-faced funnyman in a prescient surface-level commentary on the culture of reality TV and YouTube. For that alone, it’s a brilliant piece of work, but below the surface, director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol have incorporated many other layers along with a lovely and complex score that is shamelessly self-aware in its manipulation of the viewer.

Weir isn’t just telling a story about a guy whose whole life is a reality TV program, he’s showing us how we’re all in a sort of reality TV program, and we all need our perspective challenged. If truth isn’t revealed to us, we’ll happily live in a lie. “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented,” says Christof (Ed Harris), who represents a God figure or rather a critique of belief in a certain type of God, which provides a lot of food for thought and discussion.


 

Sunset Boulevard

  

Year: 1950

Director: Billy Wilder

Genre: Drama, Film-noir

Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, Jack Webb, Buster Keaton, Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Anna Q. Nilsson, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston, H.B. Warner, Franklyn Farnum, Larry J. Blake, Charles Dayton, Fred Aldrich, Joel Allen, Gertrude Astor, Edward Biby, Danny Borzage, Ken Christy, Ruth Clifford, Archie R. Dalzell, Eddie Dew, Julia Faye, Al Ferguson, Gerry Ganzer

 

The quintessential movie to represent the realities, often painful, of classic Hollywood and the fleetingness of fame. Gloria Swanson’s performance as forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond is one for the ages. You never quite know whether to be sorry for her, intimidated by her, or downright afraid of her. The tension is carefully built throughout such as the feeling of entrapment and loss of control every time another of Joe Gillis’ (William Holden) connections to his life apart from Norma is severed. While this is not a horror film, much about the basic plot and its themes is reminiscent of the writer’s plight in Stephen King’s Misery.

Seeing Hollywood behind the scenes is often fascinating for people who love the world of film, but Sunset Boulevard is truly exceptional. The lines between fantasy and reality are completely blurred due to the presence of real life players like the famous director Cecil B. DeMille and real world silent film stars such as Buster Keaton, playing themselves. I can only imagine the dramatic impact it would have had to sit in the theater in 1950 and see this Hollywood story unfold.


The Dark Horse

Year: 2014

Director: James Napier Robertson

Genre:  Biography, Drama

Cast: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance, Sia Trokenheim, Andrew Grainger, Xavier Horan, Roseanne Liang, Miriama McDowell, Rachel House, Wayne Hapi

 

From the burgeoning film world of New Zealand comes the best film you’ll see about high-functioning mental illness, gang life, and chess clubs for underprivileged kids. Now that may sound like damning with faint praise, but you don’t win a slew of international awards for nothing. Cliff Curtis phenomenally portrays Genesis, a man who has a brilliant mind for chess but who also takes prescription drugs to keep himself on the edge of semi-independence. Sometimes he slips off that edge ever so gradually. Other times it’s a sudden fall and he’s lost in his repetitions.

Thankfully, Genesis has an older brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi) who cares about his well-being and takes him into his home, providing him with a modicum of stability. This gives Genesis the opportunity to discover the local Eastern Knights Chess Club run by an old friend. The club is a group of ragtag, unmotivated kids, which inspires him to encourage and teach them so they can compete in the Junior National Championships. But things aren’t so great at home after all. Ariki’s son Mana (James Rolleston) has connected with chess, but Ariki is a gang member and intends to raise his son in the gang as well. The priorities of all three are challenged.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 15
Changeling (2008)
Opening Night (1977)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 13
Losing Ground (1982)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

July 20
Blow-Up (1966)
Rififi (1955)
Thieves’ Highway (1949)

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Blue Valentine (2010)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Scream 4 (2011)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Jaws (1975)
Snowden (2016)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Auntie Mame (1958)
Beyond the Hills (2012)
Moi, Un Noir (1958)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Rio Bravo (1959)

 

HULU

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)
The Heart of Nuba (2016)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 13
How It Ends—NETFLIX FILM (2018)

July 15
Going for Gold (2018)

 


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

Episode 078: Blade Runner

Few movies have had as profound an impact on our thoughts of what it means to be human as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. We welcome first time guest James Harleman, Blade Runner superfan, to the podcast and spend some time unpacking the film’s numerous themes and questions about identity.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:31

(Aaron – Battle of the Sexes)
(James – Jeepers Creepers 3)

Blade Runner Review – 0:18:00

The Connecting Point – 01:11:36

Contact:

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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