Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recently viewed on Netflix, though not all recent

Welcome to the Rileys (2010) - 4 out of 5 - Gandolfini and Stewart make an odd couple and take part in a scenario that surely would never happen in real life, but somehow it all works and I really enjoyed it. A man on business who is experiencing personal crisis befriends a young, runaway stripper in New Orleans and both learn a thing a or two.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) - 4 out of 5 - I saw it when I was younger and decided to watch again. While I appreciate the humor and the seriousness combined, the film does not overwhelm me the way many classics do. Perhaps if you grew up with more of the threat of the bomb it would have a bigger impact on you, or perhaps I just didn't get some of it. A very good movie worth seeing if nothing else than to watch Peter Sellers play 3 characters very well.

Monsters (2010) - 4 out of 5 - Very overlooked film from 2010 about alien life on eartht hat is quarantined mainly in an area between Mexico and the United States. This low budget film makes the most of a 2 person story that hardly ever shows the 'aliens' but when it does it gets the most out of it. Suspense build up is decent but not the point in this slow moving (at times) film with a decent payoff.

American Splendor (2003) - 4 out of 5 - Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors and he does a very good job portraying Harvey Pekar, an underground comic writer who portrayed his daily life in Cleveland, Ohio for over 20 years. The film is depressing in nature, due to his life in general, and though I wanted to love the movie it actually is too cynical for even me at times. A strange pacing may not make it likeable to many, but I think it does a great job at mixing up conventional story telling.

The Hustler (1961) 5 out of 5 - Paul Newman reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson when he mentored a cocky Tom Cruise in the sequel The Color Of Money, but many have overlooked the great film that got him there. With a great performance by Jackie Gleeson as Minnesota Fats, Felson takes his attitude and skill with him to the pool halls looking for money and the best game ever played.

The Conversation (1974) 4 and 1/2 out of 5 - Francis Ford Coppola directed this film as his follow up to the Godfather and it appears it has been forgotten or overlooked by many, though it was nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Gene Hackman is wonderful as a man conflicted when his hire-for-pay job as a surveillance expert puts him in a moral dilemma when he learns some intimiate facts about the people he is paid to follow. The pacing of the first half of the film is so slow at times it may feel brutal to some, and for me it is the only reason I do not love this film - it is done very well and the impact is great, but it is not one I would sit through again.

Citizen Kane (1941) 5 out of 5 - I'd seen it before, but not for a long time in entirety, and there is simply no way for me to separate myself from everything I have ever heard or read about this film, one that is often found at the top of many 'best of' lists in various categories. What can I say? It's a really good fun film from a fun time in cinema. It is campy at times and then it is serious, and it has an ending that has never stopped being talked about. Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane (widely believed to have been based on William Randolph Hearst) is commanding and graceful. I watched the entire movie once then watched it again with the Roger Ebert commentary - it is well worth the second watch to hear all about the making of this film from Ebert and he sheds so much light on camera angles, artwork, sound, etc that it is a major mistake to not hear his thoughts (before he lost his voice.)

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