Are you not entertained? Films & TV

Here is what I have seen lately. Did you like these, too? 

FILMS     

First Man (2018) I like all director Damien Chazelle’s films and several times I have enjoyed watching Ryan Gosling on the screen. There was a lot to appreciate in First Man, the story behind NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. The acting of Claire Foy and the entire ensemble cast including (Kyle Chandler, Pablo Schreiber, Corey Stoll, and Jason Clarke) combined with the launching of Apollo 11, all shots on the moon from the first imprint to the epic “A small step for man; a giant leap for mankind,” the absence of sound, the contrast of heat and ice, the sacrifices of the pilots, and the tragedy of the daughter all took my breath away. The only issue I had with the film was Ryan Gosling’s performance. Yes, Neil Armstrong was a cool cucumber under crazy twisty-turvy situations. Gosling interpreted Armstrong by standing devoid of emotion for two hours. Despite the weeping scene at the beginning, Gosling performance was much like Officer K in Blade Runner 2. Maybe you liked how Ryan played the engineer, the emotionally distant husband and father, Neil Armstrong? Regardless, the movie made feel like I was an astronaut with the shaky camera making me dizzy at times, and I suspect that was Damien Chazelle’s intention. I like visceral films. It was well worth the price of admission.  4.2/5

  Look Who’s Back (2015) is a satirical, black comedy from the best-selling book by Timur Vermes, published in 2012 by Eichborn Verlag. Hitler comes back through some cosmic time hole and wakes up in present-day Berlin. The gag is people around him think he’s an actor in costume. People think it is some type of joke and amuse Adolf (Oliver Masucci) asking at times, “Don’t you ever break character?”  Hitler is introduced on a comedy show and he goes viral. As his confidence grows, his rhetoric turns dark but those around him are enjoying the advance in their careers and tolerate the kinks in his personality because they want to milk the cash cow. There are a couple of obstacles. One lone studio colleague points out the crass, despicable raising of another Hitler to popularity, but he is ignored by ambitious Katja (Katja Riemann) — she is omnipresent in all German or Holocaust movies, doesn’t it seem? Fabian (Fabian Busch), a character who accompanies Hitler throughout the film,  brings him home to visit his girlfriend’s family. The Grandmother recognizes Hitler and screams at him with hatred to leave. Hitler is unperturbed and discounts her behavior as a hag who is a Jew. Fabian realizes, finally, that this befuddled man is really Hitler. Fabian tries to take matters in his own hands with predictable results that still shock. The seductive power of the media is the heart of this satire and serves as a powerful reminder of letting history repeat itself. Who would helm the fourth Reich? That character Christoph, the media mogul, in a scene mimicking Downfall when Hitler closes the door and yells at his minions while everyone in the office listens in shock is suggestive. 4.2/5

Fugitive Pieces (2007) focuses on the imprint from the Holocaust on a boy (Robbie Kay), raised by Athos, (Rade Šerbedžija, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey) a teacher from Greece. He sells his home and moves to Toronto. The boy becomes a man with an excellent acting performance given by Stephen Dillane (The Hours, Stannis in GoT) with lasting issues like the incapability of intimacy with amiable, exciting Alex (Rosamund Pike). Eventually, the serious intellectual Bella (Nina Dobrev) understands the depths of his loss and saves him. The film is beautiful; the passion and poetry of love is the cause of his blossoming. It was rewarding to watch him overcome his personal demons. For some, it might move too slow, but engaged was I from beginning to end. It’s one of the better Holocaust films and stories about love that I have seen in ages. Highly recommended. 4.5/5  

Did there need to be the fourth rendition of A Star is Born? Regardless of how you feel about remakes and the challenge it sets to create a fresh approach which will rise above the nostalgic emotional connection of its predecessor, I’m happy for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga who expanded their talents to give directing and acting a go. They created a convincing chemistry not seen since Walk the Line (2005). Cooper sounded like Kris Kristofferson and looked like a younger version of Jeff Bridges playing his Oscar-winning role in Crazy Heart. Throw in another cowboy, The Stranger, from The Big Lebowski, actor Sam Elliot, who sure felt like the real-life brother of Bradley Cooper, and it all felt cozy including the usual dysfunctional topics that plague the Rock and Roll family. On Gaga’s side, she was beautiful sans makeup and outlandish costumes. Her on-screen father Andrew Dice Clay surprised me with his portrayal of the NY/NJ blue-collar father. Was Cooper’s direction a tender-footed misstep? The editing spotty at times? What of Lady Gaga’s voice? I don’t think she sits with Barbara Streisand or Judy Garland, but her presence is impossible to discount as she is the diva of today. All in all, it was more entertaining than distracting.  4/5 

TELEVISION 

Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong in my eyes. It takes a lot of talent to deliver fast, intellectually difficult monologues and manic-depressive facial expressions like an opera singer’s trill, and that’s what he does. His Shakespearean background combined with sardonic humor–well, no one does it better. I thought he was magnificent in the dark comedy Patrick Melrose, a five-part television series based on the novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) is from a privileged but traumatic childhood stemming from abusive parents (Hugo Weaving & Jennifer Jason Leigh). As a boy, the story is set in the South of France. In his 1980s, Patrick is in his twenties and hooked hard on alcohol and drugs with an NYC backdrop. The story ends with his attempt at recovery back home in Britain. If you like your stories dark and sassy with great performances, you shouldn’t miss this. 4.8/5

37 thoughts on “Are you not entertained? Films & TV

Add yours

  1. I haven’t seen any of these, Cindy. Well done for keeping up with 2018!
    I would like to see Patrick Melrose, as Cumberbatch has talent, especially (for me) in historical roles. He was outstanding as Richard III, in the tremendous ‘The Hollow Crown’, from the BBC.
    I have no interest at all in ‘First Man’, but I am pleased for you that you liked it.
    As I have seen all previous versions of ‘A Star Is Born’, I will give Lady Gaga a try, but will be happy to wait for it to come on TV, as I really don’t expect her to top Judy Garland.
    Your other two selections definitely got my interest.
    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

    1. Hi Pete,
      I’m glad for your comment. I suspect you will enjoy ‘A Star is Born’. It is a good modern retelling, albeit, not my favorite version. I’m with you on Judy.
      I hope you can see Mr. Cumberbatch soon. I reckon it will take a couple years before it comes out on the televsion. Too bad you can’t rent it. I thought ‘Look Who’s Back’ a very scary, appropriate warning for today.

  2. Interesting that’d you say, “…Gosling interpreted Armstrong by standing devoid of emotion for two hours.” Got that impression from just the trailers. While I’d like to see this, shaky cam and dizzying visuals are not my favorites as I’ve a tendency to motion sickness, already. Watching at home makes it less prone to happen, so I may hold out on this till it’s available. Wonderful update, Cindy. Thanks.

  3. Really looking forward to taking flight with Mr. Armstrong soon, I have kept putting off the movie for various reasons, hopefully the timing will be good this week. You’re certainly not the first to mention the emotional vacuum that is Ryan Gosling in this role, so I’m really curious about the delivery.

    Also, thanks a mill for putting Look Who’s Back on my radar. That is something I have never even heard of but it sounds fascinating! Added.

  4. What a great line-up of viewing. I can’t wait to show my First Man review and hear what you think. The other films I will definitely have to Check out thanks to your post. In particular Fugitive Pieces I’d never heard of until now.

    1. Welcome, Ian. Thank you. First Man was one I enjoyed for the history and the mind-blowing effect of feeling like I was truly on the moon. It was simple and effective. The silence. Deafening.

  5. Good stuff Cindy. I’ve reviewed A Star is Born and First Man but those are the only two I have seen. Look Who’s Back really struck my interest.

    1. I saw that we voted the same for A Star is Born–I held off reading your review because I didn’t want it to influence my opinions. I will have to go back and check out your
      First Man, too. You get to the movies before I do! I want to see Colette. As far as Look Who’s Back–a very interesting satire and mindbender. I hope you like it as much as I did. I watched it on Netflix.
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. WOW!! Cindy!! What a cornucopia of entertainment!!
    Am really keen on seeing ‘First Man’, the new ‘A Star is Born’ and of course, ‘Patrick Melrose’. Pity, it doesn’t sound like Ryan Gosling hasn’t done justice to his performance of Neil Armstrong. I’ve heard great things about Lady Gaga and Cooper (can’t wait to see it). And I agree, Cumberbatch is a superb actor, he can’t do wrong.
    I hadn’t heard of the two older movies, you’ve spoken of, but they sound really good too.
    The original ‘A Star is Born’ actress, Janet Gaynor, was born this month.
    As you know, I am hosting a Blogathon this month (for October Birthdays). The actual dates are 20th to 22nd; but one can do a post any day, within this month.
    Am really hoping you’ll still join, Cindy.
    Thanks
    Nuwan Sen 🙂

    1. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my post and your blogothan. I regret I am unable to participate. I am too busy at this time. Please consider me next year. I hope your blogathan is a smashing success!

      1. THNX Cindy!! So far 10 have confirmed, so it’s still better than the last one I hosted (which was the 1st one I hosted) four years ago.
        If this is a success, I hope to hold it every October!!
        Cheers 🙂

  7. Every one of these movies looks superb. Rose and I had already penciled in First Man (great poster!) and A Star is Born. Looks like some good viewing coming up! Thank you.

    1. I hear they making another season of Sherlock. I think the episodes got a little silly toward the end, as most series reach beyond good sense and start to fall flat after all possibilities are squeezed out of it. Sherlock is no exception, but I just love his acting. More movies, I say. 😉

  8. My wife and I just saw “First Man” and it is mesmerizing, a real “history brought to life” film – but that said, I agree with your Gosling assessment – even if he was this quiet in real life, we needed a bit of an opening to fully understand why he acted the way he did in a few key moments…technically the film was flawless…and you are right about Cumberbatch as well!

      1. Yes my wife and I watched it! And I agree, the lift off sequence never left the inside of the capsule, a great decision by the Director as it really did place you inside that “tin can!”

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