Welcome back to Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club. For new followers, this is about sharing your thoughts in a positive way with one another on the 13th of the month. Over the years, I’ve had co-hosts and that makes the day even better. If you are interested in co-hosting a topic about the film industry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s come up with something.
Sir Richard Attenborough has been on my radar lately. He was born in 1928 and passed in 2014. He shared his long life with wife Sheila Sim. He served for five years in WW2 and was an accomplished actor and director winning many top awards for both. He was a verified presence on the movie screen for more than sixty years.
If you need a reminder of his best acting roles, read Neil Mitchell’s article about “Dickie” FOUND HERE.
What I enjoy best about his acting are his flawed characters. He is the stereotype of the composed, polite Englishman. Yet, his characters have serious foibles. That’s a seductive contrast. Whatever the role, he elevates the film by his presence. I also respect him for wanting to make important movies. He used his star power to bring awareness of the plight of the unfortunate even if it meant satirizing his native country.
What is his best acting role? What is his best directing job? How would you rank him with other actors/directors? That is, who has had equal success as a director and actor?
My daughter and I recently saw Tenet, and we talked about you for the rest of the day. Vanessa’s initial reaction was that your film was more of an experience than watching a story unfold. I was doing my best to listen carefully because I knew I was in for a cerebral experience that demanded my concentration. I wish key clues of the narrative weren’t given when the characters wore various kinds of face masks. It happened a few times. That was one way in which I had no idea what just happened or what was said. I started to panic because I kept scratching my head. I mentally checked, “Okay, I’ll have to watch that again to find out what was said.” To my daughter, I asked, “Maybe I’m too old or stupid to get it?” She replied, “If the whole movie is like that, isn’t ironic you get bored? You love smart movies, Mom. Maybe this was too smart for its own good?” Hmm.
This was the first time since the pandemic that we were back in the movie theaters. We went to a 1pm showing and there were ten people in the whole theater spread about wearing masks. I crunched on my popcorn with enthusiasm. Yes! Back at the movies. Focused and ready to love it. Why did I leave the movie two-and-a-half hours later feeling confused and unsure if I could even say I liked it? I told Vanessa, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to watch it again to find out what I missed the first time.” She replied, “Shouldn’t you want to see it again instead of having to see it again?”
Mr. Nolan, let me take a moment to commend you for your efforts. I love mind-benders. I was your biggest fan while watching Inception (2010). You had the perfect balance of outstanding graphics, edge-of-your-seat thrilling cat and mouse scenes. You had an ensemble cast who all did their part to make the narrative interesting to watch. What worked? Your film had heart. I watched Inception many times because I wanted to. Each viewing brought me pleasure and another detail I’d missed before that raised my esteem for you. Tech + heart + thrilling = An A+ movie. May I suggest, sir, that you remember that formula?
Mr. Nolan, I enjoyed your Dark Knight trilogy. You do have a gift for bringing great talent into the ensemble cast. That’s a strength of yours. Heath Ledger was at his best. I loved Sir Michael Caine as Alfred (I didn’t know he was knighted!) I never tire seeing the faces of Gary Oldman or Tom Hardy or Christian Bale. Marion Cotillard is always mesmerizing. Congratulations.
With regards to Tenet,Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh acted best. Nice Russian accent, Ken. Their relationship was more interesting than the physics involved in the narrative. I suppose that was the “heart” element to focus on when not wondering what the hell was going on with the backward/forward interplay of time. However, I feel John David Washington‘s character was a wasted character. Heck, he didn’t even have a name. Just a secret agent known as “the Protagonist”. I never had a chance to care about him. This would be my biggest complaint with Tenet. Pattison did okay. Sometimes the actor acts; sometimes he’s a bore. I can’t decide how I feel about Robert Pattinson. Now I hear he’ll be the next Batman. Hmm.
In Tenet, the chase scenes involving the time sequences were thrilling and complicated and gorgeous to watch. You are unique and clever. I don’t see how anyone would object to your thrilling scenes. I won’t.
If I ranked Tenet, I’d give it a 7/10.
Mr. Nolan, I think your contribution to cinema is important. I certainly like your work more than I dislike it. After all, you gave us Memento (2000). Guy Pierce was outstanding and the mysterious thriller worked for me. Can you make more of those?
I’ll watch whatever you make,
P.S. Interstellar was fantastic. Heart–your protagonist had heart! Please don’t get lost in the cold abyss of technology that you forget to give your characters a heart. After all, that’s what makes movies worth watching.
Welcome back to another rendition of the Lucky 13 Film Club featuring the Coen Brothers. Your friendly opinion is welcome here–don’t be shy–let’s talk to one another. I pulled from Wikipedia their eighteen films and each has a link that provides a synopsis in case you need a refresher.
After thirty years of filmmaking, we all have a favorite Coen film. When I was younger, my eyes and ears appreciated their strange storylines, quirky supporting characters, and their dark humor. As I aged, my interest in their work varied upon the project. Sometimes I felt their balance was off, that is, the story was too ludicrous for me to back emotionally–but always, throughout the decades, an element in the whole, a nugget in the creek, makes watching the film worth it. A performance. A character. A scene. A song. An idea that harkens back to the Greeks, and I like that about them; there is an endearing, universal quality about their stories. As screenwriters, they are the gods taking mythical pokes at the foolishness of man. They employ dramatic irony and we laugh. Well, I do.
I like Mojo.com. Have fifteen minutes? Watch this to help you remember the laughs and the technique of the Coen Brothers.
When I think of the Coen Brothers, here’s what comes to mind:
They remind me of Mark Twain. Folk tales–their films express America by the region including the vernacular and its superstitions and beliefs.
They appreciate the genre of film noir.Miller’s Crossing is one of my favorites. Gabriel Bryne locks it for me.
They love Hollywood and hate it, too.
The songs and scores are a key part of the tale. Kudos to Carter Burwell.
The themes are universal: heroism, friendship, greed, loss, betrayal, strange love, sacrifice
The setting plays a huge role in their films. The violence of nature infiltrates and determines the violence in man.
Romanticism. Naturalism. Modernism. Post-Modernism. It’s all there in the visual form. Like watching instead of reading the assigned anthology of the second half of a U.S. Lit course. While I still prefer to read the anthology, I enjoy seeing the stories on the screen.
Which region do they personify best? Also, what performance or character resonates? Which repeat actor starring in a Coen film grate on your nerves? For me, that’d be Frances McDormand. I like Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi.