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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Movie Recommendations June 28 to July 20, 2011

Conviction    2010  103 minutes
Hilary Swank plays high school drop-out Betty Anne Waters, a woman who went through law school and passed the bar just to get evidence to free her brother who was wrongfully convicted of murder.  Anything with Hilary Swank is worth seeing.
Inside Man   2006    129 minutes
Spike Lee directs a film about a bank heist that isn’t exactly a bank heist.  You can’t go wrong with Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster.  These actors like to pick their scripts.
Saints and Soldiers    2003   90 minutes
Will the Battle of the Bulge ever end?  This is a good story based on actual events of US soldiers and a British pilot trapped behind German lines with information invaluable to the allied forces.
Hart’s War   2002   125 minutes
There are two things going on here:  American POWs are planning to knock off  a nearby German armaments factory and one POW is collaborating with the Germans and uses the murder of an African American pilot newly arrived at the camp and the ensuing racial tension to try to cover his tracks.  Lots of heroes in this one.
The Last Castle   2001   133 minutes
Robert Redford plays a general who gets sent to a high security military prison for disobeying a Presidential order which results in the deaths of 8 servicemen.  He accepts his punishment, but he can’t accept the way the prison is run and organizes a revolt to get rid of the prison commandant who for some reason looks like Tony Soprano and probably needs a shrink.
Of Gods and Men   2010    123 minutes
Another true story.  Seven Trappist monks staff a small monastery in rural Algeria.  They have built strong bonds with the locals and have become important as participants in the local economy and as providers of basic medical care.  They are able to hold off a radical Islamist leader by demonstrating their knowledge of and respect for Islam, but when he gets killed, another Islamist kidnaps the monks and tries to ransom them for his men captured by the French.  The monks are eventually murdered.
Win Win   2010
I saw this turkey on an airplane and no doubt the crick in my neck from struggling to see the small screen and the frequent interruptions for the bathroom breaks of the 6 year old in the window seat account for some of my negativity.   Paul Giamatti, who I can never warm to, is a struggling lawyer who violates the trust placed in him by the court and his client who suffers from some degree of dementia, all to collect the $1500 a month guardian stipend.  He ends up debarred and tending bar but he belonged in the slammer.
Ugetsu   1953   97 minutes
This is a ghost story set in the warring period of Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi a few years before 1600.  A peasant farmer and potter gets too ambitious about selling his pots during a period when soldiers are ravaging the countryside.  He is seduced by a ghost, whom he believes to be the last survivor of her clan, and while he is at her mansion, his wife is killed by marauding troops and his son barely survives.  A seer convinces him to challenge the reality of his ghost mistress.  When she disappears, he returns home to suffer the grief of losing his devoted wife and to raise his son.  It’s old, it’s black and white, it’s low budget, and it’s worth seeing.  There is a lot of Japan in this movie.
Mishima:  A Life in Four Chapters    1985    121 minutes
Excerpts from four of his novels are used to bring out facets of his character.  Throughout the film builds toward a reenactment of his suicide and beheading in the office of the head of the Japanese Self Defense Force.  It’s really different, just as Mishima was.  I’m glad I saw it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.
The Adjustment Bureau   2011    106 minutes
If you like the stories of Philip K. Dick, you’ll probably like this movie.  It was a bit too much of a stretch for me to accept that there were these angel like guys around in hats who make sure the world proceeds according to plan despite the human misconception that we have free will.  As a compensation, I got to watch Emily Blunt and the film did have a happy ending.

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