Current Events

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2 Guns; The Bletchley Circle; The Lark Farm; Lillyhammer; The Lost City; and The Wolverine

2 Guns  2013  109 minutes   I will see most any movie with either Mark Wahlberg or Denzel Washington and this one has both.  Wahlberg plays a petty officer working undercover for Naval Intelligence, and Denzel Washington is doing the same for DEA.  Neither is aware of the others status, and each thinks he has recruited a talented but controllable criminal accomplice.  They mix it up with some thieving naval officers, a dishonest and corrupt DEA officer, a murderous CIA agent and a Mexican drug lord who is all of those things.  The main character is $43 million, which CIA has stashed in safety deposit boxes in a small town bank.  As Washington observes in the bonus features, there is no uplifting message here.  But it’s fun.
The Bletchley Circle  2012  TV series of 3 episodes   It’s nine years after WW II, and a housewife who worked as a code breaker at Bletchley is following reports of a serial killer in the newspapers.  She thinks she begins to see a pattern and asks three of her friends from the Bletchley days to join her in trying to solve the puzzle, so that the killer can be stopped.  Each of them has a different talent and together they are able to identify the killer.  They succeed but the police won’t listen to them, and they almost become victims themselves when the killer identifies them.  I don’t normally include TV here, but this would have made a fine movie.
The Lark Farm   2007   120 minutes   If you can stand having your heart ripped out by a crime committed a century ago, see this Italian film on the Armenian genocide perpetuated by the Turks.  The film follows one family’s fate from integration and success within their community of Armenians and Turks to extinction, except for three children.  I have seen at least one other film on the ethnic cleansing in Turkey but nothing as powerful as this.

Lillyhammer   2012  TV 16 episodes  This is a Netflix original series.  It’s a little disjointed but so funny that one can forgive anything.  Stephen Van Zandt, a former denizen of The Sopranos plays Frank Tagliano, a Mafia gangster who entered the witness protection program after testifying against members of the mob.  He had seen the Winter Olympics on TV and chose Lillehammer in Norway as a place the mob would never find him.  Frank was known in the mob for his organizational skills, and soon it looks like he will corrupt all Lillehammer or maybe the whole country.
The Lost City   2005   143 minutes   The first few minutes were kind of slow and talky, but once the Cuban revolution got going this turned out to be pretty exciting.  I had just read T. J. English’s Havana Nocturne so I was prepared for what followed.  When I saw Dustin Hoffman in the opening credits, I knew he would play Meyer Lansky.  He makes two brief appearances, but the film is mostly Andy Garcia’s vehicle as actor and director.  He plays Fico Fellove, owner and impresario of El Tropico nightclub.  He lives for his family and his music and refuses to allow gambling at his club.  As the revolution ramps up, he loses his two brothers, a best friend and the woman he loves.  He has to leave Cuba to continue his life in music and as a free man.  Fico is a fictional, but his story parallels some real life characters.  There is lots of Cuban music throughout the film, sometimes you want to hear it and sometimes it gets in the way as Garcia cuts back and forth between the revolution and the stage of El Tropico. The film got some poor reviews but not from me.  It’s a bit long and uneven, but it retells an important bit of history.
The Wolverine   2013   126 minutes   I didn’t realize that this Marvel Comics hero is immortal.  Superman has his kryptonite problem, and it turns out the Wolverine is vulnerable to an implant around his heart until he cuts himself open and pulls it out.  Then he’s fine, and can dispose of a dangerous mutant lady and the terrible robot she has built to prolong the life of a Japanese industrialist.  The industrialist’s grand daughter who inherits his empire is very nice to be around, but don’t cross her.  She’s trained in martial arts.

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