What Movie Have You Seen Today?

Confidential to SAG:

4K restoration of NOSTALGHIA is superb. STOP
Do not purchase or view. STOP
Tarkovsky never develops any narrative STOP
Love to the family STOP

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Still on the fence if I should watch this at all. TBH, I didn’t like very much anything that came after the first one (which I adore). OTOH, I decided to give Afterlife a try when I caught it on TV a while ago and was positively surprised to a certain extent.


Interesting, I suppose, article related to the current discussion:

Rick Moranis is awesome, and he’s great in the first film, but this fascination with him and Sigourney Weaver returning for these new films is just over the top, IMO. Frozen Empire is crowded enough, having Louis Tully hanging around the firehouse would have made it just that much more crowded, and considering the film didn’t have time to actually tell a story in the first place, there would have been even less story to tell with another character shoehorned in there.

It’s also somewhat upsetting to read that they offered him more to return than Ernie Hudson was offered. The disrespect that Hudson has, and continues to, receive is just wrong. He’s been an ambassador for this franchise since the beginning and has been one of two people who has been eager to carry on the franchise for all of those years between Ghostbusters II and Afterlife.


I think that is the sole reason why the film disappoints.

It has so many promising ideas but not enough time to develop them.

That is not the director‘s fault. It rather seems that the studio wanted everything, not realizing how impossible it was to craft a good film out of all that. Under the circumstances (including availability and willingness and contract negotiations) the film did what it could. Only then the marketing department messed up by selling it as something it wasn’t.

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But if Tarkowsky had done a „Ghostbusters“ sequel…

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Having now seen it twice and being someone who saw the original opening night, I enjoyed it.

Ultimately though, I do agree mostly, that, much like SPECTRE, IMO, it suffered the same problem.

Not so much “too many chefs in kitchen” but, more so “too many ingredients in the stew” if you will.


We recently watched the original The Taking of Pelham 123 and loved it. It’s still suspenseful … even though I know how it turns out. That’s how good the writing and acting are. The New York sarcasm and frenetic pace still resonate, and the film has a believable grittiness that grounds it in its subterranean setting.


What I also realy like about it is that they show actors like Shaw and Balsam wearing disguises for three quarters of the film, while they were of course cast for their fame. Compared to the newer version, you can quickly see Travolta on screen without a disguise.


Never gets old.


… although the scene with Matthau and the Chinese delegation is horribly racist and unnecessary.

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Racist in the sense that it shows the racism of white men of that time period, and, in a rare instance, them getting called on it. Also great is Garber finally meeting the Chief Inspector, and realizing he is Black.

Made in 1974, TTOP123 is a quintessential 1970’s movie showing the usual male hero having his assumptions swept out from underneath him. THE CONVERSATION is from the same year.


Still, when I rewatched that scene at the beginning, I thought how it would draw big laughs - oh, those guys, grinning, nodding, making photographs… and then they even reveal themselves as sneaky because they spoke and understood English all the time.

I am not for revisionist views and scalding art from another era for not conforming with contemporary opinions. But that scene was put there for comic relief, I believe, and the remake wisely did not duplicate it. Instead it added a Chinese corruption angle for the protagonist, giving him a parallel to the villain and making him come to terms with his own failings.

Having seen both recently, I must say: the remake is much better and more interesting.

An interesting take. The next time I watch the movie, I will keep it in mind. As I said, for me the scene has always been about Garber’s presumption, and his dismissiveness toward foreigners, and his belief that he can act any way he wants to in front of people sans consequences.

The puncturing of this belief is one of the tropes of 1970’s cinema.


The Little Things

Two cops, one young and ambitious (Rami Malek), one older and traumatized (Denzel Washington), team up to trap a suspect (Jared Leto) who might be guilty for the current murders and the ones the older cop could not solve.

Been there, done that, a completely conventional premise.

Still, writer/director John Lee Hancock does something with this which kept me interested right up to the ending. Because this movie is not so much about catching a killer but being obsessed with it, justifying everything for it, wanting something to be true. And, of course, all three actors starring in this film, are captivating to watch.

Drive-away dolls

Ethan Coen without his brother Joel but with his editor (and queer wife, an unconventional relationship) Tricia Cook have made a variation on a Coen Brothers crime story, with two lesbians driving the wrong car and being subsequently on the run from two goons who have to bring back the suitcase in the trunk of that car.

Yes, only the lesbian duo is the fresh ingredient here. But still - this is one funny movie which actually moves fast and has no unnecessary scenes. And Margaret Qualley steals the film, with Geraldine Viswanathan as the introverted one also great.

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KUNG FU PANDA 4 (2024) in theatre

What a difference eight years makes. We are back in the Valley of Peace, Po is about to take his next step in learning, and while the animation style is different, Jack Black’s voice is the same.

Not a bad movie, but not a good one to me. The first three movies had their own visual style that I enjoy returning to. KFP4 looks like most animation that is made today. I felt that the story was fit to the visual style, instead of the visual style being developed to fit the story.

Enjoyable overall, and might get better on a second viewing, but I do not feel compelled to have one.


1975’s Night Moves starring Gene Hackman. One thing that sets it apart is that it features two, possibly three, femme fatale characters. Melanie Griffith’s character and the way she is perceived by most of the other characters, other than Hackman’s, makes me shudder. It’s the old “she made me do it” myth, when in reality she’s just a neglected girl seeking affection any way she can. But apparently she is “seducing” men, most of whom are much older than she is. Her stepfather says, “There ought to be a law.” Um, there is.

Moving on. Beyond that, the story is a compelling neo-noir tale. The interactions between Hackman and his three female co-stars, Griffith, Jennifer Warren and Susan Clark, are especially compelling. It’s interesting to note that three of the female characters (played by Griffith, Warren and Janet Ward) are all damaged in ways we now recognize all too well from Me Too revelations. Especially sad is how the mother, played by Ward, is quite willing to let her daughter, played by Griffith, follow the same path of abuse she did.

Meanwhile, Hackman’s character is taking all this in, empathizing and trying to provide comfort as best he can … but he senses the futility of his efforts.

It’s telling that Harry, played by Hackman, was abandoned by his parents, so he knows something about rejection and struggling to deal with it. It seems he never comes to terms with it and remains largely uncommunicative, which is part of what leads to the breakup of his marriage with Clark’s character.

In a funny line, Harry, a former football player, is looking at a friend’s sculpture and is asked if he likes it. He says no, because it reminds him too much of Alex Karras. Karras and Clark had starred in Babe (the TV movie about Babe Didrikson) and later married in real life.

The convoluted plot unwinds in one tragic mishap after another, with the main character left going, literally, in circles. Harry’s character, and all of the “too little, too late” questions he faces, still haunt me.


Okay, this is going to be difficult for some or most but…

In the second half of the 90´s it had become fashionable to hate a certain megastar because a) his film had won Oscars when Scorsese´s did not and b) he had become so popular that he enjoyed an unusual string of huge successes. And despite almost everyone in the industry and even in the audience waited for him to fail, a huge budget-burner described as a mega-flop before it was even released actually made money. So when he directed and starred in another post-apocalyptic film which even dared to have a running time of almost three hours it was clear: this guy has got to go.

Hence, “The Postman” was released to disastrous reviews and ridiculing, resulting in meager box office, and finally Kevin Costner´s run as the 90´s huge box office star ended.

Full disclosure: I always liked Costner, not just because he had that easy going charisma but also because he was the rare star willing to be unsympathetic and actually be ridiculed by other characters for being either earnest, old-fashioned or naive.

I saw “The Postman” in a press screening, going in having read many advance reviews which gleefully panned the film. And it did not help my viewing experience that many “colleagues” sat down, ready to laugh and shake their heads because they also had read these reviews and were determined to hate watch this “testament to egotism”.

And while I did not consider the film a failure I was at least influenced to not really like it. The best I could come up with was “It´s not as bad as people said” when the PR guy after the screening asked me how I liked it.

Since then, 1997, I never rewatched the film, thinking it is just one of those movies in the filmography of great directors and actors which did not work out.

Now I have revisited it - and, yes, I think it is really, really good and one of the most shamefully under appreciated movies of the 90´s. It is a mix of a western and a post-apocalyptic science fiction epic, impressively lensed and terrifically written by expert script writers Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland. Costner and co-star Olivia Williams are wonderful in it, and Will Patton as the former copy machine salesman turned dictator is a perfect villain.

Back in the 90´s we all thought: hah, how ludicrous, people would never follow such a poser with delusions of grandeur. We also believed: nah, the world would not become that tribal, we’re too intelligent and have learned from history. And the idea of restored communication as a beacon of hope - oh, no, that is just absurd, we thought, when in reality we were on the brink of the internet and social media and mobile phone revolution, making that connectivity essential to our everyday life. Imagine now a world without that - and the reestablishment of a postal service would be just as welcomed as it is here, in this film.

In the end, “The Postman” is a film about hope and the length people go to either destroy it or cling to it, despite it being an illusion, even a lie in the first place. Because Costner actually plays a fraud, a guy who badly performs Shakespeare with a mix of a donkey and a horse, just to get some food. When he escapes the grueling force of the villain´s army he stumbles onto a dead postman, assumes his identity and lies his way into the hearts of a small community who wants to believe his lies. From now on, Costner´s character embellishes his lies to such a degree that they inspire others to take up the postal service, and before he realizes how his lies have become dangerous even deadly for other hopeful people, he can not stop his scheme anymore. Hope has become too powerful.

Yes, the ending is maybe naive. But this movie is not about realism. It is a fairy tale, as Costner himself said. And it works so well I can only deeply recommend it for a reassessment.


The Guardian, Hidden Figures, Black or White

Being on a Costner binge, watching all those movies I arrogantly missed during his later career stage…

… and damn, he is so good. And the films he stars in or even just does a supporting turn in are also absolutely quality material. The ageing Costner does not care about putting on weight or being unsympathetic - he is just giving his all to tell the story.

Hopping from one genre to the next, he is definitely one of the most underrated US actors, and the antipathy against him is baffling to me.


Don´t miss For Love of the Game, Draft Day and Criminal…


Costner was great in Mr. Brooks.