20 or So Puzzling Movies

Rotten Tomatoes - Puzzling Films - Mulholland Dr

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I have not seen many of these movies, so this link is for entertainment value only and not to be interpreted as any sort of endorsement of the films collectively or the opinion expressed about them.  But I will call out Blade Runner, Memento, Primer and Inception as not being worthy of compliment, even a “puzzling” label.  Puzzling often is a good thing, but those four films are plain lame.

Another note.  I always like to highlight Kubrick films, but I don’t consider The Shining any sort of puzzler.  It’s about as straightforward a sledgehammer to the head as you can get.  And there is ZERO “mundane” about 2001.

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A Tome upon Mr. Turner

Timothy Spall and Dorothy Atkinson

Timothy Spall and Dorothy Atkinson

Mike Leigh’s tale of Britain’s greatest painter begins awkwardly and has its share of deficiencies, but upon the artist’s first visit to the seashore the movie grabbed me and didn’t let go until the end of its 2 1/2-hr. run time.  A number of amateur critics are calling Mr. Turner, to paraphrase, an abominable bore, but I disagree.  As I said, I was held quite nicely.  But the film did not take advantage of the subject matter to the extent it should have.

Specifically, Leigh failed to convey in a superlative way the ethereal beauty of JMW Turner’s paintings, the live scenes that caused their inspiration, and Turner’s experiences in those scenes; in nature.  Instead the focus is more on Turner’s personal life and his impact on those close to him — and the movie is excellent in this regard.  My problem is that the movie should have been able to handle both parts of the story with equal agility.

I have cogitated upon the matter, and Mr. Turner earns a solid 7/10.

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Comparison Notes: The English Patient, Howard’s End, Only Lovers Left Alive

Travel back to A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year - poster large

A Most Violent Year is one of the best pure dramas I’ve seen in a long time: a supremely great, edge-of-your-seat film about a tough man put in a difficult position.  There were all sorts of opportunities for this movie to run through well-trod plot turns and stack up the clichés.  But it doesn’t do that.  It takes a different path that is constantly fresh, new and unexpected, and causes one to believe it’s too good not to be true.

A Most Violent Year - text blockBut A Most Violent Year is not a true story.  Rather, it’s masterfully constructed fiction that plays like the real thing.  I look forward to more good things from writer and director J. C. Chandor.  I hope people go out and see this outstanding film; its box office so far is pathetic — I think American Sniper has swallowed everything in its wake.  9/10

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A Most Violent Year earns a note regarding A24 Films, who were also responsible for Obvious Child and Under the Skin, from earlier in 2014, and from 2013 Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring.  An intriguing indie label that seems dedicated to quality projects that veer off the norm.

A Slip Under the Yum-Yum Tree

Under the Yum-Yum Tree - poster

Under the Yum-Yum Tree is a silly trifle from 1963 that I caught on TCM.  It is hardly a great film, but those in the mood for vintage Jack Lemmon  jaunting about in a little escapade might have fun.  One of the best parts is the opening dance sequence.

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After watching the movie, I was surprised to find that Netflix has only three Jack Lemmon films available via VOD: Glengarry Glen Ross, The Apartment, and The Odd Couple.  All important films to be sure, but iTunes has those three films, plus Under the Yum-Yum TreeSome Like It Hot, and 34 more films.  Very telling the difference as far as movie selection of Netflix compared to Apple.  I know that the focus for Netflix these days is TV, but to have merely three Jack Lemmon pictures is sad commentary.

 

Friday Fun Flick: Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat - poster large

Couples Retreat is dumb but fun.  It’s one of those movies I’ll always stop on when channel surfing.  If you like Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau you should have a good time with this movie. It’s been universally panned, so you have been warned.  Bear in mind these are the same critics who didn’t like Yes Man while heaping praise on Pride.  You could do a lot worse in the lighthearted comedy category.