Welcome to the 561st Edition of my series. There is not too much going on right now. In a couple of weeks, there will be some auditions for plays coming up and will keep updated whenever I get a part in a show. Right now, all we have is preseason football and I never keep up with that. So for now, I'll just get on with some selections.
Girl in Progress (2012): Patricia Riggen directed this film which was written by Hiram Martinez. Eva Mendes stars as Grace who is struggling as a single mom. She works at a restaurant and is having an affair with a married doctor, played by Matthew Modine. Cierra Ramirez co-stars as Grace's high school daughter Ansiedad who is assigned in her class to write a coming of age story inspiring her to take it to a whole new level partly because the the irresponsibility of her mother. Patricia Arquette co-stars as Ms. Armstrong who makes the assignment for her class. Eugenio Derbez, Raini Rodriguez, Russell Peters, Landon Liboiron, Brenna O'Brien, and many others co-star in this film. I don't really know how to describe this film. It seems like a comedy in maybe the first half, maybe even first three quarters of the film. It kind of reminded me of MEAN GIRLS in a way where Ansiedad is basically trying to accomplish popularity and resorts to rather underhanded things like degrading her best friend. It turns into a pretty emotional film during the last part. It does do a good job though of conveying the stupidity of being "popular" and has the message that being an adult is not everything like what Ansiedad is trying to accomplish. Ramirez shines very well in my opinion as Ansiedad with Mendes complementing her as the mother who had her at a young age. I also liked the twist of having a coming of age assignment in a coming of age film.
Mr. B. Natural (1957): This is my short film for the week that comes from the MST3K episode which features the movie THE WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST. This short was watched before it and really delivers a lot of laughs. A young boy was bored in his room and then encounters a woman named Mr. B. Natural so I guess a woman playing a man, kind of like Peter Pan I guess. Mr. B. Natural then suggests music to the boy and he listens. Betty Luster plays the title role but never seems to have done much else in her career. The short was very weird to say the least and the boy did not seem to mind that he/she was stalking him in his room and at school. It might be best to watch with the MST3K episode.
High Sierra (1941): Raoul Walsh directed this film and co-wrote with John Huston on the screenplay which was based on a novel by W.R. Burnett. Humphrey Bogart stars as Roy Earle who is a criminal and being released from jail through the help of an old associate. He is trying to go straight but is pretty much blackmailed into a robbery with some inexperienced criminals. When the robbery goes wrong, he must go on the run. Joan Leslie co-stars as Velma who is the ideal person that Roy would like in a relationship but fits more with Marie, played by Ida Lupino. which is another very interesting dynamic of the story. Some of my favorite scenes were between Bogart and Leslie. Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Henry Hull, Henry Travers, Barton MacLane, Cornel Wilde, and many others co-star in this film. This is really the first starring role for Bogart who had played supporting gangsters for many years and now got to the be the star of the film where he would soon become the romantic leading man. This was a great start to that part of his career.
Always for Pleasure (1978): This is my documentary for the week. Les Blank directed this documentary on social traditions in the town of New Orleans. There is footage of a funeral, music, food they eat, an Indian ceremony and many other things. I have never been to New Orleans but was some really good footage of a town that partied every day, at least in this era. The only thing that really bothered me was that they did not speak of the Michaelson family.
The Drop (2014): Michael Roskam directed this film based on a short story called ANIMAL RESCUE by Dennis Lahane. Tom Hardy stars as Bob Saginowski who is a bartender in Brooklyn working for his cousin Marv, played by James Gandolfini. He finds himself in the middle of an armed robbery gone awry and does not know who to trust. Noomi Rapace co-stars as Nadia, who is another local and becomes friends with Bob and helps him with a dog that he finds in the trash. Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Morgan Spector, Michael Esper, and many others co-star in this film. This is Gandofini's last film and died a month after shooting. This is a very detailed crime film that is rather complicated to describe and a lot of attention must be paid to watch. Hardy was good as the rather everyday person getting caught up in things. It is a compelling film with good performances.
The Lucky Ones (2008): This is part three of my Rachel McAdams trilogy. Neil Burger directed and co-wrote this film in the road movie genre that I admit I'm quite a sucker for. McAdams, and Michael Pena play soldiers on leave and Tim Robbins is a soldier retiring trying to get home to his wife. They meet at the airport and unexpectedly take a road trip, mainly for Robbins to get home but they all have some sort of issue they are trying to deal with while out of the military. Molly Hagan, Mark L. Young, Arden Myrin, Coburn Goss, John Heard, Jennifer Joan Taylor, Katherine LaNasa, Susan Yeagley, Emily Swallow, John Diehl, Annie Corley, and many others co-star in this film. The three actors were great together and it gives a lot of depth to the personalities of each characters where we can get behind all three in their situations. In my McAdams trilogy, I used MEAN GIRLS and last week I had SPOTLIGHT, and end with this and I feel I featured three absolutely different films from her and really good in this one. I suppose this could be considered a modern day THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, especially with the character Robbins plays. Parts in the end left me with some questions but can let that go for the enjoyment of the film though, if you have seen this, I would like to have a discussion but will not spoil on here.
Downstairs (1932): John Gilbert stars in this romance, albeit rather dark romance film. He plays Karl who is the new chauffeur to the wealthy couple Albert and Anna, played by Paul Lukas and Virginia Bruce. What they do not know is that Karl is quite a player and looks to seduce Anna and take advantage of the other servants in the home. Hedda Hopper, Reginald Owen, Olga Baclanova, and many others co-star in this film. This was a story that John Gilbert had written in 1928 but decided to finally get it made in the talkie area where I had heard he struggled a lot like many to make the silent to talkie transition but this helped him a lot. This is also a pre-code film where they did some pretty daring things for the era. Gilbert keeps this one going very well as the amoral chauffeur which has gotten some exposure on TCM which is where I recorded the film from.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012): This is part one of a potential Frances McDormand series. Wes Anderson directed this comedy which was co-wrote by Roman Coppola. There is quite an all-star cast in this film but the stars are a couple relatively unknown kids in Jared Gilman and Kara Heyward who play the young lovers of Sam and Suzy and run away to be together prompting various factions of the town to search for them. McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Jason Scwartzman, Lucas Hedges, Charlie Kilgore, Chandler Frantz, L.J. Foley, Gabriel Rush, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Tommy Nelson, Larry Pine, Eric Chase Anderson, Jake Ryan, Tanner Flood, Wyatt Ralff, Harvey Keitel, and many others co-star in this film. This is shot in that usual quirky Wes Anderson style. I have seen a few of his films and this may very well be my favorite with the really well-written characters in Sam and Suzy and perfectly cast with their actors. The rest of the cast are a lot of Wes Anderson alums which contribute well in their supporting roles. I really enjoyed Norton's more comedic than usual performance. There are some laughs with a touch of dark comedy in it. This is available on Instant Netflix.
The Enforcer (1976): This is the third of the five films in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood reprises his role as Harry Callahan and must take on a group of disgruntled Vietnam veterans called the People's Revolutionary Strike Force who declare war on the town of San Francisco. Callahan is dismayed when being assigned rookie homicide detective Kate Moore, played by CAGNEY AND LACEY alum Tyne Daly, but they must learn to work together to survive. Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, John Crawford, and many others co-star in this film. I really believe all the entries in this series are at least decent. I did not find this one to disappoint. The beginning where Callahan foils a robbery was awesome in my opinion. Eastwood and Daly have a rather interesting dynamic as the veteran and rookie being forced together as partners.
A Royal Affair (2012): I end the week with this Danish film. This is based on a true story of 1700s royalty. Alicia Vikander stars as Princess Caroline who is betrothed to King Christian VII, played by Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, of Denmark. Christian is a very oppressive king and soon gains a companion in German doctor Johann Struensee, played by Mads Mikkelsen, who is more idealistic and wins the love of Caroline starting what the title implies. Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Thomas Gabrielsson, Cyron Melville all co-star in this film. I enjoyed this one more than a lot of royalty films I have seen. Vikander is Swedish and had to learn the Danish language for the film. I liked seeing Mikkelsen more light-hearted than usual. This is one of the more compelling royalty films I have seen with really good performances from the three leads.
Well, that is all for this week. Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Steve Martin, Michelle Yeoh, and many others.