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Simon Boccanegra

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  1. Where she worries for a moment she's lost, and then Dave calls out to her? That was Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
  2. The most interesting thing I learned from those biographical bits that replaced the typical performance excerpts at the Oscars is that Yuh-jung Youn fell in love with the movies in large part from seeing the work of the writer/directors Robert Altman and Mike Leigh. Altman and Leigh are so obviously products of the environments in which they came up: Altman was such an American director (M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts), and Leigh was and remains as English as they come (Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, Mr. Turner). Both of those guys --
  3. I'm happy for Hopkins. Some people are angry or disappointed, and it did end the ceremony on a weird note (no one even making a speech on his behalf), but I don't think anyone who sees the film can say he was undeserving on the merits of the work. This isn't just the usual good showing you'd see in almost any film in which he has a significant role; it was a real career-crowning performance. I wanted either him or Ahmed to win; I thought they were the most special and memorable. Yeun was very good with the least showy role of the five.
  4. It's a damp, dated little thing. It only threatens to turn into a great movie in Lotte Lenya's few scenes as the gigolo procurer. She's a hoot.
  5. Presently available on the Criterion Channel (as well as in a new Blu-ray on their label), this is an adaptation, expansion, and 1980s update of Joyce Carol Oates's harrowing, much-anthologized 1966 story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" from director Joyce Chopra and screenwriter Tom Cole. It was acclaimed, then mostly forgotten and long difficult to find, but it has recently been remastered and is being reconsidered as a lost classic. It has a sensational breakthrough performance of great range and texture from 18-year-old Laura Dern. She had appeared in big films such as Te
  6. I didn't see depression per se there, although I thought the loss of her husband was a shadow over everything. We don't learn much about him, but they obviously had a long marriage with no children, either because they didn't want them or they couldn't have them. They worked together and lived together. So I think he was her life partner and they were well suited and had a strong bond, and now when other people suggest that she live with them in a more conventional and secure arrangement than living out of her van, it doesn't have appeal for her. She's had that person to come home to and share
  7. I kept thinking that the problematic sex that's the focus of most of the conversation was just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure I'm not the first to point it out, but the body of poor dozing "Handsome Man" was constantly in danger. She's taking him along for a chase through Cairo with armed goons and tanks, she's letting him steal a plane that could be shot down, he's getting thrown all over the White House by the Cheetah...Steve's consciousness may be all-in for this, but the dude hosting him didn't sign up for any of it! That said, while I didn't think this was one of those rare sequel
  8. It's a shame Jane Asher isn't better known, other than as Paul's most significant pre-Linda relationship and the subject of some of his Beatles-era love songs (and "fight" songs, e.g., "I'm Looking Through You"). Although she has a lot of television and movie credits, I think much of her best work has been on the stage. She played Miss Havisham to great acclaim at the West Yorkshire a few years ago.
  9. I am glad I streamed this one rather than seeing it at the movies, because I wanted to see it a second time right after I finished it. I intended just to re-watch the beginning scenes (if they can be so termed) in light of what we learn, but then I found it impossible to shut it off. It's really a remarkable play-to-film job. I could imagine the acting performances and the words having the same effect on the stage, but here the filmmakers have editing, cinematography, and production design on their side too. These disciplines are used in sophisticated ways that give the story dimensions
  10. It's a favorite of mine from the last ten years or so, and there's almost nothing about it I would want changed, so mileage varies. However, I remember people saying similar things about Brokeback Mountain in 2005-06 -- that they didn't see what the two guys had in common or what their deep connection was supposed to be about. In both cases we're looking back at a more furtive and fearful time for same-sex relationships, and in both cases one party is more experienced and assured than the other at the start. There isn't the same kind of milieu available for meeting and easy auditioning of pote
  11. I'm not going to claim I was falling asleep (and if I had been, that would probably have more to do with my own sleep cycles than with the film's quality), but I did think this dragged badly and that its nominations for Picture and Screenplay would have been better bestowed elsewhere. It was trying to do a few things -- tell an undercover story with all the familiar perilous scenes where the guy is on the cusp of being found out; educate the audience about the history of the Black Panthers and the FBI's war on them; tell a love story; delineate a complex friend/betrayer relationship involving
  12. Also, it's such a male-heavy movie. That's fine; movies are about the characters and situations they're about. I wouldn't advocate a new film of Billy Budd or whatever with some gratuitous female presences shoved into in it Just Because, and writing women hasn't always been an Aaron Sorkin strength anyway (Molly's Game did show some growth). But I still liked the contrast the blond cop and the snarky receptionist added. They were well played and well written and made the movie a little better.
  13. I've only seen the final two seasons once (I have "The Supremes" coming up in the Great West Wing Rewatch of '21), but I enjoyed the Santos/Vinick era first time around. We had seen some of the campaigning side of politics in season 4 and in the occasional flashback to Bartlet's first run, but I love that stuff, so I liked getting a deep dive into it with Bartlet's two would-be successors and those who fell short of the nominations. I felt the candidates and their supporting characters gave an old show some new life, and it was the point when The West Wing finally found an identity post Sorkin
  14. I think it had more to do with the family history (father) of the playwright who wrote the episode. He wrote nothing else for The West Wing, so I assume he was a friendly peer of Sorkin's. That one came up recently in my first-ever complete rewatch of the series (now I'm slogging through season 5). I liked it less than I'd remembered. It was going to be a tough sell, because it was so unlike anything else in the series, not even being set in Washington. They had to nail it, and I don't think the script did that. Alzheimer's is not an unusual subject for drama, and it's been handled bett
  15. I've also read Eric Heisserer's screenplay. It's very good, although there's one subplot/complication in the middle that I'm glad got the scissors, so the movie's final form is an improvement. Heisserer's first description of the main character is "Louise has a clean, timeless look about her; the kind of woman who ages gracefully." They could not have cast her more effectively. Tzi Ma gives one of the great one-scene performances in this movie. When we finally meet this General Shang, he's gracious and there's a formal warmth to his interaction with Louise, yet we can sense a forceful per
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