Thursday, June 5, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Here are some thoughts on some movies I’ve seen recently and one new Perflix addition:

Captain Phillips is a lot of fun and a nail biter.  The film is based on a true story of the hijacking of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama in 2009.  Tom Hanks does a good job as the vulnerable but gutsy Captain Phillips.  But the real story is that of actor Barkhad Abdi, an ethnic Somali who plays the lead hijacker.  This guy was a chauffeur with no prior acting experience when he was cast for this role.  Dude got paid $65k to appear alongside Tom Hanks in a feature film and this is no bit part – he has nearly as much screen time as Hanks.  He does a bang-up job and it’s a nice American success story.  I like the military/special forces sequences in this movie and how those guys do their jobs with such preparation and precision.  Well worth your time.

Rush is AWESOME.  Don’t miss it.  I love racing movies and there are too few.  This one is directed by Ron Howard and he does a solid job portraying the real-life Formula One racing rivalry between Brit James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda.  The rivals eventually become friends until Hunt fell dead of a heart attack in his retirement when he was only 45 years old.  Lauda almost died in a fiery crash in Germany in 1976 but was racing again within six weeks while his burns were still healing.  Ron Howard did a good job of capturing the playful but intense rivalry.  To give you an idea of the tenor of the relationship, Hunt had this to say about Lauda’s burns:  “Niki, you're lucky. Some people are just born ugly, but you have the excuse of an accident.”  Another thing I loved about this film was how it captured the great style of the 70’s – the cars, the clothes, the lifestyle.  Great film!

The Counselor is creepy and violent.   I had to watch it because it’s directed by Ridley Scott and I love Ridley Scott (Alien is one of my favorite movies of all time).  I would skip it unless you like to feel bad and dirty after watching a movie.  This one is a grim, violent story about the depravity of humanity and don’t plan to come away feeling good or with any hope in your heart because Scott won’t give you that.  Instead he gives you the stark reality of the drug trade and the merciless brutes at the heart of it.  Javier Bardem's character is pathetic and made me squirm. Cameron Diaz is the devil times two.  Brad Pitt dies an extremely terrifying death (let’s just say you may want to look up “bolito” before you watch it…).  Any movie in which Penelope Cruz’ character has to die is not one that is easy for me to watch.  To think of the waste of someone so seemingly beautiful and innocent in both real life and her character in the film – well, I guess that’s what Scott wanted and he delivers.
In general, I don't think a movie should kill off the main character, or at least until the end. The Place Beyond the Pines is very strange and non-conformist and is a movie you should probably delete from your queue. The only reason to watch it is for the main dude's love interest played by the lovely Eva Mendes. It is convoluted how it ties everything together and let me just say that nobody gets onto a motorcycle for the very first time and drives away, nobody.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is pretty dumb.  I don’t know how it got a 8.1 rating on IMDb.

And lastly...Planet Earth is being promoted to Perflix. Okay now hear me out on this one. My son Colin, who will be 5 this month, is going through an obsessive animal phase - it's all he can talk about. He wakes up talking about what animal he wants to be for the day (this changes probably a dozen times a day however) and goes to the extent of referring to animal characters on the screen in the first person, saying "there I am!" and even "look at what I'm doing, I'm so silly!". Weird huh? I figure it's better to encourage it than not. I recently re-discoverd Planet Earth (2006), a 11-episode nature documentary commissioned by the BBC. Yes it's a documentary. But let me tell you it is one amazing, moving, heartening and maddening documentary. I'm adding it as a Perflix because, well because I can! But really, it deserves this great place in history and your life will not be complete until you watch the original series with David Attenborough narrating.
I wonder what 29 and 30 will be?
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech
  28. Planet Earth