Saturday, April 07, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Movies

Last weekend we rented 4 DVDs from the local video store - just for a change from Netflix which had been throwing up far too much garbage of late! We visited the store intending to rent a couple of the recent Oscar-nominated movies, changed my mind - too pricey, they'll eventually reach Netflix, I suppose. So 4 DVDs from recent releases came home with us, movies unsung, unheard of - by me at least. There was, it turned out, no outstanding film among these choices, but all provided food for chit-chat later, whether positive-ish chit-chat or ..."WTF was that!?"

First off the shelf:

Singularity with John Cusack - science fiction. This is the film that brought forth our "WTF was that?" remark.

Singularity is an almost too blatant mash-up of other recent sci-fi themes in film and TV, stitched together in haphazard fashion, with minimal, simple dialogue, acceptable but mediocre performances, and a few clunky special effects. I learned from Wikipedia that even more stitching and patching had been involved than we suspected.
Singularity began as a low-budget sci-fi film called Aurora, which was shot in 2013 in the Czech Republic and Switzerland. John Cusack was not involved in the original shoot. Years later, scenes with Cusack were shot and inserted into the new production, and extensive CGI effects were used to tie the new material to the original film. Jason Pirodsky from The Prague Reporter gave a negative review, criticizing production values, continuity errors, and the film's "thoroughly unconvincing narrative" ......also criticized the addition of Cusack, noting that he only interacts with one other character as his performance was shot years after the majority of scenes were filmed

Basic plot premise relies on the rise and rise of artificial intelligence.
In 2020, Elias van Dorne (John Cusack), CEO of VA Industries, the world’s largest robotics company, introduces his most powerful invention–Kronos, a super computer designed to end all wars. When Kronos goes online, it quickly determines that mankind, itself, is the biggest threat to world peace and launches a worldwide robot attack to rid the world of the “infection” of man. Ninety-seven years later, a small band of humans remain alive but on the run from the robot army. A teenage boy, Andrew (Julian Schaffner) and a teenage girl, Calia (Jeannine Wacker), form an unlikely alliance to reach a new world, where it is rumored mankind exists without fear of robot persecution.

Not recommended - except for its peculiarity!

Next two off the shelf turned out to both be adaptations of books, portraying real life stories - of this I wasn't aware until we'd watched the DVDs.

The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents. The book was adapted as a feature film, released in the summer of 2017. Walls' real-life childhood was spent squatting in homes and living in poverty, the film stars Brie Larson as Walls with Naomi Watts, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield, and Sarah Snook in supporting roles.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a 2017 film based on the 2006 book of the same name by Ron Hall, Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Renée Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, Olivia Holt, Jon Voight, and Stephanie Leigh Schlund.

Storyline: After Ron Hall, a selfish successful art dealer, admits to cheating on her, his wife Deborah forces him to volunteer at a homeless shelter. There Denver Moore, a homeless ex-convict, helps him to change his life.

Both films are worth watching, though hardly outstanding. Both are well-acted, but possibly not nearly as close to all actual facts as portrayed by the two books from which they were adapted.
The Glass Castle will probably make you angry; Same Kind of Different as Me might irritate from too much....well....just too much!

The Hero

Last to be watched - saving the best for last, thought I. Star of this show, lovely Sam Elliott, long-time favourite, and actually taking the leading role for a change in The Hero. Enjoyable as it was to feast my eyes and ears on Sam and his excellent performance in this movie, it is yet another story with a depressing theme of someone afflicted by cancer. One of the two book adaptations above had also had terminal illness as part of its theme. This I could have done without!

The Hero is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed and edited by Brett Haley and written by Haley and Marc Basch.
Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking marijuana with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.
Sam Elliott fans will enjoy this movie. In spite of the sadness in its theme, it doesn't end too badly.


Wisewebwoman said...

I loved the book Glass Castle but avoided the movie. Sam could read the phonebook for me but I sure hope he didn't boink the young comic.i hate that tired old trope.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ I've loved Sam since "Road House", I think we've seen most films and TV he's done. He has aged so well!

There wasn't the (almost obligatory these days) boinking bare butt bounce in "The Hero". The link between Sam and the female comedian was subtle, approached with a deal more sensitivity than it might have been in some other version of the story. I put this down to Sam's input and wishes to the director (but I would, wouldn't I?) His real life wife Katherine Ross appears in the movie as his ex-wife. I bet she was keeping a strict eye on him and the younger woman. :-)