The Movie Snob checks in with another classic.
Strangers on a Train (B+). I caught this 1951 Hitchcock film at The Magnolia, and I quite enjoyed it. Two strangers meet on a train somewhere on the east coast. One is Guy Haines (Farley Granger, They Live by Night), a professional tennis player who wants a divorce from his unpleasant and uncooperative wife so he can be with his true love, a senator’s daughter. The other is Bruno Antony (Robert Walker, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo), a creepy socialite who seems to know an awful lot about Guy and his problems. When Bruno casually proposes that he could murder Guy’s wife if Guy would murder Bruno’s father, Guy brushes him off. He quickly learns that he shouldn’t have done that. In short, Strangers is a well-plotted little suspense movie. Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia (Psycho) has a small but important role as the senator’s other daughter. Check it out if you get the chance.
More TV commentary from Mom Under Cover.
Better Call Saul–B+
If you’ve been mourning the end of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan’s spin off is pretty good. Saul (Bob Odenkirk, Nebraska) has a new identity as the manager of a Cinnabon kiosk in a mall. The series opens in black and white as Saul tends store. At the end of a long day in his dumpy apartment, Saul reminisces about the good old days–puts in a videotape of his old TV commercials. The flashback starts–and black and white fades to color as we learn how small town struggling lawyer James McGill became Saul the lawyer to drug dealers. This series is the same black comedy and has the same pacing as Breaking Bad. You’ll recognize some familiar faces. Definitely worth watching if you liked BB.
Mom Under Cover catches us up on the world of TV.
Schitt’s Creek: A
This Canadian import on Pop network is hilarious! I am laughing out loud just remembering the third episode!! Think Green Acres for the modern era. The premise–the Rose family learns their business manager absconded with all their money. The only thing left is a town Mr. Rose bought as a joke for his son because of the name. So, they pack up their designer duds and move to Schitt’s Creek. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara (Best in Show) are Johnny and Moira Rose. Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 4) is the mayor. Daniel Levy (Admission) and Annie Murphy (Lick) are the adult Rose children. Seriously funny!
Movie Man Mike is back!
Jupiter Ascending. B. Okay, I’m a sci-fi geek. Let’s just get that out of the way to start with. That’s probably why I liked this film, while it has failed to draw in broader audiences. The film, the stars, and the story are not likely to win any awards or even nominations. However, the film does contain some pretty cool visual effects and some fun alien creatures. I saw it in 3-D on an IMAX screen, and I have to say that the 3-D effects were probably the best I’ve encountered to date.
The story-line generally involves a battle between three siblings from another part of the universe. The siblings are each angling for control over Earth. Balem Abrasax, played by Oscar-nominee Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), has control of Earth when the film opens, but we learn that his control is threatened by the reincarnation of the siblings’ mother, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis, Oz the Great and Powerful) who would dispossess all of the siblings of their holdings were she to re-assume her position of power. Jupiter Jones, born on Earth, has no clue that she is reincarnated, leads a very ordinary life, and doesn’t quite believe in beings from outer space. The siblings send down teams of people to locate her and assassinate her or kidnap her and bring her to them. Caine Wise (Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street) is a genetically engineered ex-military hunter who has fallen from grace. He is sent by one of the siblings to protect Jupiter Jones from assassination and he winds up taking on a little more than he was hired to do. While the story is a bit complex, the infighting between the siblings and their deceptions and underhandedness draw the viewer into the story. The film isn’t for everyone and it does have a little cheesiness here and there, but if you like science fiction films, you ought to check this one out.
The Movie Snob takes in a blast from the past.
Forbidden Planet (B). I saw this 1956 cult classic many years ago, but I just got the chance to see it again as part of The Magnolia Theater’s classic movie series. I remembered it as being pretty good, and indeed it was. It’s a sci-fi flick about a spaceship sent from Earth to Altair IV, a remote planet where a group of earthlings were supposed to establish a colony some 20 years earlier. Alas, only one of the original colonists is still alive—a mad-scientist type named Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)—but he is kept company by his lovely daughter Altaira (Anne Francis, Funny Girl) and an amazing automaton named Robbie the Robot. What malignant force killed the rest of the colonists, and can the dashing Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen, Airplane!) protect his crew from meeting the same fate? Although cheesy in some ways, it is fairly sophisticated in others. (It is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.) Gene Roddenberry supposedly drew some inspiration for Star Trek from this movie, and the movie does play a lot like an extended episode of Trek. (That’s a good thing.) In fact, the fellow who played the ship’s doctor in Forbidden Planet (Warren Stevens, The Barefoot Contessa) eventually guest-starred on a 1968 episode of Star Trek. And Robbie the Robot went on to much greater fame on TV’s Lost in Space. Anyway, it’s well worth checking out if you ever get the chance.
Mom Under Cover reports in.
I saw this over Christmas break and thought it was okay. However, I do keep thinking about it (perhaps I’m being taken in by all the Oscar buzz?) and I think it is better than okay. Bradley Cooper completely carried the show. He transformed himself into a reasonable facsimile of the real Chris Kyle. The movie is certainly violent but not gratuitously so. Without mentioning PTSD, director Clint Eastwood paints the picture well of the difficulty soldiers have in leaving the wartime reflexes on the battlefield and participating in life at home. You will want to have seen this before the Academy Awards and my money says it will take some of the Oscar gold.
Mom Under Cover reviews an Oscar™ contender.
The Imitation Game-A
Another potential Oscar winner. Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s Sherlock) shows his acting chops. I knew nothing of Alan Turing before this flick; Cumberbatch really inhabits this socially awkward savant who essentially created an early computer. Allen Leech (TV’s Downton Abbey) is fun to watch as another of the brain trust recruited to crack the German secret code Enigma during WWII. Keira Knightly is likable (not always the case for me) as Joan Clarke–apparently the only woman qualified to work on the code cracking team. Matthew Goode (who will join the DA cast as another potential suitor for Lady Mary) is dreamy as the cad of the bunch. This biopic is one to see.