A quick roundup of everything else I watched in March.
Woman in Gold (2015): Helen Mirren as a Jewish exile who enlists young laywer Ryan Reynolds to help her get back a Klimt portrait of her aunt, seized by the Nazis in WW2. The unlikely pair have sweet moments during the long litigation process, and that emotional involvement helps during the less effective parts. Mirren is reluctant to return to Vienna, as it’s full of sad memories, but once there she gets help and new insight into her family history via journalist Daniel Bruhl. We see into the past through extended flashbacks wherein Tatiana Maslany is good as young Mirren.
Breaking Away (1979). Loved this movie, and will post more on it during the Athletes in Film Blogathon June 4-5.
Lone Survivor (2013): Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) survives an ill-fated mission in the Afghan mountains. Training and mission prep set up the close friendship and heroism of the four main characters, whose panic and terror you share as they push through brutal ordeals and injuries, are repeatedly cornered and hopelessly outnumbered. Riveting with especially good work by Ben Foster and the underrated Eric Bana.
Beyond the Reach (2014): Think a much less tense or exciting desert version of The Most Dangerous Game, where evil rich man Michael Douglas accidentally kills a prospector, then hunts his young guide Jeremy Irvine through the desert when Irvine refuses to lie about the killing. First Douglas hopes Irvine just dies of the heat, but between the guide’s experience and familiarity of the area, and Douglas’s horrible aim and temper, their duel stretches on and on, right into dream sequences once Irvine is safe at home. Based on the book Deathwatch by Robb White.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): Greenwich Village folk scene, melancholy look at the complicated, aimless, selfish and mostly unlikable, but fascinating titular folk singer (Oscar Isaac) and his mythical, time looping, “Incredible Journey.” Llewyn is on an epic trip, like Ulysses, which happens to be the name of the cat he loses and looks for. Or is the cat his deceased singing partner and the whole foggy thing Llewyn’s way of dealing with death and loss?
The Grandmaster (2013): Stylish, epic biopic of Ip Man (Tony Leung). Gorgeous with many detailed and intricately choreographed fight scenes, plenty of time jumps to chronicle Ip Man’s fight to preserve and promote his style of Kung Fu, his marriage, tragedies and losses through the war, and life as esteemed mentor. Zhang Ziyi is exceptional. Several films have been made about this legendary and stoic martial arts figure, I also really liked Ip Man (2008) and Ip Man 2 (2010) both starring Donnie Yen.
Year of the Dragon (1985): Rewatch. Mickey Rourke at his peak, storming into Chinatown to bust its mob, and ruining his reputation and marriage in the process. Pulpy, violent 80’s action just a few slow spots and a dull lead actress (Ariane) who looks great but pales next to the forceful, macho dramatics of Rourke, John Lone, and Raymond Barry.
Ice Soldiers (2013): Proof that I’ll watch anything with Dominic Purcell. Ridiculous fun, like a cheesy 50’s sci fi, with the bonus of many familiar Canadian faces (Adam Beach, Gabriel Hogan, Camille Sullivan). Purcell, Michael Ironside and company are searching for USSR super-soldiers who were frozen solid in the Canadian North back during the Cuban missile crisis. Once those blonde rap-loving Commie giants thaw out and reawaken, the movie’s a wild chase to stop them from continuing their cold war mission.