Monday Movies ~ 15th June 2020

Our first offering this week was Phil’s choice. Due to his work shifts we couldn’t do the Thursday movie so I gave over my Saturday slot, and he chose a movie he’s seen advertised on Netflix starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Advertised as a ‘buddy cop crime thriller’, Phil thought it would be a good fun light relief kind of movie. Righteous Kill (2008) directed by Jon Avnet who I’d not heard of, (and now I know why). Given two great actors and a generic twisty plot, Avnet manages to make a car crash of a movie.

Pacino and De Niro are always good to watch, but the novelty of that soon wears off. I’d guessed the ‘twist’ in the plot in the first 20 minutes, but what was going on and when was all over the place, poor continuity and flow and the ending is really naff too. I won’t do spoilers incase anyone is daft enough to want to see this. It has some good actors in it, Carla Gugino as De Niro’s love interest, Brian Dennehy as the two cops boss, and 50 cents as a nightclub owner/drug dealer, I can only assume they all did it for the money. My favourite critic review for this ~  “The entire movie is one big build-up to a twist that, while not exactly cheating, plays an awfully cheap trick. To get there, writer Russel Gewirtz and director John Avnet sacrifice mystery, suspense, sensible editing and everything else one expects to find in a police thriller just to keep the audience off-guard. It’s not worth it, and the first real pairing of De Niro and Pacino is utterly wasted”. – Ken Fox of TV Guide

Anyways Phil apologised 🤣 and we’ll never speak of it again.

So Phil’s at work today, and it’s Sunday which is ironing day so I picked a movie to watch whilst doing it. I’d wanted to see Tom Hardy in ‘Locke’ (2013) for a while but Phil didn’t seem overly bothered (one man in a car doesn’t sound exciting really!) and at 1 hour 24 mins long, it’s a great fit for a pile of ironing!

The film is written and directed by Stephen Knight, (who I have heard of! 🙂 ) and takes place in a BMW X5, driven by Hardy from Birmingham to London. Hardy is the only person on screen for the whole movie. He plays Ivan Locke, a construction supervisor for a company who are building a huge building, with a concrete pour due at 5am. At the same time, a lady, Bethan, with whom Locke had a one night stand with seven months before has gone into premature labour, and in spite of his responsibilities at home and work, he decides to drive to London to be with her for the birth, as his own father abandoned him as a child.

He has 36 phone calls during the journey, with his boss Gareth (Ben Daniels) (who comes up as ‘Bastard’ on his screen when he rings 🙂 ), with his backup colleague, cider drinking Donal (Andrew Scott) his distressed wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) sons Eddie and Sean (Tom Holland & Bill Milner) and the highly strung Bethan (Olivia Coleman). During the course of the journey he loses his job, his marriage, and his home, and has to coach Donal regarding the concrete pour in between. I’ll leave it there so as not to do the spoiler thing.

Tom Hardy is far removed from his gangster/action man/bad guy roles, here he is a man who’s life is going tits up and he’s trying to juggle all the pieces and hold it all together and he does it so well, it’s a wonderful, nuanced performance, and it was easy to forget Hardy and feel for Ivan. I was in tears at one point.

The movie only took 8 nights to shoot, the car being pulled down the M6 & M1 on a low flatbed trailer,with the phone calls being done in real time, the road and car noise included, and the other actors calling in from a conference room that served as the multiple “locations” of the various characters.

I can’t find a single bad review of this movie, and my favourite one is “There are films to see on huge screens, but this is one that almost cries out for a small cinema, surrounded by total blackness. It’s a daring experiment brilliantly executed, with Tom Hardy giving one of the best performances of his career”.– Ollie Richards from Empire magazine.

March 16th ~ Movie Monday

Only got to do one movie this week as we were looking after the Grandkids on Saturday night. We return to Scorsese, Pesci and DeNiro, with added lady~interest in Sharon Stone. Casino (1995) as with Goodfellas 5 years prior, it was written by Scorsese in collaboration with Nicholas Pileggi, based on one of Pileggi’s non-fiction books “Casino:Love and honor in Las Vegas.

Having recently seen The Irishman and Goodfellas, the formula for this movie isn’t really any different from the other two, they’re all bad mob guys, but some are badder than others, and lets face it, Joe Pesci is badder than them all. This one is set in a Mob run casino, affiliated with the Teamsters, and DeNiro playing Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein – an expert gambler, is sent in to take over the running of it, which he does and then doubles the profits, allowing the mafia to skim even more money from it than they have been. The Mob bosses are so happy they send Pesci, playing Nicki Santoro and his brother Dominic and Frank Marino to go to Vegas and protect Rothstein and their investment. Sharon Stone turns up playing Ginger McKenna a hustler, dancer and former prostitute who is in a relationship with a con-man called Lester Diamond played by the seedy looking James Woods.

Sam falls in love with Ginger, they get married and have a daughter even though Ginger doesn’t love him and she still keeps seeing Lester. The FBI are monitoring a grocery store where one of the underboss’s mouths off about what’s going on in the casino so they start investigating it. Nicki goes around beating up most of the population of Vegas as far as I can tell and gets banned from all the casinos. Bit by bit, everything falls apart, but no spoilers so I’ll leave it at that.

As always, Pesci and DeNiro excel in these mob roles, and DeNiro gets to wear some crazy coloured suits but gets away with it. The revelation was Sharon Stone. I’ve never really seen her and been impressed, (Basic Instinct! 🙄 ). Here she really acted her socks off, running the gamut of emotions from being a beautiful and vivacious but damaged party girl to a drug addled alcoholic harridan. An epic performance.

The reviews were not as good at the time of release as they were for Goodfellas, which is still, apparently, the No.1 mob movie of all time (dunno who decided that) and Scorsese was criticised for going down the same road. Now retrospectively the critics have said they feel it is a more accomplished and artistically mature work than Goodfellas which I totally agree with, and which is why, I assume, Scorsese did it.