Some documentaries are uniquely filmed and offer compelling narrative to go along with beautiful cinematography. Others rely solely on the subject matter to sell the film. Évocateur falls into the 2nd category in which simply the story of Morton Downey Jr. was enough to keep me interesting. The story is told from the perspective of the people who knew him personally and also features audience members of his now infamous show. It’s an interesting look into a man who covered many spectrums such as politics, television, and music, and also was batshit insane. The film features plenty of great footage from his talk show which was filmed in Secaucus, NJ, which is a 30 minute drive from where I live. It’s no wonder lunatics of all shapes and sizes comprised the audience and fueled the angry machine that was Morton Downey Jr.
In my opinion, Stanley Kubrick is the greatest director who ever lived. The Shining can arguably be called his best film or at least his most intriguing. Room 237 is a documentary interviewing mostly crackpots and eccentrics who have dedicated their lives to deciphering and decoding images and scenes in The Shining. I finished this in two parts, mostly because I was dead ass tired and mostly because while there are certainly incredibly interesting points made about the film there are also a bunch of completely asinine theories that I just couldn’t stay awake for.
There were some very interesting theories such as the fact that the hotel changed shape and how Danny traversed levels on his big wheel without going up stairs or getting into an elevator. There are also some pretty evident instances where Kubrick alludes to minotaurs and mazes. There are also some ridiculous notions that Kubrick staged the moon landing and that The Shining was really about the genocide of Jews and Indians.
Overall the film was interesting, especially if you loved The Shining like I did.
Ahhh, Steven Soderbergh. The man apparently has retired from directing films but I don’t think the man can stay away. I think he’s just burnt out. He’s made ten films since 2007 and has been a producer on countless other productions. I hope he doesn’t stay away from the camera for too long because he’s a one of a kind director that is constantly doing unique projects one after the other. He has directed films such as The Informant which cause me to walk out of the theater early (which never happens) and has directed films that have hooked me in like Contagion, Traffic, and this film…Side Effects.
The story follows Emily Taylor played by Rooney Mara as she deals with her depression and sees a psychiatrist played wonderfully by Jude Law. This is all I can tell you without going into spoiler territory. The film twists and turns that much.
I thought the film did a good job fitting into the “Hitchcock” mold that most thrillers try to adhere too but most end up failing to accomplish. The mystery that Jude Law is trying to uncover is a well written mystery that had me guessing. It managed to flip itself around multiple times without giving the viewer the spins although the final act was a bit muddy at times. Also, was Soderbergh trying to make a political statement about pharmaceutical companies trying to make money at the expense of the health of others? It’s certainly possible the way the plot progressed but what we have here is a classic mystery story that would have worked great as a Noir film which was a pleasant surprise to me considering how much I enjoyed my last film, The Third Man. The acting was good borderline great with Law really shining.
Don’t quit making films Mr. Soderbergh. The business will miss your versatility.
Academy Award WINNER for Best Cinematography
Academy Award Nominee for Best Director (Carol Reed)
Academy Award Nominee for Best Editing IMDB TOP 250 – #76
Ahhh, Noir. It’s a genre I haven’t quite tackled as much as I would like too but this is certainly a great example of how good a Noir film can be. The film revolves around Holly Martins, a mystery novelist who travels to Vienna to see his friend Harry Lime. Upon arrival he finds out Lime was killed in an accident but the evidence doesn’t sit well with Martins. The film progresses as Martins tries to find out what really happened.
I’m going to get my only gripe with the film out of the way now. The music. The film had this weird carnival music in the background of a film that was actually very dark in subject matter. It wasn’t enough to take me out of the movie but it just didn’t fit with me. The mystery of what happened to Harry Lime is a good one. The viewer generally doesn’t know why the pieces don’t fit and in my case, was very interested in seeing Martins piece them together. Orson Wells, who plays Harry, dominates the entire film even though he is barely in it. It’s an iconic role for somebody with such little screen time. Reminded me a little of Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. The whole movie revolves around a character who is barely present. The visuals in The Third Man were also very nice and got really stunning as the film progressed. Overall it was a fantastic Noir film that will probably catapult me into the genre a bit more.
Do you have Netflix? Add this to your queue. I think I’ll be doing a feature article soon on some of the ACTUAL hidden gems on Netflix. Every single list I come across on google has the same movies. I’m sorry said lists, but The Untouchables is not a hidden gem even though it’s cool it’s on Netflix. This film however is one that I’m sure not a lot of people have seen and I’ve never seen it on any list generated in the Neflix lobby but it’s a film well worth your time. William H. Macy, who is amazing in everything, plays an assassin who no longer wants to live his life of murder and enters therapy to try to deal with his emotions about it. There he meets Neve Campbell and the two hit it off.
What has the makings of a typical dark romantic comedy actually turns out a very well crafted and subtle piece on what it means to be truly happy doing what you do for work and how what other people want for you may not always be the best thing. I was very surprised by the film balancing the dark subject matter with little splashes of humor and heart. It also features probably one of the most adorable five year old kids I’ve ever seen even though his dialogue would never be utter by a five year old no matter how smart or sarcastic they are. The late John Ritter and Donald Sutherland also star in this so check it out if you have the time. You have the time just do it.