Thumbnails Oct 15
by Tony Medley
The Martian (9/10):
Highlighted by terrific special effects, 3D, and CGI, this tale of Matt
Damon finding himself abandoned totally alone on Mars is much more tense
and exciting than one might imagine, despite its 134 minute runtime.
The worst day in the history of attempts to scale Mount Everest occurred
in 1996. Serendipitously, journalist Jon Krakauer was on the expedition,
and he wrote a bestselling book, “Into Thin Air” about it. This is a
brilliant movie about the events, made in mind-boggling IMAX with
beautiful cinematography and the best 3D yet seen. It shows how
harrowing, dangerous, and cold mountain climbing is. The only downside
is that the ending drags on far too long.
Black Mass (8/10):
Last year a documentary told of psychopathic Boston crime boss Whitey
Bulger, but concentrated mostly on the corruption of the FBI and the
U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston. This film, with Johnny Depp in an
Oscar®-worthy performance as Bulger, concentrates on what a
cold-blooded, evil person he was. The scene between Depp and Julianne
Nicholson playing the wife of corrupt U.S. Attorney Joel Edgerton is as
disturbing as any of the scenes in Silence of the Lambs between
Anthony Hopkins and Jody Foster, and as memorable as Jimmy Cagney
smashing a grapefruit in the face of Mae Clarke in The Public Enemy.
Of all the Oscar® nominations this film is sure to get, one should go to
Nicholson off just this one scene.
Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Emily Blunt star in this somewhat
convoluted, difficult to follow film about a crew of agents who is just
trying to stir things up so that someone will lead them to the real bad
guy deep in Mexico. Like lots of thrillers, it asks the viewer to
believe that the good guys are basically invulnerable and the bad guys
are just there to die in hordes of bullets being sprayed at them while
the good guys always avoid the killing shots, even though they are
coming from scores of automatic weapons. The result of all this is that
there really isn’t any tension in terms of our heroes ever being in any
danger. There is a lot of cold-blooded killing that many might find
Labyrinth of Lies (8/10):
Because this is basically a fictitious story based on true events, it’s
not a documentary. But it is fine movie-making and educates the public
on an important event in Germany’s history. It might be hard to believe
now, with all of this so far in the past, but it took a long time for
those SS monsters responsible for what happened at Auschwitz to be
brought to justice. In fact, according to this truthful movie, it wasn’t
until 1958 that someone started to look into what happened a decade and
a half prior. While based on a background of true events, the
protagonist, Johann Radman (Alexander Fehling) is a composite of three
public prosecutors who went after the Nazis who ran Auschwitz.
Prosecutor General Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss, who died on July 13, 2014)
and journalist Thomas Gnielka (André Szymski) are real people who did
exist and did participate in the events shown. In German but the
subtitles are white with no borders and when the background is white,
are difficult to read.
The Transporter Refueled (7/10):
Talk about your mindless entertainment! The acting in this thing is
worse than deplorable. The story is as bad as the acting and the script.
But the French Riviera locale is beautiful and the story is just stupid
enough to hold your interest with one ridiculous fight followed by an
absurd car chase after another. Had the acting been any better, the film
wouldn’t have worked. But it is somehow strangely enjoyable.