Day 208 & Day 209 & Day 210 & Day 211 & Day 212 – Lies & Alibis & The Last Picture Show & Murder on the Orient Express (2017) & Modern Times & City Lights (Post Newport Folk Festival Update)

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Movie Title: Lies & Alibis

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Stephie

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Lies & Alibis has a shockingly rich cast for a relatively unknown caper movie. Our protagonist Ray Elliott (Steve Coogan) runs a service in which he runs interference for men and women cheating on their husbands. He has long experience as a conman and has put it to good use. He is exceptionally good at it, but he wants a break. To make that happen he hires Lola (Rebecca Romijn) to serve as his assistant. But, his short lived peace doesn’t last.

Ray becomes embroiled in a scheme by some nefarious characters to try and catch his former employer who has a massive bounty on his head. The plot thickens when other problems pile up. His best client Robert Hatch (James Brolin) asks Elliott to take care of his son before his upcoming wedding while he cheats on his future with wife. During the escapade, the girl dies and Ray covers it up. This leads to a slew of characters including The Mormon (Sam Elliott) a dangerous polygamous gangster and Hannibal (John Leguizamo) the girl’s boyfriend coming after Ray. Henry Rollins also has a turn as a meathead bodyguard.

Ray is determined to get out of the situation alive despite the odds which builds to a madcap and fun finale.

Verdict:

Lies & Alibis is a fun movie. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: The Last Picture Show (1971)

 

Movie Title: The Last Picture Show

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Stephie

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

The Last Picture Show is a depressing movie about a dying Texas town. It is 1951 and there is nothing left to do in town except shoot pool, eat cheeseburgers, and have sex with anyone that will have you. The movie centers around the world of Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) although he is not the movie’s principal character. Everything takes place around Sam’s world. He owns the movie theater, the restaurant, and the pool hall which constitute almost all of downtown. Almost all the other men in the movie work as roughnecks on the nearby oil rigs.

Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) are the best of friends. They cruise around together and get into plenty of trouble together too. Sonny is sexually frustrated while meanwhile Duane is madly in love with Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd) the daughter of a fairly well off family. Jacy takes after her mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn) and leads a reckless life that she finds to be dull. She doesn’t want to go to college after graduation and is looking for a man to settle down with. She pursues Duane, but then realizes that Duane will never be rich, and moves on. She pursues a more affluent set until she is rebuffed by them as well before finally settling her sights on Sonny.

Meanwhile, Sonny takes up with Ruth Popper the wife of the football coach. Ruth (Cloris Leachman) is significantly older and suffers from some kind of unexplained health crisis. They carry on for a time until Sonny’s world comes crashing down around him. His father figure dies, Jacy pursues him relentlessly against his wishes, and he gains more responsibility in town than he could possibly handle. Conflict with Duane ensues and he skips town. Yet, Sonny stays as the town slowly crumbles.

Verdict:

It is an incredibly depressing and at times disturbing movie about a way of life that is unsustainable. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

 

Movie Title: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

Rated: PG-13

Who did I watch with?: Stephie and Kyle

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Murder on the Orient Express was not a movie I though was in need of a remake. But, with a star studded cast including Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Willem Dafoe I couldn’t say no. Which is to say nothing of leading man Kenneth Branagh in the role of Hercule Poirot. Branagh pulls off Poirot in a quirky and humorous way, but with some emotional depth as well. The performances make the movie much more than the mystery in the film which is fortunate because in many ways it needs the help.

The movie opens with Poirot solving a case in Israel intended to divide the various religious communities against each other. After solving the case he is recalled to London to work on another case. Poirot is tired and in need of a break, so he beseeches a friend to find him a berth on the Orient Express. He obliges him. Poirot thinks it will be easy until Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) approaches him about a job. He has been receiving threats against his life and he wants someone to watch his back. Poirot declines, but shortly thereafter Ratchett turns up dead.

It is quickly discovered that Ratchett is not his real name and that everyone on the train has a connection to him in some way or another. The mystery can be solved as early as forty minutes into the movie though it does try to throw some curve balls.

Verdict:

The performances are good and if you are unfamiliar with the story see it. On the other hand, if you are familiar with the story or will be terribly upset if you solve it early this should be a hard pass.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Modern Times (1936)

 

Movie Title: Modern Times

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Rated: G

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Modern Times stars Charlie Chaplin in his iconic role as The Tramp. A Factory Worker (Charlie Chaplin) struggles in his life as a bolt tightener. Every measure of his movement is calculated to benefit the company he works for. Automation is tried to eliminate the lunch break. He is watched in the bathroom and worked to the breaking point. He snaps and ends up committed to a mental institution.

Upon his release he is promptly mistaken for a communist labor leader and thrown into prison. During his stay he helps rescue the guards during a prison break and earns his release after which he meanders from job to job and tries to get put back into prison when things don’t work out. At which point he runs into A Gamin (Paulette Goddard) whose father has been killed. She has been arrested for stealing food and The Tramp falls madly in love with her. He dreams of them living together in a typical house.

The movie is mostly silent with some exceptions which was out of step even for when it was released. The madcap humor of Chaplin is clever and remains funny. The movie is also poignant in that it outlines the humiliation of menial labor despite the common man’s need to perform it. Chaplin was ahead of his time.

Verdict:

It is a classic movie in all regards and the first twenty minutes are iconic. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: City Lights (1931)

 

Movie Title: City Lights

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Rated: G

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

City Lights features Charlie Chaplin as his iconic Tramp. The story in this Chaplin piece is simple. The Tramp runs into An Eccentric Millionaire (Harry Myers) who is also a drunkard. During a particular awful bender in which the Tramp saves him from throwing himself into a river with a rock tied around his neck they become best of friends. This effect only lasts while the Millionaire is stone drunk. When he sobers up he forgets that the Tramp even exists.

While palling around with his Millionaire at parties and in bars he runs into A Blind Girl (Virginia Cherrell) that sells flowers. The Tramp falls madly in love and begins his courtship of her at a distance. He drives her home in the Millionaire’s car and tries to get her money anyway he can. He gets the impression that if he only had enough money he could help her be able to see. This leads to a series of hilarious events as Chaplin uses his unique brand of comedy to try and win the beautiful blind girl.

Verdict:

Chaplin was the king of his era in film and this is him at his best. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Nashville (1975)

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