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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 12

This week I chose a comedy thriller, a political thriller, a classic screwball comedy, a wartime romance, a storybook romance, a Japanese existential drama, and a loving ode to an Italian childhood.

All of them received Oscar nominations and several of them were big winners. Three of them were up for the Best Foreign Film award.

 

This week’s picks are: Sleuth, My Man Godfrey, Casablanca , The Princess BrideWoman in the Dunes, Z , and Amarcord .

 

 

Review: Nobody

Don’t mess with ‘nobody’. He’s got skills – in a John Wick meets Taken sort of way. Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul,” The Post, Nebraska) as Hutch Mansell, a seemingly mundane, anti-confrontational dad stuck in a routine: go for a morning run, make breakfast for the family, punch a clock at work, eat dinner, make small talk with the wife and kids, go to bed. Repeat. Every day. No muss. No fuss. Living life under the radar…

Review: The Courier

This is another “based on true events” film. The story begins in 1960 as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is threatening to bury the West. The CIA and MI6 are scrambling for ways to get some inside info on the Soviet nuclear program, and to that end they make the unlikely decision to recruit a British salesman, Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s done business for some time in Eastern Europe so heading to Moscow wouldn’t be a red flag to Soviet intelligence. And he’s not expected to do anything except be a courier for leaked intel. Former Soviet military intelligence colonel, now trade minister Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) has already made contact. He has unfettered access to all the crucial intelligence, and he’s got a conscience. He may be a believer in the Soviet Socialist system, but he’s willing to work against it to stop the march towards what he sees as inevitable nuclear war. And together Oleg and Grenville save the world. Really.

Review: Dark Web: Cicada 3301

This cyber-comedy/thriller takes its premise from a very real internet mystery. According to Wikipedia: “Cicada 3301 is a nickname given to an organization that, on three occasions, has posted a set of puzzles to recruit codebreakers from the public … It has been called ‘the most elaborate and mysterious puzzle of the internet age’ and is listed as one of the ‘top 5 eeriest, unsolved mysteries of the internet.'”  Connor (Jack Kesy) is just a brilliant hacker working as a bartender when he stumbles into the Cicada mystery. With the aid of hot librarian and fellow hacker Gwen (Conor Leslie, “Titans”, “Man in the High Castle”) and his best friend and art expert Avi (Ron Funches, Trolls, “Black-ish”) he follows the clues, outruns the NSA who are also trying to get to Cicada, gets in more than a few tight spots, and finally gets an invite to Cicada’s exclusive party in London. Of course it isn’t everything he hoped. 

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 10

This week is heavy on movies about couples. They include rom-coms and complicated relationship stories, and the characters range from criminals to musicians to politicians, from kings to bakers. The genres include classic dramas, and film noir, and brilliant satire. And there’s a good dollop of sex, for good measure.

They’re mostly from the 80s and 90s, though one is from the 60s. And something they all (except one) have in common is that they were nominated for a lot of Oscars, and won quite a few.

 

The films are: Moonstruck, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Body Heat, Nashville, Out of Sight, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and The Lion in Winter

Quickie Review: Silk Road

Silk Road starts with a disclaimer. “This story is true. Except for what we made up or changed.” In other words, creative and dramatic license was required to turn this cyber crime story into something resembling a crime thriller. We’ve got the suspect’s IP address!! Woo-hoo!

Review: The Mauritanian

This drama based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s NY Times best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” tells the story of a man swept up in the US government’s post-9/11 frenzy to find the perpetrators. Slahi was renditioned into Guantánamo and suspected of recruiting for al Qaeda. He spent years there without being charged or tried, in a horrible limbo. And he’d still be there if not for gutsy defense attorney Nancy Hollander who took on his case. Jodie Foster plays Hollander. But the one that keeps you watching is Tahar Rahim who plays Slahi. Rahim burst on the scene in 2009 in the French film The Prophet where he also played a prisoner. But here he plays a much more nuanced character, fighting for his life against seemingly insurmountable odds. He’s the reason to see this somewhat familiar legal thriller.

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 8

This week’s picks include classics and cult faves. There’s only one foreign film in the bunch for a change of pace. Two of the films come from the same director, though one is a frightening drama and the other is a sci-fi. There’s a screwball detective comedy and a Spanish psychopath on the Amazon drama. It’s heavy on the 30s and the 70s.

 

The films are: Aguirre Wrath of God, It Happened One Night, Don’t Look Now, Notorious, Fight Club, The Thin Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth

 

Review: The Marksman

What can I say? It’s Liam Neeson – with a straw hat, a rifle, and a faithful dog. There’s nothing particularly unique or original about The Marksman, but Neeson gives the type of performance that’s made him watchable in even the lamest of movies like Honest Thief in October or Made In Italy in August. The Marksman is certainly better than those, but not as good as the moving marital drama Ordinary Love released in barely pre-pandemic times (February 2020). The guy is nothing if not prolific at the ageless action-thriller-romantic hero age of 68. In The Marksman, Neeson plays Jim Hanson, a hardened rancher (with an all-American name and distinctly Irish accent) who works an isolated stretch of borderland in Arizona. He’s a widower drowning in debt, and he doesn’t have much use for anyone or anything outside his ranch, a bottle, and his four-legged companion Jackson. But he’s also an ex-Marine – so he’s got honor. The kind of honor that propels him to make good on a promise to take 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) to the safety of family in Chicago, even though the border patrol and a group of ruthless killers from a Mexican drug cartel are hot on their trail.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 7

This week’s picks won boatloads of Oscars and had nominations galore. They hail from France, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and one has no dialogue.

When I put together the list I was just choosing a favorite film a day with no overall agenda, but this week’s turn out to be heavy on male characters, from a movie star to a boxer, a mime to a brute, an angel to a hard boiled detective. And five of them are in black and white.

The films are:

The Artist; Raging Bull; Biutiful; Les Enfants Du Paradis; Chinatown; Wings of Desire; La Strada