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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 9

Week Nine of films that I remember fondly. It’s amazing how many great films come to mind when I go down my cinematic memory lane. A lot of this week’s picks are from the 80s. The oldest is from 1979. And the newest from 2003. So it’s a fairly modern bunch. No black and white. No foreign films this time. We’ve got comedy, war, feminism, even a Western in the mix. Big films and indies. But all of them are highly recommended.

 

The films are: Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Thin Red Line, Silverado, Broadcast News, Ordinary People, The Station Agent, My Brilliant Career

 

Quickie Review: The Old Man & The Gun

It’s Robert Redford, visibly older but still charming and fun to watch. And Sissy Spacek, visibly older (to a much lesser degree) but still charming and fun to watch. So, if you can forgive the lack of drama and stakes in this largely based-on-a-true-story heist film, then by all means, sit back, relax and enjoy what Redford, 82, says is his final on-screen performance, though we firmly support his right to change his mind.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Pete’s Dragon; Florence Foster Jenkins; Hell or High Water

Good news, mainstream movie fans: There really is something for just about everyone at the Box Office this weekend. First, however, I must confess that I missed the screening of Sausage Party and doubt I’ll get around to watching it anytime soon, unless someone wants to send me a Sausage link. Regardless, I suspect the movie is filled with enough raunchy adult animation and humor to entertain a certain demographic. I’ll just leave it at that (for now), and move on to Pete’s Dragon, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Hell or High Water

The best new family film option is Pete’s Dragon, a live-action reimagining of a 1977 Disney flick that I don’t recall watching as a kid, even though it featured music and singing (i.e. how did I miss that one!?) I’m not exactly the target demo anymore for this type of movie, so I borrowed 12-year-old Aaron, 8-year-old Marisa, and their parents for an honest, independent evaluation of this Tarzan-esque meets dragon story. The general consensus: They liked it!

A Walk in the Woods

Here’s what I liked about the adventure-comedy-drama A Walk in the Woods: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte; some really funny and smart one-liners; the notion that you’re never too old for new adventures; and lots of pretty scenery.

Here’s what I didn’t like about A Walk in the Woods: It’s a long walk, with too few ‘mile-marker moments’.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m always a bit torn when it comes to Captain America, the first Avenger. Chris Evans wears the suit extremely well, but his storylines never seem to grab – or entertain – me the way Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) does. CA: Winter Soldier is thin on plot and heavy on fight scenes, so it’s more of a means to an end for advancing Marvel’s Avengers franchise and less of a stand-alone movie. Here’s the gist of the plot as far as I could discern: Oh wait. First, a quick refresher: Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Evans) was a scrawny kid transformed by a super serum into a super-soldier during World War Two. At some point while battling the evil HYDRA organization, Steve fell into some ice. Fast forward a couple of decades, and a newly-defrosted Captain America is struggling to reconcile his time-honored morals, sensibilities, and tastes in music with what’s evolved in the modern world. It’s classic ‘fish out of water’ stuff.

All is Lost

This is a movie unlike any other in many ways. There is just one actor whose entire dialogue could fit on an index card. We find out nothing about his back-story — not his name, or why he is all alone on a sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, not even a hint of family or friends. He is no one and everyman listed in the credits simply as Our Man. And Our Man is Robert Redford, still more than capable of commanding an audience’s attention despite the loss of his Sundance Kid beauty. All is Lost is the age old story of man-against-nature, and though it may not be for everyone, it is a surprisingly compelling film.

The Conspirator

Seems I am destined to watch period movies centered on wronged women. My second of the weekend is Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, which tells the true story of Mary Surratt who was accused of helping plot Lincoln’s assassination. Robin Wright (formerly Penn) plays Surratt, the only woman charged in the conspiracy along with 6 men and the first woman executed by the US government. James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken the young lawyer who reluctantly took her case.