St. Vincent

St.-Vincent-Bill-Murray

Bill Murray Bill Murray Bill Murray. One of the funniest and emotionally appealing films of the year. Bill Murray turns in an Oscar worthy performance as the curmudgeonly neighbor and Naomi Watts knocks it out of the park as the pregnant Russian hooker.

wpid-img_4210.jpg

Advertisements

L’Avventura (1960)

Movie Review

L'Avventura poster

Lavventura (1960) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni is a film about boredom. Boredom of the Italian bourgeoisie. Ostensibly a mystery and a detective story it depicts the emptiness of the lives of a group of rich Italians as they go through their daily lives striving to find something to stave off their deadly ennui. Usually they do this through sexual peccadillo and intrigue.

Albert Camus in his celebrated essay on the Myth of Sisyphus posited that there are only two valid philosophical questions: 1) in the face of the absurdity of existence and a life devoid of meaning should I commit suicide? 2) if no, the how do I overcome ennui? This theme is fully explored in L’Aventurra. While Camus says that in a life devoid of meaning we must give our lives meaning by our our own actions the characters in this film are merely going through the paces of living and relieving their boredom in the most meaningless way possible. In in the end they are mere empty shells truly devoid of  any meaning.

Anna & Sandro

The group of wealthy Italians head out on a yachting trip to a deserted volcanic island in the Mediterranean. When they are about to leave the island, they discover that Anna (Lea Massari) has disappeared. Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) , who is Anna’s fiance and Claudia (Monica Vitti) , Anna’s friend, try without success to find her. While looking for Anna Claudia and Sandro develop an attraction for each other. When they get back to land, they continue the search with no success. Sandro and Claudia proceed to become lovers, betraying the missing Anna. They then search the Italian countryside and various cities in search of her and have an adventure and fling of their own while doing so.

Claudia & Sandro

Beyond the meaning of the film there is there is the theatricality and cinematic quality of the camera work which serves to support the themes of the movie. Antonioni is known for his geometric compositions, static camera, and long takes. This is what I especially admire in his films and this one is no exception.

When first viewed by audience at Cannes it was booed. Later it won the Jury prize and has become acclaimed as a masterpiece.

 

I rate this film 8/10.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Avner

Good Avner Noon

Resting on my Laurel

Blowing my Knose

Speak into the Mike

Lynn me a dollar

Paying a Bill

Ringing a Bell

Sitting on the John

Don’t Fall into the George Orwell all drown

Please help me I’m Pauline

Pauline in Love with you

Asimov Cocktail

Take my Rod and cue in

Taking down my Jeans

Care for a Garett Pat?

Just Kidding Billy!

My Precious Jules and Jims

Aldous Lang sang

Where are you Fromm Eric?

Pay the Feiffer!

My radiator is Lincoln

Sharon and Cher alike

Lisa House with an option to buy

Can Nabokov Drop?

What’s a Hemingway?

Oh, three or four pounds

I didn’t have any Joyce in the matter

Casting your Perls among Hamlets

Let Byrons be Byrons

Three pair of Keats

Where’s your Fishing Poe?

Did you Sartre the laundry?

Quit your Stalin and wash your Lenin

What kind of Fish?

Marlon Brand O

Hold the Mao, Hold the lettuce,

Special order Che Cherverez.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Desert (1964)

Movie Blurb

Red Desert

Il Deserto Rosso was Michelangelo Antonioni’s first foray into color and a painterly palette did he choose. He explores the themes of alienation in the modern world and the divorce between reality and spirituality. His scenes of industrialized post war Italy are both beautiful and frightening. Progress comes with a cost. Monica Vitti is extraordinary as the wife of the plant manager who suffers a mental breakdown in the face of modernity.

I rate this movie 8/10.

AMAZING SPACE

DSCN6572

AMAZING SPACE

Amazing Space, how sweet the ship

That saved my sanity

I once was straight but now I’m not

At last I’m totally free.

 

Twas space at first my mind did fear

In space it was I was stranded

How precious did that space appear

The hour that I landed.

 

Through many dangerous asteroids

I dodged far away from home

Tis space! I cried where I am bound

And space from where I come!

 

Falling fast through space I’m cast

Away headed straight for the sun

I’ll be there for 10,000 years

Unless alas it’s all undone.

 

 

 

 

 

THE INTERROGATION

20180327_201605752262193.jpg

“Step this way please, Mr. Quarry.”

I had always known this day would come. As soon as I had stepped through the stainless steel and plate glass portals I had a premonition of dark design: today I would be chosen. This clouded my thinking as I walked through the aisles.

They had been tracking me for the last thirty minutes on closed circuit TV. They don’t bother to hide the cameras anymore, everyone knows about them by now. Even though the remote monitoring had been going on for years a strange creepy feeling still filled the senses. Someone somewhere was watching.

The excursion itself, however, proved pleasant enough. Items were skillfully arrayed in a myriad of colors. This all served to make one momentarily forget about the guard dogs, armed security, cameras and microphones. I pushed my thoughts of impending doom to the back of my mind and for a while was at peace.

Peace was not long lasting however and my dark thoughts came crashing back as we queued up to leave at the check point center. After my selections were placed in a brightly colored plastic container I was approached by a young uniformed girl.

“May I see your identification please?” she cheerily inquired.

They’re trained to do that. To act cheerful. I reached into a pocket and retrieved my wallet. I withdrew the required paperwork and handed it to her. She studied it carefully for a moment, frowning, then she spoke.

“Step this way please, Mr. Quarry.”

Damn! I hate this! I follow her through a maze hallways and tunnels, my heart pounding wildly in my ears. Finally, we arrive at the interrogation center located deep within the recesses of the building.

It is a long narrow room with double doors at either end. Fluorescent tubes over head flood the room with rays of light that glance from white wall to white wall. From floor to ceiling, completely filling the room with dazzling brightness. The room is devoid of furniture or fixtures save five orange molded plastic chairs that lined the wall closest to where we entered.

“Remove your clothing please,” the girl commands in solemn tones.

I hesitate a moment, feeling a bit shaky, and not really believing this was happening to me, but this was my first time. I just stare blankly into her dull grey eyes.

“Remove your clothing please,” she repeats, a little more harshly now than before.

I begin disrobing slowly and she smiles her approval. She watches with seeming disinterest. Probably does this all day I think to myself as I step out of my trousers. I hand my clothes over to her in a bundle. She glances hurriedly over my naked body then she searches through my clothing. Apparently satisfied that I have nothing to conceal she returns my apparel and announces that I am to get dressed again.

“You can’t be too careful these days,” she says. “Please be seated. Someone will be with you in a minute.”

After I finish dressing I sit in one of the chairs against the wall. I am only sitting there a few minutes when the double doors at the other end of the room burst open. I am suddenly joined by a middle-aged professional looking man in a long white lab coat closely followed by a younger man in a similar coat pushing a two- tiered cart laden with various pieces of electronic apparatus. The two men had apparently been catapulted together down the long corridor preceding the double doors which even now are still swinging on their hinges.

“Good day, Mr. Quarry. I am afraid we are going to need some additional information.” This from the middle-aged man. “If you will be so kind as to bring one of those chairs over here to the center of the room, we can begin our session.”

I comply with his request as the younger man proceeds to engage his equipment. A pneumatic tube is wound tightly across my chest. Around my arm, just above the elbow, a heavy canvas band is wound tightly into place, constricting the flow of blood in my arm and measuring its pressure. To the tip of my middle finger a shiny silver electrode it taped. This to measure body temperature. I am now wired to the polygraph machine. The young technician finally plugs the electrical cord into the waiting outlet box in the floor and flips the switch, thereby breathing life into the machine. Needles become erect on their respective dials and a low barely audible hum indicates that the machine lives.

“Now Mr. Quarry, a few test questions to calibrate the machine to your particular bodily reactions.”

My interrogator stands behind me a little to one side. His presence is known to me only as a disembodied voice coming to me over my right shoulder. His questions are simple at first. What is your name? Did you ever steal money from your parents as child? And so on. The came the pertinent questions.

“Your place of employment?”

“River City Mutual.”

“Length of service?”

“Two Years.”

“Income?”

“$45,000.”

“Your wife’s name?”

“Rebecca.”

“And your wife’s place of employment?”

“General Computers.”

“And your wife’s income?”

“$55,000.”

I let go with a little laugh after this, but there was no reaction from anyone else in the room, but the machine. Its arcing stylus bleeds red ink onto the moving graph paper.

So the questioning goes, probing into all areas of my life. A list of personal property is given. A list of friends and relatives is given. Finally, it is over. I had begun to hyperventilate. My left arm is numb. My body fairly floats in perspiration. The skin at the back of my skull crawls with anxiety. I stagger to my feet having come through the ordeal, much to my surprise, alive.

“Miss Jones will escort you back up front,” I am informed.

The interrogation unit disengages its equipment and disappears through the same double doors from whence it came. Simultaneously the same girl that had brought me here reappears at the opposite end of the room. She holds the door open and beckons me to follow.

“This way please, Mr. Quarry,” she says.

We pass through the same series of hallways and tunnels until we arrive once again at the check point center. We wait a few moments at the desk. A phone rings. Miss Jones answers. Stone face. She replaces the phone in its cradle then flashes a smile in my direction.

“Your check has been approved, Mr. Quarry. Here are your purchases. You may exit the store now and thank you for shopping at S and M.

END

 

 

 

 

NIAGARA FALLS

Road Trip

Once upon a time in a land faraway (New Jersey) I made a road trip with my then wife Robin to Niagara Falls. On the way we made a stop in Corning, New York for a business meeting which justified our trip.

DSC_0509

We traveled in my new convertible Crossfire which could go from 0 to 100 in under 10 seconds. It came equipped with it’s own green frog whose name happened to be Kermit.

DSC_0510

We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel on the Canadian side.

DSC_0530

While walking around the downtown area of Niagara Falls we sort of wore ourselves out. Robin commented that if I was a few years younger she would make me pick her up and physically carry her back to the hotel.

DSC_0512

I responded that if she was a few pounds lighter I would pick her up and carry her anyway. She laughed and I laughed and we both had a good laugh.

DSC_0540

Next day we went out to the falls which were nothing less than spectacular.

DSC_0514

DSC_0533

DSC_0536DSC_0539

DSC_0520

DSC_0534

DSC_0527

DSC_0547

DSC_0550 (2)

DSC_0551

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Movie Review

Killing Deer 1

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, is the brilliant evocation of an American horror story. It was definitely the most disturbing film that I saw in 2017 and yet it made my Top 10 List.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started watching this film and I was slowly drawn into the seeming banality of the of the characters. The movie opens with a scene of open heart surgery performed by Stephen Murphy (Colin Farrell) which is nothing less than spectacular. This was a real surgery. It was filmed during an operation on a real patient who was undergoing quadruple bypass surgery.

heart

In a subsequent scene early on in the film we see the famed heart surgeon making friends with a young man. We don’t know exactly why or who this young man is. Is he a family member? A friend? A neighbor? A little at a time the story unfolds and we learn that the boy’s father was a patient of the heart surgeon and that the father died on the operating table. We surmise that the doctor feels badly about the boy losing his father and he is making friends with him in some sort of an attempt to appease the boy and possibly mollify his own feelings of guilt.

Sacred deer

Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan

Slowly they form an emotional bond and the doctor invites the boy over to meet his family. Everything seems to be normal at first but there is a creepy feeling that something just below the surface is not right.

Spoilers ahead

Martin befriends the children and forms an emotional attachment to Kim, the daughter.  Before long a mysterious illness befalls both children and they lose the use of their legs. We learn later that somehow Martin has caused this illness to occur. He then makes a crucial demand upon Stephen in order to save their lives. It seems Martin blames the death of his father on Stephen. Martin demands that a sacrifice must be made in order to set things right. Stephen must make a horrible choice as to who in the family to sacrifice.

sacred deer 2

Nicole Kidman with the two children played by Sonny Suljic and Raffey Cassidy

This is where the killing of  deer comes into play. The movie is loosely based on the myth of Iphigenia. In Greek mythology Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, was to be sacrificed for the sins of her father. He had killed a sacred deer belonging to Artemis. The goddess demanded in retribution that Agamemnon kill his daughter Iphigenia.

There are other disturbing aspects to this film There is a strange sexuality that exists between the doctor and his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman). Also, Anna has a sexual interlude with the anesthesiologist who was on duty on the day that Martin’s father died. This she did in order to get information from him about her husband’s condition on the day of  the fateful surgery.

nicole kidman

The scenes in film were  shot in a manner to put one in mind of a series of Edward Hopper paintings. Which is to say they carried with them an emotional weight and a strange beauty.

Nicole Kidman was in fine form here as Anna, the doctor’s wife. Is there anything she can’t do? Colin Farrell was very good as Stephen Murphy, the surgeon and Barry Keoghan was sufficiently strange and creepy as Martin.

I liked this film but it is not for everyone. It was extremely disturbing and strangely cathartic.

 

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

Top 10 Quotes about “If”

Frogs

  1. If Wishes were horses I’d get on and ride
  2. If trouble was money I’d be a millionaire
  3. If frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their ass so much
  4. If you can dream and not make dreams your master
  5. Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead
  6. If not now, when?
  7. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.
  8. If travelling was free you’d never see me again
  9. If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain
  10. Lady Astor: If I was your wife I would poison your coffee. Winston Churchill: If I was your husband I would drink it.

 

 

HOSTILES (2018)

Movie Blurb

Hostiles

I just love westerns. Not too many good ones come down the pike anymore but this one is pretty good. A bit slow and talky for an oater but that didn’t seem to bother me none. This is a thinking man’s western. With themes about the hatred of the other, brutality, love and death, and redemption, you know, the usual. Strong writing, directing and acting. Christian Bale is particularly convincing as Captain Blocker who must do his duty by escorting his old enemy Yellow Hawk back to his ancestral homeland in Montana. Complications ensue. People change. Photography of the American West is is achingly beautiful which is another reason to love westerns. Rate this 70%