Author Archives: ddoxey

Aftermath

This film seems a bit off the beaten path for Arnold. When I think of Arnold in recent years, I think of the California Governorship, and the scandal. But I double checked. That was all over in 2011 and he’s been up to a few things since then.

Aftermath is one of his most recent works and I was curious to see how he comes across in a dramatic role. But I was also intrigued to see Scoot McNairy as the number two, who has done some other work that I like very much.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Roman

In this story, there is an air traffic control mishap that results in a devastating mid air collision between two passenger planes. Roman loses his family and is left wondering why no one will apologize. The airline lawyers offer meager payoffs, and respond to a request for an apology with poker gazes.

Eventually, Roman tracks down the unfortunate air traffic controller, played by Scoot McNairy, who happened to be on duty at the time of the accident. The circumstances arguably put the controller in an impossible situation. Nevertheless, Roman shows up at his door in search of an apology.

Arnold’s performance as Roman is convincing, and moving. Likewise, Scoot’s performance as the hapless air traffic controller was also moving. Overall, this movie was better than what I was expecting and I recommend you check it out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/37UVA6V

Val

I had seen a headline somewhere about Val Kilmer having throat cancer. I didn’t expect to see him doing new work this year. A retrospective on his career and life experiences seems apropos.

Val Kilmer as the Ice Man (behind the scenes)

Stop me on the street and ask me to summarize the career of Val Kilmer and I’d likely be stumped to think of anything beyond Top Gun. Give me a few minutes to think about it, maybe I’d remember his portrayal of Jim Morrison in The Doors movie. Okay, I guess that outs me as being not much of a fan, which is probably because I didn’t like the Ice Man character.

This film gives us a peek behind the curtain. Val gives us a very candid, insider, view of his life and career — warts and all. Here we meet Val as the person beyond the movie persona. This movie tells the story of a child who lost a brother, a man who loves his father, and an artist who wants to share with his son.

I recommend checking this out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/3AFtJUL

This Must Be the Place

My watch partner, for the most part, rejects any suggestion that dates more than 3 or 4 years old. So, I made sure to show her the trailer before she could see the release date of 2011. After watching the trailer she gave it the thumbs up quickly, based on the fact that it looks strange and morose. As for myself, I was trying to remember what I was doing in 2011 that made me so busy that this one got by unnoticed.

Sean Penn as Cheyenne

Cheyenne is a retired pop star known for his Goth stylings and sad, dark, lyrics. He appears stuck in a time-warp, never evolving beyond the dark fashion of his bygone pop star ways. However, this person isn’t just fashionably dark. As the story unfolds Cheyenne reveals the depth of his angst, which is rooted in a dysfunctional relationship with his father, alienation from his Jewish heritage, and the burden of guilt that followed in the aftermath of teenage suicides that were popularly attributed to the influence of his art.

Cheyenne is ripe, and long overdue, for redemption, and coming of age. The death of his unloving father leaves him with a strange inheritance that leads to go on a grim quest, which sets the stage for peculiar places and experiences.

There are some pleasant surprises in this production. There is the performance by Francis McDormand as Jane, Cheyenne’s faithful wife of thirty five years. Also there is Judd Hirsch as Mordecai Midler, the legendary Nazi hunter. This film also features David Byrne, as himself, who plays the role of fellow musician, and an old friend to Cheyenne.

For some light comedy, and introspective themes, this is good entertainment. You should check it out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/3fjAa7B

Star Trek Voyager: Riddles

I was a Star Trek Voyager watcher during the ’90s. Back then I had a modest CRT television that might have weighed nearly a hundred pounds. At that time you had to be in front of your television at the appointed time on the appointed day of the week if you wanted to see your favorite show. Although I enjoyed Voyager in the ’90s, I never really became a fan until I could watch all the episodes in order online.

Last night, somewhat randomly, chose to watch Episode 6 of season 6, “Riddles.” I had forgotten about this one.

In this episode the stoic Vulcan, Mr. Tuvok, is assaulted by a cloaked intruder, inflicting brain damage, and is struck with traumatic amnesia. The jovial Talaxian, Mr. Neelix, takes on the challenge to help rehabilitate Mr. Tuvok.

Ethan Phillips as Mr. Neelix and Tim Russ as Mr. Tuvok

The Vulcan character represents the ultimate form of composure under pressure. As a matter of principal a Vulcan resolves conflict with well considered logic and never surrenders to the whims of emotion. But Star Trek fans know that the beneath the facade of stoicism is an undercurrent of emotion and passion, as potent as, or more than any human. The Vulcan characters are usually the favorite among the introvert fans, and we watch ever so carefully to see a glimmer of emotional reaction as they face the pressures of being a Starfleet Officer.

When Mr. Tuvok’s memory is wiped out he becomes a clean slate. Suddenly wiped away are all the years of accomplished experience as a Starfleet science officer, and all the years of focused study and meditation in the disciplines of Vulcan logic. Tuvok becomes like a child, vulnerable, afraid, and curious.

Mr. Neelix, compelled by is unquenchable sense of compassion and a long standing sense of admiration for his Vulcan colleague, sets to the task of becoming a rehabilitation coach. But he finds the challenges of trying to help Mr. Tuvok restore himself to his former being are fraught with disappointment.

This is a story about identity, friendship, respect, and hope.

If you don’t remember watching this episode in the ’90s, or again in the ’00s, then I recommend you take another look. Check it out on Amazon Prime.

Star Trek: Voyager Season 6

Promising Young Woman

The trailer portrays a woman who preys on predatory men by pretending to be falling over drunk in bars. We enjoy dark horror comedies and this looked like the type of thing that would work. I queued it up without even checking with my watch partner.

Carey Mulligan as Cassandra

It turns out that I misjudged this movie by the trailer. It does satisfy the pleasure of seeing the tables turned on lowlives attempting to take advantage of inebriated women. However, it is not really a slasher flick at all. The story takes a serious tone as Cassandra’s motivations become clear. This movie is more of a cautionary tale about rape culture, how it has permeated the institutions we trust, and the fallout from reckless frat culture.

It’s good. It’s definitely better than the B grade thriller I was expecting. I recommend you check this out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/2UrADNy

Look Away

I was captivated by the spooky reflection in the mirror existing at its own being. I did get the feeling the target audience is teenagers, which isn’t me. But what the heck. I used to be a teenager. This is also the first work I’ve noticed of Jason Isaacs since he played Lorca on STD. I had to check it out.

Mira Sorvino as Amy, Jason Isaacs as Dan, India Eisley as Maria

This is a story about a teenager with chronic low confidence and all of the perks that go with it, such as a low friend count and a meek presence. As it turns out, her one (and only) friend is actually a corrosive bully. Her mother, although earnestly sympathetic, is a mouse cowering in the shadow of the overbearing father who makes a living brow beating women into agreeing to cosmetic surgeries.

However, young Maria’s fortunes begins to shift when she develops a relationship with the bold and confident version of herself that lives behind the glass of the mirror. In a moment of weakness, Maria agrees to let Airam take over.

However, Maria learns to be careful about what she wishes for when the costs turn out to be greater than she imagined.

This was good entertainment and I recommend it for anyone in the mood for a well produced thriller about teenage angst and payback.

Check it out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/3cI0UgO

Nomadland

This item appeared on my browsing scroll a few nights ago. My watch partner uncharacteristically blurted out “I want to see that!” I was aware that she’s had a curiosity about the nomad genre of videos on YouTube, where she frequently watches the Van Life vlog “Babba Shota”, as well as all of the Bob Wells videos. I was not aware that she was looking forward to the release of this movie.

Frances McDormand as Fern

This movie plays somewhat like a dramatization. But it is deeply authentic as it includes so many of the real faces of the North American “vandweller” community. This movie provides a platform for authentic, committed, vandwellers to express their views about why they chose, and how they embrace, the Van Life lifestyle.

The vandwellers enjoy a sense of freedom, independence, and autonomy which is so characteristic of the American spirt. In so many respects they are truly living the American dream in it’s truest most visceral sense. But it comes with a flip side. Independence can also feel like solitude and vulnerability. This story highlights the fact that true independence doesn’t exist as everyone needs to reach out for a helping hand at some point. This is why the vandwellers recognize themselves as members of a community who gather to support each other.

As the story of Fern plays out, you can see her experience the struggles and joys of the Van Life. In her story, Fern shows us how being “houseless” is not the same as being “homeless.” Fern chose to turn her back on the seclusion and baggage of house life to be a part of the Van Life community.

I recommend you check out this movie on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/3ibNQnu

Also see Bob Wells on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAj7O3LCDbkIR54hAn6Zz7A

Sandpaper

My watching partner chose this one. The trailer featured an older gentleman with exceedingly good manners followed by the next scene with a teenager referring to him as a lunatic. She said, “I want to see this.”

Lori Katz as Kate Hunt & David Raizor as Howard Cross

Kate is a single woman on a mission to flip a house. It just needs one thing before she can get it listed; a new deck.

To get the job done Kate hires Mr. Cross, a local handyman, to build her new deck. As Kate gets to know Mr. Cross, he reveals himself to be a hard working, good humored, craftsman of exceptional skill. He is also exceedingly friendly, and polite to a fault.

However, Kate unexpectedly needs to leave town for a week. When she returns she finds that Mr. Cross has taken up residence in her house. And he won’t leave! From here Kate’s nightmare begins.

The writing, acting, and technical production value are all top notch. I recommend you check this one out on Amazon Prime Video.

https://amzn.to/3hhzW2Q

Beautiful Kate

The trailer seemed curious. It was a man, middle age-ish, on a road trip with a sexy young woman. Is that a daughter, niece, or girlfriend? When my watching partner gave it the nod I hit play. I really didn’t know what I was in for.

Ben Mendelsohn as Ned, Maeve Dermody as Toni

Ned is returning to his childhood home, a family farm in the Australian outback. He was summoned by his sister, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a teenager, when he left under mysterious circumstances. Their father is dying.

The house is haunted by the memories and the secrets. Where are the other brother and the other sister? His relationship with his father is hostile and twisted up in resentment and bitterness. There is some unspoken blame about the night the other brother and sister were killed. If you’re amused by dysfunctional family dynamics then this film offers a taste of comedy gold.

But the heart of this story is about guilt, shame, and the burden of running from them.

All of the production technicals, in terms of lighting, cinematography, wardrobe, and the like, were done well enough that I never thought about it while I was watching.

I recommend checking this one out on Amazon Prime Video.

https://amzn.to/3tvyFrj

At Eternity’s Gate

I’d probably watch anything with Willem Dafoe in it. However, I probably would not watch a film about the life of Vincent van Gogh. But when I saw that Willem took this role, I decided it was worthy of a mental note — I’ll watch this some day!

That some day was yesterday.

Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh

My feelings about Van Gogh are generally not very positive. Based on the anecdotes from my high school art education, and passing mentions of him in various other bits of information that I’ve been exposed to, Van Gogh was a weirdo that was likely suffering from the affects of lead poisoning as a consequence of the practice of mixing oil paints in his mouth. It’s no wonder that he was in and out of mental institutions and prone to doing bizarre things, such as cutting off his ear as a gift to a prostitute.

I have to say that Willem’s portrayal gives Van Gogh some depth and relatability that I didn’t expect. It might be a mistake to just accept this movie as a documentary. However, in my opinion, it is a mistake that this film did not include anything about lead poisoning, which is very likely a real part of the story that could explain some of Van Gogh’s odd behavior. Naturally, I was watching for the gore after the ear cutting scene. Instead, I caught glimpses of an unharmed ear on Dafoe’s head. I’m not sure if this technical shortcoming spoils the the suspension of belief anymore than a well done severed ear makeup job, which I was eagerly awaiting. Also in the category of technical criticism, I am a little put off by movies where all the characters speak fluent English, when they are clearly portrayals of characters that never spoke English. (Van Gogh was known to have spoken English. But it was unlikely he spoke English to everyone he interacted with while living in France.)

Despite my technical complainery, it is a believable and interesting portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh.

This movie tells a story about an artist who feels driven to paint, and do nothing else even if it means a life lived in poverty, as an outcast. Van Gogh felt compelled to capture images that had not been captured before. He wanted to highlight the beauty in forms that are generally ignored. He was compelled to capture images as fast as he could get the paint onto the canvas. These features became the foundation of his unique style, which many people of his time regarded as just plain ugly and absurd.

At one point in the movie Van Gogh is questioned about having given his severed ear to a prostitute, and Van Gogh simply replies “Gabby is not a prostitute.” I think this moment captures the full essence of the story. Van Gogh was not a madman any more than his friend at the tavern was a prostitute. Today we might think an artist finding the beauty in the mundane is a normal part of art. But there was a time this seemed ridiculous.

Whether your a fan of Van Gogh, a fan of Dafoe, or perhaps just a fan of the strange, this is a movie for you. Check it out on Amazon Prime.

https://amzn.to/3gqDAa1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_of_Vincent_van_Gogh