It’s been another weird month of quarantine, indeed. But at least the weather here in New England has been for the most part, excellent. No complaints on my end. In fact, I actually got plenty of time to sit down in June and enjoy some films on my watchlist I have been putting off for sometime. Fair warning, these are ALL over the board in terms of age, genre, etc. As in – I wasn’t really focused on exploring any particular style or category this month. Fitting with the craziness of our times, let’s say.
Here are a few films I saw in June:
The Fugitive (1993) – Action/Thriller. Score: (9/10). Quick plot summary, the story follows a middle-aged, successful surgeon (Harrison Ford) whose wife is killed by a one-armed man, but the surgeon is sent to death row by a miscairage of justice. But his bus crashes on the way to prison, then a train crashes into the bus crash, then Dr. Richard Kimble escapes to go on the run with five U.S. marshals on his heels. It sounds a little absurd, I’ll admit – but this film is WAY better than the plot would make it seem. Complimenting Ford is the ever-awesome Tommy-Lee Jones, who plays the veteran US Marshal charged with leading the task force to track down Kimble. The two are both protagonists in their own right, with plenty of hilarious diologue from Jones and those classic, suspenseful stone-faced stares from Ford throughout. WHat this film does best though is build a real sense of suspense. And it is not just some moments – the whole damn movie is a thrill ride of non-stop suspense and awesomeness. The – I had a hard time walking away to grab a beer halfway through for fear of missing something relevant – kind of suspenseful. The stunts seem real, the set pieces are (actually for the most part) real and believable, and the raw tenacity of Ford, pitted against the most formidable arm of the US Judicial system, makes for some great entertainment. Ford is clever, likeable, and just trying to survive – all the while tracking and tracing the man who DID kill is wife. Its part thriller, suspense, part action and mystery. Thats a 4/4 for me. A classic you will not want to miss with some of the best of Tommy Lee and Harrison.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989) Action/Adventure. Score: (8.5/10): Somehow this movie had escaped me for years despite how much I enjoyed the first two. I’m a huge Sean Connery fan so this was long overdue. Another classic Indy tale, filled with the same fun, comedic tone mixed with actual danger and relentless action you would expect from Lucas, wrapped up with amazing set pieces, solid acting and beautiful cinematography. I was very satisfied and would say this is my #2 favorite behind Raiders of the Lost Ark (because, come on now – that movie is just too good). I loved the early cutaway to early Indy at the beginning, and was a huge fan of the father-son banter between Ford and Connery throughout. I loved how this film started with some mystery elements (Indy’s father has gone missing in his pursuit of the “Holy Grail”) – because it gave the film a little more life than say the previous Temple of Doom. It felt like there was much more on the line here, and the obvious end game which could result in one hell of a score. At the end of the day, the Indiana Jones Trilogy is something every moviegoer should see in their lifetime.
My Cousin Vinny (1992) – Comedy/Courtroom Drama. Score: (8/10). This is a classic. All I can say is I walked into and away from this one incredibly happy and satisfied. I love me some Joe Peschi, and it was genuinely refreshing to see him in a role where he wasn’t murdering people or beating the shit out of someone, or yelling “fuck”, every third word. Instead of killing people, he kills it in this performance as a beleagured, small time lawyer who is the last hope for his nephew and his friend who are wrapped up on a serious murder charge for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The movie had me laughing, feeling hopeful, getting just a little nervous, and even a bit melancholy at times. Not bad for a courtroom comedy film (you don’t see too many of those, honestly). The jokes are suburb, timed beautifully, and are genuinely fun, if not slightly corny at times (as to be expected). Everyone from the Judge to the boys were well casted, and Marisa Tomei was honestly fantastic. She brought this fire and energy to the film I didn’t expect but enjoyed thoroughly. All in all – this one is fun for the whole family, and a great pick-me-up, feel good one to throw on some weeknight after a shit day at work. Loved it.
Prometheus (2012) – Sci-fi/horror. Score: (5/10): I really had higher hopes for this one. When I look at a film like this, directed by Ridley Scott (Alien franchise films), blending sci-fi and horror into one wonderful package that hints at uncovering the “reasons for humanity” – you know I’m sitting down and at least giving it a shot. Well, I made it through, and it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped. It was intense, driven and definitely action packed, but I didn’t really understand ever what was actually going on or what the ultimate goal of the mission was. Everyone just seemed like they were running around getting eaten by the alien spores we have come to know and love from Scott’s previous films (in this case, I was annoyed they just used the same aliens from the other movies, like come on – let’s try something new here). I never really understood what each character’s REAL motive was for being on the mission, or why they were sent there in the first place. The film had some fun moments, scares and that classic Alien-type suspense, but I was never into it enough to enjoy it. The plot was muddled and didn’t seem to have an end goal. By the last scene, I was left more scratching my head than feeling satisfied. I would avoid, honestly.
Cloud Atlas (2012) – Action/Adventure/Epic. Score: (8.5/10): this movie was in every sense of the word, a “trip”. It has taken me a few days to digest and I have to say I was pretty amazed by the scope of this film. It is certainly an epic, sitting at nearly 3h long and switching between characters, scenes, timelines and thoughts every 10 minutes or less. It was at first glance quite confusing, but upon further reflection, I’m finding I appreciate this film even more. A trip across time, across generations, across lives and love, space and time, good and evil, morality, religion, society and persecution – all wrapped into one incredibly bold and provocative film. This is the kind of film that sticks with you for awhile after you see it. While I was not a fan of every single sub-plot that developed or occasional (sometimes what felt like underlying) corniness, I was blown away with the immense amount of thought and detail that went into producing this movie. 6 timelines across human history sharing distinctly different but eerily similar stories involving the themes listed above, and how we as humans deal with conflict and change. The blending of these timelines, which is most effectively done by using the same actors throughout the film in each separate motif/sub-plot, which really brings forth the idea: “Are we just reincarnations of our past selves?” and “Do the same things happen over and over again throughout history, just with different characters in new settings?” – but most importantly, it makes you ask (and eventually realize): “How does the life of one individual impact another.” This isn’t a movie you can take lightly, and it should by no means be taken as a relaxing Sunday viewing. This thing was a lot, and it gave me plenty to process. I look forward to watching it again at some point to pick up on everything I may have missed, and I think it might get better with age. Oh, and the cast is absolutely stacked and fantastic, which made this much more entertaining along the way. I loved almost every character – and the casting was perfect for each character, whether major or minor, bold or quiet, big or small. This was one of the more ambitious films I have seen recently. I recommend this to anyone who is willing to explore the ideas, feelings, upbringings, morals and societal norms that help form us as humans, and the connections we make with others that transcend time and space. It’s a lot to take in, but in my opinion – well worth the ride, even if it does feel slightly forced and cheesy at times.
This is part 1 – look for part 2 (and possibly 3) coming soon!