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Showing posts from November, 2019

2019 Late November Update

Ford v Ferrari (US/France 2019 ) Director James Mangold’s dramatization of this true story never idles over its 152 minutes and revs up to full throttle in the climactic racecar showdowns on the legendary Le Mans 24-hours speedway.   In the 1960s the famous Italian brand Ferrari dominated that elite scene when Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) was convinced by marketing whiz Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) that the Ford name could do with some European pizzazz.   While Ferrari scoffed at the challenge, Ford brought in ace automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) who would produce the competitive GT40.   The other key to eventual success was Shelby’s insistence on bringing in as lead driver the hotheaded Ken Miles (Christian Bale) who was as stubborn as he was devoted to his wife and young son.   The Texan Shelby and Brit Miles sometimes clashed but together they defied the odds and the hostile skepticism of the Ford company’s conservative

The Irishman and Marriage Story

Mid-November brings a brief theatrical release for two of the year’s most anticipated movies, both Netflix productions.   The Irishman begins streaming on November 27 and Marriage Story on December 6. The Irishman (US 2019) America’s greatest film critic Roger Ebert celebrated Martin Scorsese as America’s greatest living director, and before seeing this on the big screen in advance of its theatrical release I reread his reviews and reflections on Scorsese’s classic gangster films in the 2008 book Scorsese by Ebert —from Mean Streets (1973), GoodFellas (1990), Casino (1995), to The Departed (2006), for which he won an overdue best director Oscar.   No one handles such material better than Scorsese who grew up in New York’s “Little Italy” where the intersection of mob subculture and Catholic ritual was part of daily life.   This expansive elegiac latest work should earn more Oscar nominations.             The real-life central character of the title is Frank Sheeran (Robert De N

JoJo Rabbit and Motherless Brooklyn

JoJo Rabbit (New Zealand/Czech Republic ) Billed as an “anti-hate satire”, this is the kind of audacious moviemaking that dares anyone to be indifferent.   It has certainly succeeded in provoking highly polarized reactions among critics (ratings on range from 91% to zero).   Quirky Kiwi director Taika Waititi is of mixed Maori and Jewish heritage and has spent time in Germany. He was undoubtedly aware of the risks in doing a parody of Nazi rule but doubles down by himself playing a mock version of Adolph Hitler who appears as the imaginary friend of a swastika-loving 10-year old boy “JoJo” (Roman Griffin Davis).   JoJo’s lack of killer instinct gets him tagged as a scared “rabbit” in a Hitler youth camp run by a cartoon-like Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell).     While “Adolph” is there to encourage the boy’s Nazi zeal, JoJo discovers a very different reality at home. Indeed his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johannsen) is hiding a