A brief round-up of movies that have recently flickered into my brain:
The Departed: Well made, well scripted, and well acted. Also well depressing.
Note to self: Don’t go to Boston.
The Great Raid: Based on the powerful book Ghost Soldiers. Does a pretty good job of capturing the brutality of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the Bataan Death March, although the characterizations and motivations of the people involved could have been much more fleshed out.
The flatness of the characters make it a forgettable movie, which is too bad as the story—and the real people it depicts—deserve much more.
Bastards of the Party: In this HBO Special a gang member explores the roots and causes of black gang violence in Los Angeles. The answers he finds may (or may not) surprise you. Hint: Racism, drugs, the FBI, and globalization.
It’s a touching movie, although the pace is a bit languid, and let’s face it: it’s difficult to work up much empathy for rabid thugs with Uzis. That whole “throw-a-gang-sign-as-soon-as-you-see-a-camera” thing gets real old real fast.
A Scanner Darkly: Psychotic druggies living in a paranoid surveillance state.
Made my skin crawl.
A Scanner Darkly is arguably the Philip K. Dick movie adaptation most true to the feel of his work. This means it’s creepy, paranoid, and hopeless.
Enjoy your popcorn.
Sexy Beast: Ben Kingsley once played Gandhi. In Sexy Beast he plays the most scary-psychotic thug you ever saw in your life.
Well worth watching just to be happy that’s not your life, and for the tour de force performance Ben Kingsley puts in. I will fear him forever.
Miami Vice: Grittier than the TV series (but then what isn’t?). Gorgeous photo work and a plot that keeps your interest.
Colin Farell mostly looks hung over.
Layer Cake: Creepy British gangsters wreak havoc and misery on everything they touch.
Well conceived and executed, a lot like Snatch, but with less frenetic energy and almost completely devoid of humor, instead possessing extra helpings of that uniquely British sense of futility.
Note to self: Avoid upsetting Serbian gangsters.
Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.
Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.
Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.
The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.
What I wish I’d known when I started podcasting.
Nic starts a new podcast about—gasp!—American sports.
Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.