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Drama

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

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SummaryThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

Genre : Crime/Drama
Country : UK/USA

Cast :
Frances McDormand : Mildred
Sam Rockwell : Dixon
Woody Harrelson: Chief Willoughby

Director :
Martin McDonagh

My opinion on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

“Raped while Dying.
Still no arrests.
How come, chief Willoughby?”

Those who read my writing attempts occasionally, know that I thoroughly hate everything that has the appearance of a serial or when prequels and sequels are being produced just to exploit the story even further. So, don’t panic while reading the following statement. I hope they’ll come up with a sequel to “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri“. A continuation of this brilliant story where we’ll learn how Mildred (Frances McDormand) and Dixon (Sam Rockwell) handle the case.

I am sure that this film will be difficult to surpass in its genre. And not because of some amazing special effects or action-packed film sequences. But because of the ingenious story and the unparalleled acting. And even though the story is filled with ultra-serious issues such as discrimination, domestic violence, cancer, sexual abuse and murder, there’s also a subtle comic layer that is saturated with blackened humor and finished with cynical and ironic elements. This is so up my alley.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Anger versus compassion.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” is about anger, rage and helplessness. The anger about an unsolved case with Angela, the daughter of Mildred, being raped and burned alive by one or more unknowns. And after several months Mildred has come up with the bright idea to denounce the failure of the judicial investigation. And this by unabashedly spreading the message about it, on three billboards with Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) as main target, solely because of his leading position as Chief.

But it’s not only anger and revenge you’ll be witnessing in this magnificent film. Forgiveness is also included. Like the moment during a police interrogation in which Mildred feels genuinely concerned about Willoughby’s health. I was also surprised when Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), the owner of the advertising billboards, offers Dixon a glass of orange juice. Two moments in which blind anger made room for compassion.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sublime acting from Frances McDormand.

Even though Woody’s name is written on the billboard in huge letters, his contribution isn’t really decisive. To my surprise, he also gets out of the picture halfway through the film. In the first place it’s Frances McDormand who demands the most attention. And she does that in a stunning way. A bitter woman who’s tired of waiting for an arrest. Mildred is under the assumption that no effort is made by the corps to follow any clue or performs real police work. In her eyes, the police officers are a group of racist dipshits who spend their days harassing Afro-American fellow citizens.

She’s a tough lady who firmly tackles those who get in her way, both verbally and physically. And she spares nobody. Whether it’s a priest or a dentist. She isn’t even afraid to kick some young students in their crotch. And even though she appears to be an unpleasant person with a sharp tongue, she manages to arouse your sympathy. The sometimes dry, humorous remarks take care of that. Frances McDormand may rightfully become the owner of the coveted statue during the Academy Awards in a few months’ time.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Rockwell plays the best role of his life.

And such a golden statue can also be reserved for Sam Rockwell. His acting is simply magisterial. Dixon is an aggressive hillybilly who likes to beat up  minorities and appears to be drunk constantly while doing his job as a policeman, knowing it’s tolerated by his superior. A not so quite intellectual overweight man. And Dixon’s stupidity sometimes creates comical situations.

And finally there’s Woody Harrelson. An actor after my own heart (whom had stolen it already because of his participation in the sitcom “Cheers“) who always plays his roles with so much flexibility and professionalism. In contrast to the confused and sometimes cruel character from “The Glass Castle“, Chief Willoughby is an honest person who’s sincerely worried about the case of Mildred’s daughter. All in all, these are three parts that are played in an excellent and marvelous way by these actors. This film is already commendable because of that.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A brilliant movie. Go see it !!!!

But it is also the intelligently written script that makes this film worthwhile. It’s indeed a film full of heavy themes. The injustice in this world and how people deal with it. The processing of an immense grief. There are also uncomfortable moments full of aggression and threats. And yet there is always a laconic undertone that is peppered with thoughtful, ambiguous humor. And these different moods alternate at breakneck speed. Some scenes change from aggressive and threatening, into humorous and emotional. “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a gem of a film I’ve enjoyed tremendously. And believe me, I’m looking forward to seeing it once more.

My rating 9/10
Links : IMDB

Crime

The Untouchables – A Retrospective Look

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I watched this in honour of Sean Connery who sadly passed away the day before. It must be 10 years since I have watched this, and I had forgotten how brilliant it actually was.

What is often overlooked with ‘The Untouchables’ is just how emotional it is in parts, from Ness (Kevin Costner) meeting the mother of a girl blown up by a cafe bomb to the touching climax between Ness and Stone (Andy Garcia). It is a film that is genuinely upsetting to see the end, you would be quite happy to spend more time with these people.

It is also undoubtedly a film about friendship and that is where the late great Sean Connery stands out from the cast. As supposedly past it beat cop Malone, he strikes as a man of lonely isolation, just trying to get through every shift alive. He is at first suspicious of Ness but soon warms to what Ness is trying to achieve and there the bond between the two starts. Malone’s relationship with Stone gets off to a less auspicious start but by the end of the film, the relationship produces one final emotional wallop that we all deeply feel. Throw in accountant Oscar Wallace, played for the comic relief by Charles Martin Smith and we have four disparate men bonding over their end goal, to catch and see justice brought again crime lord Al Capone, (played with menace by Robert DeNiro).

There is so much to admire here, some of the setpieces are simply astonishing, the stakeout and subsequent battle on the Canadian border are sensationally choreographed, and a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin is nerve shreddingly executed. The violence is brutal and shocking at times and as stated previously the deaths are graphic and in one particular case deeply moving.

Kevin Costner was a star on the rise at this point, with big hits like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Dances With Wolves,’  ‘JFK’ and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, he is excellent as the clean-cut family man Ness. A young Andy Garcia is impressive as the sharpshooting Stone, but this is Connery’s film. It’s an exceptional performance filled with guile, wisdom and what is apparent from the get-go, anger. He would win an Academy Award for this film and few could argue against it.

Its an incredibly neat and tidy film, it never outstays its welcome or gets too bogged down in courtroom showdowns. It’s gritty and powerful and a reminder of just how good an actor and phenomenal screen presence Connery was. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Sir Sean Connery 25/8/1930 – 31/10/2020 – A true screen icon

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Comedy

On the Rocks (2020)

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You know what’s great about her?
She doesn’t talk. She just listens.
That sounds perfect for you.

 

Life is full of unexpected turns. As an 18-year-old, I rented the adult cartoon “Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle” just for fun. Probably because of the titillating vamp on the cover, lying naked on a huge platter and carried by figures that looked like penises. No one could suspect that a voice actor in this cartoon would become one of my most popular actors. If there’s one comedian who manages to make me chuckle without any problem, it’s Bill Murray. Like in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”. Or the incomparable film “Groundhog Day”. However small his role may be in a feature film, he always manages to create an unforgettable scene, such as in “Zombieland” for example. Put Murray in a horror, and his typical way of acting makes it a completely different experience. Just watch “The dead don’t die” and you’ll know what I mean. In short, a versatile actor who takes a film to a higher level with his contribution.

 

 

Lost in Translation.

This year I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the movie “Lost in translation”. A film directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of) with Bill Murray and the very young Scarlett Johansson in the leading roles. Even though there was something slightly comical lurking beneath the surface of this film, the subject matter was far from comical. A film about two individuals who are right in the middle of an identity crisis. A film about love and loneliness. Loneliness not only because of the life situation they both find themselves in, but also because of the fact that they are in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture, and general way of life. Two lost souls who discover, sense, and encourage each other. I admit, I was moved after seeing this masterful film. Finally, after a long time a film that rocked my socks off. A thought-provoking film that’ll resonate for a pretty long time. Yes, some movies do that to me.

 

 

A wild search for the truth.

And then 17 years after the release of this magisterial film, we get a renewed collaboration between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. “On the Rocks” is not as magical as “Lost in Translation“. But somewhere deeply hidden it does have points of contact with the latter. Here, too, Laura (Rashida Jones) is in the middle of a crisis. Both in terms of her marriage and her writing career. The suspicion that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) just pretends to have lots of work since starting his own company, just to cover up an affair, grows stronger. And writing a new book isn’t easy either. The day she tells her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charismatic wealthy art dealer with an untameable flirtation habit, about her suspicions, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the case with full dedication. Before Laura realizes it, she is embroiled in a wild search for the truth.

 

 

Murray nails it.

On the rocks” isn’t such a depressing and melancholic story as “Lost in translation“. There’s more humor in it. How another mother at school tells Laura every morning about her love life. The interesting facts about human behavior and the evolution of relationships between men and women Felix tells about every time unexpectedly. The wild chase in a “not so suspicious-looking” red, noisy convertible through the streets of New York. Perhaps it’s rather light, uncomplicated humor. Still, it’s subtle at the same time. The chemistry between Laura and her father feels unforced and authentic. And this won’t come as a surprise: Bill Murray nailed it once more. He demands full attention every time he comes into the picture. His characteristic acting and the way in which he can charm random people with his smooth talk is simply superb. And it’s not just the female population that falls for his smooth-talking. The way he manages to turn a police officer’s mood from being reprimanding to being helpful is just sublime.

 

One more time.

“On the rocks” is about marital troubles, a complicated father-daughter relationship, and also about how people get lost in the turbulent and chaotic society in which they live. It’s not another masterpiece of Coppola, but surely it’s another successful cooperation between Coppola and Murray. I quietly hope that they will work together again in the future.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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