Welcome to the 782nd Edition of my series. I hope everyone is staying safe in these crazy times. I have working to be an audiobook narrator. I got an offer with a self-help book that I have been busy doing. It has been quite an experience. I just hope this works out and I will be able to officially call myself and audiobook narrator. Enough of that for now, I'll just get on with my selections for the week.
True Romance (1993): This is part three of my Christian Slater trilogy which will now branch off into a continued series of Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, and Brad Pitt into the coming weeks. Tony Scott directed this crime film which was written by Quentin Tarantino. Slater stars as Clarence Worley who meets the beautiful Alabama Whitman at the movie theater. She confesses that she is a call girl which Clarence ends up accepting and going to some rather extreme measures of getting her away from her pimp Drexl Spivey, played by a dreadlocked Gary Oldman in a standout role in my opinion. They go on the run from the mafia and the police and encounter many interesting characters along the way. Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, James Gandolfini, Anna Thomson, Victor Argo, Paul Bates, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Kevin Corrigan, Paul Ben-Victor, Maria Michael Beach, Frank Adonis, Ed Lauter, and many other co-star in this crime comedy. Tarantino may not have directed this but had plenty of Tarantino touches to it. This had quite the cast and some really good action as well as dark comedy.
Mission: Impossible III (2006): I continue with some more violence with this sequel directed by J.J. Abrams. Tom Cruise reprises his role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt who is retired hoping to live a quiet life with his fiance Julia, played by Michelle Monaghan. He gets called back in to go after the ruthless arms dealer Owen Davian, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is joined by his old friend Luther, reprised by Ving Rhamses, Declan, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Zhen, played by Maggie Q. Billy Crudup, Keri Russell, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Carla Gallo, Bellamy Young, Paul Keeley, Jane Daly, Greg Grunberg, Sabra Williams, Rose Rollins, Sasha Alexander, Tracy Middendorf, Aaron Paul, and many others co-star in this action film. I thought this one was easier to follow than the first two and is a good entry to this successful action franchise.
Children of Men (2006): I started out with a lot of violence, why stop now? Alfonso Cuaron directed this dystopian film based on the novel by P.D. James. Clive Owen stars as Theo Faron who is a former activist turned government bureaucrat in London where no child has been born for 18 years and with Britain being the most civilized country, people want to immigrate there but has become illegal. Theo's ex-wife Julian, played by Julianne Moore, turns to Theo to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman named Kee, played by Clare-Hope Ashitey, to a sanctuary at sea. Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston, Charlie Hunman, Tehmina Sunny, Michael Klesic, and many others co-star in this film. Caine is very amusing his his role as Jasper. Owen is very good in his role as a reluctant hero. This is a rather realistic looking dystopian film and did not have to show it with lot of flashy imagery or special effects.
Date With Dizzy (1958): This is my short film for the week. John Hubley directed this short film that pays homage to Dizzy Gillespie and his band. They are approached to write a song for a commercial but cannot seem to do what they want. Sometimes they would maybe be too long, too short, maybe too loud. This was a good way for the band to showcase their talent and has some good animation blended into this short film. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
A Bill of Divorcement (1932): George Cukor directed this pre-code film that takes place during the holidays. John Barrymore stars as Hilary Fairfield who has returned home from an insane asylum after fifteen years. He finds that nothing is the same as his wife Margaret, played by Billie Burke has divorced him and is about to remarry. He also finds that his daughter Sidney, played by Katherine Hepburn is all grown. David Manners, Paul Cavanagh, Henry Stephenson, Elizabeth Patterson, and many others co-star in this film. Barrymore and Hepburn had top billing and rightfully so as this was centered around their new father/daughter relationship. This is a pretty moving and sad story. Could play into a good double feature with the '90s film SHE'S SO LOVELY which has a rather similar premise. I was able to find a good version of this to watch on Youtube.
Scrooge (1970): Ronald Neame directed this musical version of the Charles Dickens classic story in which the music was written by Leslie Bricusse. Albert Finney takes up the role of the bitter miser Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of his old friend and business partner Jacob Marley, played by Alec Guinness, on Christmas Eve. Marley informs Scrooge that he will be visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, played by Edith Evans, Kenneth More, and Paddy Stone. After that, well you know the rest. David Collings, Michael Medwin, Laurence Naismith, Kay Walsh, Anton Rodgers, Suzanne Neve, Frances Cuka, Geoffrey Bayldon, Richard Beaumont, and many others co-star in this adaptation. This is a timeless story that will never go away. This has some really good music numbers and the future scene was a lot darker than usual, with the exception of the 2019 mini-series that was featured last week. LThis is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.
Klaus (2019): This is my holiday animated selection for the week which was directed by Sergio Pablos and co-directed by Carlos Martinez Lopez. Jason Schwartzman stars as Jesper who works in the family postal business but is not doing a very good job. This leads into his father sending him to an island in the Arctic Circle where he must prove himself. When there, he meets a reclusive carpenter named Klaus, voiced by J.K. Simmons, who used to be a toymaker. He forms an unlikely friendship when trying to get his postal service going which the town lacked. He also takes a liking to local teacher Alva, voiced by Rashida Jones. Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Norm McDonald, Joan Cusack, Kendall Joy Hall, and many others provide their voices. This is a fun origin take on the whole Santa Claus concept and how Santa Claus comes to be. This is available to watch on Netflix.
Morning for the Osone Family (1946): This is my Japanese film for the week which takes place around the holidays but does not really center around them. Keisuke Kinoshita directed this film which centers around the Osone family as the title implies. The family is trying to get through the post WWII Japan where things get complicated when their bitter military uncle comes to live with them. This is one of the first post WWII films made in Japan. This is a very good look at a Japanese family trying to come to terms with what has happened to them. This is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
The Ruthless Four (1968): This is my western for the week which was directed by Giorgio Capatani. Van Heflin stars as prospector Sam Cooper who sets out to find gold reluctantly teaming up with Gilbert Roland, Klaus Kinski, and George Hilton. Greed and motive get the best of these people and become just as the title implicates. It has a rather complex plot that is hard to explain any further. I noticed the song near the end was what Quentin Tarantino used for PULP FICTION but this one was a more acoustic version but was clearly the same song. I suppose one of these days I'll just have to do some sort of Tarantino theme where I use movies he borrowed from, stole from, whatever you might call it. This has some good action and good performances. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
A Royal Christmas Ball (2017): I end the week with this more sentimental holiday tv movie which is not for everyone. After featuring Tara Reid a lot in the Madness this year, I decide to watch one of her holiday movies. Reid stars as Allison who has raised a 17 year old daughter named Lily, played by Haley Pullos, as a single mother. She reunites with bachelor King Charles of Baltamia, played by Ingo Rademacher, who discovers that Lily is his daughter. Mira Furlan, Faune Chambers Watkins, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Marc Anthony Samuel, Christian Olivo, Miles Burris, Kennedy Lea Slocum, Claire Kniaz, and many others co-star in this holiday tv movie. This is what it is, a holiday tv movie. This is very predictable, and in fact the beginning gives away the end. I believe my royalty obsessed friend Amy might enjoy this one. Also, those who like these Hallmark type movies should enjoy this as well. This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.