Sunday, April 26, 2015

Film Review: The Water Diviner

Full disclosure: Turkey is a country I visited after a number of years of my own personal "research"; it made a huge impact on me during my readings, and my visit in 2004 only served to intensify my love for all things Turkish. I recognize that what the Ottoman Empire did against the Armenians was genocide, and I believe that the current Turkish government should take ownership of their country's history. That being said, I still have an unapologetic love and admiration for the country, the people, and their history--warts and all.


The film marks the debut of Russell Crowe calling the shots behind the camera, and it is a shaky, but admirable start. The Water Diviner is a good, not great, film, and some of the criticism that has come down on it about not depicting the Armenian genocide is a little unfair. Andrew O'Hehir may believe that what happened to Armenians should have been a necessary part of this film, but when you consider that the film is already a bit muddled in the middle, adding genocide into a story that is ostensibly about a man trying to reclaim his sons would have been a bit much. And although the Armenians' story is a very important one to tell, Russell Crowe is not the one to tell it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Netflix and Marvel are onto something big


Ah, the joys of going on a binge of your favorite television show, web series, or series of films. It's become quite the enjoyable misuse of our time--whether you re-watch a series you loved or are, like me, trying to get out from under the rock you lived for a period of time (I missed out on The Wire and Breaking Bad while they were running, but have since become a huge fan of both), there's going to be something out there for you...and it keeps getting better.

Friday, April 10, 2015

007: The Case for Idris Elba

Let me start by saying I am not a James Bond aficionado, but I am a fan of the films in general and have a few that I enjoy a great deal. I am in the camp that says that Sean Connery is the greatest Bond of all time, but Daniel Craig is giving him a run for his money, and Skyfall may be the best Bond film of them all.

Re-booting is sort of a trend with franchises these days, specifically with comic book films, but the Bond franchise has been doing it longer and better than anyone out there, starting with 1973's Live and Let Die, which was the start of a new Bond (Roger Moore) on a regular basis.

No matter who your favorite Bond may be, each of them had something to bring to the table as individual actors, but certain other factors were musts: attractive to both women and men (let's be honest, guys have sort of a man-crush on the character), sexuality, intelligence, nobility (if not morality), and power.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Once Upon a Time in America, an underrated gangster great

D.W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) is considered the first gangster film, but with Prohibition, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson, the genre became one of the most popular for well over 80 years.

White Heat, Little Caesar, and perhaps the Paul Muni Scarface, are probably the most recognizable films from the prohibition/depression era, but if we throw in something like Key Largo, the list of greats gets even longer. The modern era, though, gives us perhaps the greatest-ever of the genre, with The Godfather (Parts I and II--I'll leave it up to the reader if Part III should be included), Goodfellas, and certainly the Al Pacino Scarface. Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and even Pulp Fiction, should also be considered as staples of the modern gangster film.

There's one film, though, that may make the lists of the hardcore fans, but isn't necessarily in the discussion when gangster films come up in casual conversation: Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Brilliance of F. Murray Abraham

When I sat down to think about what to write for my first real post at this fledgling blog, it took all of a millisecond to decide that I wanted to write about F. Murray Abraham. Why? Because his performance as Antonio Salieri in 1984's Amadeus may be the finest performance ever put on film.