Friday, July 15, 2016

Movies worthy of note

I've seen a couple of movies recently I thought were good enough to write about. The first is The Martian with Matt Damon, the second is Whiplash with Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, and not to be outdone, a third film worthy of seeing is The Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren.

The Martian

I can't think of a movie I've seen with Matt Damon I didn't like and he lives up to my admiration in the Martian. Caught in an epic dust storm that looks like four tornados converging, Matt's character is hit by a boulder and thought dead by the crew of a mission to mars. The crew hastily makes their escape off the planet leaving Mark Watley, Damon's character, behind.

When he awakes, he finds himself alone on a planet with only enough food for the crew to last 30 days. Watley has to work out a way to survive the 4 years it will take to rescue him. An interesting predicament to say the least. Even though it was a science fiction movie, I could relate to the feelings of desperation and loneliness.

My favorite director, Ridley Scott, presents the story in a captivating way, switching between Watley, the ground control personnel, and the members of the crew on their long journey back to earth. A subtle sense of humor by Damon, a positive attitude, and the ability to engineer his way out of disaster, makes the Martian a viewer's choice.


Whiplash is about a prestigious music school and the students in the class of one ruthless music director. This is not a film for children as the "F" word is used frequently, almost continuously. The main character is jazz drum student Andrew Neiman played by Miles Teller whose ambition drives him to become the best drummer since Buddy Rich. The band conductor Terence Fletcher is the protagonist he must go through to achieve his goal and Fletcher is not a helpful, cooperating fellow. J.K. Simmons. in addition to many film and TV roles he has been in, you may recognize from the Farmers insurance commercials.

Whiplash,  at the 87th Academy Awards, won Best Film EditingBest Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting Actor for Simmons, and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The movie is well acted and is hard hitting, bringing out the worst in people.

The Woman in Gold

The Woman in Gold is a true story about a Jewish woman who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria during the Second World War. A famous painting was among the assets stolen from her family by the Nazis and she goes about getting possession of it again. It takes quite a long time, years in fact, but with the help of a young lawyer, she eventually wins what almost everyone said could not be won.

Helen Mirren is another actress I find talented enough to keep me entertained even in what might seem like a very boring story. Director Simon Curtis keeps the audiences' attention by mixing scenes from Austria during the war and the present day. He intertwines the relationships of Maria Altmann and her family during the war as well as Maria and her lawyer in the present. She endures many disappointments and setbacks but with the final push from her lawyer and after going all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States finally wins her family's possessions back in arbitration in Vienna.

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