A Beautiful Mind (2001)

DailyView: Day 365, Movie 523

A Beautiful Mind, an Oscar winning Best Picture from director Ron Howard, turns out to be the final film in the 365-day DailyView.

This film is a biopic of mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe), who started his rise to relevance at Princeton arrogant and socially awkward. Even his peer group found some of his behavior off-putting. John struggled to find his “original idea”, but, after a confrontation with his roommate Charles (Paul Bettany) and a specific occurrence at a bar with some women, a spark came to him.

With his success beginning, he met and married his sweetheart Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) and he was approached by government agent Parcher (Ed Harris) to become a code breaker. Everything seemed to be going great.

However, things changed when he started to become paranoid about Russian spies and his mental status is called into question. Turned out, John had schizophrenia and he was having delusions, imagining people who were not really there, including Parcher and Charles.

I will say that the first 45 minutes to an hour of this movie, I was checked out, preparing myself to give this an “Overrated” score for the review. I found the beginning pretty boring and I was not invested in what was happening.

However, when the whole schizophrenia plot point started to come into play full steam, I was much more interested and intrigued by what was happening. I actually would have liked to have seen more of that section of the movie. I would have liked to have seen more of his struggles when he decided to try and overcome the schizophrenia on his own. That part of the film seemed compressed down to a scene or two (albeit a very solid scene).

Russell Crowe played his role beautifully, even in the sections of the film that I found dull, Crowe was always outstanding. Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany both were excellent in the film too. Paul Bettany’s character always brought a breath of fresh air, particularly in that beginning part of the film that dragged for me. I loved Bettany’s inclusion in that part and I looked forward to when he was on screen.

A Beautiful Mind won the Oscar for Best Picture (although I wouldn’t have given it this film – Moulin Rouge or Lord of the Rings were better choices) and it took home four total statues, including Ron Howard’s best director. I found A Beautiful Mind to be messy at times and not a consistently great movie, but the individual parts of the film make it to be a decent watch.

David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988)

DailyView: Day 365, Movie 522

The third movie of the final day of the DailyView is found on Cinemax on Amazon Prime and it is a psychological horror/thriller film from David Cronenberg entitled Dead Ringers. It featured a creepy dual role performance from Jeremy Irons, which is definitely the standout aspect of this film.

According to IMDB: “The Mantle brothers are both doctors – both gynecologists – and identical twins. Mentally however, one of them is more confident than the other, and always manages to seduce the women he meets. When he’s tired of his current partner, she is passed on to the other brother – without her knowing. Everything runs smoothly, until an actress visits their clinic, and the shy brother is the first to fall in love. Will they be able to ‘share’ her ?

There are some distinctly disturbing concepts going on in Dead Ringers, with a close look at the relationships between twins and how they are connected. Jeremy Irons does a fantastic job of creating two clearly different characters while maintaining a “sameness” that led to plenty of confusion, even for the audience at times, of which twin was which.

Much of the film leaned toward the disturbing and parts of it dragged on for my tastes, but there is no denying the level of performance given by Jeremy Irons. I also appreciated the dark ending for the twins.

I would most likely never watch Dead Ringers again, but it was worth the watch, if only for the oddness of Jeremy Irons’ work.

The Raid 2 (2014)

DailyView: Day 365, Movie 521

Movie number two on the final day of the DailyView is a sequel to one of the top action movies of the last decade or so. The Raid 2 is an Indonesian crime/action film that is about as brutal as you can get.

I enjoyed the Raid quite a bit, but I have to say that I feel as if The Raid 2 is a step down.

After the events of the first film. Rama (Iko Uwais) was hoping to settle into a normal life, but that would not be in the cards. After his brother is killed, he is roped into going undercover to suss out the corrupt police from the Jakarta criminal underworld.

The premise is straightforward and simple. It is a revenge plot with a side of family drama. The characters are reasonably shallow because the characters are not what attracts us to this movie. This movie is here to show off the amazing martial arts fighting and showcase the Indonesia fighting style known as pencak silat.

Admittedly, the fights are astounding and the martial arts maneuvers are amazing to watch. There is such an easy flow to the moves and the violence that it can lull you into an ease that is then shattered by the splatter of the blood.

Still, this was my biggest issue with the film. The fights are so long and dragged out that it just does not seem as if anyone is really affected by them. They do not seem to ever get tired and our main characters appear to be able to shake off wounds and moves that would cripple or murder the canon fodder all around. When Rama took a bladed weapon to the back of his leg, and it barely seemed to register to him, I began looking at this movie like it was a pro wrestling match where the two wrestlers would not sell for the other. It really broke the illusion.

Not being tired is one things (although wearing down during a fight is what made the Atomic Blonde fight scene so effective) but the resiliency against knife wounds and gunshots really cancelled the illusion of the scene.

It also felt too long and I had some difficulty following who was who.

Still, the film was exciting and fun to watch. At its best, the martial arts look so fluid and amazing that you forget how implausible it is. However, the film takes the violence too far for my taste.

It Happened One Night (1934)

DailyView: Day 365, Movie 520

Well, here it is. Day 365. The EYG Daily View is completed with the final day of the binge. The first film of the final day is an Oscar winner from 1934 starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night.

The Frank Capra classic was on the DailyView list from day one, but it was one that I just never got around to watching. However, it felt like the properly huge film to help wrap up this year-long journey.

According to Rotten Tomatoes: “In Frank Capra’s acclaimed romantic comedy, spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) impetuously marries the scheming King Westley, leading her tycoon father (Walter Connolly) to spirit her away on his yacht. After jumping ship, Ellie falls in with cynical newspaper reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who offers to help her reunite with her new husband in exchange for an exclusive story. But during their travels, the reporter finds himself falling for the feisty young heiress.”

It Happened One Night shines because of the charm and skills of its lead actors, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Their chemistry and connection is undeniable. While some of the ways that Gable spoke to Colbert may be out of fashion, most of the dialogue was crisp and sharp.

The story is simple. The path along the way on the road to New York is fun. The performances are solid. There is a good feeling to the whole film.

It Happened One Night is considered by many to be on the list of greatest films of all time. While that might be a bit exaggerated, there is no denying how wonderful the parts of this film come together. You can see several things that happen in this movie that are used in other shows and films. “The Walls of Jericho” idea was used on General Hospital with Luke and Laura when they first were getting together. There were other moments that were used again, all because of the success they had here.

It was a great film.

Melody Time (1948)

DailyView: Day 364, Movie 519

It is the penultimate day of the DailyView, and, on this day, I have went over to Disney + for one of the films that has been on my watchlist for several months. It went all the way back to 1948 for an animated film (with some live action mixed in) called Melody Time.

The film featured seven shorter segments with popular music of the time illuminating several stories. Much like Fantasia and Fun and Fancy Free, there was great color, fun animation and entertaining music.

The segments included Once Upon a Wintertime, Bumble Boogie, The Legend of Johnny Appleseed, Little Toot, Trees, Blame it on the Samba, and Pecos Bill.

Some of the stars of the day involved in the film was Roy Rogers, The Andrew Sisters, Dennis Day, Freddy Martin, Buddy Clark, Ethel Smith, Fred Waring, Bob Nolan, The Sons of the Pioneers, Bobby Driscoll, The Dinning Sisters, Frances Langford, and Luana Patten. There was also a segment including Donald Duck.

It is fun. It is a short film. The music may not be as contemporary today as it was when it came out, but it is still enjoyable to listen to and the visual are full of color and engaging.

John Grisham’s The Rainmaker (1997)

DailyView: Day 363, Movie 518

There have been several John Grisham novels adapted to the big screen. The Rainmaker was adapted to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola, bringing another level of crime gravitas to the movie.

In the end, The Rainmaker was an enjoyable courtroom drama that included a top notch cast and a satisfactory conclusion.

According to IMDB: “Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) is a young attorney out to make a difference in the justice system. He is also the only hope of an elderly couple after their corrupt insurance company refuses to pay out a claim that could save their child’s life. In this judicial drama, Baylor rails against corporate lawyers, corrupt judges, and abusive husbands, all with the help of a fellow lawyer who hasn’t even passed his bar exam. He is facing long odds in the courtroom – and this is only his first case.”

Matt Damon does an excellent job of playing this young lawyer, who was way over his head, unsure of how to proceed with the case or what steps he should take in the procedural process of the court case. Even with a supportive judge (Danny Glover), Rudy Baylor was clearly a greenhorn.

This is the reason why I believe that the real heart of this movie was Deck Shifflet, the character played by Danny DeVito. DeVito was exceptional in every scene, keeping Rudy balanced and helping find his way through the case, despite having failed the bar exam multiple times. Deck knew where to look and what to do, even if it is not necessarily the most up and up move. Danny DeVito had great chemistry with everyone that he interacted with and brought a realness to the role.

There were some other excellent characters, some bordering on eccentric. Mickey Rourke played J. Lyman “Bruiser” Stone, a bar owner and ambulance chaser who gave Rudy his first job. Virginia Madsen was here as Jackie Lemanczyk, a witness that Deck found whom may have major testimony. Dean Stockwell played a crooked judge originally assigned to the case who tried to railroad Rudy to a early settlement. Jon Voight played the opposing counsel, Leo Drummond, and the fact that Jon Voight can be an unlikable real life person helped play into this rotten character. He was certainly easy to hate.

I will say that there was a secondary plot involving a battered wife (Claire Danes) and her abusive husband that felt like it was included just to fill out the run time of the film. It had very little (if anything) to do with the main story, only providing a distraction for Rudy. While there was an exciting fight scene included, this entire story beat could have been removed without losing anything of value to the overall story. It would have helped with the length of the film as well.

The Rainmaker was a solid courtroom drama and some excellent performances.

Boyz N the Hood (1991)

DailyView: Day 363, Movie 517

With just a couple of days remaining in the DailyView, I have finally gotten to a classic film that was on the first page of my list from way back in last April. I watched the iconic John Singleton written and directed film, Boyz N the Hood. This was the directorial debut for the late, great Singleton and it showed such an amazing wealth of talent, from behind the camera to in front of it.

Boyz N the Hood is a coming of age story that takes place in South Central Los Angeles as Tre Styles (first played as a child by Desi Arnez Hines II and then by Cuba Gooding Jr). He was sent to live with his father ‘Furious’ (Laurence Fishburne) by his mother Reva (Angela Bassett) when Tre got into a fight at school. It was here where he met brothers Doughboy (first played by Baha Jackson and then by Ice Cube) and Ricky (first played by Donovan McCrary and then Morris Chestnut) Baker.

The three of them grew up in this neighborhood that featured plenty of violence, shots fired in the distance and the sound of police sirens. Doughboy was a gang member and had a friend Chris (Redge Green) who had been shot and ended up in a wheelchair.

Ricky was a local star football player and was trying to get a scholarship to college to play football. He discovered that he had to take the SAT and score at least 700 in order to receive the scholarship.

After taking the test, Ricky got into an argument with a rival gang that caused Doughboy to wave his own gun around to try and straighten out the situation. This was leading to even more violence later in the film.

I was surprised how emotional this movie made me and how much I was into the story without even realizing it. While the language used in the film always makes me uncomfortable, I found myself really rooting for Ricky and Tre, despite the fact that I had a bad feeling about everything that was going on.

This film showed the real world in these neighborhoods without diving into hyperbole and stereotype. We see these characters as real people, not just the typical gang members you might see in a movie. These are very believable and allow you to connect to them even more.

There are great performances from Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Morris Chestnut, in particular. Laurence Fishburne brings an entirely different vibe to the film and does so with the gravitas that he always brings to the movie.

This is powerful and potent, shining a light on the dangers and the trials that face these people everyday in the hood. This is an absolute masterpiece.

The Legend of Cocaine Island (2018)

DailyView: Day 362, Movie 516

I was in the mood tonight for a documentary. I went to Netflix and started to search though the list of documentaries on the streamer site. I had found a couple of interesting docs that I put on my queue, a couple of documentary shorts that I added to the Saturday Shorts list, but nothing that was really jumping off the screen. Then, I found it.

The Legend of Cocaine Island sounded fascinating and it was absolutely the right choice for tonight.

Following a legendary tale of a mysterious bag of cocaine that had been buried on the Caribbean island of Culebra, family man Rodney Hyden tried to find and dig up the stash of drugs, believed to be worth over $2 million dollars.

This documentary was told with plenty of recreations of the events that led to Hyden spending time in prison for his choices in the treasure hunt.

There was a lot of light-hearted reconstruction of the tale that was being told. The story was one of those stranger than fiction stories and is laid out very well.

I enjoyed the documentary and wonder what these people were thinking.

Escape from Pretoria (2020)

DailyView: Day 361, Movie 515

Escape from Pretoria tells the true story of one of the great prison escapes of all time, with three political prisoners escaping from Pretoria in South Africa in 1979.

Based on the novel Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison by Tim Jenkin, who was one of the escapees, played here by Daniel Radcliffe, Escape from Pretoria was an exciting prison escape film that showed how intelligence are the most valuable weapons.

Daniel Radcliffe continues to push himself further away from Harry Potter with every film choice he makes. Honestly, I saw more Wolverine in him than Harry Potter.

There are plenty of moments of tension and anxiety that builds up with the movie. Several times when you have that feeling of holding your breath because you are afraid of whether or not the protagonists were going to get caught.

Apartheid is one of the most horrible governments in recent history and to see some of the struggles to oppose the racist, hatred of the evil government. It is a great thing that this government crashed.

Apocalypto (2006)

DailyView: Day 361, Movie 514

One of the films that has been on the DailyView to watch list since the very beginning, nearly a year ago, was Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. With just four days remaining in the DailyView, I finally pulled Apocalypto up on Amazon Prime.

What an epic this was.

The film took place during the Mayan civilization as we saw a peaceful tribe doing some hunting. Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) and the rest of his tribe were out hunting boar when they came across another tribe in the jungle. This new tribe did not seem problematic so they allowed them to pass through their jungle.

Later, back at their camp, the new tribe attacked them viciously, leading Jaguar Paw to hid his son and his pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández) into a deep hole to hide them. Captured, Jaguar Paw and the other men are taken to a ceremony where several of them are sacrificed. Thankfully, a eclipse occurred just before Jaguar Paw was to be sacrificed and so they believed that the God had his fill of blood.

The remaining members of the tribe, including Jaguar Paw, were taken and allowed to try and escape into their jungle, but the warriors of this tribe shot at them with arrows and threw spears, killing almost them all. Jaguar Paw, injured, is able to turn the table on the warrior and make it to the jungle. The rest of the group followed him in a chase through the jungle that is just epic as can be.

The first part of this movie was fine, but once Jaguar Paw made it to the jungle and they began chasing him, this movie turned into a fantastic thrill ride. Yes, there were some iffy CGI (especially with the jaguar that showed up), but Jaguar Paw being chased and turning the tides on his pursuers was just totally thrilling.

There are some beautifully shot scenes and the imagery around the jungle is just fantastic. Mel Gibson has proven himself to be one of the best directors working today. Sure there are issues with Gibson as a person that may tend to lean towards troublesome, but there can not be any argument that he knows what he is doing behind the camera.

I am very pleased that I finally got to Apocalypto for the DailyView because it was a fully engaging and thrilling chase movie with historical aspects to it. This was not what I had expected when I started it, but it turned out to be an entertaining, albeit extremely violent, ride.

Changeling (2008)

DailyView: Day 361, Movie 513

I have generally found Clint Eastwood directed films to be hit or miss. However, when they hit, they hit big time. That is the case with Changeling, the 2008 drama focused around a true story of the 1928 Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, the disappearance of the son of Christine Collins and the rampant police corruption in the LAPD at the time.

Angelina Jolie gives a stunning performance as Christine Collins, a woman whose son disappeared and was missing for six months. Then, the police discovered the boy and brought him back to his mother. The only problem was that once reunited Christine told the police that the boy was not her son, Walter. The police insisted that he was and that he’d been through trauma and that she just did not recognize the boy. She was in shock, they said. She took the boy home, but further physical traits supported her suspicion that this boy was not her son.

Christine approached Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) about her doubts, insisting that the boy was not Walter. Jones did not believe her and began to accuse her of being an unfit mother. Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) picked up the story and began to support Christine, encouraging her to fight for justice. Christine went to the papers and, because of this, wound up being thrown into an insane asylum by the police.

This movie was excellent and does an amazing job of creating emotion among the viewer. It is not just sadness for the disappearance of Walter and Angelina Jolie’s stirring performance, but also the anger that it builds up over the behavior of the LAPD at the time and the use of the mental asylum to do its dirty work. The cruelty is unimaginable for people who are meant to help and aid others.

Jason Butler Harner was outstanding as well as Gordon Northcott, the man behind the Wineville Chicken Coop and the man who may have killed Walter. He played this man with an abandon and an almost carefree attitude that made him even more frightening. The young actors involved were also very solid. Eddie Alderson, who played Sanford Clark, the boy forced to help Gordon Northcott, Gattlin Griffith, who played Walter Collins, and Asher Axe, who played David, a boy who escaped from the chicken coop with Walter’s help.

The film was beautifully shot and used its time frame wonderfully to fully tell its story. It was 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but the film did not drag on at all, paced well. The final version of the film had plenty of amazing craft to it and it is one of the better directed films of Eastwood’s catalogue.

Changeling was an unbelievable story that was able to connect to the outrage of the time.

The Voices (2014)

DailyView: Day 360, Movie 512

How did I miss this?

The Voices came out in the middle of the time when I was going to the movies all the time, and I have always enjoyed Ryan Reynolds. Heck, this was not too far before Deadpool. So how had I never even heard of this little dark horror/comedy gem?

Ryan Reynolds played Jerry, who worked at a bathtub factory. He seemed to have a sad little life, living alone with his pets Bosco the dog and Mr. Whiskers the cat. He was socially awkward and had trouble with making connections. He had to see his psychiatrist Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver), who kept pushing him to take his medication. You get glimpses into what appeared to be a dark past from Jerry, but you really have no idea where the film is going to take him. Jerry feels like that withdrawn loser who can overcome his demons and adjust to the world.

Unfortunately, that is not exactly in the cards for Jerry. As he carried on conversations with his supportive dog and the cruel and wicked cat, Jerry found himself in situations where his darker nature took over.

The film also starred Anna Kendrick (who has quite a list of oddball films) and Gemma Arterton, as women that Jerry was interested in, Kendrick, in particular, had a really strong performance and you are really rooting for her to be able to make it through.

Ryan Reynolds is handed a character that was darker than anything he had done before, including Wade Wilson in Deadpool. The catastrophic circumstances of Jerry’s life was devastating for him and gave the audience a reason to continue to hope for the best for this tragic character. The flashbacks to his youth with an abusive father and a mentally ill mother are heartbreaking and truly frames the character of Jerry in a different manner than you would expect. Right up until the end, I was hoping for the best for Jerry.

It was a funny movie, but there were plenty of times where laughing just felt like the wrong response, yet laughter is what would happen. The voices of the two pets, provided by Reynolds, were perfect and capsulized the way dogs and cats are perceived.

The ending sequence is as batshit crazy as the rest of the film, putting me slightly on edge. Honestly, the song at the end made me feel plenty of feelings, including feeling a little disgusted for liking it.

This was a much deeper film than I thought it was going to be and the character of Jerry was deeply scarred and developed more effectively than you would think. It was funny and filled with great performances from a really strong cast. The Voices is a trip of a film.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

DailyView: Day 359, Movie 511

Last night I had the pleasure of watching the new Nicolas Cage movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and I loved it. During that movie, Nicolas Cage stated that one of his all-time favorite movies, and one that he forced his on-screen daughter to watch, was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was a 1920 silent German horror film directed by Robert Wiene.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “At a carnival in Germany, Francis (Friedrich Feher) and his friend Alan (Rudolf Lettinger) encounter the crazed Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). The men see Caligari showing off his somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt), a hypnotized man who the doctor claims can see into the future. Shockingly, Cesare then predicts Alan’s death, and by morning his chilling prophecy has come true — making Cesare the prime suspect. However, is Cesare guilty, or is the doctor controlling him?”

This silent movie has been considered an influential and beloved film for years. This was the first I had heard of it. It was an interesting film with a decent story. I found all of the characters to have solid performances, very expressive as needed.

I loved the style of the backgrounds. I know that it was because of the year this was recorded, but the minimalist backgrounds with its jagged corners and intriguing angles felt painted and attractive. It fit right in with the shade of the film.

This was fun, especially after the Nic Cage recommendation.

Immortal (2020)

DailyView: Day 358, Movie 510

With the new Nic Cage film on the docket for the evening, I had to wake up early today for another live action short for the DailyView. Today, from the Dust studio, I found the sci-fi film Immortal.

Simple story. In an attempt to find a way to “cure” death, scientist Harper (Meredith Casey) has been carrying on secret experiments that were just beginning to head toward human experimentation. Then, she is discovered.

There is some good acting in the short. There were some really intense moments between Meredith Casey and Laura Coover.

It’s the classic “mad scientist” trope and it went just where I thought it might and ended with a huge cliffhanger, which leaves you with the question of what happens next.

A decent short that make me excited to do the Saturday Short Day that I planned for May.

Pineapple Express (2008)

DailyView: Day 357, Movie 509

It is 4/20. In honor of the day, I watched Pineapple Express.

I have never been a fan of stoner comedies so I have not watched many of them.

Pineapple Express starred Seth Rogan and James Franco. Rogan, while smoking the new marijuana called Pineapple Express , witnessed a murder involving a police officer(Rosie Perez) and a drug lord (Gary Cole). Going on the run from them, Rogan and Franco get involved in all kinds of chaos.

There were some funny bits in the movie, but this was very much a Seth Rogan movie. It was loud, people were all yelling at the same time so it was hard to listen to, and more annoying than entertaining.

The story was ridiculous, which I believe was part of the charm. The situations were over-the-top. There were some parts that were funny, but it really stretched credibility.

The crazy violence of the second half of the movie seemed fairly out of place to the buddy comedy from the first half.

Like most stoner movies, I am not a fan.