One-Eyed Jacks (1961) There’s a good movie in here somewhere, though four or five appear to peek out at various times. In the end it’s too long and too soap-opera-ish, not acompletely unexpected result given the number of cooks with input to this broth even though Rod Serling was the original screenwriter and Sam Peckinpah did the first re-write. There were others after that (including Calder Willingham) but in the end the task proved too great for novice director Marlon Brando. The final cut of 2:21 is down from Brando’s five hours (not a typo) and the ending is changed to a bittersweet yet more upbeat resolution. Worth a watch if you’re a cinephile or deeply interested in the Western movie canon, but there are better ways to spend two-and-a-half hours.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) I cannot remember being more disappointed by a movie.
Darkest Hour (2017) A worthy film on multiple levels, but obviously will be remembered asthe peak of Gary Oldman’s superb career. Yes, some of the history is fudged, but the core elements are accurate enough and the story-telling is exceptional. If you’re a World War II buff, this will get you to thinking. If you’re not, this is as good a place as any to learn about a global cataclysm that still shapes how we live today and not feel like you’re having education forced on you. (Note: Yes, there is more to Churchill than the sympathetic treatment he receives here; he was a deeply flawed man. That’s not what the movies is about. It’s about how Churchill pretty much saved England from the Nazis, which is worth remembering him for regardless of his faults.)
Locke (2013) Interesting concept for this Tom Hardy vehicle. (No pun intended.) Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a man who lived his entire life as the picture of responsibility as his way ofmaking up for a father who was the exact opposite. He steps out of line one time—I’ll not say how, as the film takes its time doing the reveal—and his whole life is turned over, in large part because he continues to insist on doing the right thigs by everyone when it just can’t be done. The whole film takes place in Locke’s car as he’s talking to various people on the phone. No one else is seen; all the other actors are disembodied voices. That it works is a tribute to writer/director Steven Knight’s focus and ability to create a whole live for Locke that we never see, and Hardy’s low-key version of old-time movie star charisma. That the audience willingly gives him their undivided attention for an hour and a half is no mean feat. A good but not great film. Certainly one worth seeing and talking about.