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Search Title: Search Director: Year Seen:  


Title: Director [Year]
"The Highwaymen" John Lee Hancock [2019]
"The Lobster" Yorgos Lanthimos [2015]
"Infamous" Douglas McGrath [2006]

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Liner Notes.

© 2019 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."

"The Highwaymen" [John Lee Hancock] 2019

"The Highwaymen [2019] was directed by John Lee Hancock and stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. Although made by Netflix, this is a move with full cinematic quality.

"As a director, Hancock consistently makes noteworthy if not great films. His best effort to date critically was "The Blind Side" [2009]. As a screenwriter he is perhaps best known for "Snow White and the Huntsman" [2012], which was a surprisingly good retelling of the fairy tale.

"In this film the story of Bonnie and Clyde is told from the viewpoint of the two retired Texas Rangers who tracked them down and were primarily responsible for their deaths. Arthur Penn‘s justifiably famous "Bonnie and Clyde" [1967] romanticized the two criminals as a couple and largely sugar-coated who they were. In this film their murderous exploits are portrayed without that and seen only distantly, as they are not central characters here.

"This film concentrates on the two aging retired lawmen, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, played respectively by Costner and Harrelson. Both rangers had a reputation for extreme violence in their younger days. The interplay between them as they hunt down the two outlaws is what gives this film some depth. Hamer‘s character is quiet and matter of fact, while Gault is much the opposite.

"Many castigated this film because it counterplays against Penn‘s great 1967 film. I disagree. For one thing, Penn‘s film was a modern fairy tale, whereas this film is a great deal closer to the reality of the time. If you prefer the fairy tale, fine, don‘t watch this film. Otherwise, you should at least find this film entertaining."


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"The Lobster" [Yorgos Lanthimos] 2015

"The Lobster [2015] was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Efthymis Filippou. It stars Colin Farrell and co-stars John C. Reilly.

"This is a film that most people would not think about seeing if they read a synopsis of the plot. It concerns a society where adults who breakup a relationship have 45 days to find another relationship or be turned into an animal of their choice. Those who stay single outside the law are hunted.

"Lanthimos is a Greek director who has made films before that portray odd and oppressive human behavior such as Dogtooth [2010], which was also written by Filippou.

"Lobster somewhat resembles a documentary, with flat narrative style and rather dull cinematography, no doubt on purpose, as is the somewhat deadpan delivery of lines.

"This film is considered by some to be a comedy. Their point is that this dystopian near future is not real, therefore one can take its serious treatment as satire. That may work for some, but if you suspend disbelief while watching, a common requirement for many films, it becomes genuinely disturbing.

"While this film is well executed, it should be approached knowing that you might not like it. If you do like it, try Dogtooth [2010] as well."


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"Infamous" [Douglas McGrath] 2006

"Infamous [2006] was written and directed by Douglas McGrath, based on the George Plimpton book. McGrath‘s earlier film, Nicholas Nickleby [2002] is considered equally good.

"The cast for Infamous is a strong one, with several impressive cameos. It is headed by Toby Jones playing Truman Capote and Sandra Bullock playing Capote‘s literary helpmate at that time, Harper Lee.

"This film tells the story about Truman Capote‘s greatest triumph and what most who knew him felt was also the beginning of his end as a writer. That is of course "In Cold Blood", conceived by Capote as a literary experiment melding literature and reportage of the Clutter murders in Holcomb, Kansas.

"Capote was so strongly physically and aurally ‘typed‘ that a very similar actor is required for believability. Toby Jones fit that bill, giving a convincing and strong performance, easily confirmed by looking at and listening to actual Capote interviews.

"The film opens and in short order paints a picture of Capote as a key player in New York City‘s high society of the late 1950s, where he was renowned writer and brilliant conversationalist. This shows how starkly different covering the emotional and psychological aspects of a murder in rural America was for him. This difference is well depicted, using establishing shots of rural emptiness. When Capote arrives in Kansas, he is at a loss what to do. Eventually, he ingratiates himself into the local society, making possible the gathering of material he needs for what he intends to write.

"The last half of the film concerns itself with the developing relationship between Capote and the murderer Perry Smith, well played by Daniel Craig, as an unpredictable and violent, but complex man, well-suited to Capote‘s purpose. It has long been assumed that the emotional attachment Capote made to obtain Smith‘s confidence fractured Capote when he saw Smith hung. This is the assumption taken here. Whatever the reason, Capote effectively stopped writing afterwards, sliding into the alcohol and drug abuse that killed him at 59.

"Infamous suffers a bit in comparison to Capote [2005], where another fine portrayal of Capote is given by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Infamous does a better job depicting the social animal that Capote was. This is a very effective, well acted film, certainly one worth watching. If viewers are not familiar with his work, they should at least be acquainted with Capote‘s persona."


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Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.