I honestly wasn’t looking forward to seeing the latest Brad Pitt Star vehicle “Bullet Train”.
From the publicity, it looked like a riff on the kind of movies that made Guy Ritchie a name director two decades ago. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and RocknRolla are all solid movies, but I just wasn’t that excited about revisiting that style of filmmaking, even with a star like Pitt in the lead.
Despite my hesitation, I have to admit that Bullet Train was a lot of fun. Packed with action and violence, the film is an exhilarating e-ticket ride as Pitt’s hapless assassin “Ladybug” attempts to complete an unarmed mission on a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
As suspenseful and action-packed as the film is, it’s the film’s humor, quips and quirky characters that lift the film over the top and make it one of the freshest and fastest films of the summer.
Zak Olkewicz’s screenplay is hilarious and captivating as a comedy and adventure. It’s outrageous with antics that border on a Road Runner cartoon or Three Stooges short, but it works so well under David Leitch’s direction. He really orchestrates the madness here in the best possible way.
The plot intertwines with rival criminal factions working out their bad relationships through rival hitmen and a hit girl who Pitt must outmaneuver to complete his mission to deliver a briefcase for Maria (Sandra Bullock), his contact and handler, on the train to Kyoto. to collect .
Several other assassins on the train complicate matters with similar but contrasting goals. Two are Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who are standout supporting actors in the film. Taylor-Johnson and Henry’s chemistry is excellent, and while they’re at odds with our protagonist, I’ve settled on a bickering pair of ‘brothers’. The two could be carrying a movie themselves, or maybe a streaming series.
Joey King plays the deadly schoolgirl assassin The Prince, whom audiences will be happy to hate, and Michael Shannon emerges at the film’s climax as the baddest of the evil “White Death”. Shannon shines with an outstanding villain twist that could shape him even further in the future. Pitt is charming as a lovable but very capable and dangerous loser. Playing such a self-deprecating role only makes Pitt more attractive. His character always feels like he’s losing, when in fact he’s winning.
The action and fight choreography is off the charts in this film that constantly changes and turns to never cease to amaze audiences.
There is one mid-credit scene worth staying in there and watching.
Maybe it’s because of my low expectations for the film, but I had more fun watching this film than any other I’ve seen this summer.
(R) 2 hrs 6 mins.
The Sea Creature
The Sea Beast is an animated adventure film from the creators of the How To Train Your Dragon film series that eluded me for about a month as a Netflix release, but if you have kids and/or enjoy animation yourself, the film is worth your time.
It is a mystery why this film, which was clearly influenced by Moby Dick, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, as well as a number of Disney fantasy films, was not widely released in theaters. It’s by far my favorite animated film this year.
It’s a classic tale of misunderstanding that works as both a moral drama and a sizzling seafaring adventure.
Karl Urban (The Boys) voices famed sea monster hunter Jacob Holland, who gains a new respect and even love for the sea beasts he has earned by hunting and destroying them for a living when he and young Maisie Brumble, a runaway orphan, Voiced by Zaris-Angel Hator, learn that there is more to the great sea creatures than meets the eye after throwing them off their sailing ship.
While the plot falls a bit short of the numbers, it works thanks to wonderful animation, delicate characterization from the script by director Chris Williams and his co-writer Neil Benjamin, and charming voice work from the entire cast.
The animation is colorful and lively, and the action is quite strong and engaging.
Most Netflix movie releases are just so-so, but having enjoyed these movies so much, I’m going to start paying closer attention to what and when Netflix releases its next animated feature.
(PG) 1 hr 59 min.
Classic Corner – TCM’s summer under the stars is underway
August marks Turner Classic Movies’ “Summer Under the Stars” promotion, in which the old-time film channel dedicates each day of the month to an actor’s film listing.
It’s a great way for film buffs to become familiar with the work of a classic star they may have overlooked before, or a fun way to recall old favorite films.
For me, TCM is synonymous with comfort food, and it’s my go-to choice when I need to decompress or just get away from it all for a few hours.
» Here is the schedule for this month
I’ll definitely fire up the old DVR on Sunday when the Gene Kelly movies are showing. It’s not a bad film, but ‘Singing’ in the Rain’ (1952), set at 3:00 p.m. Center, is an absolute hit that any classic film fan should try. Kelly’s version of The Three Musketeers (1948) is my favorite cinematic retelling of the classic story. I also like “On the Town” (1949), about three sailors looking for love during a 24-hour shore leave in New York City. It stars Frank Sinatra at the height of his popularity.
Montag features the work of Maureen O’Sullivan, who starred in MGM’s Tarzan films as Jane alongside Johnny Weismuller as Lord of the Jungle. The first two of their films together in these roles are set at 7pm and 9pm on Mondays, but I’m hoping to include some of their other films that I haven’t seen before.
William Holden takes center stage on Tuesday. 5 PM Executive Suite (1954) and 7 PM Sunset Boulevard (1950) are certified classics, but the sharp satire Network (1976) is my must-see film. It plays at 10:45 p.m
Swedish-American actress Greta Garbo is Tuesday’s highlight. The sultry sex symbol was one of the relatively few Hollywood stars to not only survive but thrive as movies transitioned from the silent era to talkies.
Camille (1937), set at 11:30 am, is considered by many to be her best performance, but she also starred in the comedy Ninotchka (1939), about a Russian envoy who falls in love with a playboy excellent in Paris.
These are just a few suggestions of the many great movies TCM will be playing this month. I have a feeling my DVR will be overflowing with movies that I’ll probably have to catch up on by Christmas later this month.
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