Chalk it up to the luck of the draw, for how else can one account for seeing both Nora’s Will (more accurately in the original Spanish, Cinco Dias Sin Nora) and the latest Tom Hanks movie, A Man Called Otto, in the same evening? That I am still here to report on these events is, in its own way, a positive commentary on my own mental health.
In Nora, the title character commits suicide before the title sequence, leaving a refrigerator full of dishes complete with serving instructions for the family Passover dinner, while Hank’s Otto, an otherwise rather efficient product of a mid-western engineering school, fails at any number of attempts at bringing about the end of his life. These could be funny movies… right? They are not.
My Google machine says these two films are well under two hours in length… each. You could not prove that by me. I found the former very much on the long side, while I would judge the latter as interminable.
I admit to knowing those who are suckers for anything on which Tom Hanks imposes his imprimatur. More than one of these has told me they found Otto extremely moving as evidenced by the empty box of tissues in their possession by film’s end. What can I say other than I disagree?
If you are resolved to see at least one of these two, and Tom Hanks is not a determining factor, I would urge you to opt for the Mexican production of Nora and do, please, play it on Netflix in the original Spanish with subtitles. As to the other flick, I have been told that Otto is based on a Swedish film (A Man Called Ove) but do not count on this reviewer to do the research and delve into this sorry material yet again.
Tulsa King, a series starring Sylvester Stallone on Paramount+, evoked an entirely different response… until it didn’t. The first two episodes were simply terrific. A classic fish out of water situation with a star who, at seventy something, seems at the top of his game. My countenance wore a grin throughout those segments for, what can I say? It was nice to be in the company of true professionals who seemed expert at knowing how to stretch a thing without tearing it.
The euphoria did not last. Episodes three and four, while containing all the same elements of their predecessors, added a bit more to the mix. It was as if the chef made the mistake of pouring way too much salt into the stew. I did a cursory check of credits, did not notice any important personnel changes in the creative team, but I’ll tell you… something happened. No one in the business of making series television runs out of gas this fast. Someone left the cake out in the rain, and I am not sure I have the desire (or the energy) to check back for episode five… even though (theoretically) it could break the existing tie between two good episodes and two not so good.
White House Plumbers is a political satire of some very serious malfeasance in our nation’s history. Or is it? A “satire,” that is. I take my political dramas seriously… and, let’s face it, there are not a lot of laughs in All The President’s Men. This multi-part HBO mini-series owes more to Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado than it does to Woodward and Bernstein.
Justin Theroux plays G. Gordon Liddy, Woody Harrelson essays E. Howard Hunt, and Lena Headey (of Game of Thrones fame) pretty much steals all the acting kudos as Mrs. Hunt.
I honestly don’t know what to make of this series. It presents Liddy and Hunt as unbelievable, farcical, clowns… and then, I dunno… it sort of begs the question that maybe… just maybe… that is who they were. All that said, overall, there may just be enough entertainment value herein to make your viewing worthwhile.
That last statement about the “overall” does not apply to You Hurt My Feelings… a new, so-called, comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss who I would guess is rich enough to pay to take this film out of circulation. She should do just that. The phrase “no redeeming social value” comes quickly to mind. There is not a line of dialogue, a single scene, a directorial nor an acting moment that would not have more properly been relegated to the cutting room floor. Ms. Dreyfuss has never looked worse and that is only one of the many reasons she should do all that is possible to prevent this abomination from further public display. Nicole Holofcener has had some success as a writer (The Last Duel), some credits as a producer, and has done some directing sporadically for television. She should stick to writing… preferably period pieces with lesbian underpinnings.
The only good news of the evening came at the end of this Amazon Prime presentation (for which I paid perfectly good money) in the form of a blurb for the now somewhat ancient TV series, Saving Grace, starring Oscar winner Holly Hunter. I urged my guests to hang in with me for another 45 minutes or so just to watch the first episode of this terrific series of yesteryear if, for no other reason, than as an opportunity to get the bad taste of You Hurt My Feelings obliterated. It almost turned the evening around. This off-beat/fantasy/cop series has long been one of my favorites and I was happy to see that it still held up, even after all these years.
I did this the next night as well, re-running the 20-year-old pilot episode of Alias, starring Jennifer Garner. It too remains as fabulous a single episode as I can recall, save for the horror of discovering that Amazon has introduced commercials into the screening process.
Finally… an upbeat note, there are two very decent new motion pictures rooted heavily in American capitalism. The first is BlackBerry, the story of the creation of the first smartphone and (for some) the invention’s untimely demise. It is a Canadian production with a delightful cast and solid direction. I purchased it on Amazon Prime, but I understand it is also available in theatres.
AIR is the other half of this duo. An Amazon Prime motion picture with a terrific script, and a very nice cast, all dramatizing the true events surrounding a budding NIKE company and their courtship of Michael Jordan. If you think I am going to trivialize this commentary with something akin to “that’s shoe business,” you are wrong. This is a very good movie. It is Cinderella on steroids as Matt Damon courts young Jordan’s mother (Viola Davis) with Nike’s magic slipper and a piece of the action that has made a lot of folks very, happy… and very, very rich. I haven’t seen this good a movie in a while… to which the previous paragraphs bear witness.
I commend you to try this one on for size… I think you will agree with me and, as is often said, if the shoe fits… wear it.
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