EMMA

It is a truth often acknowledged that Jane Austen is still jolly popular, and that two-hundred-and-three years after her death, her books are still in print and more importantly, still widely read and enjoyed. These facts have not escaped the notice of Hollywood either. The Manatees at the top of the industry have correctly surmised that anything with “Jane Austen” in the title is sure to put bums on seats – even if only because the books are still widely represented on school and university reading lists. Offerings range from the idiotic, with the addition of zombies in a rather desperate attempt at humour to the updated – “Clueless”.

As far as the movie industry is concerned, the problem is that Austen’s output was quite small, with her concentrating on quality rather than quantity, a fact which has already pushed the movie industry deep into re-make territory. This film is no less than the fifth version of “Emma” (counting “Clueless”) and is, in my opinion, the best. It’s been made with huge respect for the original text with Austen’s humour represented perfectly by the actors and the excellent script. The audience laughed out loud, and frequently. The cinema was a very pleasant place to be, that afternoon. The photography was truly sublime and of beautiful things, the editing slow and considered. I suppose it could be said that nothing much “happened”- no-one got shot, the world was not saved from marauding aliens, but my attention was sill riveted since as Ms Austen knew well, importance is a matter of degree, not of content. And if “Emma” is slight in content it is doubly charming for all that.

A Rare Gem indeed.
(C) Alex Rieneck 2020 All rights reserved.

12-bore ReIncarnation

Nembutal is slower 

And you can vomit it up.

Smack’ll do the trick if the NarCan man is slow that day.

But there’s no cure for painting the wall

With your mind and putting your everything into it,

a blossoming rose of forget-me-not that has forgotten

everything 

It ever

knew

© Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved.

"The Irishman"

“The Irishman” – Review

Truth be told you’ve very likely already seen this since it was a very successfully launched for NetFlix and millions dutifully tuned in when told to. It was a bit of a no-brainer – Martin Scorsese directing, Robert DeNiro AND Al Pacino acting – Cinematic confections do not come more potentially tasty than this(less they contain ‘Droids and have a script written in crayon).
Carping aside, “The Irishman” is a particularly good film , and I think, in my modest way that I may be able to expand your appreciation of it (preferably after) watching it, since spoilers may well follow.

Martin Scorsese is 77 years old. He’s been making films for over fifty of them. He is still evolving as a director, an artist and an intellect. From his earliest success, “Mean Streets” Scorsese seems to have been fascinated by reality, both visually and intellectually. I haven’t seen “Mean Streets” in longer than some of you have been alive but I still remember three petty hoods squabbling in their car over the way that their stolen booty is less valuable than expected. These hoods were so convincing, (even though they were actors) that I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was watching was real– twenty years before “The Godfather” reality programming and films like [“Tangerine”]. Its true – “The Godfather” won the best picture the year “Mean Streets” was released but these pond scum were real and “Mean Streets” is still a stunningly good film. In fact both those gangster films altered the shape of entertainment to the present day – it could easily be argued that “Mean Streets” was at least the harbinger of the reality Tv, while without “The Godfather”, “The Sopranos would not have been viewed as a viable project, which in turn would have affected “Game of Thrones.”

Back to “The Irishman” and Scorsese’s relationship with reality. “The Irishman” is not the final instalment in the “Goodfellas trilogy” in any way other than the viewer’s interaction with the mind that created the films. “Goodfellas” starts with narration then instantly states that the film is not fiction but a melange of truth and the tricks of dramatic filmmaking. It promises to be an expose’ of the real U.S “suburban Mafia”- and it delivers, in classic style, the feeling is more documentary than Drama – “Mean Streets” again.

Scorsese followed “Goodfellas” with what I consider his masterpiece “Casino” takes the “Docu-Drama form even further to produce a film that exposes how Las Vegas works. Narrated, more complex than “Goodfellas”, Scorsese paints his characters more richly, with more complexity and detail allowing Sharon Stone (for example) to deliver one of the most mind-buggeringly bravura performances you will ever see. A truly classic film in the style of the old classics.

“The Irishman” follows in this evolution though, sadly without an equivalent female part to Sharon Stone; but in choice of subject, the canvas is bigger, even bigger than Las Vegas. In this film Scorsese takes on the assassination of J.F.K and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa – and he makes sense of both complex subjects, makes them interesting and though their climaxes are already “known” makes them truly suspenseful. Just waiting this makes me want to watch all 3.5 hours again.

(C) Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved.

Knives Out- Review

There are two versions of the crime murder – the one which happens in the real world, which is always nasty, pointless and usually brutal; and the murder of fiction which is jazzed up to be thrilling, exciting and mentally tantalising. Murder is a big seller, whether its sold for sleazy “serial killer” thrills or as a “locked room” mystery where the reader gets to decipher the carefully salted clues and identify the killer – before the detective, whoever they may be. One thing is sure though, while its usually pretty easy to “solve” a real murder by using the accounts in the newspapers, the fictional cases have been created far harder, frequently with real malice, to stymie the cogitations of the most clear thinker.

As a case in pain, when the solution of “Knives Out” is laid bare, it takes the detective, Le Blanc (Daniel Craig), about five minutes of fast talking just to get the facts out. If your head isn’t already spinning, that rave will do the trick, I was alternately screaming with laughter and marvelling that anyone could learn that amount of mad crap off by heart and then recount it at high speed apparently word for word, in one take. Then again I guess that’s why Daniel Craig gets paid big bucks while I struggle to remember filthy limericks and declaim them in the shower.

“Knives out” is a pretty strange film by any measure. It isn’t really a “whodunnit” since the murder has been committed before (and you are introduced to the character before) you have any idea of the “lie of the land.” No matter “Knives Out” is by nature a parody of the genre rather than an example of it, and as parodies go, it is very successful, although in truth I don’t think anyone in the audience was enjoying it much for about the first hour – until a line of quite remarkable vulgarity arrived out of left field and the whole audience literally screamed with shock and amusement. The rest of the film was frequently very funny, as with the change of gears afforded by that line, it seemed to have found its feet as a solid worthwhile entertainment. Daniel Craig exhibits a delightful sense of comic timing, and an ability to act outside the character of Bond that only a fool would have doubted anyway, and Jamie Lee Curtis is probably the most beautiful and sexy woman on the screen, and no slouch in the talent stakes either.

This film positively sparkles. Very highly recommended.
Review(C) Copyright 2019 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved.

Mrs Lowry& Son-Review

Mrs Lowry and Son.

This film concerns the life of the British artist L.S Lowry and his relationship with his mother. It is most definitely not a film for the faint of heart since Mrs Lowry, his mother (played by Vanessa Redgrave) is a horrible domineering old bag with little to recommend her. Never have I seen the plight of ageing parent/adult carer laid bare with such nasty precision or by two actors of such towering talent.

Vanessa Redgrave has been a presence of Godzilla like impact in show business since the 1960s, piling up a mountain of awards matched only by the controversies she both creates and patently wallows in. She is at her lambent best in this film. Timothy Spall is the greatest living British actor in the world today certainly as highly regarded as Ian McKellen, but excelling in parts less “talky” than McKellen. Recently he has almost cornered the “British Eccentric “ market playing JMW Turner in “Mr Turner” and Albert Pierrepoint in “The Last Hangman.” Both remarkably good performances in remarkably good films. In “Mrs Lowry and Son” he more than holds his ground against the pure brut power of Vanessa Redgrave’s performance – watching him continuing to love his mother, no matter how insufferable she behaves – watching him *force*himself to continue to love her is the stuff of the very greatest drama ever put on film.

The climax of “Mrs Lowry and Son” belongs entirely to the paintings of LS Lowry. In context the images destroyed me and I cried so hard I actually sobbed out loud. No bones about it, this film is something special

(C) Copyright 2019 Alex Rieneck All Rights reserved

The Good Liar- review

“Th Good Liar” -review
Seeing “The Good Liar is, on the face of it, a complete no-brainer: a cast like Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren almost screams that this is no lightweight project. Stir direction by Bill Condon (Gods &Monsters) into the mix and if you’re a cinema goer with a brain, you have an unmissable film. So I saw it on opening day, at the morning session and sadly; wasn’t as overwhelmed with positivity as I had hoped to be. I *wasnt* “underwhelmed, but for a thriller full of twists and turns I was disappointed to find that the cynicism I had applied to the trailer had solved the big “mystery” of the plot. Simply. In this present social climate Ian McKellen cannot be the Heavy, kill Helen Mirren and wander off with the boodle. Never happen. So something else has to happen- and with a few out-of-left-field plot twists something does, right on schedule. To say more would spoil it, and I don’t want to do that because “The Good Liar is quite worth seeing, -just rather less so than its golden pedigree would suggestReview copyright (C)2019 Alex Rieneck All Rights Reserved

Pavarotti

The most recent in a glut of “famous musician” biopics, “Pavarotti” is the story of Luciano Pavarotti, arguably the most recognisable of the “Three Tenors” and arguably the greatest singer of the twentieth century. A man blessed with a truly supernatural voice. I say blessed because the man in question appears to have been the rarest breed of towering artistic talents. His great voice made everybody happy – his audiences and just as importantly, him.

Make no mistake, this is no “tortured artistic genius” biopic. Pavarotti made no bones about trying to make everyone around him happy. And by and large he seems to have succeeded. In fact through the entire film, I don’t think he ever stopped smiling – except once, while singing “Pagliacci” – which he did so well that in a phrase of notes less than ten seconds long I was moved to cry and feel a great ebullient joy at his talent – both emotions at the same time.

To greater or lesser extent, “music star films” are usually rather sad films. Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” was an undeniably tortured genius who by some quirk of fate, had the knack of using his talent to mutate his personal pain into mass joy. Maria Callas was far from being a happy person. Please don’t ask me for my opinion of Elton John or the film “Rocketman” instead if you want a great experience at the movies, see “Pavarotti”.

Its been a very long time since I’ve seen a film about such a major talent, and since before Pavarotti, there was only Caruso some eighty years earlier, we may have to wait some time and I can only say that whoever they are, I hope the vicissitudes of genetics and life allow them as much happiness as Pavarotti. Highly recommended.

(C) Alex Rieneck, 2019