Motherless Brooklyn

Films like this make me really glad that I review films. Please be clear I don’t enjoy warning people away from the occasional piece of shit I have had to sit through – thoughwhile I regard the activity as a commendable public service, its an unpleasant job, every step of the way.

Then there are films like “Motherless Brooklyn” which are a complete surprise – like pulling a book off a shelf at at library random and discovering hours later, that heavy shit has been perpetrated on you and that this heavy shit will probably take a pretty long time to dissipate.
*films like “Motherless Brooklyn” are the kind of films which make me happy I’m alive *

On to the nitty gritty.
“Motherless Brooklyn” (2019) is a Film Noir thriller set in New York in the early 1950’s. Almost everyone in the film is a war veteran in one way or another and just about all have a case of PTSD as part of their emotional carry-on luggage. Its a potent kind of place, rather too frenetic to be comfortable especially considering that the film is almost top heavy in big name star power, all of whom were presumably working for scale for a chance at the shit-hot script.

This is an impressive film. Many big names appear in comparatively minor character roles. I’m pretty rubbish at putting names to faces, so this was actually pretty distracting from the main story as it had me fretting over who a character “was” rather than who they were in the story. But this is a very minor criticism – the person I went with just “recognised” everyone – and had a fine time at it.

The story starts with a theoretically simple murder but rapidly expands over a series of truly twisted plot twists into being a massively complicated Real-estate development swindle and; unexpectedly into being a quite blisteringindictment of the American “system” and I feel, the current president and his way of doing business. Importantly, this film lays the moral map out with unarguable clarity. Watching it will force people to choose allegiances- and in so doing, face up to themselves in ways that for a lot of people, are very overdue, and that they may well find uncomfortable.

This film is a real cracker.

(C) Copyright 2020 Alex Rieneck All rights reserved.

The Grand Illusion

The Grand Illusion

What a month its been. First the fires went out when the ashes got rained on. Then the fires were replaced by floods. Our Prime Minister sneaked back into the country from his Hawaian bolthole and made sure to get himself photographed outside recognisable locations in Canberra to prove that while he may be scared of bushfires, floods hold no terror for him; he is made of sterner stuff.

But the bad news is he may not manage the budget surplus that they promised us. Frydenberg and Morrison both appear to be embarrassed by this failing despite the very respectable excuse of having had most of the country burn down on their watch, and like most of us, having little idea what a budget surplus is good for anyway. I mean the last time we had one followed eleven years of John Howard scrimping and cutting to the point where the country almost didn’t have an infrastructure. I suspect ,mainly in reward for his stinginess the electorate threw him out of office in 2007- just in time for the Global Financial Crisis. His replacements simply spent the miserly -collected surplus to keep the economy functional. He got to watch from enforced retirement in Ryde. Truly aPyrrhic victory.

So now we’re back to chasing a budget surplus at the expense of having a viable bushfire service- which directly results in half the country burning down and incalculable damage to the world’s biosphere. The human species is destroying the planet in search of “profit” and the chasing ofinfantile theories. Our country indeed, all countries are owned by rich profoundly immoral creatures who control every election, maintain the pretence of “democracy”(or whatever)- and continue doing whatever they want. It’s how the world works.

To be blunt the only slim hope for the future is that they may want to preserve their holdings into the future- their own children, or their own artificially prolonged lives for as long as possible, and who knows how long that might be?


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.

“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