Just Been Watching…(113)

The Irishman (2019)

***Historical events, so spoilers do not apply***

The first thing I am going to say is that this is going to be an exceptionally positive review
Make no mistake, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS FILM!

I saw this on Netflix, and it is not currently available elsewhere.

Director: Martin Scorsese.
Cast;
Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran
Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa
Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino
Ray Romano as Bill Bufalino
Bobby Cannavale as Skinny Razor
Anna Paquin as Peggy Sheeran
Lucy Gallina as young Peggy
Stephen Graham as Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano
Harvey Keitel as Angelo Bruno
Steven Van Zandt as Jerry Vale

Look at that cast! And that is just the headliners. Everyone else is great too.

I will start this review with one word, ‘RESTRAINT’.

Joe Pesci is restrained. Older, less hysterical, more composed. And no cackling.
Pacino, known best lately for shouting rather than acting is also less hysterical. Hardly any shouting at all. (Well, a bit)
De Niro is suitably restrained too, and also narrates the story, told in flashback/flash forward. He is ‘The Irishman’.

In fact, everyone is restrained, and the film is all the better for that.

If you liked ‘Casino’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘Goodfellas’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘Mean Streets’, you should like this too.
If you liked ‘JFK’, you should like this too.

Alright, what’s it about?

Jimmy Hoffa was the charismatic leader of the Teamsters’ Union in America. (Truck drivers) The union had so much money in contributions and pension funds, that it helped to bankroll the Mafia in the 1950s. Hoffa became a famous personality, and also a famous gangster, due to his Mob associations. He ‘disappeared’ in 1975, and to this day his whereabouts are officially unknown, although he was declared dead in 1982. Irishman Frank Sheehan is a truck driver, and ex-WW2 soldier. One day, he happens to meet a mob figure by chance, when his truck breaks down. That gangster is Russell Buffalino, (Pesci) and he takes a liking to the man, bringing him into the organisation. Petty theft leads to becoming a mob hitman, and then Hoffa’s right-hand man and bodyguard.

Meanwhile, the mob is unhappy with JFK, who has not honoured his pledge to get them back the gambling joints in Cuba, and harassed by his brother Bobby, who is the Attorney General. Nobody trusts anyone, and as time goes on, many leading Mob figures are ‘disappeared’, and Hoffa is getting out of control. When the Mafia chooses Provenzano over Hoffa, events come to a head, and something has to give.

This is conventional gangster fare. Families, wives, girlfriends, divided loyalties, and lots of people ending up dead. Politics, betrayal, and lack of trust.

But this film is just WONDERFUL!

Locations, settings, costumes, music, (even that is by Robbie Robertson, who used to be in The Band) and a flawless feel of time and place.

Before you say it, yes we have seen many similar films before.
And yes, it is long, (three hours and twenty-five minutes) but that length worked for me.

If you didn’t like ‘Goodfellas’, you are not going to like this.
If you don’t like gangster/Mafia films, you are not going to like this.

So if that’s the case, my advice is don’t watch it, then you won’t have to complain later.

For me, it was five stars. With bells on, and an airhorn sounding, as well as a choir in the background.

Can you tell I liked it?

Here’s a trailer.

If Only They Were This Good at Brexit

This is the post that announced my quiz award on Chandler Swain’s blog.

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

NEWS FLASH FROM ENGLAND:In an atmosphere of revelry rivaling that of both VE Day and anytime Kenneth Branagh leaves the country, the people of Beetley are celebrating the success of local Ollie owner and the only resident of the town to have personally flashed a rude gesture at Benjamin Disraeli, Grouchy Pete. in his landmark victory in cracking the Enigma Code that is the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz.

Brexit Stalls as Parliament Investigates Suspicious Security Breach From Beetley; Dog Will Testify

In a move that has stunned NATO and forced an admission from French President Emmanuel Macron that Parisians are indeed “annoying”, an ancient Beetley native known only by the alias Pete (which in the Welsh dialect means either “angry Rainman” or “Ollie’s burden” depending on how many whiskey shots you have consumed), has solved what has been called by prominent scholars at the ivy…

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Finally Cracked it!

For more years than I care to remember, I have attempted Chandler Swain’s notoriously difficult 25-question film quiz. His challenges are themed, and incredibly hard. They have given me genuine headaches in the past, and the often dark stills he uses have made my eyes ache too.

Until today, I tried my best. But I think my previous best score was 22/25. And that was on a ‘good day’.

Imagine my delight, to receive this notification today, after so many years.

Yes! I got 25/25, for the first time ever!

Strange how something so apparently insignificant can make a wet Friday come alive!

If you feel up to the challenge, or just want to read about films that he has seen, so you don’t have to watch them, then visit his unparalleled blog via this link.
https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/

Be prepared to be entertained!

(I won’t be adding his ‘award’ to this blog. I am far too self-effacing for that)

Code 8: A Short Film

Mt friend Antony sent me this 10-minute film.

It is a vision of the near-future, with people struggling to make a living, despite the possession of enhanced physical and mental powers.
The Police respond in kind, with draconian laws, and robotic cops delivered to crime scenes by drones. Surveillance is all, and nobody escapes…

This is an exceptionally well made film, in high definition. It is sadly all too short, and feels like a trailer to a longer film that would be a huge hit.

Just ten minutes, and worth your time, I assure you. Let me know what you think of it.
(You may need to turn up the volume. I had to)

Watching Films, and Writing Fiction

Ever since I started to publish fictional stories and longer serials on this blog, many readers have asked me where I get the ideas for them. I usually answer that I get the idea for a title as I am walking around aimlessly with my dog Ollie, lost in thought.

That is the truth, in most cases. The title appears in my head for some reason, and I then begin to construct a story, working back from an ending that I imagine suits that title. I have no idea if this is unique to me. For all I know, many of the better-known writers may well have discovered their own inspiration in a similar fashion.

I started to regularly watch films at exactly the same time I began writing short stories. That was a long time ago, when I was around eight years old. Not that I copied the plots of those films for my stories, you understand.
What happened was that I would see the stories in my head, not unlike the way I had just been immersed in watching a film for two hours. My characters would come to life in my mind, with their clothes, faces, expressions, and actions as real to me as if they were on a screen in front of my eyes.

I soon learned that you cannot just transcribe what you see, and make that into a short story, or longer serial. It would be a huge volume. Imagine trying to write down what you saw in just one long scene in your favourite film. Think of how enormous film scripts are, with their movement directions, and descriptions of scenery, reactions, and close-ups.

By the time I had started to work out how to whittle all this down to a readable story, I had grown up, left school, and started work. I had no time to write fiction any longer, and I was eventually married, and embarking on a career as an EMT.

In 2012, I retired, started to blog, and later tried my hand at fiction again, after a gap of more than forty-five years. I had many misfires, and wondered if I had lost any talent for story-telling. Then I remembered how I had seen those stories like films in my youth, and went back to that method. That definitely improved my writing, and resulted in the long serials and short stories that I was publishing by the early part of 2018.

I conclude that I have to thank a lifetime of watching films for enabling me to rejuvenate my love of writing.

TV Review: Spiral

‘Spiral’ is a French cop show, called ‘Engrenages’ (Gears) in French.

BBC Four is now showing series seven, and I had been eagerly awaiting it for over a year.

OK, it has subtitles. But it doesn’t matter if you don’t usually like those, as it is easy to understand the action.

This is a TV cop series at its very best. We get the seedy side of Paris, the underworld that carries out crime there, and the detective teams that try their best to combat those criminals.

We see the judges like Judge Roban, attending magistrates assigned to cases, and working alongside the police teams to get a conviction.

Then the lawyers, good ones and bad ones. Honest ones, and corrupt ones. Like Miss Karlsson, looking to profit from protecting criminals, and ending up in prison for their trouble. The cop team headed by the troubled Laure, supported by her loyal colleague and sometime lover, Gilou.

Nothing is over-dramatised.
Nobody is too handsome, or too beautiful.

They are just ordinary people.
They could be us, you and me.

This is TV at its best, and worth trying to find. Wherever you live, and whatever language you speak.

If you can, try to start at series One, as the continuing story is not unlike a serial.

Here’s a short trailer.

Astaire and Rogers

An old post from 2013, remembering my love of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire films. Most of you have never seen this one.

beetleypete

Even when I was still a small child, the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were already thirty years old. Their last film together, after ten years apart, was made some years before I was born, and their earliest collaboration was in 1935. Despite this, I always loved those films. The Art Deco sets, the snappy scripts, and of course, the wonderful music and dancing. Only ten films, nine in black and white, one in colour, yet they achieved an iconic status as an on-screen pairing, and nobody has ever matched their style since. Last week, I discovered that the BBC were showing two of their films, early on a Saturday, and I taped them. Although I have seen them all many times, and as recently as last year, the prospect of watching them always fills me with delight.

I agree that both Fred and Ginger were not the…

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