Remember: Unforgettable Movie!

DATELINE: Kosher Death Wish

Remember Two Old Pros!

Atom Egoyan’s film Remember is a geriatric thriller. That’s no put-down. We like films with a twist, and this one is so twisted that it is frightful. This is not your grandfather’s Boys from Brazil.

Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a man suffering from dementia in a nursing home with another man named Max who is played by Martin Landau.

As if the ironies were not enough, Landau (once Rollie Hand on the old Mission Impossible) gives Plummer an impossible mission.  He is to hunt down and assassinate an escaped Nazi war criminal.  What can a 90-year old with memory problems do in his spare time? Two survivors of Auschwitz find their fates in a nursing home.

You might say this is balderdash, but the old man is hell-bent on his mission of vengeance, with his memories programmed by a retired Simon Weisenthal Nazi hunter.

There is no stopping Plummer’s man on a mission. He must bring justice to a Nazi guard who killed thousands, and there are a handful of suspects.

We are in awe that Landau and Plummer have their great roles in advanced old age.

Plummer’s character must have constant reminders of who he is and what his goal is: through written instructions from Max and coaching phone calls. Otherwise, he will simply forget who he is and what he must accomplish.

Some unkind critics dismissed the shocking ending as Death Wish put into concentration camp form. It is compelling and suspenseful, a walk into the abyss of Alzheimer’s Disease and decrepitude.

Clues abound as to what is truly happening to the old man named Zev. We found ours when he sat down at the piano and played a Hollywood favorite in dozens of movies, the Death Theme from Wagner’s grand Tristan & Iseulte.

The final minutes of the film will stun you.

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Ridley Scott & Earthly Alien Monsters

DATELINE:  Horror:  Cash & Carry

 2 Gettys Spacey v. Plummer?

All the Money in the World will be remembered for several reasons:  first, it is the story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson in 1973. Second, it is the film that Kevin Spacey’s performance was erased and replaced. Third, it is a Ridley Scott movie about an out-of-control, voracious monster—a billionaire.

As J. Paul Getty, Christopher Plummer, at 88 years, came in for nine days and re-did all Spacey’s scenes. It was more amazing for being notable for having some CGI elements. One scene had to be faked—and Plummer’s head is on Spacey’s body in one scene filmed in Jordan.

Most of the hard work was done at break-neck speed for an elderly actor who rose to the occasion. His key scenes with cast members were re-shot. Scott re-edited the pastiche and eliminated the detrimental performance of Spacey. As box office poison, Spacey would have sunk the movie. Plummer astounds.

As for Plummer, he is brilliant. If you see Spacey’s bad makeup, you realize that Scott made a correct decision by letting Plummer act twenty-five years younger, rather than have Spacey act older.

The story about super-rich people is a form of Aliens. Indeed, the narrator grandson (marvelous young star Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) notes that the rich are from another planet.

Ridley Scott’s provenance as an alien creator stands him in good metaphoric movie history here. Plummer’s Getty is a creature from another world.

Michelle Williams as Getty’s daughter-in-law is a powerhouse surprise in this film, and Mark Wahlberg may seem miscast as a fixer lawyer, but acquits himself quickly and in the climax. Another twist of delight comes from Timothy Hutton’s work.

This year’s bad guys are all billionaires – arrogant, privileged, controlling, megalomaniacs. We even have one as President, and this movie tells us why that’s not good.

 

 

Inventor of Xmas? Charles Dickens, Really?

DATELINE:  Ghosts for the Holidays

Dickens with ScroogeDickens with Scrooge!

One presumes Dickens would be appalled that he was given the label as The Man Who Invented Christmas because in 1842 under financial pressure, he wrote a little ghost story in six weeks. We always thought Jesus probably deserved a little credit for inventing Christmas.

Having dozens of movie versions of the famous holiday tale about the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, it seems only fitting that a charming tale, slightly mythological rather than biographical, would be the latest incarnation of the story.

Dan Stevens, hot off Downton Abbey, plays a stylish, boyish Charles Dickens, a man surrounded by his own spendthrift ways and a brood of interruptions in his home, faces a daunting deadline to come up with a novella to make ends meet.

Stories about writers are usually deadly dull and impossible to show creativity, but this film manages to show how the characters, and caricatures, came to life for Dickens.

No small feat is the marvelous performance of the difficult quarry of Scrooge in the person of Christopher Plummer. He argues he wants his point-of-view better expressed, feeling the story is too one-sided!

The cast is up to the weird exaggerations of Dickens, including Jonathan Pryce as the author’s father. Many people in Dickens’ life take a role in his story.

Cute, by some standards, we see snippets of dialogue picked off the streets as Dickens goes on his daily duties. He hears the best lines and incorporates them into his text. But, it is his debates with Scrooge who visits him in his room that is the heart of the film.

Dickens purists might take issue with the pabulum portrait by Stevens, but this is a sentimental story, intelligently told, without profanity, sexual situations, or other unpleasantness, while maintaining dramatic and psychological effectiveness.

This is a film that insists Dickens did more for Christmas than you may want to believe. Yet, this is more than a holiday fest and more than a simple biographical movie. It is charming, an addition to the Christmas canon.

 

CGI Removes Kevin Spacey from Upcoming Movie

DATELINE:  All the $ in the World

 oops, not so fast     (Remove the name please.)

Ridley Scott has announced he will replace Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty in his already filmed movie, All the Money in the World.  Its trailers already released with Spacey will be revised.

This is a new wrinkle: replacing an actor in a film without bringing in the rest of the cast, re-shooting dozens of set scenes, or otherwise delaying the project much.

Through the miracle of computer generated effects, the face of Christopher Plummer will be overlaid atop Kevin Spacey, creating an entirely new character’s image in scenes the rest of the cast never filmed. Their reactions in the script will be to the original actor, now erased.

The notion that actors and their roles are now subject to recasting at any point may change the direction that films take. Imagine: you can take an older film and remove a bad performance with another actor’s impersonation.

Spacey has been deleted because of his detriment to box office, no other motive can be found. To insure the movie will not be judged on the foibles of Spacey, someone else—namely older and safer Plummer will suffice.

We doubt that Spacey will replace himself with another face in his TV movie Gore, now shelved.

No matter that this bit of casting likely improves the entire film because Plummer will play the grandfatherly Getty, a billionaire cheapskate who didn’t want to pay the ransom for his kidnapped grandson.

Through the magic of computer effects, we can see a plethora of bad actors taken out of the role after working and being paid. If the director finds his original choice was not so good, he may re-cast with impunity.

Directors may now take advantage of some hot young star and replace the original with a new face for reasons of finance, politics, or just box office.

We expect to see the resurrection of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe in a new move when their heads are placed onto other bodies. It’s around the corner, movie fans.