I’m a sucker for gangster stories. There is something utterly fascinating about people who push aside all of society's rules and take what they want for themselves. Gangsters are often not the smartest, strongest, or the best but rather they are the most willing to use violence for their own means. Most of us avoid trouble whenever we can so when someone comes along willing to openly commit violence the vast majority of people shirk away. Those who don’t get a beating. In real life, I find that sort of thing appealing, but on film it's really interesting.
Dennis Lehane is a good crime writer. He’s written books that got turned into such films as Shutter Island, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and The Drop. Ben Affleck has proven himself a fine director. While he’s not a particularly great actor, he’s serviceable in certain parts and he definitely is a big movie star. Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson, and Elle Fanning are good actors. Put all of those people together and you’ve got a recipe for a great movie. Make that movie about a group of Boston gangsters who move to Florida to run alcohol during Prohibition and you’ve got this week’s Pick of the Week.
The movie bombed at the box office and the critics fairly trashed it soo I guess all those good ingredients don’t necessarily make for a good cinematic meal. But I’ve come to find that my Pick of the Week is about what sounds interesting, about movies I want to see (or sometimes have already seen and love) not what's popular or critically approved. At least not always. So I’m sticking with Live by Night even though it seems that might ultimately prove to be a bad choice.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Cinema Paradiso: Arrow Video has done their usual remarkable job in bringing this beautiful movie about the magic of cinema to Blu-ray. There was a previous bare bones HD release a few years back but this set is full of interesting extras and includes the longer Director’s cut. You can read my review here and Davy's here.
Miss Sloane: Jessica Chastain stars as the titular character, a powerful lobbyist who takes on the pro-gun industry, sort-of. Reviews have not been kind and I’m not sure I can stomach an insider's look into Washington at this point in time. But I like Chastain, so this will go on the list and get watched maybe sometime way down the road.
Sing: Fun animated adventure about a bunch of animals entering a singing competition. It's light on story and after a while, the fun of seeing animals sing pop hits wears thin, but the kids should love it. At least mine did.
Assassin’s Creed: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Michael Kenneth Williams star in this action-adventure movie based on the popular video game. I don’t play the game; I probably won’t see the movie.
Being There (Criterion Collection): Hal Ashby’s whimsical tale about an illiterate, sheltered gardner who somehow manages to enter the world of politics and befriend the President gets the Criterion treatment. I wasn’t enamored with this film as a great many critics were, but it's certainly worth watching.
Multiple Manics (Criterion Collection): John Waters' second feature film stars Divine as the leader of a exhibition called The Calvacade of Perversion, which features, well, a lot of perversion. When Divine gets bored with that, she heads off on an adventure that only John Waters could think of. Out of print for years, Criterion has brought it back in all its (disgusting) glory. I’ll be watching this one late one night when the rest of the family is in bed.
A Kind of Murder: Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, and Haley Bennet star in this film about a successful architect who leads a seemingly perfect life, but his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a cat-and-mouse game with the killer.
Tower: Fascinating-looking animated documentary about Charles Whitman who climbed upon a University of Texas clock tower in 1966 with a rifle and shot over 40 people.