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Posts Tagged ‘Howard McQuitter’

Movie Corner – Vengeance

Movie Corner – Vengeance

Vengeance Focus Features 2022 Mystery/Comedy/ Thriller/ Drama By HOWARD MCQUITTER II ★★★★☆ Well, simply hearing about the film Vengeance without seeing the trailer can easily give the impression the film is like a bum-rush, aimless action film like Bullet Train. However, Vengeance is just the opposite of Bullet Train's reckless adventures. First, Vengeanceis the directorial debut by B.J. Novak (Knocked Up , The Smurfs , Inglourious Basterds ). He is also the screenwriter and principal actor. (Novak is the actor and the writer from The Office.) As the story goes, Ben Manalowitz (BJ. Novak) is a journalist and podcaster in New York City, when one night he gets a frantic call that his “girlfriend" is dead from an overdose. He's puzzled on what "girlfriend" that could be, so he has to scroll through his cellphone to find out who she was. He flies to West Texas to meet Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook), the dead woman's brother, who believes his sister Abilene (Lio Tipton) was murdered. Ty invites Ben over for dinner to meet the rest of his eccentric but gracious family: Kansas City (Dove Cameron), Paris (Isabella Amara), Sharon (J. Smith-Cameron) and El Stupido (Eli Bickel). All show the New Yorker Southern hospitality. Vengeance, shrouded in what really happened to Abilene, presents its pockets of satirical, refreshing moments. Ben gets a big dose of West Texas culture making him wrestle with his own assumptions about that part of the country. In turn, the Shaws seem to be doubting their stereotypes about the man from the Big Apple. Although the movie is a whodunnit for sure, the underlying piece is dialogue between class and region of the country. "She never touched so much as an Advil," Ty contends. Ben sees the story about Abilene's death as a great chance for his podcast perhaps to go national. All along he records conversations from the Shaws and other locals sending them back to his editor Eloise (Issa Rae) in New York. [...]

Movie Corner: Elvis

Movie Corner: Elvis

Elvis Warner Bros. Pictures 2022 ★★★★★ By HOWARD MCQUITTER II Elvis died tragically at the age of 42 on August 16, 1977. But when he died, the rock star had recorded about 700 songs and sold more than one billion records worldwide, which was more than anyone in the record industry. Australian director Baz Luhrmann's (William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet , Moulin Rouge! , The Great Gatsby ) new film project is Elvis, starring Austin Butler who plays the character Elvis in exceptional fashion. Austin's performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination in a leading role. The film starts with Elvis (Chaydon Jay)as a boy in Tupelo, Mississippi, who is exposed to Black music - both profane and gospel - living in a mostly Black neighborhood. Those were the days: 1940s, the pre-Civil Rights era when de jure segregation was solidly in place. Fast forward to Elvis' teen years on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, where he mingles among the Black people going to and fro from the clubs. In one of the clubs he meets B.B. King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and in another club, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola Quartey). As the night goes on, he runs into Little Richard (Alton Mason) energizing the crowd in yet another bar. A Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), promoter for country and western music, happens to hear Elvis singing “That's All Right'' on the radio thinking he's Black on what is known in the 1950s as race records. When Parker finds out that Elvis is a white kid from Tupelo he immediately wants to be his promoter. Parker sees how the young Elvis can sing and gyrate causing the crowds to go into a frenzy, especially the females in the crowds. Parker and Presley now act as promoter and singer/guitar artist. A team that over time will become salty. Meanwhile, Elvis is soaring on the charts with songs such as “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Hound Dog”, “If I Can Dream”, and many, many more will come down the pipe. While some see Elvis [...]

Movie Corner: The Phantom of the Open

Movie Corner:  The Phantom of the Open

Comedy/Drama Sony Pictures Classics 2021 ★★★★☆ By HOWARD MCQUITTER II The opening film for the 2022 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival starts with a chuckle, a laugh, and guffaws. I think it was a brilliant move for the Festival to open with a comedy/drama after these last few years of COVID 19 and unrest. Mark Rylance plays a real-life Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator for Vickers shipyards, following in his father’s footsteps. He is married to his lovely wife Jean (Sally Hawkins) and has 3 sons: Michael (Jake Davies) and twins Gene (Christian Lees) and James (Jonas Lees). In the movie we get a peek of Gene and James as disco dancing champions. Maurice has no hobbies. Jean suggests he find one. One day he’s watching a golf tournament on TV and has the idea that he could play golf even though he never swung a golf club. Despite their misgivings, Maurice’s family encourages him to golf. He tries repeatedly to join elite golf clubs but is always snubbed. I suspect the snubbing may have been based more on class than skill. He moves on to try to get into the 1976 British Open, and is turned down over and over again. Finally, the tournament chief, Keith Mackenzie (Rhys Ifans) relents and allows him to play. Scenes at the British Open are hilarious as the crowds are baffled watching Maurice play. After embarrassing all of Great Britain with the worst golf score (121) of the Open, Mackenzie has a schadenfreude about Maurice's disasters on the golf course. Maurice's oldest son Michael, who has a corporate job, is thoroughly humiliated watching his father on television. Maurice, though, manages to become famous (infamous) around the globe. In the hands of the more than capable actor Mark Rylance, the story keeps from being frivolous. Director Craig Roberts gives us an important value lesson: Persistence can be more admirable than actually winning. Cast: Sir David Mark Rylance Waters (Maurice Flitcroft), Sally [...]

The Crossing (Original title: La Traversée)

<strong>The Crossing </strong><strong>(Original title: La Traversée)</strong>

MAUR film 2021 ★★★★★ Movie Corner By HOWARD MCQUITTER Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is back in person! A special gem of the festival is The Crossing. This animated film follows two children, Kyona (Emilie Lan Dürr) and Adriel (Maxime Gemin), siblings who return from playing in the forest to their village and witness an unspecified group of hooded soldiers who have come to massacre the Yelzid people. Immediately Kyona, Adriel, their parents and two younger siblings pack their belongings and flee. They manage to catch a train packed with others who have also fled the village. However, the ride on the train is thwarted by soldiers for Control detaining the family by force on the platform. Kyona and Adriel decide to proceed alone across the border, hoping for safety. But it is the opening scene that gives a blueprint for this colorful animation painted in oil paint on glass. Kyona has a sketchbook, a gift from her father which she will take through her perilous journey. There will be a time when she's temporarily separated from Ahriel during a blizzard when she stays with a kindly old woman. Later, the two siblings reunite and reside in Stemetsvar where they get involved with a young gang of street thieves, the Ravens, led by Iskender (Arthur Pereira). Her bag with the precious sketchbook is snatched. Thankfully, she gets her bag and sketchbook back. Later they join a traveling circus under the headship of Madame (Aline Afanoukoe). During the short duration with the circus, a young man Erdewan (Axel Auriant) has romantic interests in Kyona. By this time the two siblings have nearly grown up. When Kyona and Adriel leave the circus they are captured and thrown into a detention camp. Determined to free themselves from tyranny they, along with a few others in the camp, escape with hope to reach the border. The Crossing is an extraordinarily beautiful expressionist form of animation. Never before, to my [...]

The Outlaw Josey Wales

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Warner Bros. Clint Eastwood in movie art for the film 'The Outlaw Josey Wales', 1976. (Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images) (1976) ★★★★★ By HOWARD MCQUITTER II The Outlaw Josey Wales is a superb western by Clint Eastwood with a great cast. Josey (Clint Eastwood) is a farmer in Missouri during the Civil War when Union soldiers, led by Terrill (Bill McKinney), murder his wife and child. Josey joins the Confederate Army in revenge for the murder of his family. After the war he refuses to surrender. And when most of his fellow soldiers give up their guns, they are massacred by the Union soldiers. He's able to escape from the Union soldiers (led by Terrill) and the bounty hunters on his trail. Fellow Confederate soldier, Fletcher (John Vernon), does his best to convince some lawmen that Josey has been killed in a shootout. Though, the gung-ho bounty hunters are not so easily convinced. Josey flees to Texas and along the way he picks up a wounded rebel soldier, Jamie (Sam Bottoms) and two adult Native Americans – Lone Watie (Chief Dan George) and Little Moonlight (Geraldine Keams). Soon an old woman named Grandma Sarah (Paula Trueman) and her granddaughter Laura Lee (Sondra Locke) join up. At one point a homeless hound also joins the group. All are invited to stay at Grandma Sarah's farmhouse built by her son. It's a hard road for the handful of people following Josey, who has to kill some men out to kill him. After some time Josey acquires a surrogate family in Texas. But he is always on guard knowing full well Terrill is somewhere out there ready to take his life. Strong relationships evolve, if for no other reason, for survival. Clint Eastwood is a master at westerns as an actor and as a director. He learned very well from Director Sergio Leone doing A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, And The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Eastwood has also directed westerns Unforgiven, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider. Cast: Clint [...]

The Batman

<strong>The Batman </strong><strong></strong>

Warner Bros. Pictures (2022) ★★★★☆ Movie Corner By HOWARD MCQUITTER II Welcome, again, to the dystopian world of Gotham City where crime is out of control, the mayor is murdered, Batman's nemeses the Penguin (Colin Farrell)and the Riddler (Paul Dano)are loose on the streets, the police officers are overworked and weary. But there's Batman (Robert Pattinson) in the midst of all the chaos, with a surly attitude of his own, bound and determined to solve the murder and see that the misfits are behind bars. Initially, many city officials and high-ranking police officials see Batman as a vigilante, more part of the problem than part of the solution. But wait! There's Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) whois more than glad to work with Batman to find the culprit(s) in the crime waves in Gotham City. (So much of Gotham City is a reflection of the typical American city today.) Director Matt Reeves' version of Batman spends little time with Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne. Unlike other adaptations which present Bruce Wayne as a garrulous or ambitious billionaire, Wayne is seen here as dispirited or an eccentric eremite. What has Batman and Lt. James Gordon puzzled is the killer (who apparently wants to kill all the corrupt politicians) leaves countless cryptic clues as a way of throwing them off his trail. In the process of pursuing the bad guys, he catches what would seem to be one of his nemeses, Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz)in the act of stealing jewels. Even though their relationship grows, it appears somewhat lackluster compared to the amorousness between Michael Keaton and Michell Pfeiffer in director Tim Burton's 1992 Batman Returns. Robert Pattinson's Batman is one that often seems tormented and with unresolved issues. Even after encountering Catwoman, there's the undercurrent of unsettledness, yet he's a man on a mission and will not be deterred. Pattinson first comes to moviegoers with David Yates' Harry Potter and the Order of the [...]

Movie Corner – Ten best of 2021

Movie Corner – Ten best of 2021

By HOWARD MCQUITTER II 1.   Summer of Soul (Questlove) 2.  The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion) 3.  CODA (Sian Heder) 4.  Passing (Rebecca Hall) 5.  Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)  6. Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright) 7.  Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almodóvar)  8. Nine Days (Edson Oda) 9.  Spider-Man: No Way Home (Jon Watts) 10. Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro)   Other films of 2021 to see: West Side Story (Steven Spielberg), In the Heights (Jon M. Chu), The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Respect (Liesl Tommy), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Michael Showalter), Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson), Dune (Denis Villeneuve), The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson), and Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi). (movie posters are copyright their respective studios)

Movie Corner: They Call Me Mister Tibbs! Sidney Poitier (1927-2022)

Movie Corner: They Call Me Mister Tibbs! Sidney Poitier (1927-2022)

by Howard McQuitter II They Call Me Mister Tibbs!      Sidney Poitier (1927-2022)     Sidney Poitier was (and is) a trailblazer for Black thespians in Hollywood and outside who, then and now, are undervalued on screen and elsewhere. (Including the NFL that touts a solid majority of Black players, but stingy about hiring Black head coaches, and to this day no Black owner of any of the 32 teams.) He's a native of Cat Island, Bahamas, born on February 20, 1927. The youngest of nine children to Evelyn Outten and Reginald James Poitier, he grew up in abject poverty and little education. His family moved to the capital Nassau in 1937, after Florida stopped imports of Bahamian tomatoes, the life bread for the family. At the time, he had no knowledge of segregation which he would face at age 15 in Florida where he was sent to live with relatives.  Lying about his age, the 16 year old young man joined the Army working as an orderly with the 126th Medical Detachment at a veterans hospital on Long Island. He did not last long in the Army because he faked a mental illness, was finally discharged in 1945, and returned to New York.  He began to read the The Amsterdam News where he saw ads calling for auditions for actors at the American Negro Theater. His first audition failed miserably. Speaking in a strong West Indian accent with a limited education seemed to get him nowhere. But another employee at the restaurant where he was working helped him with his English. As if an angel had guided him forward, he landed an audition with an all-Black production of Lysistrata in 1946, thanks to Harry Belafonte who couldn't make the rehearsal. (Lysistrata received bad reviews from critics, however.) Mr. Poitier's first full length film role on the silver screen, No Way Out (1950), features him as a doctor who's being hounded by a virulent racist. Poitier's point of view (as with [...]

Movie Corner – Passing (★★★★★)

Movie Corner – Passing (★★★★★)

by Howard McQuitter II From a cinematic viewpoint, the rich black and white, crisp shadows inside and outside brownstone houses as well as the inside intimate jazz sessions are excellent. Passing displays for subtlety blossoms on celluloid.          Passing is Rebecca Hall's debut film about two African American women, one is passing for white while the other is married to a dark-skinned Black man, at the time of the Harlem Renaissance when Black figures like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, Jean Tommer, Claude McKay, Augusta Savage, Aaron Douuglas, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Countee Cullen are on the scene particularly in Harlem.           Passing is based on the novel by Nella Larsen, who comes from a mixed background, similar to Hall. Hall gets to the central characters immediately with Clare Kendry Bellew (Ruth Negga) and Irene “Reenie” Redfield (Tessa Thompson). On one hot summer day sometime in the mid or late 1920s Irene, impeccably dressed and wearing a hat that partly obscures her face, enters a luxe white hotel. She's uncomfortable sitting in a "whites only" hotel restaurant as she slowly turns her head by the gaze of a white woman sitting across from her. But there's someone sitting several tables away who's looking harder at Irene. It happens to be Clare. They're high school friends from Chicago and haven't seen each other in nearly a decade. Seeing Clare in New York City surprises Irene. Clare is passing for white and married to a white man, John (Alexander Skarsgard), who doesn't know he's married to an African American, and is vehemently anti-black. (From my naked eye neither Clare nor Irene can pass for white.)           However nervous Clare is about being "discovered" as a Negro by her white husband or other whites, she wants to be with her friend Irene at [...]

Movie Corner: Last Night in Soho

Movie Corner: Last Night in Soho

Universal (2021) ★★★★★ By HOWARD MCQUITTER II Last Night in Soho to its credit is quite spellbinding, thanks in large part to cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (who also is the cinematographer with director Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz . What director Edgar Wright does convincingly well is how he segues genres, drama, horror and mystery. Adding to this fascinating film is a tribute to many 1960s rock/R&B songs. (The title for Last Night in Soho is a reference to a 1960s rock band, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.)             The story begins with a young woman, Eloise (Thomasin McKenkie from JoJo Rabbit), with big aspirations to go London to be a fashion designer but not without a warning about moving to the big city from Peggy (Rita Tushingham). Eloise loves 60s music and styles. Her first nights are in the dorm with some other students who love to party and go to bars. She feels out of place but she does go to the bars with them. Eloise, not satisfied living with the other students, rents a second-floor apartment from an old landlady (Diana Rigg).        But before long, Eloise begins to have strange dreams (some might say hallucinations, or maybe reincarnation) about a woman named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), from the 1960s, with aspirations to be a famous singer. But Eloise is pulled into these dreams like a spectator as this glamorous blonde goes into her performances, seemingly gliding through with singing and dancing before crowds and louche men. However, these dreams become darker leaving her to believe she's no longer a spectator, but something more sinister. She wants to find out what really happened to the promising talented woman. But a clue may be on the way from her landlady who, attempting to ease Eloise's agitation, remarks, "This is London. Someone has died in every room in every building..." And Eloise remembers what Peggy warned her [...]

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