Remember when Robert Zemeckis directed real people, not motion-capture people? When he did, he had a phenomenal run of great movies and is probably most known for his Oscar-winning Forrest Gump and the best time-travel movie ever made, Back To The Future. Flight is more Cast Away than anything else — an argument could be made that Zemeckis is either obsessed with plane crashes or deathly afraid of them. But the crash is not the story here; it’s Whip Whitaker played by the very, very good Denzel Washington. See, Whip is an exceptional pilot. But Whip is also a drug addict and alcoholic. And not a weekend warrior, either. We’re talking partying all night before and even during work the next morning. The morning after one such typical outing, the plane loses control and Whip Whitaker (drunk and high) saves the day (warning: those afraid of flying, do not watch).
What happens next is a procedural air crash investigation, and everything seems just great for Whip Whitaker, but when drugs were found in his urine post-crash, he’s in a lot of trouble. This, however, would be normal news for Whip Whitaker to stomach, since the drugs and alcohol squash any feelings he has about his life and his consequences — he has a son he never visits anymore and a failed marriage. This is a very interesting and adult movie about “addiction” of all kinds and pretty much solidifies Zemeckis as a director who can effectively combine “Hollywood” thrills with straight-up drama. A superb and surprising flick, and must-see!
The Bond dynasty reinvents itself again; back to a more beautiful time — or more beautifully photographed, at least. Daniel Craig and crew are back, but this time under the direction of Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Besides a wonderful villain played by No Country for Old Men star Javier Bardem, there are two real reasons to watch Skyfall: The cinematography is amazing! With Roger Deakins as DP (Director of Photography) you get digitally shot beauty by the man who photographed The Shawshank Redemption. The other reason? The opening title sequence and theme song by Adele. She nails it! You need a new release tonight — watch this now (if you haven’t already).
Out of all the Netflix new releases, this is the weird-but-good one. Thought you were a Stanley Kubrick fan? Thought you loved his masterpiece The Shining? Think again. Because this documentary, or rather, strange editorial, is fun. I’m telling you, after the first shot with Tom Cruise (remember Eyes Wide Shut?), you’re hooked. You might laugh a lot, but that’s the point. But it might also open your mind a bit and lead you to realize that Hollywood just doesn’t make big horror-art films like this anymore. There is nothing like The Shining, before or after it.
Room 237 — directed by Rodney Asher — is nothing like you’ve ever seen. This is part-conspiracy-theory meets jazz-improv-spoken-word. Clips from the movies — Kubrick’s movies and movies in general — and clips from YouTube (funny!), play over mid- to late-70s Italian-disco soundtrack records and mellotron, and the film is narrated by a select group of fans (though “obsessed” maybe would be more kind than “fanatical”) who describe their movie-going experiences, even opening day and repeat viewings, and explain theories on metaphors ranging from The Holocaust, to the American Holocaust (Native American genocide), to Stanley Kubrick’s faking of the Moon mission in 1969. Whatever you believe, you will be stunned after watching this, or you might pass it off as made-up garbage (pointing out obvious continuity errors as “planned” is a bit unrealistic — if you know anything about filmmaking, that stuff is not planned). Attention! This movie is best watched late at night or with friends — and plenty of wine.