FORD V. FERRARI (2019)

A film by  James Mangold

Cast:  Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal 

Based on a true story, the film follows a team of eccentric American engineers led by the visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver Ken Miles, who are sent by Henry Ford II to build from scratch a new automobile that will dethrone the Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans competition.

Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), is a champion racer whose hypertension forces him to retirement. After hanging up his gloves and his helmet, Shelby goes into car sales with a sideline in modification and design, and he also manages some racers, including the eccentric Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Ford was not too crazy to have Miles on board which created some friction there but Shelby insisted that Miles was the best man for the job. It is the story of those two Miles and Shelby who are going to be friends and the struggle that Shelby had to endure to have Miles stay as Ford’s driver. Great camera work here where Mangold put you in the driver seat. It is you basic story which will be a bit predictable but who cares you are going to have a good time watching this. And don’t get me wrong Ferrari even back in the day and now is a hell of a car. . It is a fine machine that drives like a dream.

THE TRAITOR (2019)

A film by  Marco Bellocchio

Cast:  Pierfrancesco Favino, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi

the story of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high profile mafia informant whose testimony led to a landmark court case, setting a precedent for others to come forward against the criminal organization.

It’s about the end of a major chapter in that world in the ‘80s in this Mafia saga. Pierfrancesco Favino, stars as Buscetta, initially a witness and an informant who is mournful of the days when the Cosa Nostra was an organization dependent on “men of honor.” The director here has decided to do something new and to not glorify the mafia in this biography. In the early 80’s it was the greatest time for the mob in Sicily, there was a code of honorable conduct “not killing women and children. At the opening of the films the families decided to get together to make peace with one another. Buscetta knew that was not going to happen so with his new wife and kids decide to leave the country to brazil under an assume name. But unfortunately Buscetta’s clan are assassinated one by one. As one of his clan member and long time friend put the pressure on him to return home.

Terrific performance by Favino who plays this soldier who didn’t like those who didn’t respect the code of honor. A part of the film deals with the trials and the arrestation of many mob bosses. Bellocchio here put in the mob boss in cage (for their security as well as for the security of the witness) where they insulted Buscetta of anything they can think of as as Buscetta addresses their counter accusations. The court room drama were done with testimony presumably based on actual transcripts. And yet, Bellocchio makes it absolutely captivating and thoroughly movie that is character driven.

AU NOM DE LA TERRE (2019)

A film by  Edouard Bergeon

Cast:  Guillaume Canet, Veerle Baetens, Anthony Bajon 

English: In the name of the earth.

Pierre is 25 when he returns from Wyoming to find Claire his fiancée and take over the family farm. Twenty years later, the farm expanded, so did the family. It’s the time of happy days, at least at the beginning … The farm has debts and Pierre is trying to stay above water by been over worked. Despite the love of his wife and children, he gradually falls into a deep depression … Built as a family saga, and according to the director’s own story, the film takes a human look at the evolution of the agricultural world of the last 40 years years.

Edouard Bergeon takes a personal angle here since he tells the true story of his father, crushed by the system and died in 1999. It begins with a sweet story, filmed with a retro light in an introductory scene where Pierre, on a motorcycle, drives through the fields to join his fiancée before making love to her passionately. The excitement of this beautiful story will quickly be disrupted by the economic concern, the debt that is going to follow which pushes this farmer played by Guillaume Canet to give everything that he has to his farm to the point of no return.

At the beginning everything is fine and the family was happy, the father of Pierre sold the farm to his son who is going to take over then an event is going to take place when Pierre is going to go crazy. Here the director is telling the story of his father who could not get out of debt which led to his emotional break down. Farmers in France are not making too much money to live on. Most of them borrows money from the bank and get help from the government and hope for the best. However the wife played by Veerle Baetens who is the most courageous tries to keep the family together. You see here Pierre wanted to be an entrepreneur instant of being the farmers he thought by expanding he was going to get out from under but unfortunately all hell broke loose. Outstanding job from the actors. Unfortunately there is a growing concern about farmers and their land. A surprising survey at the end of the film that surprised me.

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2019)

A film by  Marielle Heller

Cast:  Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells 

It’s the early 1990s and Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is already well past her sell-by date. An author specializing in biographies (she once landed on the New York Times bestseller list for one she wrote about Dorothy Kilgallen, Lee is finding it difficult to find anyone interested in her work and her latest project about Fanny Brice is getting old. She has almost no friends except her flamboyantly gay best friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), whose claim to fame is having pissed in a coat closet after mistaking it for the lavatory. Here Melissa McCarthy does an exceptional performance as Lee to my surprise because her comic role were getting a bit old.

McCarthy is give a sympathetic approach humanizing  a bit her character. A woman who was a bit desperate for money because she loves to write and does not want to do anything else . She is nice to her cat but has struggle in the social circle, she is on the defensive and struggle when on the date with a bookshop owner. Lee was good with one thing forging letters and did she make her money into it. Lee adapted her writing skills into creating fake letters from famous names and selling them for hundreds of dollars to collectors . But it attracted the FBI. Grant has done an outstanding performance as well playing Lee’s gay friend and I didn’t recognized him at first I haven’t see him in a long time. The chemistry was there between the two of them and a delight to see them drinking in a gay bar joking around. overall a terrific film with a dynamic duo. By the way remember back in the day there were type writer.

ROCKETMAN (2019)

A film by Dexter Fletcher

Cast:  Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden 

Rocketman recounts the extraordinary life of Elton John, from his early successes to his international consecration. The film traces the metamorphosis of Reginald Dwight, a timid prodigy pianist, into a global superstar. He is now known as Elton John.His inspirational story – based on the most beautiful songs of the star – makes us live the incredible success of a child from a small provincial town that has become an icon of the pop world culture.

Doors are thrown open. Light fills the hallway. A man in costumes appears with platform shoes. He walks a bit and opens an other set of doors, he pauses and says at the rehab group that he has just interrupted. “My name is Elton Hercules John and I’m an alcoholic.” He is also a cocaine addict, sex addict, a shopping addict. And may the flashback begins.

The problem with this Biography it is formulaic and it is getting on my nerves. Instead of doing it this way to tell the relationship with his manager in more details and the relationship with his best friend how he wrote the songs and john put the music to it that would been the better film. But no let’s go with the formulaic film. Do not get wrong Taron Egerton has done a great job acting in this film but why not let a real gay man playing the part they are some gay actors out there that could play the part. The film is entertaining and it is like a musical but that is all it does for me. One of those days someone will get it right.

LA NOCHE DE 12 ANÕS (2019)

A film by  Álvaro Brechner

Cast:  Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín, Alfonso Tort

English title: A twelve year night

1973, Uruguay falls into dictatorship. Three political opponents are secretly imprisoned by the new military power. Thrown into small cells, they are forbidden to talk to each other and badly nourished with barely have the essential toiletry , three men whose limit is pushed to madness, three hostage where the punishment is to break them of their humanities. The film tells the 12 years of imprisonment lived by three the most famous figures of contemporary Uruguay.

Here are twelve men who are confined in a small cell and submit to the atrocities that are inhuman. Solitary confinement is the worse case scenario they said you can not go more than 30 days without talking with to someone or you will go crazy. A haunting story of 12 years of incarceration in the life of Jose Mujica (Antonio de la Torre) and his two camarade, Mauricio Rosencof (Chino Darín) and Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro (Alfonso Tort). In 1973, Uruguay in taken by a military dictatorship. Members of the guerilla known as Tupamaros are considered traitors to the country. They are caught and thrown in jail and persecuted. Some of them were kidnapped by the military to subject to inhuman condition and psychological torture. They are moved from time to time to different cells. But those three men are finding ways to even talk to each other sort of and to not submit to those atrocities. There was one funny scene in the toilet with a prisoner who wanted to take a shit but could not squat do to one arm was in cuff high by the pipe. You will laugh your ass off, how stupid are the military. Álvaro Brechner here made sure not to let up on the tension throughout the film. There are the occasional flashback that does not revealing to much which was a smart move here. Keep in mind that those men were incarcerated for twelve years of pure psychological torture. Those are men you will not see men like them now. Great film here not to be missed.

VICE (2019)

A film by  Adam McKay

Cast:  Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell 

Dick Cheney managed, without making a fuss, to be elected vice-president alongside George W. Bush. Become the most powerful man in the country, he has largely contributed to impose a new world order whose consequences the American feel today …

Dick Cheney here started as a young man not too in the hurry to get where he was going, well nowhere. He failed at yale, got into fight and drank to death and got a job as an utility man. When fiancé Lynn has enough she makes him choose this way of life that you are leaving now or me. At that moment Dick (Christian Bale) looks Lynne (Amy Adams) in the eye and swears he’ll never disappoint her again.

And that is how Adam McKay start the film and you can tell he was not a fan of our protagonist. The dark satire is kind of scary because here Dick though he was doing the right thing. Dick here was thirsty for power and somewhat abused it. Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, is performance was outstanding you don’t quiet recognize him right off the bat, it takes you awhile to seek in.  Amy Adams as Cheney’s demanding wife, who gives her unfocused husband an ultimatum will have an effect on you as you are watching her performance you do not recognize as well. Steve Carell fits like a glove into Donald Rumsfeld while Sam Rockwell as a young George W. Bush looks the part. Let’s not forget the good old Jesse Plemons’ character too funny but not he does the narrator here. Of course the directors uses , mixed media, archival footage and some flashbacks. Cheney became the most powerful vice president of all time. scary .