FONZO (2020)

Title: CAPONE Year: 2020 Rates: *

For all the people who loved The Untouchables and thought that old Al Capone had to pay for the rest of his life rotting in prison because of that tax evasion thing, there's a neglected part of history that many would be both surprised and then let-down about... being that Capone actually got out and lived about a decade, and with money to boot... The footnote of that is that he suffered from dementia and wasn't all there, which was actually only the last couple years after the first couple years after lockup...

Most are praising Tom Hardy's performance because it's hard not to praise Tom Hardy, but he's all makeup and imitation here, nothing else, really... Matt Dillon plays his former mentor Johnny and seems in even more of a cruise control mode than Hardy's Capone, who at least has a reason being he's so messed up mentally... But nothing much happens except for showing a guy getting what he deserved after he got what he deserved by the far more entertaining story of his peak as a gangster... one scene as he lies in bed, he... well let's just say the audience gets to actually watch brown stuff spraying from his rear-end and it's not supposed to be hilarious but it seems like something out of Neighbors or Old School, and, anyhow, Josh Trask, poor fella, he just can't catch a break... The "It Guy Director" in Hollywood had a chance here, after failing at the top, to prove himself with arthouse but... there's simply nobody home here, and the lights aren't even on.

AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)

The Oscar-winning AMERICAN BEAUTY, deliberately attempts to play on cliches, never fully progresses past them for the characters to be fleshed out as actual humans...Especially Annette Bening in what could be the WORST performance in an Oscar winning feature, screaming her lines as a shallow, work-motivated suburban real estate agent yuppie-from-hell as if she were in another movie altogether, or auditioning for an overboard parody of upper middle class families, and she seems created just to make our central hero look cooler and become more sympathetic, but he didn't need help since Spacey is actually quite good, charming, the suburb dad version of the usual "lovable loser" herein lusting for his bratty-deep, morbid daughter's sexy blonde friend... And how would his borderline Goth daughter be a cheerleader in the first place? 

But she has her own admirer, crushed on by the next door neighbor's even more morbid son... And his dad's a Marine who represents what Hollywood hates: An extreme right winger, homophobic, in the military, cold to his wife, abusive to his son, and get this... he's a homosexual and... well let's not spoil the ending... Overall, one of the aspects that inspired other films is the ghostly piano score, mellow, haunting, overly-moving, which you now hear the likes of in every "important" film's trailer (it used to be the more upbeat piano theme for Terms of Endearment)... Other than that, AMERICAN BEAUTY stole more from past films (or rather, cliches from past films) than it actually created yet, still, you can't say it isn't entertaining being a fun ride when not trying to be too deep, or too obviously trying to prove a point or agenda... Maybe if it were a more straight-line comedy instead of telling us to Look Closely the audience could judge for themselves what to get out of the story, because, for the most part, the themes are as forced to the viewer as Spacey's character's life was forcing him into the kind of submission he eventually dug his way out of... Or perhaps... that was the intention all along. Rates: ***

DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (2022)

They took a breezy sit-com plot, about a movie being made in the Downton Abbey house, combined with a side-story about Maggie Smith inheriting a French villa from an ex lover, and split apart the rich and poor characters to where neither can do very much to help either story along...

For instance, Carson is the most against the production movie company's disruption of the house, so they send him to France... But wouldn't he be better batting heads with the studio? God knows, that would have made for a terrific episode... 

As for the overall drama/melodrama that the series is known for, there aren't too many shocks or surprises except for a searing epilogue, a few near-trysts along the way and, not counting a semi-intriguing history lesson about silent film stars fearing the introduction of "talkies" (already known from Singin' in the Rain), it's in one ear, out the other, and without any necessary tension or conflict... Ironically, up on the big screen, the characters seem much smaller, somehow, while the director doesn't savor the larger-than-life beauty and elegance of Downton or even France for that matter...Then again, for lightweight comedy, it's not a bad 90-minutes: Just don't except A New Era to equal the terrific British series that, for the most part, feels far too "Hollywood" here. Rates: **

RIP DENNIS WATERMAN OF 'THE SWEENEY'

Dennis Waterman joins his SWEENEY partner John Thaw in that great gig in the sky; both have something in common other than their SWEENEY show and double-feature theatrical movies fitfully titled SWEENEY! and then the far superior SWEENEY 2...... 

They never stopped starring in hit British show, particularly Waterman who started as a child actor, headlining a series WILLIAM as, you got it, WILLIAM, followed by FAIR EXCHANGE, THE BARNSTORMERS and then in his late twenties and thirties the aforementioned THE SWEENEY...

Which was quickly followed by that production company's crime comedy MINDER, then a comedy called ON THE UP and finishing with a very long goodbye for almost twenty-years on the old-guys-back-on-the-force crime comedy NEW TRICKS...

In-between all this he appeared in two Hammer flicks, one as a child the other his early twenties, THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER (opposite future SWEENEY guest star David Lodge) and then side-by-side with Christopher Lee in SCARS OF DRACULA. Boy was he busy. This is about the only rest he ever had. Farewell. 

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