REVIEW: Live By Night

The L&D Report made its first trip of the year Thursday to see Ben Affleck’s new vanity project, *Live By Night*. Affleck plays the Boston Irish war hero cum petty thug cum Prohibition-era gangster hellbent on revenge (but with a heart of gold!). With a run time of just under four and a half hours, this sprawling epic is all over the map more than anything we’ve seen since Ibn Battuta. The plot itself is neither interesting nor surprising (though admittedly I was surprised it didn’t end sooner) and hardly worth recounting.

There were a few aspects where the movie excelled. There were some great long shots of Florida drives, some reasonably cool costumes (that generally made Ben Affleck look super good), and a really extraordinary car chase that had me seriously amped. There were also several supporting actor roles that were well played, including Brendan Gleeson as the police chief dad in mourning, Chris Messina as Affleck’s colorful Florida sidekick, and Titus Welliver as the grape-brained racist killer dude with this lip deformity thing.

Even so, most of the characters were caricatures or worse. The usually reliable Chris Cooper at one point breaks down crying, and it isn’t clear if it’s part of the story line or whether he can’t believe he’s stuck in that role. It doesn’t get any better for Cooper and he ends the movie in a completely debased and degraded state, which is I’m guessing how most audiences will feel walking out of the theater.

Let’s just say that this movie definitely didn’t hit the $5 value bar, and L&D Reporters will not be catching this when it is rerun on TNT, which will probably be coming sooner than you might think.

Strosczek

stroszek-herzog

Last night was the 2nd installment of the Werner Herzog Film Series at The 602 Club in Appleton. The event was in reasonable doubt earlier in the week as an unscrupulous individual was hanging on to the Appleton Public Library’s copy of Strosczek way past its due date. But luckily for the L and D, the D was able to get a hold of the title at the Lawrence University Library. He even showed up and gave tips on cooking brats as the L was making pork brats and chorizo. Cheese curds were also served. The menu also included chips, dip, New Glarus and Beaujolais.

A slight technical snafu at the start of the film, namely the Director’s commentary would not turn off, was figured out by one of the guests, who suggested hitting the audio button during playback, which worked! Once that bullet was dodged and as the final stragglers scuttled in we were all able to sit back and enjoy Strosczek. It had been decades since I last saw this film and like our offering last month, Burden of Dreams, this film from 1975 has stood the test of time. It tells the tale of Berliners: Bruno, Eva and their eccentric upstairs neighbor, Scheitz. Scheitz has a nephew in Wisconsin who writes to invite his Uncle to move. Trying times at home and looking to get rich quick in the promised land has the trio flying to NYC, buying a station wagon for $450 and moving onward to Wisco. It’s a touching story, at times extremely humorous, at times heartbreaking, at times absurdist but always compelling and beautiful. Definitely worth watching if you are in the market for a solid foreign film, that also takes place in the United States. …Next month we will follow up this narrative with the documentary “Little Deiter Needs to Fly”.  About a boy who grows up in post-war Germany and eventually becomes a pilot for the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He is shot down over Laos and becomes a POW.

L&D Report, Genesis

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This is the L&D Report.  We are two guys fulfilling our life-long dreams of having a blog with movie reviews and a few other movie-related topics.  We will also possibly broach the subject of the fast-paced sport of curling, and all that entails.

Here, we will tell it to you straight.  We have not accepted any type of compensation for favorable reviews, though we are not saying that we would reject a reasonable offer.