MONDAY MOVIES: “Double Indemnity”

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double-indemnity-film-forum

CREDIT: FilmForum.org

Some films get better with age — or at the very least, with life experience. I just watched “Double Indemnity” for the first time in nearly 20 years. What struck me is just how seeped in Los Angeles is it… References to the Hollywood Bowl, Glendale, Los Feliz, etc. — areas I now know better than when I watched it the first time. Not only do I have a geographically sentimental attachment to it at this point in my life, but I also have a richer appreciation for the actors and what brought them to this movie. And the director. And the characters. And the film style.

Here’s hoping I appreciate it even more in another 20 years.

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MONDAY MOVIES: “The Rewrite”

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CREDIT: YouTube/Lionsgate UK

CREDIT: YouTube/Lionsgate UK

I spent part of Valentine’s Day watching “The Rewrite” with my lovely wife, and it proved to be a perfect combination of romance and inspiration — but perhaps not in the traditional sense.

The movie focuses on Keith Michaels, played by the always charming Hugh Grant. Michaels is an Oscar-winning screenwriter who created a one-hit wonder, and ever since, he’s been struggling to keep his street cred and enough money in the bank. In the hopes of finding something to do, his agent finds him a screenwriting teaching job at Binghampton University in New York (a real college, by the way). He starts off hating his job and hating his life, but the students — one in particular, played by Marisa Tomei — show him the error of his ways.

From a critical standpoint, I expected more from a movie about screenwriting. It’s a pretty predictable plot buoyed by its great cast; Grant and Tomei are joined by J.K. Simmons of “Whiplash” and Allison Janney, who starred with Simmons in “Juno”. However, one aspect that I appreciated was constant reference to classic movies, including “Marty” — at points I wanted to be in Michaels’ class and chiming in on the conversation.

Moreover, “The Rewrite” referenced a previous Justin’s Jobs topic: “Walking Distance” from “The Twilight Zone”. Michaels tears up when he watches the scene in which the father tells his son that he’s been looking backwards for too long; it’s time to start looking forward. A classic message for the ages.

Overall, we enjoyed “The Rewrite”. It’s a lovable movie about finding and re-finding your passions, as well as keeping an open mind to new experiences and new people. In that spirit, it’s never too late to “rewrite” your game plan and live in the moment.

CREDIT: YouTube/Lionsgate UK

CREDIT: YouTube/Lionsgate UK

MONDAY MOVIES: Serpico

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Credit: IMDB.com

Credit: IMDB.com

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m just now getting around to seeing “Serpico”. It’s one of the best police movies ever made — not to mention that it’s a true story. But it’s also a cautionary tale of the isolation and stigma attached to being a whistleblower.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a brief synopsis: “Serpico” follows Officer Frank Serpico after he graduates from the police academy and enters the force as a wide-eyed, well-intentioned cop. But he quickly realizes that many of his fellow NYPD officers don’t play by the rules, and he develops a burning desire to stop corruption as far and wide as he can. Of course, it’s a major undertaking — at the cost of his sanity, his relationships, and his street cred. In fact, when he was shot in the line of duty, his fellow officers wouldn’t even help him out. (And this is all portrayed in a landmark performance from Al Pacino)

The real Serpico still lives in New York state, and he can still tell the tale of being a beacon of truth. But he’s lucky to be alive. While “Serpico” makes for an engaging film, it also brings up a lot of questions: Did Serpico do the right thing? Did he make a difference? Did he go about it the right way — or could he have been more methodical and calculated about his approach?

It’s worth a watch, because it shows the dangers of doing the right thing at all costs and it’s a reflection of how easy it is to not do the right thing. Do you find that your profession is the same way? Are you held accountable for bending the rules, or is it easy to follow your moral compass? No matter how you answer, “Serpico” will make you think hard about your actions.