By turns brutal and beautiful; crude yet wise in a way few pieces of art ever attain, The Shawshank Redemption has grown and grown in popularity since it’s release over 20 years ago. When it was released in 1994, it was overshadowed for recognition by “Gumpmania” as Forrest Gump took most of the glory that year, but over time the film has grown so in stature that it is now the highest rated film of all-time by users on the IMDB’s Top 250 Films (click here for a more in-depth look at the film).
The parole hearings were a recurring plot device to show both the changes that Otis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) underwent in his decades in prison and the passage of time. This occurs at the very end of the film when a weary Red is dragged one more time in front of the parole board and with withering weariness delivers one of the best monologues Freeman’s ever gotten. It’s the tired wisdom of an old man desperate to speak sense to his younger self, bereft of the hope that a future is possible. Whatever Red says the final time, it sets him free and on a path to Mexico and a reunion with his best friend.
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key – which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.
There’s just an informal “In Theaters” column this week as there is only one new wide release, and Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones in Just Getting Started is getting the kind of reviews that ensure that it never will. To recap, KT picked Coco and Justice League to stay #1 and #2 at the box office last weekend, and so they did, and so they shall again. James Franco’s The Disaster Artist did better in limited release than Episode VII did, but even in wide release this weekend is going to look the same as the previous two. Coco puts Disney on top three weeks in a row going into next week’s box office steamrolling by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which should keep Disney on top at least another three. The mouse is ruling the box office until mid next-month.
Just Getting Started is an action comedy in the vein of Midnight Run about an ex-FBI agent (Jones) and an ex-mob lawyer in the witness protection program (Freeman) having to put aside their petty rivalry on the golf course to fend off a mob hit.
You can never dismiss a Morgan Freeman movie out-of-hand. Paired with Tommy Lee Jones, this looks like it could be fun under the direction of Ron Shelton (Tin Cup, Bull Durham), Just Getting Started is scheduled for a December 8, 2017 release.
Among Spielberg’s “important” films, Amistad isn’t the home run that Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List is, but it’s still a powerful film and one with an incredible ensemble cast anchored by Anthony Hopkins in an Oscar-nominated performance as former President John Quincy Adams.
In today’s political climate, it’s hard to imagine, but after Adams lost his bid for re-election as President, he ended up running for Congress and returned to the House of Representatives (the only former President to do so) and government service. There, he was enlisted to represent the “cargo” of the slave ship La Amistad before the US Supreme Court. The Africans enslaved by the ship, had escaped the hold and slain their captors before being apprehended when their ship arrived in America. The 1839 case hinged on whether this was a matter of kidnapped human beings rising up and shaking off their chains or human cargo that should be returned to its “owners”. Hopkins arguing on their behalf before the court with a ten-minute dissertation on freedom is one of the most riveting monologues and pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. Hannibal Lecter’s introduction may be the most obvious best scene of Hopkins’ career, but this is every bit as good.