“Salvador”

7.1

The story behind this film, to me, was much better than the film itself. If I may go off script, I highly recommend “Chasing the Light” by Oliver Stone. The man has lived a colorful life.

Essentially, this was the predecessor of “Narcos” and “Sicario.” The U.S. is meddling in another country’s affairs, fighting a proxy war on their turf, costing their lives instead of ours, with questionable morals. The commentary on U.S. foreign policy is brilliantly on display, including it going very, very wrong when we fail to learn our lesson.

James Woods and Jim Belushi make an unlikely but well rounded duo. The context of the autobiography added a nice richness to the already intense film.

Warning – A lot of violence and realistic gore, with an opening sequence flashing effect that will give even non-photosensitive viewers a headache. That discomfort sets up the overall theme of the film very well.

“The Projectionist”

6.2

He’s not actually a projectionist, he just owns the theaters. Come on, movie!

Also, apparently, every movie theater in Times Square used to be a burlesque show that would drop a curtain and show skin flicks. Pee-Wee Herman’s paradise. Think “The Deuce” on HBO. Then, the big theater chains came in to buy all of the little guys out, but this guy held out… kind of. He turned one of his beloved movie houses into an apartment building with a bar. Overall, a very odd tale of an immigrant having his Tony Montana moment, triumphant over the AMCs of the world to maintain a hometown theater experience in the least “small town” locale on earth.

“Sideways”

7.6

Think “The Hangover,” but in California wine country with only two friends. And one is an insufferable author. It’s fun to see these two play off each other. The eternal optimist and the eternal Eeyore.

The story is pretty predictable, the soundtrack is the same one you get with every other rom-com from this era, but the laughs are plentiful. Pour yourself a nice Merlot (I’m a Bourdeaux guy myself), sit back, and relax while enjoying this tale of these two gents getting their grapes crushed by life.

“French Exit”

6.6

I’ve spent 24 hours trying to process and interpret what the hell this is… I’m still at a loss.

I can’t tell if this is a beautiful tale of friends filling in as family, or a horrifying tale of delusion as a result of traumatic loss. Whether it’s brilliant or insane. Whether there was a story here, or they just shot random scenes and decided to end it when the tape ran out.

Fascinating to watch in that it keeps you engaged in the pursuit of understanding. It definitely had some strong “Harold & Maude” vibes, but without the charm.