Thanksgiving Movies 2023

Due to a family illness, our original plans for Thanksgiving fell through. Instead of visiting our family we stayed home.

To quote Tom Cruise's character in Collateral - "Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it."

So I made a trek to the Godless-Millinneal utopia aka Whole Foods since it was the only story opened after Noon on Thanksgiving Day. I bought the required rations and we had a memorable feast. And, while football is a requisite experience on Thanksgiving Day - I am a lifelong Cowboy fan - the markings of a good Thanksgiving rest on how many movies you are able to binge.

This holiday we watched three movies - making it a good Thanksgiving Break.

There Will Be Blood
Considering that it came out in 2007 - I hadn't seen this "must see" film by P T Anderson. Sure, I'd seen the "drink your milkshake" memes and trailers like everyone else but had no idea of its context. I think I'd put off watching the movie for so long because of the hype that surrounded it.

In any event, I finally gathered the will and watched it - and I do not regret it. The movie is overhyped but is still a very good movie. Daniel Day-Lewis pulls off a tremendous performance that embodied the steady growth of capitalism that will let nothing get in its way and will eat itself as well.

The movie's cinematography was very reminiscent of Malick's Days of Thunder with sunset landscapes, incredible lighting and unexpected angles. For Day-Lewis' performance and the cinematography alone the movie is worth watching and a must see (if you like film). Just note, that the score is very odd, annoying and very distracting at times - in spite of it being praised.

As for the story - it was allegorical, relentless and a commentary on capitalism's replacement of religion in America. No, I didn't fully grasp that on my own - it took a bit of reading to really understand what PT Anderson was trying to get at. And, once I really understood this the entire movie really came to life for me. In retrospect I developed a deeper appreciation for the meticulous details of the plot, the script and the symbols throughout. While watching the movie, it felt like I was watching an epic slowly unfolding - something on par with The Godfather Part II.

It's a very good movie - but not "fun to watch." I'll probably end up watching it again - but this time without my wife.

Also a 2007 movie that I somehow had not seen yet. Zodiac is another excellent film by David Fincher. Add this to the list of great Fincher movies (Fight Club, Social Network, Seven, Gone Girl).

The movie is classic Fincher with its dark lighting, warm tones and moody atmosphere. Zodiac is a meticulous police procedural that succeeds in being creepy, tense and scary at times - all while the viewer already knows the ending.

What makes this movie so great is the detail. The entire movie is a giant list of names, dates, locations, remembrances, relationships and symbols that all overlap with each other. Yet, somehow Fincher weaves all of these details into relevance - in spite of lack of clarity in the facts.

It was funny to see the police jurisdiction bureaucracy that probably only worse than it was in the 70s as well as the blue collar, hand driven function of the policeman's job. Some of the police departments didn't even own a fax machine yet!

Highly recommend Zodiac for someone that enjoys a good police procedural or is a fan of Fincher's style. And, in spite of the muddy facts, I think Fincher succeeds in giving us a pretty good ending that wraps up the story nicely.

With most of our friends and family out of town we decided to see the poorly reviewed Ridley Scott version of Napoleon played by Joaquin Phoenix.

First of all, it wasn't nearly as bad as everyone on Twitter lamented. The cinematography was beautiful, the sets were epic and realistic in ways that only Ridley Scott would approve of and the musical score curation was outstanding. The battle scenes were epic and awesome - mostly tinted with a wonderful blue-gray coloring.

What wasn't that great was Phoenix as Napoleon - which failed to capture any of the interesting elements of Napoleon's personality. Napoleon was known for his voracious reading, his autodidactic mind, his tactical brilliance and his ability to charm (almost anyone) in spite of his short and portly Corsican characteristics. Its a real shame that NONE of this was captured by Phoenix - a true opportunity was missed.

Napoleon's incredible achievements at such a young age were not captured by Phoenix either (this is a casting problem). One of the most incredible things about Napoleon's rise was the speed of his rise considering his youth. In his mid-20s he was a mere artillery gunman. By his mid-30s he was crowned emperor!

Instead, Scott decided to focus on the odd relationship between Napoleon and Josephine.

In spite of the negative reviews - watching it on the big screen was a treat and well worth the money. I'd still recommend Napoleon - believe me - I've seen FAR WORSE movies than this.

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