Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The (2007)

Can’t figure it out; do you want to be like me or do you want to be me?

 

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is not just a biographical drama, but an emotional examination of the human psyche.  The film follows Jesse James, played by Brad Pitt, on the tail end of his infamous crime campaign.  Accompanied by the Ford brothers, Robert (Affleck) and Charley (Rockwell), Jesse James’s paranoid final days are cataloged in an artfully crafted and insightful narrative.

Roman J Israel, Esq (2017)

When the lead attorney of a firm suffers a heart attack, his behind the scenes partner must step in and handle his court appearances.  His incredible memory and deep understanding of law is undercut by his inept social skills.  Roman J Israel, Esq. follows Roman as he embarks on a new chapter of his life where his social justice roots are challenged by greed and the evolving culture around him.

Detroit (2017)

In 1967, a deadly riot in Detroit turned the city upside down.  With city and state enforcement accompanied by the National Guard, an attempt was made to restore order. When local police and National Guard respond to gunfire from around a nearby motel, a terrible incident unfolds between Detroit police and guests at the Algiers motel.  This dramatization of the events are accompanied by contemporary footage from the riots that both emphasize the story of the individuals involved as well as the climate and civil unrest experienced in Detroit at the time.

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

When I picked up Once Upon a Time in America I had no idea what it was about and certainly no idea how long it was.  I put off starting the film for a few days and then settled in.  The film is set between the 1920’s to the 1960’s and follows the life of David “Noodles” Aaronson, a Jewish gangster who grew up during prohibition, played by De Niro.  Noodles reluctantly returns to his childhood neighborhood and reflects on a life of excitement, passion, and betrayal.  Sergio Leone’s final film features a well-crafted and driving story line, masterfully executed suspense sequences, and elegant editing and camera work.

Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water follows two brothers, Foster and Pine, as they crusade through West Texas with a carefully crafted bank robbing system.  Tepid on their trail are the Texas Rangers, Bridges and Birmingham.  The film falls victim to a few western clichés, the robin hood story and the soon-to-be retired Ranger on board for one last hurrah, however the story has some unexpected turns and is nimble and poignant in terms of lower class society.  The film touches on several relevant themes to the current social climate, including: the banking system, race, greed, and the effects all of these have on the working class.