I was talking to my friend Dayton today.  He spends a lot of time reading religious books and watching sports.  I have a lot of friends like him only they don't read religious books.  He rarely if ever goes to movies and is usually disappointed.

I've now seen REVENANT, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, and MARTIAN.  They're all pretty standard Hollywood fare.  I can go without seeing another space movie that ends with somebody hanging by ropes in space.  Movies where the characters say fuck a lot and die a miserable death because they deserve it aren't all that rare either any more. 

When I was a kid watching Westerns on TV there were a lot of shows about guys in the wilderness getting attacked by bears.  It was only later they had them put on make-up to look dirty and had rotten teeth.  That wasn't the way a hero was supposed to look, but I got used to it.  In a few years, they'll be confused with all the other movies like them and won't be remembered.

YOUTH is about a classical composer and director who's getting old and ready to retire.  He's pretty much done it all.  He's staying in a fancy spa in Switzerland where the rich and famous pamper themselves.  The role is played by Michael Caine, who does a lot by doing very little. I can't remember the last movie I saw about a maestro.  How about you Dayton?  I like movies best that make you think and are full of surprises, don't you?

His best friend is played by Harvey Keitel, who's a movie director putting together a script with a bunch of young movie freaks.  I have to admit here a certain prejudice.  I've always liked Harvey.  He can be cruel and he can be surprisingly jolly and we used to share a babysitter when he was married to Lorraine Brocco and lived in Manhattan.  (I thought I'd put in a little gossip, what they hell, who says a movie review can't be fun.) 

The two talk a lot walking in the woods.  It's old man talk.  In fact, I think it's very much how old men talk who talk about getting old and are honest, sophisticated, and love one another--from a script standpoint, it's like entering a room in a big house that's usually closed to the public.  Music is always playing in the background, beautiful music.

Rachel Wiesz plays Michael Cain's daughter.  I think she might have been pregnant while filming because the shots of her are such odd angles.  She can do a lot with her lips.  She falls in love with a mountaineer during the movie--an odd man with a misshapen body.  I found it quite humorous.  Did I mention Jane Fonda has a cameo?  She's a totally believable actress/diva/bitch--her best role in years.  One even wonders if it was an act.  It's the kind of scene you can watch again and appreciate more knowing it's coming.

I doubt if Caine or Harvey will win any big awards, but that's usually the case.  The real credit goes to the Italian writer/director Paulo Sorrentino.  At age 45 there's no doubt he's mastered a complex craft and entered the pantheon of great European directors--certainly with this movie.  His most obvious inspiration is Louis Bunuel, though the NEW YORKER credits Fellini's EIGHT AND A HALF, so you don't have to take my word for it.  Other reviews were so-so, but one wonders if there isn't an age differential at work.

YOUTH has a lot of surreal, "magical realism" scenes--all perfectly set-up and timed in addition to "stop time" scenes reminding us we live in a time and place that won't come again.  The scene of Michael and Harvey with Madelina Ghnea,  Miss. Universe, who plays Miss. Universe is worth the price of the ticket. I can't imagine watching it and not laughing.  I hope it isn't Michael Caine's last movie, but if it is he's found a fine encore.

If you only see one movie in 2016, that is if you like movies that are about how we live and give the feeling getting old still has possibilities, or if you are a person who appreciates the craft of writing, acting, directing and film making in general this is a movie you won't forget.

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Comment by Zanelle on January 15, 2016 at 1:22pm

thank you for this!!!  I liked the movie JOY too about the lady who developed the self wringing mop.   good stories win with me over bear attacks every time but I bet Leonardo d will take all the honors.  People love gore.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on January 15, 2016 at 4:02pm

Looking forward to seeing this one.  My favorite Geezer movies are "On Golden Pond,"  "Trip to Bountiful" and "Second Hand Lions."  R&L ;-)

Comment by nerd cred on January 15, 2016 at 7:31pm

I'll probably see it at home when it comes here. I've heard of the movie but this is the most I've heard about it. It sounds like the kind of movie I like that way. Also Joy.

Leonardo DeCaprio will get the pity Oscar this year because 1) Revenant is this year's spectacle movie and 2) he's never got one I heard somewhere so it's time, now that everyone likes him. That's just my guess. I probably won't see that one. It's a genre I'm not wild about - yeah, gore and extreme manliness. I'd cheer for the bear anyway.

So Caine's still alive, you say? ;-)

Comment by koshersalaami on January 15, 2016 at 10:21pm

Sounds good

Comment by Ben Sen on January 16, 2016 at 11:00am

No question Mr. Caine is still with us at age 82.  Truth is his is the best performance on the year.

Comment by Gerald Andersen on January 17, 2016 at 11:40am
Not a big fan of magical realism, also "The Birdman." Those two stars though make this worth a look see. Thanks for the heads up.
Comment by greenheron on January 17, 2016 at 2:06pm

In two days, I slogged through both The Hateful Eight and The Revenant, back to back. It was a total emotional grind. Maybe it's my age, but I don't really enjoy a movie experience that involves buckets of blood and a gigantic body count. Michael Caine is totally my speed (so was Alan Rickman, RIP). I will go see this while I can still have the pleasure of seeing Alfie up to something new. Thanks for the review!

Comment by Myriad on January 17, 2016 at 4:52pm

Don't like movies much anyway, but what bits I've seen on TV of 8 and what I've heard of the Revenant ensure I'll never see them.  (There was a review in the Guardian that called Revenant "pain porn".)

Comment by Ben Sen on January 18, 2016 at 12:27pm

Thank you to Gerald, Koshersalami,, and JMac1949Today and for recommending my review, and those who commented. It will perhaps inspire me to write another review when I see another movie worth the effort.

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