Tag Archives: saul rubinek

HUNTERS (2020) – My rating: 9/10

Hunters is a 10 episode Amazon Prime Video series that follows a diverse group of fictional Nazi hunters in 1977, who lives in New York City. The Hunters series is based on the premise that Nazi war criminals are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the United States. A parallel plot is also being explored due to a government operation that relocated German scientists, who are mostly Nazis, to the US under a maneuver called “Operation Paperclip”. Inspiration for this series came from real Nazi hunters throughout the decades.

**** SPOILERS BELOW ****

Episode 1: “In the Belly of the Whale”
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by: David Well
Synopsis: 
The US Undersecretary of State, Biff Simpson (Dylan Baker) is hosting a BBQ when a new guest arrives and recognizes Biff as a Senior Nazi. She is shot dead as was everyone at the BBQ.  Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman), a young mathematician and Ruth Heidelbaum (Jeannie Berlin), a Holocaust survivor and Jonah’s grandmother, live together in a modest Brooklyn apartment. The two were very close, so when Jonah witnessed someone brutally kill her in their apartment, he vowed to find the truth and make it right. During Ruth’s Shiva, Jonah meets a friend of his grandmother, Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino), Holocaust survivor and leader of Hunters. Jonah finds his grandmother’s killer and Meyer kills him;
Episode 2: “The Mourner’s Kaddish”
Directed by: David Yup
Written by: David Well
Synopsis: Johah becomes a member of Hunters, taking his grandmother’s place. The rest of the story involves this diverse cast of Nazi hunters plotting and rounding up Nazis to eliminate, as their mission is to stop the Nazi movement to create a Fourth Reich and take down the United States. Looking for a case of her own, FBI agent, Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) falls onto the Fourth Reich initiative, as well as Hunters. Meanwhile, Travis Leich (Greg Auston), a deadly American-born Nazi Acolyte, is sent to Florida to learn who is killing their Nazi members;
Episode 3: “While Visions of Safta Danced in his Head”
Directed by: Wayne Yip
Written by: Nikki Tuscano
Synopsis:
This episode deals with codes, the Pied Piper of Buchenwald, and a big Nazi event that is scheduled to take place on July 13, 1977, in New York. Additionally, Jonah loses Arthur “Bootyhole” McGuigan (Caleb Emery) who was working Jonah’s shift when he was killed by Travis;
Episode 4: “The Pious Thieves”
Directed by: Nelson MacCormick
Written by: Mark Bianculli
Synopsis: More history regarding Ruth is revealed as Jonah finds a box of letters she wrote to Meyer.  The Hunters find a huge collection of Nazi stolen art and treasure hidden beneath a bank in Brooklyn;
Episode 5: “At Night, All Birds are Black”
Directed by: Dennie Gordon
Written by: David J. Rosen
Synopsis: Flashbacks reveal that The Wolf/William Zuchs (Christian Oliver) is a Nazi doctor who conducted experiments on prisoners and tormented Meyer and Ruth while at Auschwitz concentration camp.  Also, some of the team goes after Tilda Sauer (Barbara Sukowa) who was responsible for directing Nazi film propaganda;
Episode 6:  “(Ruth 1:16)”
Directed by: Millicent Shelton
Written by:  Zakiyyah Alexander
Synopsis:  This episode finds the team celebrating the Markowitz’ daughter’s wedding, which dredged up memories for Murray Markowitz (Saul Rubinek) and Mindy Markowitz (Carol Kane). They recall how a Nazi officer killed their young son. Sister Harriet (Kate Mulvany), a former MI6 operative, arrives at the wedding with the very officer who killed the Markowitz boy, tied up and given as a wedding gift. Unknown assailants beat up Millie.  Travis breaks into Meyer’s mansion, more secrets are revealed;
Episode 7:  “Shalom Motherf***er”
Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Written by:  Eduardo Javier Canto and Ryan Maldonado
Synopsis:  Meyer admits to being Jonah’s grandfather. The blackout of 1977 was part of a Nazi plot to create a distraction so they could smuggle a shipment of biological weapons through the port of New York City.  Jonah solves the final piece of a Nazi music code, and a member of Hunters is killed;
Episode 8: “The Jewish Question”
Directed by:  Michael Uppendahl
Written by:   David Weil and  Charley Casler
Synopsis:   Mindy Markowitz kills the man who murdered her son and the Hunters find Nazi and NASA scientist Wernher von Braun;
Episode 9: “The Great Ole Nazi Cookout of ’77”
Directed by:  Nelson McCormick
Written by:   Nikki Toscano
Synopsis:  This episode reveals the reasons given for bringing over the Nazis to the United States in the first place. The Hunters attack the Fourth Reich’s bunker and Travis is arrested by Millie. Additionally, Meyer manages to capture the Colonel (Lena Olin) who suggests that the pathogen isn’t the Fourth Reich’s only plan, and Meyer crashes his car into the river;
Episode 10:  “Eilu v’ Eilu”
Directed by:  Michael Uppendahl
Written by:   David Weil
Synopsis:  Meyer is rescued from the river by Sister Harriet, the Colonel who is the leader of the Fourth Reich is killed. Jonah begins a search for Wilhelm “The Wolf” Zuchs, the Nazi doctor who tortured Meyer and Ruth thirty years before. From clues, Jonah discovers Ruth’s files, which lead him to capture a surgeon he believes to be “The Wolf” who Meyer executes.

The ending of Hunters is shocking however, an outstanding dialogue is delivered throughout the series by the show’s exceptional writers. I was on the edge of my seat as I binge-watched this series. My only issue is with the casting of Al Pacino as a Jew.  While he delivered a great performance, I thought it odd not to have a Jewish person cast in a Jewish role.  It’s not hard to tell I highly recommend Hunters as a first-class series.  If nothing else, you will learn some of the disastrous and horrific atrocities the Jews suffered during the Holocaust.  Please know that I left out most of the revealing synopsis of each episode as not to spoil the entire show.  There is plenty of violence and bad language but the series was fabulous!  I suspect there will be a 2nd season, meanwhile, the current season of Hunters air on Amazon Prime Video and is an original, which is free to Amazon Prime subscribers.  Check It Out!

 

 

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (2018) – My rating: 8/10

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a western anthology written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers.  When you hear Coen Brothers, you know you’re in for a wild ride.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs lives up to the legend of these brothers, as it tells the tale of six short stories that appear to have no rhyme or reason. I liked some of the stories, some were just too pointless and crazy for me.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson), is a cheerful singing cowboy who arrives at an isolated cantina full of outlaws where he exchanges insults with another patron before effortlessly shooting everyone as they reach for their guns. This first story is as bizarre as they come. The series of events will have you laughing and may leave you somewhat confused, however, I like this title the best.

“Near Algodones” – A young cowboy (James Franco) robs an isolated bank on the prairie. As he is fleeing, the jabbering bank teller (Stephen Root) shoots at him, forcing him to take cover behind a well. He returns fire, but the teller charges at him while wearing a washboard and several pots and pans as armor, which deflect all the cowboy’s bullets as the teller repeatedly cackles “Pan shot!” The teller knocks the cowboy out with his rifle butt, and when the cowboy regains consciousness, he is sitting upon his horse under a tree with his hands tied and a noose around his neck.  This story is particularly confusing, as it ends badly after a series of simultaneous events that will surely have you scratching your head.

“Meal Ticket” – An aging impresario (Liam Neeson) and his artist Harrison (Harry Melling), a young man with no arms or legs, travel from town to town in a wagon that converts into a small stage where Harrison theatrically recites classics such as Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias”; the biblical story of Cain and Abel; works by Shakespeare, in particular Sonnet 29; and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The impresario collects money from the audience at the end of each performance, with profits dwindling as they visit increasingly remote mountain towns with smaller and more indifferent audiences. This story is one of the most bazaar to me, as I have no suggestion for the moral of the story nor do I understand the point.  This doesn’t mean someone else cannot figure it out or enjoy it, it just means I didn’t care for Meal Ticket.

“All Gold Canyon” – A grizzled prospector (Tom Waits) arrives in a pristine mountain valley and decides to dig for gold in a grassy meadow beside a river. Over the course of several days, he pans through shovelfuls of dirt to count the gold specks, and then begins digging a deeper hole once he has identified their likely source. After his first night camping at the site, he spots a great horned owl tending its treetop nest at the edge of the valley. When he climbs up and reaches the nest, the mother owl’s watchful gaze from a nearby tree causes him to replace three of the four eggs he has taken for his meal.  On his third day, he digs out gold nuggets of increasing size before finally reaching “Mr. Pocket”, a large gold vein running through the quartz he has uncovered.  This story was quite entertaining with a moral I think everyone could understand.

“The Gal Who Got Rattled”Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan) and her older brother Gilbert (Jefferson Mays), an inept businessman, are journeying in a wagon train across the prairie towards Oregon, where Gilbert claims a new business partner will marry his sister. Gilbert dies of cholera shortly after they embark, and the wagon train’s leaders, Mr. Billy Knapp (Bill Heck) and Mr. Arthur (Grainger Hines), help Alice bury her brother. Though she has no definite prospects in Oregon, Alice decides to continue the trip rather than return east. This story was sad, bizarre and while it has a point, I’m not sure the message served a purpose.

“The Mortal Remains” – At sunset, five people, an Englishman (Thigpen – Jonjo O’Neill), an Irishman (Clarence – Brendan Gleeson), a Frenchman (René – Saul Rubinek), a lady (Mrs. Betjeman – Tyne Daly), and a fur trapper (Chelcie Ross) ride to Fort Morgan, Colorado in a stagecoach. Thigpen says that he and Clarence often travel this route “ferrying cargo”, alluding to a corpse on the roof, but he does not specify the nature of their business. The Trapper rambles about his past relationship with a Native woman in which neither knew the other’s language, but communicating through understanding each other’s emotions led him to conclude that people are all alike in their basic needs, just like the animals he traps. This story had the most bizarre ending of all despite much valuable information being exchanged. Maybe that’s all we were suppose to get out of The Mortal Remains since I don’t think the final scenes attributed anything more to the story. It definitely left you wanting more.

Overall, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs may have been the most bizarre of all the Coen Brothers movies I’ve seen.  I’m not sure why the title is Buster Scruggs when only one story included that character but I’m sure someone can explain it.  I tried to find good in all the stories.  Some are funny, most are bizarre and some delivered a strong message.  I enjoyed The Ballad of Buster Scruggs anyway, which can be seen on Netflix.  Check It Out!

[The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is Oscar nominated for Best:  Adapted Screenplay, Original Song and Costume Design]