Saturday, July 15, 2017

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

The reviews for "War for the Planet of the Apes" are very high, 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 83% on IMDB. I am surprised at numbers that high for this film, because for me, for reasons I will explain I am more in the 70% range as overall I thought this was just a good and not a great movie.

However, I do give the special effects and the "Performance Capture" technology a 100% grade and you realize immediately that none of the 3 recent Planet of the Apes movies would be possible without this technology because the actor would be in a makeup chair for 8 hours a day. The technology they use involves the capturing of the movement of each actor and then filling in the ape makeup using CGI later. The facial expressions of the apes, as well as the hair on the body and the movement of each ape actor in this movie, is flawless and extremely impressive. Where this film becomes more average is with the story, that I thought was too simple, took too long to progress and in the end was pretty average.

The original Planet of the Apes was released in 1968 and was one of the first films I had ever seen in a movie theater. The original story had to do with a nuclear holocaust where the apes take over after humans destroy the world and this movie explains more about a virus that followed the nuclear conflagration that made apes more intelligent and humans more like animals, starting with their inability to talk. The acting is very good, including Woody Harrelson who plays an evil Colonel and Andy Serkis, who reprises his role as Ceasar, the leader of the apes for the 3rd time, I was hoping for a more interesting story here and I thought that the story for this movie dragged on too long and was too simplistic.

I give War for the Planet of the Apes a mild recommendation.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

One thing a movie must do, if it is a continuation of a previous movie, in this case, the latest Avenger film Avengers: The Age of Ultron, is to explain all of the items that carry through to the new movie. Unfortunately, this new Spider-Man movie does not really explain the left behind alien machines that the evil villain in this movie, played by Michael Keaton, was trying to use to dominate the world. I thought the story of Spider-Man Homecoming was told in an unusual and erratic way, almost as if the screenwriter was trying to invent a method of telling a story. For the most part, this method of storytelling worked, but I thought that there was too much jumping around and less control over the continuity of the scenes.

The new Spider-Man is a 15-year-old boy still in high school and is played very well by 21-year-old Tom Holland and like all of the other Spider-Man movies, the special effects for this film are outstanding but I still think, like many others that the second Spider-Man movie that was released in 2004 was the best in the series so far.

Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man makes several appearances in this movie as the mentor of Spider-Man as well as Stark's best friend played by Jon Favreau. There are also several mentions of the next Avengers movie, Avengers: Infinity War that will be released next year as this is the new marketing campaign for all of these Marvel movies when they try and connect each Marvel movie to the next one.

Overall I thought this movie was very good and on a par with all of the previous Spider-Man movies and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: The Big Sick

Aspiring screenwriters go to the movies more often than most people, mostly for writing inspiration and perhaps to escape from reality.  In my experience going to many movies, it has been a rare event to be inspired by any movie that is a comedy in recent memory.  The new movie "The Big Sick"  is one of those rare movies that has inspired me to write another screenplay because it is just that good.  The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are extremely high, currently 97%, and that is a very well deserved score.

From the start, I was amazed at the quality of the screenplay for this movie as it was the first screenplay about a true story co-written by the star of this movie Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon who is played very well by the actress Zoe Kazan.  This movie is great on a number of levels, starting with the subtle and natural real-life dialogue, the high level of acting and the roller coaster ride of emotions this story takes you through, starting with the romance and breakup between an American woman and a Pakistani man, who is pressured by his family and the traditions of arranged marriages that understandably leads to great conflict. The true story behind this movie is a great idea for a romantic comedy and I cannot remember a story like this ever being done before.  I thought it was an amazing achievement to provide so many solid moments of subtle humor, considering some of the difficult things this story is about including a dangerous unknown infection and hospitalization of Emily that forces her doctors to put her into a medically-induced coma.

The acting throughout this film is outstanding, starting with Ray Romano as Emily's father and has now successfully transitioned from a standup comedian to comedy actor in Everybody Loves Raymond and is now becoming an outstanding dramatic actor. It was also great to see Holly Hunter, who perfectly plays Emily's mother.

The main part of this story is about Emily falling into a coma because of some unknown infection that is spreading throughout her body and this leads to several heart-wrenching scenes in the hospital where her parents and her Pakistani boyfriend played by Nanjiani, agonize over decisions about her treatment and even consider moving her to a different hospital, despite the fact that their daughter has been placed into a medically induced coma as her 5 doctors desperately try and figure out what is wrong with her so they can save her life. The transition and eventual love and respect that Emily's parents gain over time with her boyfriend were also another very impressive aspect of this story.

I thought overall, this film is one of the best written and acted I have seen in many years and will definitely receive Academy Award recognition for everyone involved, and in my opinion, this should include best original screenplay.

I highly recommend this great movie.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Past Movie Review: Unfaithful

One could easily argue that the movie Unfaithful, released in 2002, was by far the best acting role in Diane Lane's career and probably the best movie in recent memory about adultery. There are unexpected twists and turns in this story and an ending that was very messy but considering the shocking events of how this story concluded, the ending was well within any set of irrational human emotions that involve panic, anger, jealousy, and fear.

During the times I have thought about this film or discussed it with someone else, the scene where Diane Lane as Connie Summer on a train, on the way home after her first encounter with her lover; the expression on her face reliving the events of the day, was one of the best acting performances I can remember in many years.  This film is also a great role for Richard Gere as Edward Summer who is very believable as the jilted husband and over time he suspects his wife is cheating on him.  There are some side parts to this story that are necessary to make the movie last 2 hours and are somewhat connected to the affair Edward's wife is having but they flow very well within the story.  This movie is a lesson about a short term decision that at the time might seem harmless but in the long term can completely ruin your life.

I thought that Unfaithful was one of the best dramas about the potential downside of marriage and life in many years, the acting was outstanding and I highly recommend this film from 2002.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Movie Review: Beatriz at Dinner

The idea behind the movie "Beatriz at Dinner" is a brilliant one. By chance, a massage therapist who is a healer of people who have cancer at a local hospital, a lover of animals, who even has goats living in her modest house, visits a gated community where she has given massage therapy to a wealthy family there. When she is about to leave her broken down car fails to start and soon after finds herself having dinner with 3 couples, all of whom are very wealthy. Beatriz is played by very well by Salma Hayek and during the dinner, she meets her exact opposite, a wealthy African game hunter, played by John Lithgow, who only cares about money and cares nothing about people. What is very interesting are the conversations at this dinner, the condescending remarks and the attitudes that some rich people have towards average or poor people. This kind of "rich people attitude" depicted in this film is not true of all rich people, but it was definitely true of the 6 people who attended this dinner. In my experience, it is the rare rich person who over time is always above money going to their head, almost as if having money gives a person some kind of immortality or the right to look down on hard working decent average or poor people. As the saying goes, "We are all equals in the eyes of God". Donald Trump is a very good example of a person like this as he calls poor people losers, conveniently forgetting that without his father and that "small loan" he was given in the 1960's, he would never have been as wealthy as he claims to be.

A key scene in this movie was when Lithgow's character was bragging about killing an African Rhino and even passes around a cell phone picture of the Rhino he killed. Beatriz takes the cell phone and throws it at him and storms out of the room; understandable given her extreme love of animals. One wonders how people like this consider it a challenge to kill a defenseless Rhino, an animal that eats plants and lumbers around in lakes and rivers and is no harm to anyone.

Other actors in this movie include Connie Britton who the wife of the home owner and it seems Beatriz's only real friend during the dinner. Some of the scenes in this movie were very awkward, especially when Beatriz was always lagging behind the others during and before dinner, never really fitting in, especially during the many conversations during this film. Many of us can relate to feeling like an outsider within situations like this. I thought the acting in this film was very good throughout but I did not really understand or like the ending, which at first was a trick ending and then ended in an unexpected and for tastes, a very unsatisfying way.

I thought that Beatriz at Dinner was a good movie experience and I do recommend it.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Movie Review: The Beguiled

The movie "The Beguiled" is a remake of the version made in 1971 starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. My first question about this movie is that I did not consider the first version of this movie made 46 years ago groundbreaking enough to produce a remake so many years later. When I saw the original movie on TV many years ago I thought it was at best a good movie but definitely not a great one or one that was significant enough to shoot a remake many years later.

The story of Beguiled happens during the Civil War in Virginia when a wounded Union corporal is found by a young girl who lives in a plantation with 6 other women who range in age from 45 to about 11. Due to the extreme circumstances of the Civil War, it seems that none of the women who live in this house have been around or seen many men in their lives or at least for many years and this understandably creates some tension and jealousy among the women. After the soldier is treated for his leg injury, this movie seems to very slowly move forward and for my tastes too slowly before it gets to the point that things start to get very insane, both because of the circumstances and because several of the people involved are a little crazy, perhaps due to the horrific insanity of the Civil War. I had the same thoughts about this movie that I did when I saw the 1971 version on TV only once, even though that version is more insane and about 12 minutes longer. This is only a good movie, not a great one.

The Beguiled is directed by Sophia Coppola and starts Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell as the Union soldier. All of the acting is solid throughout and somewhat haunting but for me the movie took too long to get going and what actually happened in the story was not compelling enough to give this film any higher than a marginal recommendation.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Movie Review: The House

What is funny? Both Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler were two of the best to performers on Saturday Night Live for many years and they are both funny. Both Ferrel and Poehler are great in comedy sketches and Will Ferrel has the very rare talent of just making a face or doing something with his eyes and getting a huge laugh just for showing up. What is not funny is the movie both of these talented people are in, titled "The House".

The premise of the House is a very good one. Two parents facing the nightmare of trying to pay for the huge cost of sending just one child to a good college. Right at the start, trying to make paying for college funny is a daunting task because there is nothing funny about putting your financial future in jeopardy by taking a second mortgage out on a house or risking your health by working more than one job. The couple in this story try to pay for college by opening up an illegal gambling house and while this story may have started out a little funny, the whole idea took a very bad, unfunny and stupid turn and in the end turned out to be a pretty bad movie. This is too bad because both Ferrel and Poehler are very talented but the problem has always been finding both a screenplay and a great idea that actually results in a funny movie and in my experience this has been very rare.

I thought there was one scene in this entire movie that was funny, when Ferrel thinks that he has 401,000 dollars in his bank account and his accountant tells him that he is has a 401K account. That was a very good line, but unfortunately the only funny line in this entire movie. I thought it was unusual that the actor Jeremy Renner appears at the end of this movie, but the scene where he is set on fire was not funny and the scene where one of his thugs lost a finger and bleeds all over Will Ferrell was also not funny.

This movie should have gone right to DVD and should be missed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Movie Review: Baby Driver

It is extremely rare that movie reviews are strong as they are for the new movie Baby Driver, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 86% on IMDB. In my opinion, this movie fully deserves all of the positive reviews it has received.

When you think about the screenwriting task of trying to figure out a new and different idea within the hundreds of bank robbery, getaway, crime movies that have been produced over the years, you can probably understand what was facing Edgar Wright, who wrote the screenplay and directed this very good movie. The new ideas in this film are many and they start right at the beginning of this entertaining film with the use of a bright red 2006 Suburu Impreza WRX in a driving sequence that has to be considered one of the most intense and impressive in movie history. The use of a very average car like this one for the opening chase scene, on the one hand, to blend in with traffic but at the same time is bright red I thought was a very funny and original idea. The star of this movie is played by very well by Ansel Elgort whose name is of all things, Baby - again very original. Baby has to constantly listen to music to drown out his tinnitus that was caused by a car accident with his parents when he was a child and this provides a big excuse to have frequent music throughout this film, mostly through Baby's original style IPOD.

Other actors in this movie include John Hamm, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Fox and all were outstanding in this film. The unexpected twists and turns in this impressive story were some of the best I have ever seen as was the dialogue which was equally as unexpected and impressive. Other very unsusual and humorous moments include Baby's habit of recording conversations he has with people using an old style casset tape recorder and later turning those conversations into music.

Central to Baby Driver is the love story between baby and a young waitress Deborah, he meets at a diner played very well by Lily James and as the story progresses Baby's girlfriend is understandably put in greater danger as the bank robbers he is forced to drive for threaten her life. There are scenes of extreme voilence of gunplay that are all expected in a movie like this, but this movie just does all of that better than most ever have.

I highly recommend the movie Baby Driver.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Movie Review: The Hero

It is about time there is a movie that is about the reality of show business and especially an actor who was part of the "lucky few" and in later years, because of some bad breaks or the fickleness of the audience or producers who decide that you are no longer viable, the career you once depended on for a happy life and financial independence are long gone. A recent great example of this is the tragic story of actress Erin Moran, who died at a young age after having such a promising career in the 70's and 80's because of the TV series Happy Days. After Happy Days and the failed TV series Joanie Loves Chachi, which was a very bad show, she no longer had any future in show business and probably had to learn that harsh reality the hard way over a period of many years. Like so many young actors before her, Moran did what she was told and performed in that bad TV show and because of that, she paid a horrible price by being associated with a bomb that ultimately ruined her career in show business. For many people like Moran, the realization that its time to give up the dream may happen for them, or may never happen, leading to many years of hardship and unhappiness when you can never stop remembering the glory days when you were on top of the world.

For the majority of human beings, careers and financial future are very often in the hands and decisions of other people. This is especially true in the world of show business where every job requires some an audition and competition where you are up against many other actors. Rejection and humiliation are part of your world, perhaps for your whole life just because of your desire to be an actor will never go away. I admire those actors who are able to go through years of this rejection, never giving up and having to take horrible and menial jobs to support themselves for years because their dream is so strong. A good example of this is the great TV actor Sterling K. Brown of "This is Us", who proved that just because you are a great actor, it does not mean that your opportunity will come quickly or will ever occur in your lifetime. There are those who make it and stay on top, those who never make it and like the main character in this movie "The Hero", those who make it and then falter and never achieve those heights again. Perhaps this last possibility is the worst one to endure because once you think you made it once, you will always long to achieve those heights again.

The movie "The Hero" is a story about an actor Lee Hayden, played by Sam Elliot, who is 71 years old and achieved great heights and even a TV show in the 70's and 80's and now his only chance at making a living is making voice over radio commercials. He still has fans from his days when he was making popular Western movies and even a TV show, but now hs career is essentially over. He decides to accept a lifetime achievement award from some Western movie association while becoming involved with a woman, played by Laura Prepone who much younger than he is and is employed as of all things, a stand-up comedian. There are health issues and realizations that his career is mostly over and one audition where Elliot gives his best performance of the movie that I thought was very impressive. Lee Hayden also has a daughter, played by Krysten Ritter and their relationship is understandably very strained due to Hayden's divorce and being an absentee father, which is another very common drawback of trying to be an actor.

The best moment in this film for me was when Hayden tell his girlfriend that the second thing to go when you get older is your memory and when she asks what the first thing is, he says, "I forgot".

I thought both the story and the acting in this movie were very well done and I do recommend this movie.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

The good news is that this is the fifth and last time Micheal Bay will direct a movie in the Transformers movie series that started in 2007 with the original Transformers film. While trying to understand why all of these Transformers movies are so bad, with the possible exception of the first one, my explanation is that the computer graphic scenes are probably produced first through several different software vendors and the screenwriter later tries to connect the computer graphics scenes to some kind of disconnected nonsensical story. This means that essentially all of the Transformer movies are developed backward. For me, this would explain why nothing makes sense in these movies and there are no connections between scenes or any kind of flow or respect to the audience so they can follow what is going on. Is it possible to produce a good movie that is all about special effects with no story? The answer to this question seems to be obvious to everyone, except Micheal Bay. I actually think a better movie would be a documentary about how the computer graphics for movies like this are made and perhaps some filming of the production meetings that lead to the creation of this horrible movie because I am very curious about how a movie monstrosity this bad could ever be created.

Michael Bay should take a page from all the Disney cartoon movies, where the story and screenplay are paramount and include years of discussions and storyboarding. These Transformer movies throw all sense of continuity and logic out the window, not caring to create any kind of a story to connect scenes or help with the understanding of what is going on. Eventually, you slowly fall into a sort of a coma and I actually dosed off for about 20 minutes during this mess, probably due to some kind of subconscious self-preservation. What is worse about this latest movie in the Transformer franchise is that it runs for almost 150 agonizing minutes. All of these Transformer movies should be run as a loop to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay because sitting through them is a nightmare. More amazing is that this movie is the worst one of the 5 and Bay seems to outdo himself with each new movie but in the wrong direction.

When this very bad movie was finally over, I remembered feeling very angry because I had wasted 2 1/2 hours of my life sitting through this mess. The budget of 217 million dollars for this movie was money that could have been put to far better use and people who are bad at their jobs will become much more wealthy. A great deal of the money that comes from these movies are the toys and the young kids who just want to see robots fighting and so it seems that everyone involved with these 5 movies only cares about the easy money and never about creating a movie that has some meaning or even a story. I think I was most angry because I know that this Transformer movie will make a great deal of money and that will encourage more very bad movies like this one.

Mark Wahlberg is once again the star of this latest Transformer movie, also appearing in the last one. Clearly, Wahlberg appeared in this movie for the money and there is nothing wrong with that, but at some point, integrity and pride should be more important than money. What does not make any sense is why the great actor Anthony Hopkins is in this movie. One would think that Hopkins has more than enough money and would care more about his reputation at his age than money. Hopkins role and his decision to appear in this terrible movie just make no sense. The only bright spot is the appearance of a young 16-year-old actress Isabela Moner, who has movie star looks and might have a very promising future as an actress, despite the mistake of being in this God awful film.

This movie should be avoided by everyone including small children because it is that bad.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie Review: 47 Meters Down

They say there is a sucker born every minute. When it comes to thrill seeking and risk taking, it seems there is also an idiot born every minute. Why would anyone want to risk their life or any of their limbs for the temporary thrill of swimming near a shark? In this movie, the divers are in a shark cage, which is supposedly safe, but is it really? Stupidly, there are actually trips you can take when you can swim with sharks, which is very hard to believe. Here is one website that talks about 8 different places where you can swim with sharks - click here. People think they are experts and understand everything there is to know about sharks, but nobody can guarantee that one moment in time will kill you or cause you to lose a leg, your arm or worse. So why take this kind of risk with your life, or your limbs? I hear about celebrities swimming with sharks all the time and each time I wonder how low their IQ is, especially considering how much they have to lose.

The movie "47 Meters Down" is about 2 sisters, played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, vacationing in Mexico who decide after meeting two other Mexican men to dive into a shark cage to look at Great White Sharks. From the title you can tell that the shark cages breaks off from the boat and sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, 47 meters down, and the rest of this movie is nothing more than a series panic-stricken of events as these two women try to save their lives before they run out of oxygen or are killed by the many sharks that are swimming overhead. I found this movie extremely annoying because watching the stupid decisions of these two women as they desperately tried to save their own lives was infuriating. Even allowing for the extreme circumstances and the panic anyone would feel under these conditions, it seemed that every strategy or idea to escape from the bottom of the ocean was born out of making this movie more suspenseful, rather than making any basic common sense. What wrecks this movie, which could have been a good one, are the dumb stupid decisions that everyone involved made in order to rescue these two women who are the bottom of the ocean. Ultimately, no two women in their 20's would dive into a shark cage in some old broken down ship in Mexico in the first place, but without this first stupid decision, there is no movie and after sitting through this annoying two hours, I wish there was no movie. There is a strange plot twist and trick at the end of this movie that also did not work. Perhaps they threw that in to rescue a bad movie at the last minute.

I cannot recommend 47 Meters Down because the story and the decisions made are too ridiculous and annoying to sit through.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Movie Review: The Book of Henry

This film is going to be hard to review for several reasons. The first reason is that it is difficult to talk about this movie to any extent without revealing too much about what happens in the story, which is something I will never do in this blog. The second is that many other reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes did not like this movie, thinking that the story, especially how it unfolds at the end is too outlandish to believe or even be plausible. It has been rare in my experience that my opinions are so far away from average reviews for a movie in recent memory and regardless of these opinions, I thought The Book of Henry was a very well developed and well-acted movie that I definitely recommend.

What I liked most about "The Book of Henry" is that it makes you think about how you would react to extreme situations and extreme grief. The intense and involved story makes you think about what true justice really is and what is the right thing to do when facing politics and people who are supposed to do the right thing, but instead turn their head away because they are more afraid of facing consequences than even saving a child's life.

This story is mostly about a child genius named Henry, played by very well by Jaeden Lieberher, his mother Susan played by Naomi Watts and his younger brother played by Jacob Tremblay. Henry's genius is so profound he is really the adult in the family, handling everything in the household, especially the finances. His mother Susan plays video games all day and Henry handles all the household responsibilities and she insists on working in a low-paying local waitressing job and driving a broken down old car, despite the fact that the family is financially well off, probably from a divorce although the source of their wealth is never revealed. I thought the depiction of Susan's intense frugality was very unique and a refreshing look into the real value of money. Susan's close friend at the restaurant is played by Sarah Silverman and her boss is played by Bobby Moynihan and I thought that both of them played their parts very well.

For the critics who think that the story of this film too outlandish or implausible, perhaps they do not buy into the Einstein level of genius of the 12-year-old boy who creates a plan and writes an illustrated notebook to save a child's life. I also thought that this part of the story was a stretch, but based on the extreme nature of the crime involved, to me, it all made sense in the end and lead to a very satisfying conclusion.

I highly recommend The Book of Henry.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Review: Rough Night

The movie Rough Night is what is known as a black comedy. I have never been a fan of black comedies, mainly because they involve gore or death and I have never understood how that could be considered funny. This movie was not funny, not by any stretch was it funny. Nobody laughed in the audience I was in and I sure didn't laugh. I was more surprised that Scarlet Johannesson was in this movie than I was interested in the story or the bad plot, that involved the accidental death of a stripper and a whole series of stupid events that even included Johannesson's boyfriend wearing an adult diaper to drive over a long distance to get to his fiance to find out of she still wants to get married. What the hell were they thinking with this part of this very bad movie?

This movie is raunchy, very stupid and worst of all, not funny. They also thought to give Kate McKinnon an Australian accent in this bad film perhaps thinking that because her part was so unfunny that this accent would fix her part. It didn't. Going in I sure didn't expect Rough Night to be a good movie but I did not expect it to be this bad. The only thing the producers of this movie managed to pull off is to make a very talented Kate McKinnon unfunny. The only notable thing about this movie.

Miss this movie as its a waste of two hours and not the least bit entertaining.

Past Movie Review: Interstellar

For many movies, a great deal can be realized just from the previews, and I remember the movie Interstellar was no exception. What everyone could tell from the previews of this movie was that a former Astronaut who is now a farmer had to go into space to somehow save the world, but he had to leave his young daughter and son behind. Even from the previews, I could tell that there were going to be moments scenes of profound emotion in this movie and the one that stood out the most was when the Astronaut, played by Matthew McConaughey had to leave his daughter and was driving his truck away from his home and she was running after this truck, desperate to try and get him to stay. I thought it was rare that an emotional scene like this would be in a science fiction movie and when I saw Interstellar in November 2014 I thought it was one of the best movies about space travel I had ever seen. We all go to movies to experience emotions outside our own lives and to try and imagine what we would do when faced with huge obstacles. How many of us would be able to risk our lives and never return to Earth for the one remote chance to save not only our own family but even the entire world?

The problems with this film actually start after the first hour and the rest of the movie was set up by circumstances of the world no longer able to grow food and it is suggested that this is because of Global Warming. I thought the advanced physics and time travel concepts involving wormholes were all very impressive, but many times towards the end of this movie, several events and explanations started to not make any sense. For these reasons, Interstellar started to remind me of the movie Contact that was released in 1997 which started out with great ideas and special effects and at the end degraded into a very unsatisfying ending. The idea of a 4th or a 5th dimension, a time portal into a room from the distant past all were so outlandish that for me it almost spoiled all of the great things about this film. It is obvious that the director and writer of Interstellar, Christopher Nolan wanted people to talk about and try to figure out this film long after they had seen it. But in order to accomplish this goal, too many events at the end of this story just were either ridiculous or made no sense. In my opinion, the ultimate goal in telling any story is to make it feasible, enjoyable and understandable and this is why screenwriting is such a difficult art form.

Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain also star in this film along with John Lithgow and Michael Caine and they are all excellent in their roles. In my opinion, the impressive parts of this movie and excellent acting outweigh the flaws that all come at the end of the story. I definitely recommend Interstellar.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Movie Review: Megan Leavey

At the start of this very good movie, I remember thinking what a huge shame it is that so many young people, through some accident of birth, were born into a poor family with virtually no way out of a bleak existence and they believe that their only alternative is to join the military. There is always a ton of money that is available to train people to kill other people, but there is far too little money to rescue the lives of so many millions of poor people, whose potential is forever lost just because of the meager circumstances under which they are born. The only caveat to this military option is that you may get killed or maimed, blinded, lose one or several limbs or have permanent PTSD that you never recover from. Apart from this, the job training that you were promised when you joined whatever military service you decided on, may not be a skill that could ever parlay into an actual job in the real world. How many jobs can you get after you leave the military when your only skill is repairing a tank? Once you're in, you do what you are told and there is nothing you can do to control your own future. You are the property of the United States and other people dictate your future and that includes whether you live or die starting the first day you join the service. My thinking while watching the start of this film was why can't we invest our money into the potential of a young person who has no viable future, instead of making this deal where maybe they can have a future and some money, but only if they risk their lives first.

The new film Megan Leavey is a true story about a young woman, played very well by Kate Mara, whose life after high school is a disaster. Living in a poor town with her mother and her boyfriend and a product of divorced parents, she wanders through bad jobs with no future until she realizes like so many other young people like her, that her only option is to join the Marines. A great scene in this movie was when Megan's mother actually asked her daughter how much money she would get if Megan was killed in Iraq, confirming how bad her childhood must have been. What follows is the verbal and physical abuse of boot camp that eventually leads her, after getting punishment duty due to a public drunkenness incident, to cleaning out dog cages. The dogs in this part of the Marines are bomb smelling German Shepards whose special skills are badly needed in Iraq and Afghanistan and have saved many lives. What this movie makes clear is that these military dogs are as valuable and important as any soldier in a war and there is no such thing as "just a dog". After begging her commanding officer and passing all of her exams to get the opportunity to be a dog handler, Megan Leavey finally gets her chance when another soldier is not able to handle the most difficult of all the dogs, named Rex. The greatest part of this movie is the friendship and bond that develops over time with Megan and Rex and that love grows understandably much stronger when they both face the extreme adversity of the war in Iraq. All of this leads to a very emotional ending that I thought was one of the best conclusions to a movie about the love of dogs I have ever seen.

That acting in Megan Leavey is outstanding and I think there is a chance that Kate Mara might actually receive an Academy Award Nomination. I highly recommend this movie.