Saturday, February 17, 2018

Movie Review: Black Panther

Two years ago at the Academy Awards there was a boycott, because nobody black was nominated for anything. Last year the movie Moonlight won best picture, even though it was nowhere near the best picture. This year the movie Get Out is nominated for on for the 9 best pictures of the year, leaving out a great film, Molly's Game. Get Out is at best a below average B movie and has no business being nominated for best picture in any year. This year the movie Black Panther is the first Marvel movie with only black actors playing the main parts. The pendulum has swung and in the case of Black Panther which is a good Marvel comics movie, this is a good thing that has happened to the movie industry. Over time, movies should be judged and made for only one reason, a screenwriter slaved over a script for over a year, re-wrote it many times until it was perfect and a great story was eventually told on a movie screen.

For all the critics who think Black Panther is a masterpiece or a great movie, I disagree with that assessment. Black Panther is one of the better recent Marvel comic movies that has been made in recent years, but it is not a great movie. The story follows the same Marvel pattern with a big action payoff at the end, and the story meanders somewhat around the middle but in the end holds your attention enough so you are interested in what happens at the end.

The acting in this film is very good, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyongo and Martin Freeman as the only white actor in this movie. I also thought the special effects and the science was very well done. I recommend this movie for all fans of Marvel or action movies, but do not expect Black Panther to be great, just very good.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The 15:17 to Paris

After seeing the pretty bad movie, "The 15:17 To Paris" , you just had to wonder what the hell Clint Eastwood was thinking when he bought the rights to this story. The entire problem with this film is so obvious. There is not nearly enough story to tell. The Terrorist incident on a train on August 21, 2015 in Paris took about 5 minutes from beginning to completion and because of this, Eastwood and the screenwriter had to fill in about 98% of the story with the childhood of the 3 men who were heroes on the train and towards the end, this even included what seemed like home movies about their trip to Europe.

The other bad decision here is casting the actual 3 men who prevented the terrorist attack as the actual actors in the movie. The difference between watching and actor and a person who has never acted at times can be barely noticed but the 2% you do notice over a 2 hour movie really comes through in a big way.

The ratings for this movie on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are 5.4 and 20% respectively and these numbers are well deserved. Without a doubt this is the worst movie that Clint Eastwood has ever directed and in hindsight because the story was so short, this film never should have been made. Instead, Eastwood should have shot a documentary about this story, which would have been a far better idea.

This is one movie about Terrorism that should be missed.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Movie Review: 50 Shades Freed

What should now happen after the 3 very bad 50 Shade movies are not forever done is create a documentary that attempts to figure out why 3 books about a very boring story and then 3 movies have become such a world wide phenomenon. None of this makes any sense. Creating a bad adapted screenplay about a relationship mostly based on S&M and mix that in with a bad TV movie, with a mostly stupid boring story. Why is this so popular? I saw this 3rd and last installment for the blog and I was embarrassed to walk into the theater. How do we explain the millions of dollars these movies have made?

It has to be the worst book series that spawned the worst 3 movie franchise of all time. Now the remaining mystery will be to find out if the two stars of these movies, who signed their lives away when they agreed to make 3 pretty bad movies, will now have any acting career in the future. I think that Dakota Johnson will make more movies, but her co-star Jamie Dornan, may have seen his last major movie role.

This movie should be missed, even by people who are big fans of the 3 books.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Movie Review: Call me by Your Name

Only because of the fact that "Call me by Your Name" along with "The Shape of Water" are both nominated for best picture this year and the ratings for this movie are incredibly in the high 90's on rotten-tomatoes, I decided to see this film. For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone likes this boring, overly long story about a man in his early 30's and a young boy in his teens - who are trying to decide if they are gay - was ever made into a movie - much less liked by anyone. There is no real story here, just a series of boring scenes in an old town in Italy and I could not wait until it was all over and in the end, after about 2 hours I had to leave early because I just could not stand the whole bad experience.

Considering that 9 movies are nominated now for the Academy Awards and a great movie like "Molly's Game" was not even nominated and this one was, tells me that there is something very wrong with the voting process for the Academy Awards. As far as the performances, by Armie Hammer who is not gay and the other actor - they were OK but the agony of sitting through this mess was so bad I didn't even notice. There was also way too much smoking in this movie, even considering that it was set in the year 1983. The sexual scenes were done tastefully, with the exception of one disgusting scene involving a peach that I thought was in very poor taste.

This is one of the worst movies I have seen for a while, and one of the rare times I have walked out of a film before it was over. Do yourself a favor and miss this very bad waste of 2 hours.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Movie Review: Hostiles

I have heard some prominent reviewers comparing the new Western "Hostiles" starring Christian Bale to Clint Eastwood's masterpiece from 1992 "Unforgiven" and while I agree that this is a good Western, with a very simple story and very well done, it is not anywhere near as good as Unforgiven, which arguably has the best line and scene in any movie of all time, (see video below) and is the best Western ever made. Anytime I see a good Western, it reminds me what a horrible time that was to be alive. Killing people indiscriminately was as routine as brushing your teeth, even including women and children, and US soldiers killed just as brutally as Indians. Life was very hard in those days, and if you got sick or even a small flesh wound or infection, odds are high that you are going to die. There was no medicine or pain killers other than alcohol and the all of the important medical discoveries were years into the future.

I thought the screenplay for this movie was very well written because the story was kept very simple and eventually wound up as a group of soldiers, Indians and civilians making their way to different locations while being attacked my savage Indians. There was not that much more to the story, but the simplicity I thought was the best part of this film along with the scenes of the great vistas of the Western United States.

I recommend Hostiles.



Oscar Nominations 2018

HUGE Omissions and errors in this list include "Molly's Game" not nominated and Jessica Chastain and Idris Alba also not nominated. Tom Hanks not nominated for the Post. They also did not nominate Michele Williams for best supporting actress for All the Money in the World. Another mistake. Why the Shape of Water was so liked by so many, I have no idea.

Best Picture
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Actor
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Isreal, Esq


Best Actress
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post


Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread


Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Director
Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro


Best Animated Feature Film
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
The Boss Baby
Loving Vincent


Original Screenpla
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Logan
Molly’s Game
Mudbound
Best Foreign Language Film
The Insult, Lebanon
Loveless, Russia
On Body and Soul, Hungary
The Square, Sweden
A Fantastic Woman, Chile


Best Documentary Short Subject
Edith and Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heroin(e)
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop


Best Documentary Feature
Abacus
Faces Places
Icarus
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island


Best Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Bladerunner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water


Best Cinematography
Bladerunner 2049
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Mudbound
The Shape of Water


Best Costume Design
Beauty and The Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of water
Victoria & Abdul


Best Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Bladerunner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Best Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Bladerunner 2049 Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Best Animated Short Film
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Lou
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes


Best Original Score
Dunkirk
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Visual Effects
Bladerunner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Movie Review: 12 Strong

One day a famous PHD in Economics will write a book that attempts to count the amount of money and lives the 19 men who created the world changing disaster of 911 has cost the world. The number of lives is in the millions, and the amount of money is in the 10's of trillions. These 19 terrorists on that day, also gave this country the longest war in its entire history, Afghanistan. Nobody who ever lived through 9.11.2001 will ever forget that day; and 911 is where the the movie "12 Strong" begins.

What is good about this movie is to record an important moment in US History that marked the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Anyone who sees this movie will learn something they didn't know about the first 12 men to risked their lives and ventured into the middle of Afghanistan to locate Taliban fighters so US bombers could destroy them. Even more amazing about their incredibly riskly and unlikely mission is that they used horses to fight a great deal of their battle where they were greatly outnumbered. The only thing about this movie that I didn't like was that it was slow in too many places, a bit too long and in terms of a war movie, there was really nothing new here. This film stars Chris Hemsworth and Micheal Shannon, who seems to be in many movies lately.

This movie should be seen by anyone who is interested in getting a history lesson about something that happened right after 911. For me, I give it a mild recommendation.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Movie Review: Phantom Thread

The movie "Phantom Thread", supposedly for reasons unknown, is the last Daniel Day Lewis will ever make. The story is about a middle aged and wealthy wedding dress maker and his ill fated and strange relationship with a much younger woman who is a waitress he finds while at a restaurant. I found the entire experience of his movie hard to watch, mainly due to the cruel treatment of Lewis character towards this very nice young woman who constantly tries and fails to please him, his all too frequent rude and moody outbursts and a sound track that seems to never stop droning throughout the whole 2 hours. Perhaps Lewis has decided to quit acting after months of cruel scenes with this nice woman co-star he was working with took its depressing toll. There is a strange twist to this movie at the end that I found more strange than interesting and throughout it all, the audience has to watch the downward spiral of a strong relationship that falls into verbal abuse.

For reasons I don't understand, the ratings for this movie are very high, however I cannot recommend this film, even though it is Daniel Day Lewis's last one.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Movie Review: Den of Thieves

The movie "Den of Thieves" makes a big mistake because it tries too hard to be like an all time movie classic about bank robbery, a head police investigator and a gang of criminals. That all time classic is "Heat", that came out in 1995, starring Al Pacino and Robert Deniro. Heat is one film that will never be topped in terms of its perfectly told story, action and behind the scenes character development, so right from the start this film, this movie goes into a wrong direction.

I have always heard that the craft of screenwriting is the most difficult of all the creative art forms and it is for good reason. One of the reasons for this is that the story has to be interesting and compelling but most importantly make plausible sense. Unfortunately, this movie makes no sense on a number of levels even to the point of where the screenwriter used the "fill in the blanks" method at the end of the film in a last ditch effort to try and educate the audience about what happened behind the scenes that we all missed. Den of Thieves stars Gerard Butler who still seems to be trying to get back to his excellent performance in "Olympus has Fallen", released in 2013 proving once again how difficult it is to follow a huge hit like that with another movie as good.

Mainly because of the overly complex plot that mostly holds no water, I cannot recommend Den of Thieves.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Movie Review: The Commuter

The new movie The Commuter" is another example of a screenwriter trying to find something new and different within a genre that we have all seen many times before, "Intrigue and murder on a train". The problem with trying too hard to be different and new within something done so many times before is that the job of creating the story is even more difficult because of the problem of plausibility. How can you make something so new and at the same time make the whole thing believable? This is where this movie fails, because I didn't believe the story.

There were things to like about this movie, including the star Liam Neeson and some comments about his financial problems because of the 2008 financial crisis that the whole world can relate to and the other harsh reality of so many commuters in this world who have to take a crowded train to work, five days a week, which is something I could never do. Mainly because of the story, that I did not really believe, I can only give this film a very marginal recommendation.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movie Review: The Post

Any time Steven Spielberg is involved in making a movie as a director or producer, you just have to go and see what its all about. Spielberg's new film "The Post" is a movie about something that happened in history, and this kind of film has always been my favorite because you may learn something you never knew. All us know how bad and how stupid the mistake this country made with the Vietnam War. Why Vietnam happened in the first place and why it took so long to finally end, are due to the politics involved that were as underhanded as they come.

Robert McNamara has been called the architect of the Vietnam War and he is played very well by Bruce Greenwood and the story of The Post really revolves around him and all of the bad reasons why the Vietnam continued for years long after the United States knew that the war was no longer winnable. The moment that got me the most was when it was said that 70% of the reason why the Unites States continued fighting an unwinnable war was to avoid looking like a loser in the eyes of the world. Over 58,000 young men died during the Vietnam War and to learn that 70% of the reason for continuing was for saving face; makes the entire war all the more worse than it already is.

Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee who was the executive editor of the Washington Post and Merryl Streep plays the woman who owned the paper after her husband died. Their courage to publish McNamara's memos and documents about what was really going on in Vietnam opened the flood gates of criticism and about the Vietnam War and could even have hastened its end. Overall, I thought that the acting was very good, but for a Spielberg movie I did expect something that was great, and not just rather good.

This is a good movie about an important moment in history and I do recommend it.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Past Movie Review: Office Space

When the movie "Office Space" was released in 1999, I remember thinking that I have never seen a film that so perfectly captures the reality of working in the corporate world. The frustrations, the insanity, the injustice, the managers who do nothing and have no skills and yet they are in charge and the fact that as you look around your cubicle environment very often it feels like you are throwing your life down the drain. Very often you are forced to do work that you do not want to do and feeling trapped in a depressing life, "because of the money".

This movie was also very funny, starring Ron Livingston who was perfect as the miserable employee who just didn't want do to any of this anymore, Gary Cole, as his annoying boss and Jennifer Aniston as Livingston's girlfriend who was given a hard time by her boss as a waitress, because she never wore enough buttons on her blouse to please him. What is also great are the irony's that all the employees of this fictional software company have to face as 2 men are hired to fire a mass of people and they are most impressed by Livingston's character who at that exact time, had decided to give up on working and do nothing all day. The famous TPS report scene and the idiotic nightmare at the beginning of the movie that summarizes all the frustrations and insanity are one of the best parts of this great film. (see video).

If you have not seem Office Space on cable or DVD, you owe it to yourself to see one of the best parodies of the nightmare of working for other people ever produced.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movie Review: Father Figures

Movies like "Father Figures" have amazed me over the years for so many reasons. First of all, how can a below average screenplay like this get green-lighted to be made in the first place? Then, after so many big name actors read the script, why do they agree to do it? They must realize that its a boring story about 2 brothers trying to find their real father and nothing more than another road trip movie. My theories for how something like this happens is because of Hollywood deal making, actors who sign multiple picture deals to get the one movie they really want, favors to a friend or the basic fact that they believe that if they don't stay active enough as an actor then the one great part might never come along. This movie rightfully has pretty poor rankings on Rotten Tomatoes, 22% and 50% on IMDB, and it definitely broke my comedy rule that nobody laughed once during the whole film and was a pretty boring 2 hours. I also thought the ending was manipulative and not believable at all, given what happened in the story previously.

The list of actors in this film is both impressive and hard to understand given the below average and boring screenplay, including Ed Helms, Owen Wilson, Ving Rhames, Genn Close, J.K. Simmons and even Christopher Walken. This is a movie that should be missed by just about everyone, except for the few of us who write movie blogs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Movie Review: All the Money in the World

The odds are extremely high that in the history of movies in this country, the highly unusual circumstances of having to completely re-shoot all the scenes of a major character within a few months of news a sexual scandal is something that has probably never happened before. The actor Kevin Spacey, who is one in a long line of famous men who have had their lives ruined by the sexual harassment scandals started by Harvey Weinstein some months ago, was completely removed from the new movie "All the Money in the World" and replaced by Christopher Plummer. While watching this movie and Plummer's performance I could not help wondering how Kevin Spacey must feel now that the movie he should have been in has been released without him and from Plummber's excellent performance this could have been one of Spacey's best roles. One could definiately argue that 2 months ago the 3 best male actors in the world right now are Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Danzel Washington and now, Spacey's career as an actor is most likely over forever.

As far as this film, which is about the kidnapping in Italy of J Paul Getty's grandson in 1973, I thought it was very well done, despite having to re-shoot Spacey's scenes months after the movie was completed. It provided huge insight into the greedy money sickness of J Paul Getty, who at the time was the richest man of all time, and despite this, didn't care to help one of own grandchildren who was kidnapped in Italy and originally held for a 17 million dollar ransom. He constantly delayed negotiations with the kidnappers and amazingly in the end even tried to make the payoff to them, through his divorced son as a tax deduction. In all my years of seeing so many characters in movies, I have never one person so obsessed with money and nothing else. The mother of Getty's grandson, was played by Michelle Williams who it seems every year is always in the highest quality movie and part. Williams started as a character on the TV show Dawson's creek and in all the years since that show ended she has consistently only taken parts in low budget high quality movies, never going for the big money and only caring about the quality of each role. She will be nominated again this year, her fifth Oscar nomination for best actress for this role and were it not for Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game might actually win this year. Christopher Plummer was also outstanding in his role as J Paul Getty and if he wins an Oscar, the irony of that achievement might be the final nail in Kevin Spacey's self-made career coffin.

I highly recommend All the Money in the world.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Movie Review: Molly's Game

I often wonder why I see so many movies every year. Its not just because of this blog, its much more than that. I started this blog in October 2014 and before then I was seeing this many movies a year. I became a movie buff because of the high I get from seeing a rare gem among so many bad movies that are made, realizing how rare it is when you see something great. I see so many movies to admire the acting and the dialogue and most of all the screenwriting that is the underlying purpose of this this blog from the day I started it.

While watching this brilliantly written and directed Aaron Sorkin movie, "Molly's Game" you immediately realize just like with all of Sorkin's dialogue that nobody talks that fast. Nobody can put together words and dialogue that well chosen so quickly in real life, but that doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because Sorkin's dialogue is so brilliant and because of its rapid fire precision, it draws you in, mesmerizes you and before you know it, you are so engrossed with what is happening and what is being said that you don't realize that two hours have gone by. I think Sorkin's has people talk so fast in all of his screenplays and teleplays because he wants you to pay attention to what people are saying so you are more drawn into what is going on. This may not work with everybody, but it works for me.

Molly's Game originally was a book about a former world class Skier who was hurt and lost out on her chances for the Olympics. Her father, played extremely well by Kevin Costner, drove her way too hard and this created resentment and ultimately the reasons, like so many people in the world, to take her life into directions that at first she fell into, but later lead her into the dangerous world of high stakes poker games. This movie teaches you a lot about poker and about the dangers that will always seep into something like this, as we see people losing their entire life savings. We also see gamblers desperately trying to get back to even and like everybody with an addiction don't know when they have had enough losing and its time to stop playing.

Molly is played by Jessica Chastain who in my opinion, unlike last years Miss Sloan, should not only be nominated for a best actress Oscar but should actually win this year. Equally as good in his role, is Molly's lawyer played by Idris Elba who should also be nominated for best actor or supporting actor. I could not help but admire how these actors were able to memorize so many of these complex speeches that Sorkin wrote and directed and made it seem like it was their natural way of talking. Being an actor is most challenging with dialogue like this, that is so complex and so long that there are so many takes to get it just right. I also thought that this was Kevin Costner's best acting performance in many years, especially the brilliant and emotional ending scene with his daughter where he did 3 years of psychoanalysis with her in 3 minutes. We learn why Molly is the person she because of the problems with her spine injury and her desperation to please her father by almost killing herself trying to be an Olympic skier even after she was severely injured. Molly's Game is Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut and he just might receive a best director Oscar along with best adapted screenplay that I think should be a guarantee.

Molly's Game is one of the best pictures of 2017 and receives my highest recommendation.