Thursday, December 31, 2015

Past Movie Review: Broadcast News 1987

For those old enough to remember this movie; it was James L. Brooks best ever. James L. Brooks is one of the best comedy/drama writers and most responsible for the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) arguably the best sitcom ever created.

I remember seeing this movie on Christmas Day 1987 at the Princeton Garden Theater and when the movie was over, I remember that I had just seen something unique and something great and this movie inspired me to be a screenwriter. Broadcast news was something I had not really seen before; a movie that had great acting, great emotion and great humor all in one. The movie had a message or actually many messages but the fundamental one was, how unfair the working world is and how insane is the TV world that honors the looks of a person over ability and intelligence. Brooks probably used the character Ted Baxter of the Mary Tyler Moore show as his inspiration for the William Hurt character in the movie who had no ability, intelligence or even integrity but got the job anchor job and who was the most successful, which is very often just how real life works. The message of this great movie is that life is unfair and this movie tried and succeeded to make this reality funny.

Holly Hunter was nominated for the Academy Award for best actress in 1987 and lost to Cher who won for "Moonstruck" which was yet another big mistake the Academy Awards has made. Albert Brooks has never been better or funnier in any other movie. James L Brooks tried to hit as high a note as Broadcast news in 1997 with the movie "As Good as it Gets", which was almost as good and these 2 movies were by far his best ever.

If you have never seen Broadcast news from 1987 do yourself a favor and see this great movie.



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Broadcast News IMDB

Movie Review: Carol

My first comments about this movie have to include my ongoing disgust will almost all period movies that seem to have the overwhelming need to show non-stop constant smoking . The movie Carol, which occurs in the 1950's, has about as much smoking as I have ever seen in any movie. You have to wonder of the actors playing these roles are actually smoking a real cigarette or some kind of a fake one, because the cigarettes sure look like they are real and if they are, then you have to worry about the health of the actors playing these roles. In my opinion, even though people smoked much more in the early days before we all knew that smoking will kill you, it still is not necessary to show constant smoking at the level they show this in many movies made today. Its also obvious that the tobacco companies are lobbying producers to show smoking in their movies and give them money to do this because it influences people in the audience. This fact, is by far the most disgusting side of effect of this unnecessary ongoing problem in the movies ad its high time to move on and ban all smoking in movies. Will this ever happen? Probably not.  There is probably too much money involved.

As far as this movie Carol, the acting was very good with Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett but this movie was very boring for a good percentage of the time. The story was told in a very disjointed and overly complicated way and it seems that the only real point that was made was that in the 50's a lesbian couple was considered perverted and abnormal and in the case of this story lesbianism or even a close friendship with another woman was grounds for a mother in a broken marriage to have her child taken from her. In my opinion this is not a strong enough reason to create a movie and the story and subject matter was not worthy of two hours of my time, regardless of the quality of the acting.

Mainly because of the slow moving and boring story of Carol, I cannot recommend this movie.

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Carol IMDB

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight

There are many things to like about Quentin Tarantino's 8th movie. His sharp dialog is there in a big way and very often strange, unique and funny. The way he tells a story is still there and this movie is kind of like Pulp Fiction which came out in 1994 in that the story is told in a circular fashion although his method in this movie is different than Pulp Fiction.

The problems with this movie will be immediately obvious to everyone who sees it. The repeated and constant use of the "N" word which caused great controversy in Tarantino's last movie "Django Unchained" and even caused Spike Lee to come out and object to the constant use of this most horrible word. This movie uses the "N" word so much its almost as if Tarantino is trying to snub his nose at Spike Lee for objecting to his use of the word in his last movie. The point of all this is very obvious. How much is too much? The "N" word is probably the most horrible and hateful word in the English language and it was definitely used in the 1850-1900's in this country much more than it is now, especially in the West and the South; but at a certain point you have to realize that the word is being overused and perhaps being used only for the sake of using it. I estimate that during this almost 3 hour movie that the "N" word might have been used as many as 150 times, which is way too much.

Other issues with this movie include the incredible gore and grotesque scenes of death and violence and murder which are very typical of all Tarantino movies but this one may have gone a little too far in some scenes. The only woman in this movie played by Jennifer Jason Leigh is beaten up mercilessly by her captor played by Kurt Russel almost from the beginning of the movie. Jennifer's character, Daisy Domergue is beaten repeatedly in the head and face more than any woman has ever been beaten up in probably any movie. There are scenes of blood on two occasions being sprayed over her face, which for most would also probably be considered way over the top and too disgusting than is necesary. So how much is too much? In the Hateful 8, Tarrantino seems to be trying to find out where the boundaries are and exactly how far any movie can go without being censored. If that is not enough there is a scene of male frontal nudity followed by oral sex between two men that I cannot remember ever seeing in any movie. If there was ever a point that I thought was way over the top in any R rated movie, this was it. There is a chance that Tarrantino had to fight to keep this movie from being rated X mainly because of this one scene.

The majority of this movie, perhaps as much as 90% are played out in an old huge log cabin where the 9 inhabitants are snowed in because of a blizzard outside. From this point on, the movie is carried by biting and very well written Tarrantino dialogue as the 9 inhabitants, not 8 as is the title of the movie, argue and talk back and forth and invoke anger and eventual violence. The actor with by far the best and most dialogue in this movie is Samuel L. Jackson who was also the star of Pulp Fiction. Some of his lines in this movie surpass his performance in Pulp Fiction and he steals this movie with his acting and speaking ability, reciting some of Tarrantino's best lines.

For fans of Quentin Tarrantino movies this one is must see. For people who hate violence this movie should definitely be avoided. For people who hate the overuse of the N-word this movie should definitely be avoided because its clear that this word was way overused in this movie.  For me I recommend this movie, but mostly because of my respect for the writing ability and hard work of Tarrantino and dialogue in this movie which is excellent. Also prepare yourself for a long movie as this one runs almost 3 hours.

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The Hateful 8 IMDB

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Movie Review: The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne should win the best actor Oscar this year just as he did last year for the "Theory Of Everything". Right how he is the only actor that could have pulled off this role as a man who is married to a woman and over a period of years, decides he has to become a woman. He has the perfect physique for the role and is able to pull off an effeminate look and is very believable in the role. What is the most compelling about this story is that a sex change operation of this magnitude in 1926 had never been done before and because of this the risk involved was extremely dangerous. In 1926 Copenhagen Denmark when this movie began, a sex change operation involved 2 procedures. The first was to remove the male organs and the second was to give the patient a vagina. Either one of these operations could kill you. The main character in this role was Einar Wegener as a man and Lili Elbe as a woman. Through a series of events involving modeling for paintings, at times wearing women's clothing, because the couple were both painters, it became a revelation that Einar's true identity was as a woman.

At times this movie was rather slow and plodding as Einar very slowly discovered at first his preferences for wearing women's clothing and then after a period of time his desire to become a woman, despite his very attractive wife. The love story between the two of them was always constant and at the forefront of this movie and never waned even when Einar became Lili. This was the best part of this movie.

There is significant nudity in this movie for both main characters and one scene with Einar which involved male frontal nudity which gave you a certain amount of respect for Eddie Redmayne taking a role like this in the first place. In the end the story of the first sex change pioneer was well done and well acted by both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander , who has starred in 4 movies this year and nominated for 2 Golden Globes, the first being the movie Ex Machina, which is also reviewed in this blog. Its very obvious that Alicia has a very promising future in the movies.

This is a good movie and i do recommend it.



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The Danish Girl: A Novel (Movie Tie-In)

Movie Review: Joy

"Joy" is a true story based on the life of Joy Mangano, but the story is only loosely based on her life and career as an inventor of household products, which all started with the miracle mop.

What is the essence of a great movie? Why do so many movies fail at being great or even good? I go to the movies as often as I do because the 10% payoff of seeing that one great movie is so compelling and unfortunately rare that its worth sitting through the 90% of the average and bad ones. The movie Joy is a great movie because it captured the essence of what lower middle class squalor feels like. What desperation looks like. What a lifetime of never having your fair share and the lifelong injustice of what this represents can mean to an entire family who are just barely scraping by. This movie pulls off the very rare movie experience of providing an escape from the mundane reality of life by visiting the harsh reality of life at the same time. I cannot remember the last time I have ever experienced something like this in any movie.

The movie "Joy" starts with a scene from a very strange and badly acted soap opera where even Susan Lucci makes an appearance. The apparent point of this was to show that life can sometimes be a strange soap opera and this is opening scene is tied to the fact that the main character in this movie, Joy, had a mother that did nothing all day but watch soap opera's but despite all of this, the opening scene of this movie was completely unexpected and unusual which was just another reason why this movie was so superior and different than anything we have seen before.

Joy is Joy Mangano who is a person that despite her her broken family; her father was married and divorced 3 times, she herself is divorced with 3 kids, managed to somehow break out of a lifetime of misery to invent a miracle mop with after many trials and bad times was a huge success. Joy took incredible financial risks and through a contact she got with QVC via her x-husband, managed through a series of unlikely events to become a QVC star and the inventor of many new products .

What makes this movie so great is that it does not show any clear or "Hollywood-like" path to miracle success; instead what is shown, are the very harsh realities of what its like to pull off a new business of manufacturing mops in your fathers car repair garage, and the fighting with investors; the main one being her fathers current wealthy girlfriend (played by Isabelle Rosellini ) who he met through a dating service. Joy also had to fight with the criminals who were constantly raising the prices of the plastic parts that were the components of the miracle mop she was trying so desperately to sell for a profit. Just like real life, even when Joy thought that her dreams were realized by a miracle presentation on QVC that started out so badly, the criminals who were trying to ruin her revealed themselves again and then her jealous half-sister made matters worse by getting involved in a business that was not hers and she had no knowledge of. The point of all this is that real life is hard and breaking out of a bad reality is even harder. Very few people are able to create and sell a product that they invented and start their own business, no matter how great the idea. The enormous pitfalls and financial risks are depicted perfectly in this movie and I was so impressed with how well this story was told and the reality of life and business that was always at the forefront of this story. The question was asked to the audience, "could you do this"? Could you take out second mortgage out on your house and risk permanent financial ruin to follow your dream even if it meant putting your entire family in even a worse financial condition? Most people would answer no to this question.

One scene that stands out the most in this movie was a great speech by Joy's father, played by Robert Deniro . After it appeared that Joy's business had failed and she would lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy, Joy's father tells her that it was all his fault. He never should have allowed her to believe that she was anything but average or below average. That she should never aspire to achieve anything great and that essentially she was like everybody else in the family, destined to never achieve anything. This speech represents what is perhaps the biggest and constant obstacle for anyone trying to break out of a bad situation; overcoming the people around you, who want you to fail because if you succeed, they would feel less about themselves.

This movie consists of many of the same actors and director of the movie "Silver Linings Playbook" and receives my highest recommendation. This movie is a must see one of a kind revelation. Jennifer Lawrence has never been better and deserves to win her 3rd Academy Award for best actress and if she does not win its only because she won 2 awards already. The rest of the cast is also outstanding and this movie will be nominated for best picture.

Joy: The Unofficial Biography of Miracle Mop Inventor, Joy Mangano Joy Magnago is available on Amazon.



Joy - IMDB

Friday, December 25, 2015

Movie Review: Concussion

For anyone over 30 years old, NFL Football is probably considered the greatest and most exciting sport in the United States. Most people can agree that the highlights in football are the most exciting, the most spectacular and invoke the most respect and awe for the skills of a great athlete than any other major sport. Unfortunately equal to the great highlights there are some great low-lights of some unfortunate player taking a very bad hit, perhaps breaking a leg, a knee, or suffering a concussion, which is one of the most common injuries in this league. For as long as the NFL has been around nobody ever heard of or talked about the long term effects of being a player this very violent sport. Then on September 24, 2002 the news that Mike Webster the NFL Center for 18 years with the Pittsburgh Steeler's died at only age 50 and then everything changed.

At the end of Webster's life he was in a state of financial and personal ruin and was having massive cognitive dysfunction, which was later diagnosed as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy by a pathologist in Pittsburgh Dr. Bennet Omalu . This new disease, known as CTE was discovered by Dr Omalu as the direct cause of constant head trauma that can only happen while playing football. For years prior to this discovery, the NFL routinely dismissed the many incidents of NFL players either going insane, dying young or having dementia as the result of premature Alzheimer's, which considering the age of these men and the statistics was an implausible reason for these medical problems.

After Webster's death, several other NFL players starting showing symptoms of this disease and 4 of them (Andre Waters , Dave Duerson , Junior Seau and Terry Long ) committed suicide. Duerson and Seau committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest to enable doctors examine their brains after they killed themselves and Terry Long committed suicide by drinking a gallon of anti-freeze. CTE caused not only dementia but also violent behavior which in some cases even resulted in murder. What is very obvious from this story is that this discovery of CTE is not something that has happened recently, but it has been in fact part of the medical history of all NFL players after they retire. What was suggested in this movie is that the NFL has been covering up this problem for many years and even conducting tests to prove that concussions were not that important of a medical issue. At the end of the movie it was stated that 28% of all NFL players currently have some form of CTE, but you are made to believe that just about all of them have some form of the disease.

This movie was extremely well done and well acted, not only by Will Smith who played Dr. Omalu but also by Alec Baldwin who was great in his role as a former NFL neurologist and Albert Brooks who played the boss of Dr. Omalu at the Pittsburgh coroners office. It was no surprise that after the discovery of CTE was made, that the NFL not only denied that it was true, but threatened Dr Omalu and his boss with a Federal investigation that was later dropped and even had people following Dr Omalu's wife around in her car and causing her enough stress that could have cost them their first child during a miscarriage.

So what is next for the NFL and this big problem with concussions and long term brain damage? I for one have always been surprised that the helmets the players wear provide such inadequate protection over so many years and so much technology. Perhaps there is no solution to this problem through the creation of much better helmets. Several rule changes have been made, and there have been improvements, but as is said in the movie, if just 10% of all parents forbid their son to play football then its likely that eventually the entire sport will fade away. The bottom line here really is, what is the point of great fame, exciting highlights and potentially great wealth when you might be so brain damaged and insane that you might kill someone in your family or take your own life? At the end of this movie, Dr Omalu is watching a high school football game and the movie ends with a huge collision between two young players. This is where we stand now in the NFL, inadequate head protection and where do we go from here?

I give this movie my highest recommendation and predict that it will be one of the 10 movies up for best pictures in the Academy Awards this year. The story behind this movie is also available on Amazon and is also entitled Concussion.

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Concussion IMDB

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The 2008 financial crisis and the plight of 20 year old’s

As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, which is the subject of the movie The Big Short , reviewed in this blog, many 20 year old's have had their potential lives either put on hold for a long time or ruined outright. Due to the greed of already rich individuals who wanted more money at the cost of ruining or completely destroying the world wide economy, the end result is that many young people just trying to start out in their careers have been badly hurt and their futures compromised. After college with huge student loan debt, many young people cannot even get a decent first job and this will affect their financial futures for the rest of their lives. This is extremely tragic and was completely avoidable if the disaster of the 2008 Financial crisis in this country was prevented or never happened in the first place.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Big Short

Most if not all of us who lived through the 2008 financial crisis would rather forget about what happened, instead of reliving how bad it all was and our fear that the end of the financial world had arrived. This movie not only reminds you how bad it was, but educates you to the fact that it was far worse than we all knew at the time. Everything about this movie; the acting, the story telling and the teaching of all the complex concepts in this financial crisis by using the actor talking to the audience or several cameo appearances that included Selena Gomez and Margo Robbie are all extremely well done throughout. In my opinion, this movie will definitely be nominated for a best picture Oscar. This movie is based on the book "The Big Short" , by Michael Lewis.

The concept of Deregulation of financial institutions which allows companies on Wall Street to do whatever they want to make profits with no government regulation is essentially what caused a financial disaster in the housing market and the associated "Las Vegas" like gambling that went on where bets were placed on CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations). CDOs are essentially baskets of both good and very bad mortgage loans but also on what are called "synthetic CDO's" which are peripheral bets on the original loans, which created outlandish and extremely high levels of risk. This combination of insanity is what resulted in a financial crisis that almost brought down the economy of the entire world. It was all allowed to go on because the government officials who were suppose to monitor what was going on and rank mortgage securities accurately just looked the other way.

Many things about the 2008 housing bubble, which really started in 2007 are infuriating, but what is most outrageous about all the debt, panic and misery this causes is that it was even allowed to happen in the first place. From the beginning of this tenure as the Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan was calling for financial deregulation and when he finally got what he wanted, based on the decision of a very weak president in 2002; the ability of financial institutions to run free and do whatever they wanted became possible. The people involved did not care that their obscene greed would cause a generation of pain for millions of Americans in their 20's and early 30's and so many people who lost jobs and homes. All these criminals cared about was getting even more rich as easily as possible and worse than this was when all the smoke had finally cleared, nobody went to jail except for one wall street employee; although his sentence was not disclosed at the end of the movie. What was disclosed when this movie ended was that 8 million people lost their jobs, 6 million people lost their homes and 5 trillion in wealth was wiped out in a about 2 years. For me the fact that was mentioned in this movie that stood out the most was that for every 1 percent of unemployment in the Unites States, as many as 40,000 can die due to the stress, homelessness and misery of not being able to make a living in this country .

March 2009 is now known as the "generational low" in the stock market and after that incredible low of 6400 on the Dow and about 1100 on the Nasdaq, things slowly started to normalize and now the market seems to be back to where it should have been anyway, even if the financial crisis never happened. But in the back of everybody's mind is the fact that something like this could happen again or perhaps the bail out that occurred at the end of 2008 is just a temporary band aid that really did not fix the real underlying problem that was caused by the sick greed of a few already rich individuals who right now should be in jail. Then we all remember that because of this crisis and some bad decisions and a very bad war in IRAQ, this country is now close to 21 trillion dollars in debt. After Bill Clinton left office, we were only 5 trillion in debt. Yes, most of the bailouts were necessary, especially Obama's decision to bail out the car companies, but its very tragic that because of some very stupid decisions by some very greedy people, this country may never be financially healthy again.

This movie is about the 2007-2008 Housing bubble and financial crises as told through the experiences of 3 groups of individuals who had the foresight and courage to realize that the mortgage bond securities that were being sold as high quality investments to institutions around the world were not only mostly garbage, but also fraudulent. Their plan was to short these mortgage bonds known as CDOs or (Collateralized Debt Obligations) but the ability to even short these bonds that were considered so safe and high quality was not even possible at the time, so the method to short them called CDS (Credit Default Swaps) had to be invented by the financial institutions to make shorting possible. These individuals were actually laughed at by the employees of the companies where they attempted to buy these CDO's because they were so sure of the safety and integrity of the housing market. All of these investors were so sure that they were right about the impending housing disaster that they bet billions of dollars that the entire housing and mortgage industry in the United States would collapse. What they didn't realize was that they would be so right about these bets that they would have a great deal of trouble collecting their money because so many of the institutions who sold these CDO's would become bankrupt. The acting in this movie by the 4 main actors, Steve Carrel, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gossling and Christian Bale is outstanding throughout and I would guess that several of these actors might receive Academy Award nominations. This movie is a 100% must see and I give it my highest recommendation.

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The Big Short on IMBD

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Review: Sisters

The main question you ask yourself towards the end of watching this movie is, "is being raunchy funny?" Is raunchy disgusting humor always funny in a movie, is this something that always works? It worked in Animal House in 1979 but is this something that is a 100% guaranteed home run? Of course the answer to this is no. This movie tries hard to be funny but unfortunately for every 5 attempts at verbal or visual humor, maybe 1 out of 5 worked and that is stretching it. During the entire two hours this movie was on screen I heard maybe 3 laughs and I only laughed once. The cardinal sin for any comedy movie is that if its not funny then the movie failed and for the most part this movie failed at being a funny comedy movie.

Many Saturday Night Live alums were in this movie but the only one that got any real time on screen was Bobby Moynahan and overall he could be considered the funniest one in this mostly unfunny movie. Kate McKinnon was also in this movie and she got maybe 2 minutes of screen time which is not nearly enough considering her talent.

This very simple story is about 2 sisters who visit their parents home in Orlando only to find out that their childhood house is being sold, so they decide to have one last party at the house that very soon gets way out of control and eventually the house gets trashed. The majority of the movie is about what goes on at this party and this becomes rather repetitive pretty quickly. There are scenes of people falling through ceilings, paint being injected into an outdoor pool, many scenes of drugged out and drunk behavior and finally a scene of a giant sink hole that drops the pool into the ground. Many of the scenes during this party including the dialogue falls flat and the screenplay, written by a former SNL writer Paula Pell mostly fails at its number one goal, making the audience laugh.

Despite the occasional upsides of this movie and very few laughs, it fails on too many levels to recommend.

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Sisters IMDB

Friday, December 18, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens

Its impossible to believe that in 1977 the first Star Wars movie was released and when it came out many thought at first that this was some average B movie and not a movie that anyone would have considered would be a new form of art or even a new idea that would change the world of movie making. After this first block buster hit in 1977 there were two more Star Wars movies in 1980 and 1983 and then George Lucas the director and creator of this franchise decided to not make any more Star Wars movies for 16 years and then starting in 1999 he made 3 prequels. Most people thought that the 3 prequel Star Wars movies were great with special effects but overall the stories were not up to the quality of the first 3 movies. The first prequel in 1999 had a duck-like character called Jar Jar Binks that many thought was by far the worst idea of the whole series.

After the last Star Wars movie in 2005 "Revenge of the Sith", George Lucas announced that there would "never be another Star Wars movie". This was before he sold the franchise to Disney for 4 billion dollars in 2012. (see the other entry about this in this blog).

Now that Disney has Star Wars, many more movies will follow because the story and the money is just too compelling. Human beings all want to believe that there is a great future for humanity in space and ideas like Star Trek and Star Wars enhance this desire to travel to different parts of the universe at "light speed". This movie was both directed and written by JJ Abrams and is a very good movie but I thought given the importance of this movie and the return of the Star Wars franchise after 10 long years, this movie could have been better. The story was very good, but not great, the special effects were very good but not great or anything we have not seen before. I also did not agree at all with the decision about one of the characters in this movie which I considered to be short sighted and too tragic for many of the young people who will be seeing this movie. Considering the very young children who will see this latest Star Wars, there is probably too many scenes of violent death, many of which were not necessary. There is a new droid in this 7th movie in the Star Wars series that is essentially two globes that rub together and this robot is far cuter that R2D2, who does make a small cameo appearance towards the end of this movie. This new robot is already a toy available in almost all toy stores and is a major source of comedy relieve in this 2 1/2 hours of action and warring factions of good and evil.

All of the original Star Wars characters from the original series made appearances in this new story except for Yoda, who I am sure will be making an appearance in the next movie as the ending left the door way open for many new releases of Star Wars movies for many more years to come. You had to be in awe of the 2 young starts of this movie Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who won the lottery with this last Star Wars release and the 3 to 5 more films that will follow over the next 10 years. They are as fortunate as the young actors in the Harry Potter series, who will make millions from their salaries and back ended profits from these movies.

This 7th Star Wars movie is a must see for all big fans of Star Wars and all people who just want to see a well made action/adventure movie. Due to the Disney deal with George Lucas the future of the Star Wars story is in good hands and we all can look forward to many movies like this in the future. Hopefully, all the movies will be up to a very high standard which this movie for the most part attains.

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Star Wars the Force Awakens IMDB

Monday, December 14, 2015

George Lucas - 4 Billion Dollar deal with Disney

I was actually surprised when George Lucas accepted a deal with Disney to give away the entire Star Wars franchise in October 2012. I guess everyone has a price, but perhaps Lucas didn't think through what it was going to be like to see all the things that Disney will do with Star Wars. He might hate the story ideas, or the story arc or even the toys that Disney might sell. Of course the only company in the world that he would sell to would be Disney, but once you sign on the dotted line, your idea that has been yours for 40 years is gone forever.

Everyone is hoping that the new 7th Star Wars movie that opens on December 18, 2015 is going to be an exceptional movie and definitely all owners of Disney stock are hoping for this as well. JJ Abrams, the writer and director of this movie is under a tremendous amount of pressure for this new movie to not only be great and make huge amounts of money, but for him to really succeed this movie has to set all time box office records. From the trailers I have seen it certainly looks like a great movie but the main issue is the story. If This movie has great special effects and a great story, then it will break those box office records. Otherwise it will fall short of what Disney will need to recover that 4 billion dollar deal with Lucas.

George Lucas Disney Deal

Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea

The book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a book about a true story about a very large white whale that destroyed a whaling ship in 1821 and is the story that lead to the novel Moby Dick, which was a fictional accounting of this incident that was released in 1850 and written by Herman Melville.  Many people who are going to see this new Ron Howard movie are probably going to think that this is a movie about the novel Moby Dick and they will be disappointed because this story is completely different the original Moby Dick novel and 1956 movie starring Gregory Peck.

At times I found parts of this movie rather boring, especially when the remaining crew was stranded at sea for over 90 days and I thought that there was no need to drag on this part of the story for about 2 thirds of the entire movie to watch the crew slowly dying of starvation and exposure.  The special effects were good but did not do a great job showing the whale destroying the boat and some of the smaller boats and killing many of the men in the crew. I actually thought that the original movie Moby Dick with Gregory Peck was a much better movie and had better special effects even though this movie was made in 1956 and fictional Moby Dick story is more interesting than this depressing true story.

Additional thoughts concerning this movie include several of the actors, especially the lead actor Chris Hemsworth, who lost over 30 pounds, living on 500 calories a day to make their survival at sea more believable. Clearly the fact that this is only a movie never occurred to these actors who risked their long term health for a long period of time just to make a movie. I have never understood why actors in Hollywood take risks like this just to make a movie.

In conclusion I expected a great movie here and only got a marginally good one. If you are fan of movies at sea this the movie for you, otherwise this one can be missed.

In the heart of the sea

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Ron Howard Credits IMDB

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2016 Glolden Globe Nominations

In 1998 the Academy Awards gave best picture to "Shakespeare In Love" when it was up against arguably the greatest movie about the realities of war ever made, "Saving Private Ryan".  Without a doubt this is the biggest injustice I have ever seen in any award show. Last years "The Birdman" winning for best picture was something that most people did not understand as this movie was at its best just strange and definitely not a good movie.   Since that time, I have witnessed a lot of insanity in Hollywood and in the many award shows that are televised this year, but I would have to say that this time around, with the Golden Globe nominations this year could be the most insane ever.

First of all, the movie "The Martian" is not a comedy or musical.  The movie "Mad Max: Fury Road" was a bad movie.    How could this movie be nominated and "The Danish Girl" not be nominated?   The movie "Spy" was at best a very average and forgettable movie and I was very surprised to see this movie nominated. Why was Tom Hanks not nominated for "Bridge of Spys", or Johnny Depp for "Black Mass"? Hopefully the Academy Awards will have a return to some kind of normalcy and we will see the some nominations that at least make some sense.


THE MOVIE CATEGORIES: 
Best Picture, Drama
"Carol"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"The Revenant"
"Room" 
"Spotlight"
Best Actor, Drama
Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo")
Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant")
Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs")
Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl")
Will Smith ("Concussion")
Best Actress, Drama
Cate Blanchett ("Carol")
Brie Larson ("Room")
Rooney Mara ("Carol")
Saoirse Ronan ("Brooklyn")
Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl")
Best Picture, Comedy/Musical
"The Big Short"
"Joy"
"The Martian"
"Spy"
"Trainwreck"
Best Actor, Comedy/Musical
Christian Bale ("The Big Short")
Steve Carrell ("The Big Short")
Matt Damon ("The Martian")
Al Pacino ("Danny Collins")
Mark Ruffalo ("Infinitely Polar Bear")
Best Actress, Comedy/Musical
Jennifer Lawrence ("Joy")
Melissa McCarthy ("Spy")
Amy Schumer ("Trainwreck")
Maggie Smith ("The Lady in the Van")
Lily Tomlin ("Grandma")

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Movie Review: The Hunger Games - MockingJay Part 2

This is the last movie in the Hunger Game Series and the fourth installment; the first movie "The Hunger Games" came out in March 2012 with the main premise being a reality game show where young children were in an outdoor death match that was televised to the world. One thing that stood out the most for me in that first movie was the murder of a young 6 year old child by a 19 year old young man during one of the episodes of this game show.  In the second Hunger Games movie there was another televised death match, but this time with older young adults in their late teens and 20's, perhaps due to the backlash from the first movie.  How an idea like this spawned 3 books and 4 movies that have been so popular I have no idea, mainly because the fundamental idea behind this story is so gruesome.

Perhaps the author Suzanne Collins was trying to point out the potential disaster ahead for the world because of the prevalence and popularity of reality shows; but to suggest that something as horrific as children killing other children on television becoming popular in any futuristic reality is ridiculous.

During the entire 8 hours of these 4 movies and most especially the last two I found myself continuously confused by the many names thrown around and several scenes that didn't make sense and were not explained well. This movie series seemed to count on most people reading the books first before seeing the movies and for those who did not read the books, they were going to be out of luck trying to figure out who was who and what was going on a large percentage of the time.

The fourth and last installment in this series had scenes of mass murder and death that even involved children which I thought was extremely misplaced and inappropriate for any movie; even a movie that was trying to be true to the books that the movie was based on.  I for one am glad that this movie series is now over and I am still amazed that these movies have made so much money and the books were so popular.

This movie should be seen by fans of the book series, but for the rest of us,  this last installment should be avoided.

Jennifer Lawrence Credits

IMDB: The Hunger Games MockingJay Part 2

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Movie Review: Suffragette

Mans inhumanity to man has defined the human condition for centuries. The sick disease many evil people have where they can only feel good about themselves if they make others feel worse or if they can feel superior to other people is one of the biggest plagues of humanity. To think that a short 95 years ago in this country, women finally got the right to vote and in Saudi Arabia this right only came about this year, 2015 is unbelievable. In many other countries around the world, the right to vote came many years after 1920. All of this of course is completely insane and its hard believe how backwards and stupid the beliefs about women have been for so many hundreds of years. The world for women has in fact greatly improved since the 1920's but the plight and suffrage of women continues to this day with lower salaries for the same work and other injustices that still exist.

This movie is about what it takes to change the backwards thinking of the world and some very stupid and evil people who were responsible for slavery and the suffrage of women. This movie takes place in England in 1912 and shows the horrible conditions of many women working for a textile company. The working conditions and payment for women during this time were horrible and over time the right to vote and the improvement of their lives was the paramount goal of the woman's suffrage movement in the 1920's. England gave women the right to vote completely in 1928, a full 8 years after the United States and the struggle during this time involved protests, many arrests and even torture of women in prison. As a result extreme measures were taken by the Women's Suffrage movement that involved placing bombs in mail boxes and even in houses. One desperate method to get the attention of the King of England even involved the suicide of a woman named Emily Wilding Davidson who killed herself during a horse race by throwing herself in front of a charging horse. Video of Emily Wilding Davidson Suicide.

In the end, after many years of very little or no improvement, the Woman's Suffrage movement finally resulted in more equality for women and giving women the vote in 1928 for England and 1920 for the Unites States, but the price that was paid for this equality was very high.

The actress Carey Mulligan does an outstanding job as lead actress in this movie as does Helena Bohnham Carter . The character she plays in this movie gets divorced and actually loses her child to an adoption that was pushed through by her husband only because as a women during this time she had no legal rights to her own child. I was surprised to see Merrill Streep in this movie in a relatively small role as the leader of the Suffrage movement in England in the 1920's and she was also excellent in her part.

I highly recommend this movie.

Carey Mulligan Credits

Suffragette IMDB

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Movie Review: Trumbo

As an avid screenwriter I was at first very surprised that I never heard of Dalton Trumbo before because he could be just about the most awarded and prolific screenwriter in the history of Hollywood. Unfortunately for him his political views made his screenwriting career far more difficult than it should have been and his unique talent for writing great movies like "Roman Holiday" and "Spartacus" came towards the end of a very dark period where he was blacklisted like so many others in Hollywood. During this blacklisting period, Trumbo had to use other writers names or make up names so that his name was not credited with the movie to avoid the boycotting of the movies or lawsuits. Trumbo also worked for very minimal wages for a number of years writing scripts or fixing bad scripts for very low budget producers.  One of the great things about historical movies like this is that you learn about incidents and people and history that you would never have known about otherwise.  We all knew how blacklisting was in the 1950's but after watching this movie you have a greater appreciation for how bad it was for so many people and how many lives were ruined by having their livelihood taken away by something so unjust and unfair.

Several people were jailed for believing in Communism during this blacklisting era including Dalton Trumbo and several of his friends, one friend was played very well by Louis CK , which eventually dies of lung cancer. Its depressing to realize that due to the fear of Russia, Communism and the Cold War that the United States Constitution and more specifically freedom of speech was completely forgotten in order to persecute, jail and ruin the lives of so many good people.

What most people also did not know is that the actor Edward G. Robinson was involved with the so called Hollywood 10 and he betrayed  all of them them in the end to save his own career and avoid jail time.  Another part of history was the verve that reporters and gossip columnists at the time like Hedda Hopper showed in their zeal to go after Communists and ruin their lives and careers, almost as if she enjoyed destroying other people.

Over time the witch hunt of the McCarthy era waned and eventually actors like Kirk Douglass and directors like Otto Preminger slowly began to have the courage to not only re-hire great writes like Dalton Trumbo but even publish their names as the screenwriters of their movies.

There are many great scenes and revelations in this movie, including several scenes in this movie involving John Wayne going after Communists and trying to ban them from Hollywood and another scene where Trumbo calls out Wayne asking him, "so where did you serve during World War 2". It was also interesting to see that over time Trumbo adopted to the habit of writing his screenplays in the bathtub and due to the stress of much less money and incredible overwork he tended to ignore his family which caused great conflict with them, most especially his older daughter. Diane Lane had a small role in this movie as Dalton Trumbo's wife and seems somewhat miscast her role but Brian Cranston is excellent in his performance and will very likely receive an Academy Award nomination for his role as Dalton Trumbo. John Goodman is also very good in this movie as the producer of bad movies and employed Trumbo many times to provide him with an income during this period when he was blacklisted.

One huge flaw but typical problem with this movie is the constant and never ending smoking in almost every scene. The good thing about this is at least they show that one of Dalton's close writer friends died of lung cancer, so at least they try to show the other side of that disgusting coin. One day perhaps, all smoking will be banned from movies but it sure seems that we are all a long way from that day.

I highly recommend the movie Trumbo and predict it will be nominated for a best picture Oscar.

trumbo-poster-thumb Trumbo IMDB

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: Creed

Its hard to believe that Rocky 6, which had the title "Rocky Balboa" is now almost 9 years old.  In that movie, Rocky's Adrian had died and in this movie, there is no more Paulee.  I find it depressing that Stallone has decided to kill off all the great characters that made Rocky such a great movie when it came out in 1976, almost 40 years ago and won best picture.  The reason for Adrian dying in the last movie was supposedly because no one would believe that she would stand by and watch her 60 year old husband fight again.The reason for Paulee leaving us was because of cancer which is a later subject of this movie as well. When Rocky Balboa came out, most critics were very surprised that it was such a good movie mainly because Rocky 4 and 5 were mostly bad movies, Rocky 5 generally agreed to be a very bad movie.  The quality of the writing, story and acting in this movie is similar to Rocky Balboa and I was happy to see that the quality of these Rocky movies has been maintained. The movie "Creed" follows the same formula of Rocky Balboa of showing real boxing footage using HBO films and commentators and having writing and a believable story line that is a quality as high as the original Rocky.  The movie Creed, which is the 7th installment in the Rocky series is the first in the franchise that was not written by Stallone himself as the decision was made for this latest installment, to inject some younger blood into to the dialog and story line. The actor Michael B. Jordan does an excellent job as the star of this movie and you have to admire the shape he got in for the work out and intense fighting movies in this movie.  He is a very good actor, which marks probably the first time in the Rocky franchise that an actor of his caliber has been in a Rocky movie. The fight scenes as well as the scenes of him working out and catching chickens, which is a reference to the second Rocky movie, were very well done and very convincing. There was also no doubt in some of the fight sequences that some of the actors including Jordan took some very big shots to the head and the body as the fight scenes were extremely well done and convincing.

This movie also has a very well done love interest for Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. His girlfriend is a lounge singer Adonis meets in his apartment in Philadelphia. I thought it was rather unusual that the movie did not explain the complete story of Apollo's lost son until about 70% into the movie, but overall this story-line worked and so did this movie.

Stallone is definitely showing his almost 70 years in this movie as he looks every bit of 70 years and perhaps a bit older.  His performance in this movie is equally as good as it was in Rocky Balboa.  At the end of this movie the door is left wide open for a Creed 2, but given the quality of this latest Rocky movie I look forward to another movie about the life of Rocky Balboa.

I highly recommend this movie.

download



IMDB Creed  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movie Review: Spotlight

This movie attempts to give a history lesson about one of the most disturbing topics in human history. The massive child abuse of children at the hands of Catholic Priests. One of the most stunning statistics mentioned in this movie is that there is a 6% occurrence of Catholic Priests molesting children, mostly boys.  At this rate, this problem was explained in this movie as more of a psychological phenomenon isolated to the priesthood, rather than something that is a rare and sick occurrence from pedophiles in the Catholic Church who pray on young boys.   From the 1500 priests in the Boston area, it was determined that as many 90 priests had molested children, proving the 6% statistic to the letter.

This movie is mostly about the investigation of the child molestation crimes by Priests in Boston over a period of 25 years starting in the year 2001 when it is discovered that at first 13 priests were suspected of molesting children in their Parishes. Over the course of this movie it is discovered that lawyers and the Catholic Church were covering up this problem with payoffs, suppressing evidence and transferring Priests to different locations or having them take medical leave. Through the use of Catholic Church records the investigators who worked for the Boston Globe were able to discover 90 priests who molested boys and from them many hundreds of victims.  The staff of the Boston Globe was very well played by Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton,  Liev Schreiber and Mark Ruffalo .  One flaw in this movie is that the investigations and questioning can get a little tedious at times and this movie is probably too long at over 2 hours. At the end of this movie it is shown a list of cities in the world that have had a major scandal involving Catholic Priests and the list is very disturbingly long.One also has to wonder, based on the other statistic that 50% of all Catholic Priests are sexually active that if the Vatican would finally eliminate the vow of celibacy that perhaps this child abuse problem might be reduced if not eliminated altogether.

Overall, this is a good movie about a very difficult subject and is worth seeing.

spotlight



Spotlight IMDB

 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Movie Review: The Night Before

In some ways, its a very simple thing to figure out. How can a very bad movie be made? One way is because of clout. Clout to have the power and influence in Hollywood and because of that you can make any horrible script into a movie.  Perhaps you owe someone a favor or someone is your friend and gave you a break in some earlier movie. Perhaps by making one horrible movie you may get the green light to make some other movie in the future. Most of us will never know what really goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood but its a shame when you consider how many scripts and how many good ideas for a movie will never be made because a horrible script like this was made into a movie. Its hard to understand what was the point of this movie. Something about bad weed and 3 friends traveling around the city of New York to different parties experiencing different drugged out visions and delusions.  There is no real story here, just a series of scenes that lead to nowhere and make the audience look at their watches and hope that it will soon be over.  This movie is beyond bad, its literally one of the worst movies I have ever seen. This movie reminded me of "The Interview" from last year and was the last movie that Seth Rogan put out. At least that very bad movie had some sort of a plot, but this movie had no plot, just a series of bad scenes that lead to other bad scenes. By all means, miss this movie. Hopefully it will be out of the theaters soon. images The Night Before - IMDB

The Night Before - IMDB

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: Secret in Their Eyes

This movie is about justice.  Its also about doing something for the greater good of more people, in this case terrorism.   There is a horrible rape and murder committed and the prime suspect is helping the police catch terrorist, so the question becomes; do you arrest and jail a rapist and murderer even if he could help you catch an entire sect of terrorists? This is a difficult question and a question that is addressed in this movie.

The other question is, if you are the relative of a person who is murdered then what would you consider proper justice for the person who committed that murder? The death penalty or life in prison? The answer this varies based on person who lost the relative and this is another thing addressed in this movie.  In the end there are some twists and turns but nothing too surprising because many clues were left along the way.   Julia Roberts had a great acting scene when it is discovered that her daughter was murdered and her body was bleached inside and out.  In the past, with a scene this powerful there is always a chance that the actor might be nominated for an Academy Award, but in this case the movie is not strong enough for a nomination like this.

Julia Roberts looks much different in this movie and is not wearing any makeup and for the first time she is very far away from the pretty woman she was in 1990. This movie is a remake of a foreign movie with the same name that won for best foreign film a year ago and one has to wonder if that movie is better than this one or why given the subject matter and strength of the story that this movie was made a second time.

I thought this movie was good and the acting performances were strong and I do recommend it, but this movie leaves you wishing that the story and the conclusion of this movie was better.

Secret in Their Eyes

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Movie Review: My All American

Its always been true that the most prevalent and best sports movies are the ones that are about a true story or perhaps a tragic event that is associated with a sports hero.  Brian's song is probably the best and saddest of these kinds of movies, the Lou Gehrig story is another example.

Many players who could have been great through their performances in high school or college never make into the professional ranks because of injuries, the wrong situation or even major health issues.  This movie is about Freddie Steinmark who played for the Texas Longhorns college football team in the late 60's and despite his small size was able to become one of the star defensive players on the team.  Freddie's father drove Freddie in high school into becoming a great athlete and despite the impossible odds due to his size he was given a full scholarship to the University of Texas.

The majority of this movie has some very effective scenes of football games and the action and sometimes violence associated with this sport. One can wonder how any young man could make it into the NFL considering the high probability of a major injury.  This movie does end tragically and it does involve the subject of cancer and the story ending scenes are effective in this regards.

This movie does a good job depicting the life of Freddie Steinmark who was a very good player in college and like so many, never made it to the NFL.   The football scenes were well done and the end of this story was also well done.   I do recommend this movie.

My All American - IMDB

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Movie Review: The 33

The first line of this movie was a graphic that stated: 12,000 miners a year die working in mines. One has to wonder with all the amazing and modern technology in this world why we still have human beings risking their lives like this and the fact that being a miner and working so far underground has to be just about the worst job in the world. Even if you are not killed by a rock slide or a cave in, the odds are high that you will eventually die horribly of black lung disease. As we all realize so often, what we all have to go through to make a living can be the very nightmare of a human beings very existence.

This movie is about the historic events of 33 miners who almost died in a cave in in 2010 and after 69 days they were rescued. The acting was very good, but the movie at times did drag on because the story really had to do with the cave in, the problems drilling and rescuing the men and then the final rescue which took an incredible 69 days. For me the best part of this movie was when one of the officials involved in the rescue recommended that they miss the location on purpose; the thinking being that with all the rocks and the missed previous attempts that perhaps by missing on purpose, they just may find the men. This idea worked and for the most part so did this movie.

The 33 IMDB

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Movie Review: Spectre

This is the 24th edition of the bond series, the first one "Dr. No" was released in 1962. This movie has all the things you would expect in any Bond movie, an incredible opening sequence - this one having an amazing Helicopter fight scene that looked extremely dangerous to film. Several bond women; this movie having the oldest Bond girl Monica Bellucci who is 51 years old. A great fight scene; this time on a train and some very good action sequences. There is also a great car chase in this Bond film; this one having one with 2 very impressive and expensive cars. The downside of most of these Bond films is as always the situation where James Bond can be easily killed, but for some reason the evil villain must have him go through some elaborate escape rather than just killing him outright. Of course much of this has to do with giving the audience some drama but one has to wish that someday there will be some sense of common sense to some of these ridiculous escape scenes -and this movie has one of the most absurd escapes at the end.

One other unusual part of this film is that the villain in the movie doesn't appear until about 80% of the movie is over, which has to be the first time we have seen this in a Bond movie. There are many scenes which have no connection or logic to them, as the audience has to wonder why is this happening or what was the logical lead-up to this scene and this is especially true of the ending which I thought was particularly ridiculous. There is talk that this is Daniel Craig's fourth and last Bond film and perhaps the reason for this is that he is tired of some of the nonsensical scenes and scripts which sometimes make no sense. Overall this is a good Bond film but it will not stand out as one of the best that has ever been made in this series mainly because the script and the logic of some of the scenes just do not add up. Also I thought the ending was just not that good at all.

Overall, I do recommend this movie.


Spectre IMDB

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Movie Review: Truth

Some 11 years after the news came out that George W. Bush got special privileges and got into the Texas National Guard, anybody you would ask about this issue would say the same thing. Of course Bush got special privileges to avoid the Vietnam war, his father is George Bush who was the head of the CIA and very politically connected. This is how things work for the rich and the politically connected in this country; they can get out of a horrible war like Vietnam and avoid getting killed or horribly maimed for life.

In 2004 the United States was in the middle of a big election between John Kerry and George W. Bush who was running for his second term. Unfortunately for the United States, John Kerry was not a strong enough opponent to run against Bush and Bush won the election. On top of this, we were in the beginning stages of the Iraq War which would drag on for many more years and cost this country trillions of dollars and many more lives. One could argue that were it not for the Iraq war, Bush would have never won the election in 2004.

The movie "Truth" is about a story on 60 minutes anchored by Dan Rather that claimed that there were documents that proved George W. Bush not only got special consideration for getting out of the Vietnam War by entering the Texas National Guard, but also did not meet many of the requirements that he had to meet to stay in the National Guard during the 6 years he was in the service. CBS News had one witness who turned out in the end to be lying about some of the sources of these documents and the validity of how they were obtained. It was in fact true that Dan Rather's friend and producer Mary Mapes; played very well by Cate Blanchette, and her team made several mistakes in verifying all the statements and documents involved in this very complex case. But it is also clear that whatever this CBS team did in verifying all of the facts of this case; this was what they normally did for all stories and that included getting other verbal statements on the record from military officials including Air Force Generals to verify that the statements in these documents were true. Soon after this story came out, several bloggers came out stating that the published documents were fake because the type and character fonts were not available in 1973 when the documents supposedly came out. This was later proved to be untrue, but by then political pressure became too great and the US Military officials who originally verified that the documents were true, started to recant their stories and refused to go on television to support what they originally said. What then followed as a witch hunt where many people lost their jobs including Mary Mapes who never worked in Television Journalism again. The worst tragedy of all was that Dan Rather lost his job as the anchor of CBS news which he had held for 24 years, the longest anchor in television history. Of all the people involved with this scandal it was the biggest injustice that Dan Rather had to lose his job because a good deal of his job was to rely on his producers, researchers and reporters who support what he does.

The end of this movie concludes with a huge investigation of Mary Mapes and the best scene was when she defended the documents that were in question by stating a long list of things that any forger would have to know about the Military and inside information from some 30 years earlier in order to trick CBS News into believing that the were accurate. This list is so long, that any semblance of common sense would convince anyone who was not convinced already, that the documents in question about George W. Bush's military service were in fact true. George W. Bush, probably because he was an admitted alcoholic in the 70's, did receive special privileges to not only avoid the Vietnam War, but to also avoid his required duties in the Texas National Guard. In the end, none of this mattered and Mapes and her entire staff were fired from CBS and some time later, Dan Rather stepped down as the anchor of CBS news. All things being equal it seems that CBS went after the wrong president; because what they should have remembered from the 2000 Presidential election is that politics wins over what is right, every time. George W. Bush was given the presidency by the US Supreme Court, despite the fact that he lost the popular vote and would have lost the Electoral Vote should the votes in Florida had been counted to completion. Considering what happened to the United States in Bush's second term, culminating with the financial crisis of 2008 is the real tragedy. It is also suggested that Mapes could have brought out this investigation of Bush before his first term in office which could have meant that Al Gore would have won the Presidency that year, but her mother died and she was not able to put out the story. Another sub plot of this movie were the stories of Mapes father, who use to beat her and her sister during their childhood and who later came out against her when this scandal first exploded in the press. A very touching scene was when Cate Blanchette begged her father on the phone to stop bad mouthing her to the press with a simple "Daddy please stop".

I highly recommend this movie and both Robert Redford who played Dan Rather and Cate Blanchette did excellent jobs in their roles. Both Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace were also very good in their co-starring roles as well.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Movie Review: Our Brand is Crisis

"Our Brand is Crisis" is a strange title for a movie even though there is a line from the movie when the main character who is a political operative played by Sandra Bullock determines that the only way for her candidate to win is to create an environment of crisis in Bolivia so that her aggressive candidate would be more accepted by the voters. Despite this fact, the title of this movie is rather bad but so is this movie.

I have noticed over the years and seeing many movies that one of the signs of a bad movie is what are called "filler scenes", where the director realizes that there are not enough of a story to fill out an entire 2 hour movie, so there are cuts to scenes of music and unnecessary action. In this movie, this happened about 5 times and some of these filler scenes (including Bullock's character mooning people in a passing bus) are just plain ridiculous. This entire movie could have been shown in about 1 hour and 10 minutes, rather than the 2 hours of boredom and pointless dialog that this movie has.

At the end of the movie there is a scene where Sandra Bullock's character puts a strange metal hat on her head which makes absolutely no sense. Also at the end of this movie when the election is over with a predictable result, Bullock's character decides to stay in Bolivia for reasons that are never explained to the viewer. The one thing I did admire about this bad movie is the 3 stars, Billy Bob Thornton, Sandra Bullock and Anthony Mackie and the fact that they spent probably several months in Bolivia which is a poor and perhaps dangerous country to live in; so many dues were probably made there to earn their salaries. Its too bad that after all this money and effort such a bad movie was created. There is a scene where a Lama is killed by a passing car which was in very bad taste and was actually offensive. Obviously the producers of this movie either forgot about or never heard of PETA. Why was this scene even in this movie? Was this suppose to be funny? It sure was not funny and was very disturbing.

Another very bad thing about this movie is the constant smoking of several of the main characters, continuing this Hollywood tradition of showing so many people in movies with the worst health threat we have to humanity. It seems we are a long way from a ban of all smoking in movies and that is a real shame.

This movie should be avoided.

Hollywood and Smoking: A Brief History


IMDB Our Brand is Crisis

Friday, October 30, 2015

Movie Review: Burnt

This movie will remind anybody who sees it of one thing. What we all have to do for money and more importantly the people we have to deal with, which in some cases includes abuse that you have to put up with because of the money. There is a scene in this movie where the main character, played very well by Bradley Cooper is extremely abusive to all of his employees in the kitchen. None of them quit and eventually he fires one of them for some very minor infraction. The main character in this movie reminds one of someone like Steve Jobs and his legendary abuse of people who worked for him.

The main character in this movie is a chef whose entire existence and value as a human being centers one getting 3 stars from food critics who tour the world and give their opinions on the best restaurants. It probably takes obsession like this to be the best in the world at the finest restaurants but the real point of all this is, is it worth it? Is it worth it to almost commit suicide over something like this or to be so abusive to all the people who work for you? You get the impression towards the end of this movie that the main character realizes that its not worth it and this is even despite that fact, as is suggested at the end, that that elusive 3rd star was realized.

One thing I once again hated about this movie was the smoking of at least 2 characters about 5 times. Why we have outrage like this in movies to this degree is a mystery to me considering the millions of people who have died of smoking related illnesses. Smoking gives a human being a 2000% greater chance of dying of cancer than any other reason and yet we still show characters in movies smoking at an alarming rate. This is wrong and it has to be stopped.

Overall, I do recommend this movie.

IMDB Burnt

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Movie Review: Freeheld

Why is there smoking in movies? Why? Why hasn't smoking in movies been banned since the 60's? Why is that as soon as the surgeon general determined that smoking WILL KILL YOU that smoking was not allowed in any movie? In the 40's and 50's smoking was considered cool and because of this, God knows how many people took up this horrible habit and lost years off of their life and died horribly from lung cancer or any number of 100 other diseases caused by smoking.

Freeheld is a true story and the first movie I have ever seen that got this smoking issue right because it showed the main character smoking heavily and then later she gets stage 4 lung cancer and then it spreads to her brain and then she dies. This is how lung cancer works and your odds of surviving stage 4 lung cancer is something like 10-15%.

The other part of this story is the incredible injustice of a gay lesbian couple who are living together, essentially married, but the law at the time stated that her partner was not able to get her police pension. The politicians at the time in Ocean City New Jersey could have cared less about what was fair or right in treating a police officer with 23 years of service fairly or even with some respect. All they cared about was saving their township some money and not doing what is right.

The acting in this movie from Julianne Moore and Ellen Page was outstanding and there might be an academy award nomination for one or both of them for there performances. I definitely recommend Freeheld.

Freeheld IMDB

Friday, October 23, 2015

Movie Review: Steve Jobs

This movie definitely has some great acting and great writing. Of course every time Aaron Sorkin writes anything (his last movie being the Social Network in 2010) you know that there will be some very impressive dialog. I was most impressed with the acting of Seth Rogan who proved in this movie that he can definitely act and because of that, its highly unfortunate that most of his movies have been so bad when he has written, acted and starred in them.

This movie is highly unusual in that its really 3 stories told in real time; the release of the Macintosh in 1984, the release of the Next Computer in 1988 and finally the 3rd act, the release of the IPOD in 1998. The connecting thread throughout these 3 acts was Steve Job's relationship with his daughter Lisa. At first Job's denied he was Lisa's father and at the end he fully believed and embraced the fact that she was his daughter. Along the way there was his turbulent relationship with the woman who he had Lisa with and his constant arguing early on that he was not the child's father, even coming out with a 28% algorithm that proved that 28% of American men could have been her father.

What is most amazing about this Apple Computer history lesson and the career of Steve Jobs is we all forgot that the Macintosh was a huge failure for Apple in 1984 and that Jobs first computer with Next was also a huge and overpriced disaster. Despite all of this, Apple rehired Jobs in 1997 and he completely turned the company around even though Apple Computer was 90 days from going under financially. Now some 18 years later, Apple is the most valuable and most important company in the world.

Other connecting threads of this movie were Steve Jobs relationship with Steve Wozniak and his close friend and adviser Joanna Hoffman and his rudeness and ruthless behavior towards everyone who worked for him. It is probably well known the difficult and argumentative relationship Jobs and with Wozniak, but I for one never heard of Joanna Hoffman. Its amazing that Steve Jobs was able to accomplish what he did in his life being so rude to so many people but over time he did improve this part of his personality. Steve Jobs was 100% driven to change the world and he just did not care how he was able to accomplish this along the way.

The big flaw in this movie is that it is really NOT a biography of Steve Jobs, after the book "Steve Jobs" written by Walter Isaacson. This movie is only about 3 incidents in Job's life and at times was like a soap opera of arguments and conflicts, which did include many moments of great acting. I for one would have rather seen an accurate biography of Steve Job's life even if the movie was 3 hours long instead of this movie, which was good for what it was, but I think overall not what most people would expect or even want to see.

The 4 main actors in this movie: Seth Rogen, Michael Fassbender Jeff Daniels and Kate Winslett are all very good in their roles and despite the obvious flaws in this movie I do recommend it.

Steve Jobs IMDB

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie Review: Crimson Peak

Was this movie a period movie or horror movie? Who knows? What this movie was more than anything else was extremely bad. There is a funeral at the beginning, followed by a ghost that shows up that was never explained, the mention of Crimson Peak that was never explained, followed by a love story that was staged in a city in the 1870's, followed by the relocation of the main female character and her new husband to a huge mansion that is falling apart.

The story and connections of the different scenes have no rhyme or reason. Nothing is ever explained. While in the mansion the husband and wife meet up with his sister who is living there and for some reason (also never explained) they have both killed his many wives over the years, for reasons completely unknown. The soil in the outside of the mansion is red clay but is the clay red because of all the dead women they buried? There is an oil rig in the front of the house that is digging for something, but this is also never explained. Is the director and writer trying to make people think that they are insane or stupid watching this horrible movie? What is the point of a bad movie like this. Why would someone read the script and decide to make a horrible movie from a horrible script?

Guillermo del Toro directed this bad movie, but why he did this is a mystery. Jessica Chastaine is barely recognizable as the husband's sister and why is she in this very bad movie? Mia Wasikowska is a relative newcomer who should also have never taken the part in this movie. While watching this disaster I could barely believe that it was only 2 hours long because it felt like 4 hours. I almost walked out about 3 times.

Do yourself a huge favor and MISS this horrible movie.

Crimson Peak IMDB

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

This is one of the better spy movies about the Cold War that have come out in the last 20 years and considering the importance of the Cold War, there should have been more movies like this made about what went on during this very difficult time in our Nations history.

The main character in this movie, played by Tom Hanks is James B. Donovan and he is an important American who should be more famous considering the important things he did for this country. After the trial of a Russian spy (Rudolf Abel), who was defended by Donovan, he was commissioned by the CIA to negotiate the prisoner swap Francis Gary Powers, who was a pilot who was shot down at 70,000 feet in a spy plane and the Russian spy. Where this true story got very complicated was when the United States wanted two prisoners in return for the Russian spy; Gary Powers and an Economics student who was arrested in East Germany, Fredrick Pryor. The politics of the negotiations between the Russians, East Germans and the United States all being handled by Donovan was for the most part interesting, but there were times when the movie stalled and was rather boring.

This movie hit the mark for the most part and was a good story to know about during the Cold War. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg both did a solid job as the lead actor and director in this movie, but I don't see this movie necessarily being up for best picture or best director, perhaps because the subject matter is not strong enough. At the end of this movie it was mentioned that James B. Donovan was also hired by President Kennedy to negotiate the return of American prisoners after the Bay of Pigs and was able to negotiate the release of 9 times more people than he was originally commissioned to return, which is another great accomplishment that more Americans should be aware of. Movies about true history events and great Americans like Donovan is another reason why we go to the movies, to learn about world history that most of us are not aware even happened.

I definitely recommend this movie.


Bridge of Spies IMDB


Friday, October 9, 2015

Movie Review: 99 Homes

Man's inhumanity to man. The year 2008 and the following nightmare of the housing crisis which almost brought down the economy of the entire world is yet another example of "mans inhumanity to man". Mega rich billionaires were given the ability to do whatever they wanted in an attempt to revive an economy that was in bad shape since the internet bubble and bear market of March 2000 to October 2002. Home loans for any dollar amount were given to everyone regardless of their income or even if they had no job. As a result because of the leverage caused by all this; the insane loans that were given to so many Americans who soon defaulted resulted in the worst housing bubble in US history and created a disaster that has almost quadrupled the National Debt of the United States.

The movie 99 Homes is about what happens to people when they can't get a job for a long period of time or when they can no longer afford their adjustable rate mortgages. What happens is they are cruelly evicted from their houses, regardless of whether they have children or are very old or are waiting for a legal proceeding that might save them. Unscrupulous criminals are then able to take advantage of this situation to the determent of so many people who are forced out of their houses. During the housing bubble and subsequent economic disaster that started in 2007; appliances were stolen and houses were trashed as the people abandoned their houses. What this movie showed is that some criminals were removing these appliances illegally and then charging Fannie May for the replacement of these appliances and pocketing the profits. This movie is about criminals who will do anything to get rich and could care less if they ruin many lives to get there. This movie is also about a young man who gets caught up in this criminal activity after his own family home was foreclosed on and in the end he develops a conscience.

This movie was very well done and very well acted and is highly recommended. The actors Andrew Garfield and Micheal Shannon did a very good job in this movie. Micheal Shannon might be a candidate for best actor.

IMDB 99 Homes