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.

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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.