Monday, February 29, 2016

Past Movie Review: Heat

The movie Heat came out in 1995 and there has never been a movie like this one, before or after it came out. Micheal Mann in one movie captured the perfect ingredients for a great action police drama that had the perfect story and included a level of tension that remained throughout the movie. The story was excellently told and the major stars in the movie Robert De niro and Al Pacino have never been better.

The bank robbery scene (see below) is by far the best scene if of its kind ever shot in the history of movies. The action the tension and the believablity was extremely well done. One wonders why something this good has never been made again and that is a shame because movies like Heat are what going to the movies is all about.

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2016 Academy Awards Results

The biggest disappointment this year was Stallone not winning best supporting actor, he deserved to win given his performance and his history with Rocky for almost 40 years. The best picture this year was Joy in my opinion, which was not even nominated.  Spotlight was a very good movie but considering this list I would have voted for the Martian as best picture.   Chris Rock was just OK in his opening monologue, I was expecting much better.

Here is this years list of winners.

Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Room”
“Spotlight” *WINNER

Best Actor in a Leading Role Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant” *WINNER
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs“
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”


Best Actress in a Leading Role Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room” *WINNER
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”


Best Director
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant” *WINNER
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”


Best Original Song “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”
“Simple Song No. 3” from “Youth”
“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
“Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre” (Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith) *WINNER


Best Original Score
“Bridge of Spies”
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight” *WINNER
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”


Best Foreign Language Film
“Embrace of the Serpent,” Colombia
“Mustang,” France
“Son of Saul,” Hungary *WINNER
“Theeb,” Jordan
“A War,” Denmark


Best Live Action Short Film
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”
“Shok”
“Stutterer” *WINNER


Best Documentary Feature
“Amy” *WINNER
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”


Best Documentary Short Subject
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, Beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” *WINNER
“Last Day of Freedom”


Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies” *WINNER
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”


Best Animated Feature
“Anomalisa”
“Boy and the World”
“Inside Out” *WINNER
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”


Best Animated Short Film
“Bear Story” *WINNER
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
“World of Tomorrow”


Visual Effects
“Ex Machina” *WINNER
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”


Achievement in Sound Mixing
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” *WINNER
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”


Achievement in Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road” *WINNER
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”


Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” *WINNER
“The Revenant”
“Spotlight”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”


Best Cinematography
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant” *WINNER
“Sicario”


Production Design
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” *WINNER
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”


Best Costume Design
“Carol”
“Cinderella”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” *WINNER
“The Revenant”


Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl” *WINNER
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs“


Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Big Short” *WINNER
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“The Martian”
“Room”


Best Original Screenplay
“Bridge of Spies”
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“Spotlight” *WINNER
“Straight Outta Compton”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Movie Review: Room

The first thing anyone would think while watching this movie is - Is Room a True Story? The answer to that question is never revealed in this depressing movie and I had to look online to find out later. My guess is that the idea for this movie came from the recent story about the man in Cleveland who kept 3 women captive, but other than that one wonders why a movie like this would even be made due to the depressing story of a woman and her son held captive in tiny wood shed in the backyard of someone's house. What is also never explained is why the man, who had a child with this woman would hold them captive in the first place. There is some peripheral information about this in certain parts of this movie but overall, you wanted to know more about the beginning of this story and the hows and whys of why he held is wife and son in a woodshed for 7 years.

This movie is highly unusual and of course the acting performances of Brie Larson and her son played very well by Jacob Tremblay are outstanding, but the story is so depressing, including the loss of 7 years for 2 people and in my opinion is too depressing of a reason to make a movie about and idea like this, except perhaps if this was a true story which it was not.

It is revealed in this movie that both the mother and her son (who looks remarkably like a young girl) are being held in this "room" for 7 years but as the movie starts we find out that her son is only 5 years old, not 7 years, suggesting that the woman was being held in this shed 2 years before her son was born.   Another part of this movie which made absolutely no sense was when a doctor made a comment about the boy "escaping while he was still plastic" and this was never explained at all but referred to later when the boy stated that he was "real and not plastic". This line makes you feel like you must be missing something along the way, which is a feeling nobody likes to have when they are watching 2 hours of a movie.

Due to the fact that this movie leaves so many hanging leaves, I cannot really recommend it, but if you do see it you will appreaciate the acting of both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.

IMDB - Room

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Movie Review: Gods of Egypt

This movie is yet another example of special effects over a script, idea, story or any kind of connection and logic between scenes. How a story is suppose to be told in a movie is one scene or idea has a connection to another scene or idea, so that the audience can follow what is going on. What you cannot do in a movie is hide a horrible script in endless ridiculous over the top special effects and hope that this will be enough to sell a bad idea, bad script or just a horrible movie.

This movie does have very good special effects in many areas, but the story is ridiculous and implausible and for almost the entire movie, makes no sense. Gerard Butler is in this movie probably because he is dressed like he was in the movie "300" and therefore this movie could be like "300". This movie is nothing like "300" and is a very bad version of of some movie about ancient Egypt but this one includes creatures that can fly and turn themselves into flying robots. This is another example of bad deal making in Hollywood where horrible scripts like this somehow break through and people actually think a story this bad would actually work because of special effects. Perhaps one day Hollywood will realize the concept of "script first" before you create a movie like this. Unfortunately I see no sign of a movie being green-lighted before the script is good for a very long time. This movie should be missed at all costs because it is just plain bad.

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IMDB Gods of Egypt

2014 Golden Globes - Best Award Ceremony Monologue of all time

There is no way anyone can top how good Amy Pohler and Tina Fey were as hosts of the 2014 Golden Globes. The joke about George Clooney at the 5 minute mark in this video arguably caused him to finally get married. The audience reaction, the timing and the perfection of this one joke can never be forgotten.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Movie Review: Triple 9

Was there a story in this movie somewhere? Some sense of logic where the viewer would know how or why some scene or action is happening? The unfortunate answer to this is no. For most of this movie I had no idea what was going on or why. What was the reason for this incident or that scene? This movie was impossible to figure most of the depressing two hours I was watching it. The only upside to this bad movie is that there is nothing really wrong with the acting and that includes Woody Harelson, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anthony Mackie but overall the story makes no sense. People killed and you don't know why they were killed. Other people are talking about other characters and you don't know who they are referring to or even care. This movie is a complex nightmare of disconnected stories and should be avoided. I do not recommend this movie.

IMDB Triple 9



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Past Movie Review: Ordinary People

The movie Ordinary People which came out in 1980 represents the high point in the movie career of 5 people. Robert Redford, who won for best director, Mary Tyler Moore who received her only Academy Award nomination for best Supporting Actress, Judd Hirsh who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Donald Sutherland who was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor and Timothy Hutton who won an Oscar for best Supporting Actor, even though he was the lead actor of this film. The reasoning for Hutton's nomination as supporting actor was probably to guarantee that he would win an Oscar because his performance in this movie was so outstanding but to put him in the supporting category was ridiculous considering he is on screen probably 90% of this entire movie. What is most amazing about this movie is how great the acting was throughout and that none of these actors ever were lucky enough to get anywhere near that high point again. Due to the quality of the great acting and directing in this movie it won a best picture Oscar in 1980.

There has probably never been a movie where the entire cast reached this high a point of perfection and then none of them, ever got close to getting roles like these again. Considering how good they all were in this movie that is a shame but it shows how lucky the few actors who get great roles all the time really are. If you have never seen Ordinary People you owe it to yourself to see it.

Ordinary People - IMDB



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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Movie Review: Race

The title of this movie "RACE" is one of the better titles for a movie I have seen in a long time. For this movie RACE is the perfect title because this movie is all about Race, bigotry, the insanity of the Nazi party and ultimately the Race Jessie Owens ran to win 4 gold medals in the Berlin Olympics of 1936.

Considering all the pressure Owens was under as an athlete, being black and then the accomplishment of winning 4 Gold Medals in the Olympics right before the beginning of World War 2; one could argue that Owen's triumph in the Olympics was the greatest athletic achievement of all time. Owens had to overcome extreme white bigotry in college at Ohio State and then the insanity of Nazi Germany, a short 3 years before the start of World War 2 when Germany invaded Poland. Had Owens lost in Berlin in 1936 he would have let down not only himself and his coach but the entire free world and if he lost he would have failed to point out the stupidity of the Nazi Party's propaganda of the German people being the Master Race. No athlete has ever been under a bigger spotlight with more at stake then Jessie Owens at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Ironically, Owens 4th Gold medal came after the Nazi party refused to allow the US to run 2 Jewish runners in the 400 meter relay race and Owens had to step in at the last minute. I was especially impressed and surprised at the lead German athlete who befriended Owens after he lost to him in the long jump, showing incredible class and sportsmanship after losing. At the end of the movie it was announced that Germany made him fight at the front lines at the start of World War 2 and he was killed.

Other back stories during this movie included the possible boycotting of the Olympics due to Germany's treatment of the Jews and the deals that were made along the way, Jeremy Irons and William Hurt were especially good in their roles in this part of the film. Owens originally refused to attend the Olympics due to pressure from the NAACP and later changed his mind after some pressure from his coach and another athlete who he was competing against.

This movie was well acted and I was surprised how well Jason Sudeikis acted in his role as Owen's coach given that he has mostly been a comedic actor for most of his career; he was very convincing in his role. Stefan James also did a great job playing Jessie Owens. Considering the huge accomplishment Jessie Owens pulled off so long ago it is surprising that a movie of this quality about Owens life was not made a long time ago.

This is a great movie about sports and and world history and I highly recommend it.

Race_2016_film_poster



Race - IMDB

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Movie Review: Where to Invade Next?

Micheal Moore has not made a documentary in number of years, the last one was in "Capitalism a Love Story" in 2009. All of Moore's films are admirable when you realize as you are watching them the amount of planning, time and work that were put into them. In all of his documentaries starting with his first "Roger and Me" in 1989 the absurdities, stupidity and injustice of the subject matter of each of his movies comes through in a big way every time. This new movie "Where to Invade Next" is no exception as Moore points out how absurd our country is in so many areas including the insanity of what we spend on our military (as much as 60% of all Federal Taxes), our education system, which is currently 29th in the world, our medical coverage's, which is far from free as it is in so many other countries, paying for college and even what our kids eat for lunch in school. What he points out is of course these other countries pay more in taxes than we do, but we wind up paying much more than they do anyway, because of the incredible costs of so many services that we have to pay for out of pocket.

Of course Moore is right to point out these absurdities and in some cases he makes the solutions sound very simplistic but in some cases, like completely legalizing all drug use like they do in Portugal, the problems are too complicated to resolve with an easy simplistic solution that will completely fix a huge problem like they do in much smaller countries. For me there is one very simple solution to many of our financial solutions starting with our huge National debt and that is greatly reducing what we pay for the military every year which for a very long period of time has been insane. 60% of all Federal Taxes in this country go for the military and since 2001 after the Terrorist attacks these costs have skyrocketed because of 2 wars and greatly increased costs for the security of this country to prevent terrorism. Our Defense budget is more than the next 8 countries combined and this is an insanity that has to end and soon because we are 19 TRILLION dollars in debt and we simply cannot afford this anymore. This defense spending insanity is largely responsible for our 19 trillion dollar Federal Debt which has tripled since the year 2000. Now the challenge is to reduce our defense spending in a smart way where we politically do not look weak and while not losing too many defense related jobs along the way. This is the biggest challenge for the next President and this movie points out these obvious facts very well.

While in Italy Moore discovered that the Italians work far less than we do and yet their productivity is equal to ours. Their companies pays them for 13 months a year so that they will have more money to afford their many vacations. The companies believe that when their workers are relaxed and stress free than they will be able to accomplish more. At the end of this eye opening visit Moore announces that Italian people live on average 4 years longer than Americans.

One of the best countries Moore visited was Iceland, which during the 2008 financial crisis was the worst affected by the economic disaster and 85% of the country was financially ruined. The difference in Iceland was that that 70 or so criminal bankers responsible for this disaster were put in prison unlike here in this country, where none of the bastards that ruined the economy of the entire world even spent one day in jail. Moore also pointed out that one bank started by women was the only one to survive in Iceland and after the criminals were thrown in jail and these same women fixed the financial problems and now Iceland has recovered very well from the financial crisis, proving that when it comes to common sense investing, women have been proven to be more conservative and better at this than men are.

Another big part of the movie was how well Finland has done with Education when not too long ago there were tied with the United States in 29th place. Finland's solution was less hours in school for their children and almost no homework. Most ironic, as Moore pointed out in this documentary, is that many of these great ideas to solve so many big problems in our country came originally as ideas from the United States.

It is definitely not as simple as Moore makes it seem in this movie, "why don't we just follow what these other countries do?", but we owe it to ourselves to look at these other countries and their solutions and start using some basic common sense. The tragedy here is staying on the same course of oblivion that has caused our country so many severe problems, the worst is our National Debt which was caused by stupidity, too many wars and spending so many trillions of dollars so we can kill more people. This is one of Michael Moore's better documentaries and I highly recommend this movie.

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Where to Invade Next

Movie Review: Zoolander 2

This movie is the sequel to Zoolander which came out 15 years ago in 2001. I am surprised that it took 15 years to make another version of this movie even though the original Zoolander was at best an average comedy. The main joke within both movies is the "look" that Derick Zoolander gives to the camera when he is trying to look very attractive and this look can even have some super human power at certain times to even levitate objects, which of course is absurd. In this movie this look is given by just about all the characters in during the story, including some of the many celebrity cameo appearances which includes Ariana Grande, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Zane, Susan Sarandon, Matt Lauer and even Sting.

As far as a comedy this movie is at times funny, mainly because the scenes and the story are so absurd and at times pretty boring and I even dozed off a little at the beginning. Zoolander 2 will only really appeal to people who like completely absurd comedies and stupid dialogue but for fans of a top notch comedy movie, this movie will not be well received. Will Farrel is perhaps the only reason to see this movie and in most of his scenes he is as funny as he was in the last Zoolander. In summary this movie is just about equivalent to the first Zoolander and will be quickly forgotten and for these reasons I cannot recommend it.

Zoolander 2 IMDB



zoolander-2

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Movie Review: Deadpool

This movie is a must see for no other reason other than its unlike anything that has ever been done before. This is another Marvel Super Hero movie, but this one is witty, funny and unusual. The writing was very different and just about every line from the main character "Deadpool" played by Ryan Reynolds was another attempt at witty banter or humor and for the most part it worked, with only a few rare exceptions. People in the audience were laughing at many of the scenes and comments throughout this movie which is my acid test for judging whether a movie is funny or not and this one was. Some of the action scenes were very violent and had a good deal of gore, but nothing that most of us have seen many times before but even in the action scenes there were many lines of witty comments during the fight scenes. Ryan Reynolds is the perfect choice for this part as he has been in quite a few comedy and action movies over the years and the last time he was this funny was in Van Wilder in 2002.

This movie worked on many levels and I do recommend it.



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The Dead Pool - IMDB

Friday, February 12, 2016

Movie Review: How to be Single

This movie is supposed to be a comedy, a comedy about being single in NYC. Of course we have all seen movies like this before and after you have seen a few of these, they all seem to blend together into a generic idea about how difficult it is to be single. One movie that comes to mind is 2009's "He's just not that into you" which is remarkably similar to this movie in terms of the overall message and the attempts at humor.

As always my test of a comedy movie is "did anyone who was in the theater laugh?" and the answer to that question was for the most part no. This is also a movie with several different stories which are going on in parallel and some of the characters know about or are related to each other and others are not. These kinds of movies can be tedious to watch because they are just too many stories and too many characters to follow. It is nice to see Dakota Johnson acting in a movie after the horrible Fifty Shades of Grey came out this time last year. After seeing Fifty Shades of Grey, I wondered if Dakota's career was not over before it even started. Rebel Wilson is also in this movie and she was the exact character she plays in all of her movies, mainly the Pitch Perfect series. To be honest, I wonder what is so funny or entertaining about her or about her milking the humor out of being so fat.  For me the same character she seems to play in all the movies she is in is just not that funny. Leslie Mann is the 3rd major star in this cast, and like Wilson, she seems to be the same person in all the movies she is in and because of this she might start to reduce the longevity of her career in acting.

At best this movie was average and not very funny, at its worse this movie was just another run of the mill dating movie. For these reasons, I cannot recommend it.

 

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How to be Single - IMDB

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Movie Review: The Finest Hours

This movie is essentially about the greatest small boat rescue mission in the history of the coast guard when an oil tanker broke in half and 33 crew members had to be rescued by one small boat. When you see what happened, you wonder why a decision to attempt a rescue like this with so small a boat was even attempted. Unfortunately this story to me did not seem compelling enough to make a movie about and after 2 hours of this movie which was entirely shot at night in the snow and the cold, you wondered why it was made in the first place.

This movie was slow moving, very boring in a number of areas and because it was entirely filmed at night made the whole 2 hours even more slow and depressing. The story is somewhat risky and interesting and the special effects were just OK, but I was looking at my watch frequently wondering when the whole ordeal was going to be over. For these reasons I cannot recommend this movie.



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The Finest Hours - IMDB

Movie Review: The Choice

The Choice is another Nicholas Sparks book that has been made into a movie and 11 of his books have been made into a movie so far, which is an incredible number . Everyone would probably agree that his best movie was The Notebook , which came out in 2004.

Of all the best selling authors right now you just have to conclude that the most successful is Nicholas Sparks if you combine the number of books sold with the number of books made into a movie.  Clearly the all time winner in net worth would be the author of the Harry Potter books JK Rowling, who reportedly is a billionaire. All of the 11 Sparks movies, with the possible exception of the Notebook, follow the same formulaic paradigm.  They are all about a love story that involve some major conflict and then a climax and almost always some kind of a happy ending and many attempts to make you cry.   This movie "The Choice" is not an exception to the Sparks formula and at times it seems you are watching some part of the other 10 movies that have been made from his books, but despite this this movie works because of the solid acting from two relatively unknown actors Benjamin Walker and Theresa Palmer and a story that for the most part was well told.  As with all Sparks movie there are scenes of heavy drama and major conflict, but despite these reminders of other Sparks movies, this movie still works.

Despite the formula-like plot and story I do recommend this movie.



 

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  The Choice - IMDB