Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Past Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally

"When Harry Met Sally" came out in 1989 and represents another example of lightning striking only once for several people in the movie industry. The late Nora Ephron who wrote the script, by far her best, Billy Crystal who has never been better in any movie his entire career and Meg Ryan who cemented her status of "America's Sweetheart" with this movie and unfortunately has never gotten even close to being as funny, likable and attractive in any movie she has ever done. This is the essence of many movie careers, that one rare great movie that never happens again for many actors.

Rob Reiner directed this movie and as far as directing a comedy, this film is also his best ever. What is amazing about movies like this and especially comedies is how rare the great ones are and as far as great comedy movies in the last 50 years the 3 best are Annie Hall , 1977, When Harry Met Sally, 1989 and My Cousin Vinnie, 1992.

Why is When Harry Met Sally such a great movie and a perfect comedy? Because of its timing and rhythm, the subtle looks and comments, Meg Ryan's cute reactions and the faces she would make after Billy Crystal's character would say something outrageous, the great comedic lines and the perfect on point observations about the real life ups and downs about relationships . Everybody always mentions the NYC deli orgasm scene in this movie as the funniest point in the film but for me there were so many other greater moments with better rhythm and timing including Meg Ryan's ordering of an apple pie at the beginning of the movie, her story about days of the week underwear and Billy Crystals reaction afterwards. The simple "who is she?" comment when Meg Ryan is on an Airplane after running into Billy Crystal again. It's the small subtle moments in this great movie that make it an all time classic. The tragedy is that never Crystal or Ryan ever got a part that great again and when you consider their talents that is a shame, but typical of the business of Hollywood.

When Harry Met Sally is always on TV and cable so it's unlikely many people have never seen it, but it's worth revisiting this great movie many times over because no matter how many years go by or how many times you have watched it, the scenes still work which is the best barometer of a great comedy movie.


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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Movie Review: The Lobster

This movie opens up with a woman in her car looking at 3 Donkeys grazing. She gets out of her car and shoots one of the Donkeys and then gets back into her car and watches as one of the Donkeys goes over to look at the dead Donkey that the woman just shot. As you get into the rest of this horrible movie you realize that the Donkey assassination at the start of this film was the screenwriters attempt at summarizing the point of this mess of a story. Namely, that the message is that if you are not paired up with someone then you should be dead and society should have you killed. More amazingly this movie suggests that you should be killed and then come back as another animal of your choosing where perhaps you can pair up with another animal of your chosen new species. This society of some alternate universe or future at least has the decency to give you 45 days to live in a dating camp where you have your last shot at finding someone to love and if you don't, then you will be killed and turned into the animal of your choosing. It doesn't seem to matter that medically this is not possible or that this is barbaric, what matters here is the message above all else.

This middle of this movie establishes the law that this strange society has mandatory mating because the main character played by Colin Farrel is approached by a law enforcement officer who demands to see his spouse who he says is in a store with their appropriate marriage forms. Rachel Weisz plays Farrel's girlfriend in this movie and its hard to fathom why either one of these respected actors would ever agree to be in this disaster of a production.

Given the difficulty of coming up with new movie ideas, it's understandable that a screenwriter and director would want to do something never been done before with a big message that is an "art house" type of movie, but this film is so disgusting, horrible, weird and bad that any message that is trying to be conveyed would be lost in nausea that makes up the majority of this messed up 2 hours.

Other insane scenes include Farrel's girlfriend killing his dog off camera to prove that Colin Farrel is a sensitive and caring person so they are not really compatible. Another man slamming his head against a table so he has a bloody nose like a woman he wants to be with. The message here is I guess that people at times would do anything to not be alone, including lying to themselves and other people to be something or someone that they are not. If this is in fact, the message then why did the writer and director think that it was necessary to convey that message with death and violence at this level? Other scenes include some of the members of this dating camp going out and hunting the other single people who "did not make it", or did not find a suitable love mate in the 45-day time limit. These people are hunted humanely with tranquilizer darts, only to later be dismembered, their organs and blood sent to hospitals and then converted into animals of their choosing, and in Farrel's case a Lobster - supposedly because Farrel's character believes that they live as much as 100 years.

I went to see this movie only because some of the reviews I saw on the internet were very positive. My guess is that whoever reviewed a movie this weird, disgusting and bad movie positively must be on Heroin because sitting through 2 hours of this horror seemed like what a drug overdose should feel like. It's insane that a movie like this was even made and even more insane that 2 quality and famous actors agreed to make it. Colin Farrel even gained about 40 pounds to make this disaster and you just have to wonder what he was thinking. The last time I saw a movie that had this level of weird behind it was The Beaver which was directed by Jodie Foster and a disgraced Mel Gibson and came out in 2011. Another movie to never see.

My recommendation is to run from this disaster.


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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse

As I was sitting through the movie "X-Men Apocalypse" I was thinking about previous Marvel or other action movies I have seen in the past that have both a great story and script and great special effects. The second Spider-Man movie of a number of years ago comes to mind, but not many others. My theory on movies like this remains the same. Because of the huge size, budget and number of people involved with movies like this, it's probably not possible to do anywhere near everything right and that starts with a great screenplay. The pressure to get things done within a certain period of time does not fit well with the extreme difficulty of coming up with a great story and screenplay. The computer graphics involved with a movie like this is always first and foremost, after that a great story will always be a secondary concern. As a great story idea, why not show why the antagonist in a film like this has the motivation to want to destroy the world, rather than showing him trying to destroy the world.

Jennifer Lawrence is in this X-Men movie and keeping her incredible streak alive of not only winning 2 Academy Awards by age 24 but also making a huge fortune starring in blockbusters like this one and the Hunger Games series and probably getting a percentage of the profits which for this movie will be a great deal of money. She has to be just about the most fortunate actresses at the youngest age of all time. Hugh Jackman also had a very small role in this film without one single line of dialogue as the Wolverine.

This movie is certainly better than the recent Superman Vs Batman movie that came out in April and Captain America Civil War of a few weeks ago and there are times of humor and great action sequences. However, due to the run of the mill nature of this movie that is so much like other X-Men movies with nothing really new, my recommendation is marginal at best.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Movie Review: Love and Friendship

The trailers for the movie "Love and Friendship" were on TV frequently the last few weeks and considering this is a relatively small movie and one of the first to come out of Amazon Studios, the many advertisements I have seen in the past few weeks was surprising. Even more surprising was how bad I thought this movie was. The story was all over the place, and nothing more than a series of disjointed conversations with many different characters, so many in fact that when they were first introduced there was a caption underneath a still of their face telling their name and their relationships to other characters in the film. This movie was also supposed to be a comedy, but I saw nothing funny in this movie and nobody in the crowded theater I was in laughed, not even once. What is even more surprising here is that most of the reviews of this movie I have seen so far seem to be positive although one I found did admit that you would need a road map to follow the plot.

What is the good of creating a plot and so many characters and a story that is so hard to follow? On top of this, the 1800's old English fast pace talking is very hard to hear much less understand. For the first time in a long time, I actually left this movie early, because I just could not stand to watch disjointed scene after scene any longer. About the only good line in the movie was from Kate Beckinsale when she responded about marriage lasting forever was "not in her experience", which seemed like a reference to her latest impending divorce from director Len Wiseman . The rest of this movie is a total mess that is almost impossible to follow and annoying when you try to figure out what people are saying or why they are doing what they are doing, or who are the many new characters being introduced in every scene.

Do yourself a favor and run from this movie.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Past Movie Reviews: Erin Brockovich

There is nothing better than a great movie that is based on a great real life story. In all my years of movie going, I cannot remember a better story than the movie "Erin Brockovich" which came out in the year 2000. The story behind the life of the woman Erin Brockovich , who was a divorced single mother barely hanging on financially is an amazing Rocky - real life story.

The reality of an energy company , Pacific Gas and Electric poisoning the ground water of citizens in Hinkley California, then lying about it and then telling the people in Hinkley that the poison chromium is actually good for you, is an outrage and a crime that is unbelievable in the pursuit of greed and profits in the history of the United States. The resultant litigation and judgment of 333 million dollars was at the time the largest in US history and at the end of this movie, even though it was not disclosed, you just had to hope that every executive in that company went to jail for a very long period of time. I for one wondered while watching this great movie how people could sit in a conference room and care more about their paychecks and company profits than the health of so many people who lived in Hinkley. These people not only did not care, but they then lied to these people for years without any regard to the fact that many of these people and their children would die of any number of cancers and would also suffer birth defects.

Julia Roberts won the Oscar for best actress for this movie and it is by far the best role of her career. This entire movie was very well acted and the story extremely well told. If you have never seen the movie Erin Brockovich, you owe to yourself to see it.


Erin Brockovich - IMDB

The Life We Bury

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie Review: Neighbors 2

Hopefully one day there is some course in UCLA film school that examines how writers and directors like Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler are able to continue to make very bad and horrible movies over and over again and become not only prolific but also very wealthy creating garbage. There is no other profession in the world other than movie making where you can create a very low-quality product at this level and still be rich and successful and then make many more of the same low-quality product. None of this makes any sense of course and we all know that life is unfair but at some point, there has to be a movie industry that makes sense. Quality first, and garbage is discarded and this should be the #1 rule of the movie industry but it's not. The movie Neighbors 2 is the sequel to an equally bad movie Neighbors which came out 2 years ago this month. The fact that Neighbors 2 is a sequel is even more insane because now very bad movies are being made into multiple versions. I went to see this movie mostly because I was curious about how bad it was going to be, which is probably the reason why anyone saw the first Neighbors and will see this version.

The movie Neighbors 2 opens with Seth Rogen's wife played by Rose Byrne , vomiting on him. To some people, who are perhaps in prison, this could be funny but to the rest of us, this is just disgusting. During this horrible mess of a movie, there were many raunchy and disgusting scenes like this and in the small audience I was in, nobody laughed at anything, not even once. Raunchy worked at times during a classic movie like Animal House , only because it was well done and well written. For this movie, nothing worked, not the raunchy disgusting scenes and not the ridiculous word-play that Rogan and several other screenwriters tried to squeeze in this almost 2 hours of garbage. Another scene included the use of car airbags and like the first Neighbors, Rogen seems to think it's funny for people to explode in the air and hit their heads on the ceiling and crash to the floor. You have to worry about some stupid kids out in the world who might try this themselves and cause themselves or someone else some very serious injury or death. Aside from this obvious observation, flying in the air after being catapulted by an air bag, is simply not funny.

I was not surprised to see Zac Efron in this movie and he was in the previous Neighbors movie but I was surprised to see Chloe Grace Moretz because this movie has to be way below her normal standards. Perhaps there was some kind of a pre-deal with a production company that was made some years ago or some other promise or friendship that had her take this role which was a mistake. Fans of Zac Efron now have to really start to worry about his movie career as he has made so many bad movies for a number of years now. Each bad movie has to lower his clout in Hollywood.

This movie is about as bad as any movie of its kind has ever been and should be avoided at all costs.



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Movie Review: The Nice Guys

It is said that screenwriting is the world's most difficult art form in the world. One of the reasons for this is that so many movies have been made and stories told that being original and having an original idea is close to impossible. To be really original, one of the first things you have to do with a script is to create very original dialogue, but the problem with this is walking a fine line between what is called "on the nose dialogue" and witty subtext that is both different and not downright strange at the same time. Shane Black , who came to fame in 1987 at age 26 with the movie "Lethal Weapon", both wrote and directed this movie and once again he attempts to be unusual and different which can at times seem to be too much of a good thing.

The movie "The Nice Guys" tries to walk a tightrope between being a private eye caper in the city of Los Angeles that is somewhat like the movie LA Confidential - 1997 also starring Kim Basinger and at times a very weird movie. One example of this weirdness is a scene where Ryan Gosling's character is driving a car and then suddenly realizes that in the back seat there is a giant Bee and the car drives itself. This insanity is then explained as a dream sequence where Gosling's character fell asleep while driving the car. Another scene has Gosling seeing a dead body and repeating the same exact fear reactions from Lou Costello in just about every Abbot and Costello movie and this came off as more embarrassing than funny. There is a speech by Russel Crowe where he talks about the last person you may see before you die is of all people, Richard Nixon. Crazy lines like this are all over this movie and at times this kind of thing works and at other times, it all falls flat.

At the start, the story involving of all things a mother-daughter feud, a porn movie, and a major Automobile manufacturer is all over the place and then comes together at the end after a good deal of unnecessary confusion. Some of the dialogue is funny and some of it just doesn't work at all. There is a good deal of violence and death in this movie, some of it over the top and unnecessary but nothing more than we have all seen in movies for many years. Gosling's character smokes in this movie non-stop which I for one always find to be very annoying and should not be allowed in any movie.

Russel Crowe, who plays the lead private investigator in this movie for some reason thought it necessary to gain a great deal of weight for this role. You had to wonder if this huge weight gain was really necessary for a role like this in the first place, especially considering the danger you can put on your overall health to gain an lose extreme amounts of weight. For me, it would have made no difference whether Crowe was normal weight or 40 pounds overweight to play this part.

The role of Gossling's daughter is played extremely well by Angourie Rice and she almost steals the whole movie with her acting ability and young movie star looks. This young woman probably has launched a great acting career with this movie.

At the end, it was very obvious that this film may be the first in a continuing series of "Nice Guy" movies with Crowe and Gossling. If this movie makes a great deal of money there is no doubt that there will be one or perhaps many more sequels.

I thought this movie was good enough to recommend, despite the confused story and at times insane situations and dialogue.

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00002150 The Nice Guys - IMDB

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Movie Review: The Medler

This movie is mostly about one thing: loneliness and adjusting after a spouse dies. I can't​ remember ever seeing any movie that is entirely about this one issue, but this one handles this subject every well.

"The Medler" approaches the inevitability​ of grief and death expertly; suggesting that the main character, played very well by Susan Sarandon​, is trying to distract herself from fully realizing her grief after her husband dies by constantly calling their only daughter, played very well by Rose Byrne, meddling into her business and driving her crazy. It's quite believable​ that a person would do something like this, I​ definitely would, because sitting alone in a house and thinking about your grief would be an unbearable alternative​. Trying to distract yourself with other people and activities is certainly a healthy thing to do but can also make the people's lives around you quite miserable​.

Once Sarandon's​ daughter leaves to New York to shoot a TV pilot she replaces her daughter by helping her friend's gay friend's wedding, which also includes paying for it and handling all the details. Sarandon's character it seems has a great deal of money after her husband has died and her therapist suggests that perhaps she is giving so much of it away because of her guilt of inheriting the money in the first place. In my opinion, her money was just another way of distracting herself from facing her grief. On an airplane, on the way home after visiting her daughter, Sarandon's character had a moment of realization​ and grief that it seemed she was trying to avoid for the whole story. The acting at this point in the movie was both subtle and very well done.

There is a possible future love story that develops for Sarandon's character towards the end of the movie and her boyfriend is played very well by J.K Simmons who is in many more movies lately after his groundbreaking performance in the movie Whiplash where he won a best supporting actor Oscar in 2014. The list of Simmon's recent credits is amazing as he is trying to cash in on his Oscar before it all dries up. I have no idea how one actor can be in so many movies over such a short period of time.

This movie is a good one and the subject matter is very relatable. All of the acting performances are very good. I do recommend this movie.

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Past Movie Review: Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is one of those movies that within the first few minutes you knew was something special. The idea behind this movie is a great one; a super genius without any formal education has mathematical skills far beyond anyone else in the world. This story came from real life, from an Indian math genius of the 1920's named Ramanujan who was poor, never formerly educated and changed the world with new mathematical formula's that nobody had previously been able to solve. This movie is also reviewed in this blog: The Man Who Knew Infinity

Good Will Hunting was nominated for best Picture in 1997 and won best original Screenplay. Robin Williams played the therapist who befriends Will Hunting in without any doubt the best acting role he ever had; for this role he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The lead character of Will Hunting was played by Matt Damon , who also co-wrote the screenplay with his co-star Ben Affleck . There were several reasons why Good Will Hunting was such a great movie: the unique story about a one of a kind math genius, the scenes discussing math with the MIT math professor and his colleagues, the acting and mostly the relationship between Robin Williams and Will Hunting which grows over the 2 hour movie to a great friendship ending in a scene where Willams character has a breakthrough with Will while discussing Hunting's years of a very abusive childhood as a foster child. The resultant break through following Williams repeating the line "it's not your fault" is one of the best and most emotional scenes I have ever seen in any movie (see video below). Like many actors who make movies, Robin Williams never achieved the heights he achieved in Good Will Hunting ever again and considering how good he was in this one role, that is a shame.

There is a love story in Good Will Hunting involving actress Minnie Driver and It thought that this was a good side story with the ups and downs of this relationship greatly affected by Will Huntings very bad childhood. Its been 19 years since this movie was released and if you have not see it already, you owe it to yourself to see this great movie.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Movie Review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

Srinivasa Ramanujan is one of the geniuses in this world that through the bad luck of being poor and living in a poor country like India and dying at a young age, never got the recognition he deserved for being one of the greatest and most brilliant mathematicians of all time. Ramanujan was mentioned in the movie Good Will Hunting and perhaps was the inspiration for that movie, because the main character was also not formerly educated and obtained great mathematical ability through talents that were born through sheer brain power and genius given by his own DNA or perhaps some fluke of nature. This is also true of brilliant giants of the past like Einstein and Issac Newton who were far ahead of other scientists and greatly advanced human knowledge during their time.

The movie The Main Who knew Infinity is about the short life os Srinivasa Ramanujan and his plight to find work in a poor Indian village through the use of his mathematical notebooks which contained hundreds of pages of original ideas that had never before been solved. From these notebooks Ramanujan was invited to Trinity College in Cambridge and collaborated for years with professor G.H Hardy , portrayed very well by Jeremy Irons . Another professor who also helped mentor Ramanujan was John Littlewood who was almost as brilliant as Ramanujam. This story also includes a love story with Ramanujan and his girlfriend at home whom he had to leave to travel to England and hopefully being published and once published their plan was to reunite. Numerous letters were exchanged by the couple until Ramanujan got sick with Tuberculosis but his girlfriend was never notified of this until right before he returned to her in India.

There is much talk of God in this movie and Ramanujan believed that God gave him all of these formulas to create but his mentor Professor Hardy did not believe in God and as he put it, "could never believe anything that he could not prove". Proving the existence of God and "proofing" all of his formulas which were a prerequisite before getting published were a source of great conflict throughout this movie between Ramanujan and professor Hardy. Eventually, Ramanujan got the knack of writing proofs to prove every formula he created but despite this, the barriers he had to overcome because of the egos and prejudice of many of the professors at Cambridge were at times overwhelming.

One of the most interesting part of this movie was the attempt to prove the mathematical partition theory which counted the number of ways that a combination of numbers could be used to add up to another number. This theory was considered impossible for many years until Ramanujan devised a formula that solved this puzzle to .04% accuracy. What is not explained very well, is why solving complex problems like this one was considered so important.

If there is one flaw in this movie it was the constant chain smoking of Professor Hardy and you would think after so many years and so many lung cancer deaths we can find some kind of a middle ground towards not showing smoking at this level in any movie ever again. It seems that we are still a very long way from eliminating smoking in all movies.

This film is a very good one and I do recommend it for its cinimatic quality and for its ability to teach unknown and important history.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity - IMDB Ramanujan's Notebooks

Friday, May 13, 2016

Movie Review: Money Monster

Money Monster is a great idea for a movie. Obviously, the entire idea for the screenplay came out of watching CNBC and more specifically Jim Cramer who is the star of "Mad Money". While watching this movie I remember asking myself, could something like this happened in real life, when you consider the many commentators who come on CNBC giving bad and inaccurate advice or talk up or down the stock market based on either their opinion or their desire to make money in either direction? The horrible year 2008 which created a "generational low" in the stock market in March 2009 due to the housing crisis is another example of the insanity of the stock market which is made worse by sensational journalism. The year 2000 bear market that started in March 2000 and lasted 30 months is another example of expert commentators who come on CNBC and spout totally inaccurate predictions that create a frenzy that would never be as bad if there were more stringent controls over what people are allowed to say on Television financial news shows.

In my opinion, the advice and commentators on CNBC had a great deal to do with accelerating the insane ups and downs of the stock market since 1998 and which in the last two years have included flash crashes, where the stock market drops a thousand points or more in one day. Recently, and several times before this, billionaire Carl Icahn has gone on CNBC to make comments about stocks either positive or negative that everybody knows will have a great affect on the stock market overall as well as the stocks themselves. Recently Icahn announced that he sold all of this APPLE stock and soon after the stock went down many more points and brought the stock market down with it. Clearly, this should be considered an illegal practice because the odds are high that Icahn was either buying shares or shorting them to make money at the expense of other stockholders .

As far as Money Monster, George Clooney plays the Jim Cramer character and I think much of the over the top dancing around before this fictional financial show was a bit much, especially since Cramer himself does not dance around on his show at all. Very soon into the movie Cramer is held at gunpoint by a very angry young man who lost 60K in a stock that Clooney's character told his audience was "as safe as a savings account". From this point on, about 15 minutes into the movie, the rest of the film had to do with things we have seen many times before on TV police drama's, ie. trying to get this hostage situation resolved, which in this case also included a bomb attached to Clooney's chest. Julia Roberts is also in this movie as the producer of the financial TV show and we learn that she is going to leave the show in a few weeks, due to the problems with Clooney's character. Jodie Foster directed this movie, which overall was just good but could have been great. The young man who holds Clooney hostage was played well by Jack O'Connell although the foul language and the overuse of the "F" word I thought were overdone. While I do recommend this movie, its a shame that many of the plot points were not believable but the acting was good and the story was compelling enough.

Money Monster - IMDB

Jim Cramer Does not beat the market


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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Movie Review: Hologram For The King

It's relatively rare for a big star like Tom Hanks to star in a low-budget art house type of a movie but "Hologram For The King" is one of those kinds of movies. This film gives an insight into what is probably happening more and more in the Software Development/Information Technology field in the last few years, ie. more and more American's traveling to Saudi Arabia and Dubai to sell state of the art technology to a massively expanding area of the world. It was interesting to see the hot flat desert life of so many people where despite the stifling heat, blinding sun and sand, the most construction in the world is going on. How can workers build so many huge buildings under such horrible conditions is a mystery, as well as what it must take to build the foundations of buildings in the sand to support so much massive weight. The part of Saudi Arabia where this movie was shot is in the early stages of new huge development probably which is being created because this location within Saudi Arabia wants to try and catch up with Dubai. Clearly they have a long way to go.

This movie starts in an extremely unusual way; opening with Hanks walking out of his house followed by blue puffs of smoke as his house, car and wife disappear while he walks forward narrating something about leaving things behind. This opening scene gives the viewer the impression that the rest of the movie might follow this unusual approach but it then immediately reverted back to a normal movie, which I thought ruined the strange opening of the film. Thereafter, we find Hanks traveling to Saudi Arabia where he is trying to sell Hologram software to a Saudi King who he never meets during weeks of trying to have meetings with important Saudi officials only to find out many times that these meetings were being delayed or canceled.

Hanks collaborates with 3 other members of this software company who are burdened by having to work in a tent which had no food, internet access or at a later time no air conditioning. Another unusual aspect of this movie is the sudden appearance of a huge cyst on Hank's back which leads to a doctor's appointment and later a love story with a Saudi doctor who like Hanks, is also getting divorced and has children. The cyst was found to be pre-cancerous and had to be surgically removed, and leads to a later scene that enhances the potential romance with the Saudi doctor.

This film has many flashbacks that include Hank's previous employment as a Schwinn Bicycle company executive and the layoff of many employees, his divorce and various conversations with his teenage daughter who he can barely afford to send to college due to his divorce. I thought these flashbacks did fit well into the story mainly because they were short and to the point and did not affect the flow of the story other than to enhance it.

What was really not that believable was the developing love story between the Saudi doctor and Hanks which blossomed mostly at the end of the film. I thought the woman who played the doctor was really not attractive enough to have a romance with Tom Hanks and because of this I thought she was miscast in this role and the love story was not believable enough.

Due to the unusual nature of this film and the insight into some Saudi culture and the country, I do mildly recommend this movie.


IMDB - A Hologram For The King

Friday, May 6, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

Under the conditions of a guaranteed audience and box office from fans of previous Marvel Comic's movies and the original comic book characters, is it even possible to come up with a coherent and enjoyable story? So far based on a string of previous Marvel comic movies recently, I would say that the odds of this are very low. It seems the executive producers who make these movies don't really care about a great story and a script that takes a long time to write and then re-write because they already know, just like they did with the recent Batman Vs Superman movie, that the money is already there and they only care about getting it out as soon as possible to maximize their profit. Unfortunately sitting through movies like this can be long, boring, repetitive, annoying and ultimately disappointing.

The newest Marvel comic movie, Captain America: Civil War is a giant 2+ hour excuse to create a conflict and then have all the different super hero's karate fight each other and other criminals, create explosions and show more special effects, most of which we have all seen many times before. There is nothing new or groundbreaking about this movie and the story is all over the place; almost as if so many people and actors and ideas were involved that when it was all shot, it was impossible to connect all the small stories together to make a compelling story that keeps your interest the entire 2 hours. I for one was very bored and after 90 minutes of this, I could not wait for it all to be over.

Robert Downey continues his role as Iron Man and he has to now hold the all-time record for playing a superhero in so many movies that we have all lost count. The money Downey has made playing this one Iron Man character may also be an all-time record when he has played Iron Man for the last time if he has not reached that record already. Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America and the reason for the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man is because of a disagreement about signing a United Nations charter that would allow the UN to control the Avengers. Iron Man is for this agreement, and Captain America is against it. I thought it was a stretch to believe that this one disagreement would cause a near death battle between the 2 superheroes at the end of this movie or that the 14 super heroes would break off into 2 factions and fight each other over this one issue. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow and its always been hard to fully understand what her superhero powers are, other than being very good at martial arts.

Opportunities for instant death for the Black Widow and Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner during so many long fight sequences make it implausible that they are really superheroes​ because their only skills are not skills that would make you impervious to explosions and violent conflict which you would think would be some kind of a prerequisite for being a super hero in the first place. For some reason even though just about every superhero is in this movie, the Hulk does not appear which is disappointing because he is the most interesting of all the Marvel characters in my opinion.

After over two hours of set-up and then fight scenes, mostly involving karate and explosions it was time to end this movie which is about 30 minutes too long. Just like I when reviewed Super Man vs Batman about 2 months ago, I cannot really recommend this movie because to make a good or a great movie, you need an interesting story first and this one just does not have one.


Captain America: Civil War - IMDB

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Past Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan

I always think about what are the main reasons to go see a movie and what makes a movie great? One of the main reasons to go to a theater and watch a movie for two hours is to escape reality and think about other things. Another reason could be to compare your life to other people and perhaps imagine how you would react or deal with a certain challenging or even funny situation. Another reason could be to learn something new about a historical event that you never knew or learn about some true story that you never knew about before. After that, when you pay money to see a movie you expect some effort in terms of writing the screenplay and the production quality and this certainly is something that is never guaranteed when you pay to see a movie.


In July 1998 after several months of previews, there was a huge amount of buzz about the release of a new Steven Speilberg film entitled "Saving Private Ryan" , which was not only about the June 6, 1944 Normandy Invasion but also loosely about the true story of The Niland Brothers, and how the United States Army was trying to save what they thought was the only surviving brother in World War 2. The previews of Saving Private Ryan were initially showing Tom Hanks on a boat about to invade the coast of France in the beginning of the Normandy invasion and all the talk on the internet was about the realism that this movie would show about the horror of war. This is where "Saving Private Ryan" set itself apart from all other movies that have ever been made. For the first time, there was a war movie that showed what it was really like for thousands of young men during World War 2, most of them not even 20 years old who were killed and wounded during the largest invasion in human history. Even more remarkable about this groundbreaking film, the best Speilberg ever produced, was the fact that soon after the movie came out in July 1998, the veterans of the Normandy Invasion came out and spoke of the realism of this film and most especially what happened during the Normandy invasion.

While watching Saving Private Ryan for the first time in July 1998 and again in September 1998, I remember having thoughts of what it must be like for so many of these young men who thought they were invincible but in an instant their war experience was over in 20 seconds as soon as the door dropped down from the boat they were in and they were killed by massive incoming German machine gun fire, or they drowned because of their heavy equipment on the ocean floor or while trying to find cover, they were killed on the beach trying to get out of the Normandy coast onto land. For those few who made it to the cover to some of the cliffs of Normandy, they had to witness the horrible deaths of so many other men their age who were struggling to survive the first few moments of the invasion . Witnessing a horrible death in front of you as you follow had to be one of the worst experiences of these heroes whose actions that day, saved the world. The thoughts of terror of watching many other horrible deaths and knowing that you are next for me had to be one of the most extraordinarily difficult experiences these young men had to live through. This movie reminds​ all of us, better than any other War movie ever has, that in this life there is War and then everything else. Compared to the horrors of war, everything else is bullshit and pales in comparison.

After Saving Private Ryan came out many people came out and protested the extreme violence and death depicted in this movie, forgetting that showing this level of violence and war realism for the first time was the whole point of the film. By showing what really happened during a horrible war demonstrated a level of appropriate respect to those who survived and those who died not only during the Normandy Invasion but in all wars. I remember hoping that if more movies like this were made and enough people saw them that just maybe humanity would have fewer wars or think twice before sending so many young people to their early death.

Sadly due to the insanity of the Oscars, Saving Private Ryan did not win the best picture for 1998; instead, the movie Shakespeare in Love won, for reasons unknown. Speilberg did win for best director but Tom Hanks did not win for best actor which was a major mistake, mostly likely due to the fact that he had already won 2 best actor Oscars which should have no bearing on who wins an Oscar each year.

Like all greatest of all time movies, you remember little scenes along with the big ones. For me the scene where Tom Hanks is getting his orders from his commander and looking at the high octane Army coffee and sandwiches being made at a nearby table, the view of the Normandy Bay where he looks at and notices the ships and thousands of soldiers in the biggest invasion in human history stand out as memorable. Finally Tom Hank's "earn it" at the end of this great film is one of the greatest lines ever spoken by any actor in any movie.

The odds are low after all these years that many people have not seen Saving Private Ryan, but if you haven't you owe it yourself to see one of the greatest movies that will ever be produced.

15 Facinating Facts about Saving Private Ryan


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Movie Review: Mothers Day

If Henry Ford ever got into the movie business he would have thought of the idea behind a movie like Mothers Day and for that matter Valentines Day and New Years Eve which were all directed by Gary Marshall. The idea behind this seems to be: what does it matter that we have scheduling conflicts with big stars who we know in advance would have an automatic draw at the box office? We can hire big box office stars for a few weeks and hand them a big payday for a short period of time. Why wait for a year or more to write a great script when in a few weeks we can write about 5 or 6 small stories and over the period of 2 hours try and connect some of the stories together later. The real point of this project is to bring in the audience because we have several big stars that come with their own fans who will pay to see them. What sense is the quality of a great story against a big box office? This strategy has spawned three movies of this type by Gary Marshall since 2010 that have been mostly panned by the critics and should for the most part never been made.

In the new film "Mothers Day", Jennifer Anniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis and Julia Roberts are all in 4 completely different and in some cases loosely connected stories which all in some ways involve mothers or Mothers Day which is the last day in the movie. None of these stories by themselves would be engaging enough to warrant a 2 hour movie, but the producers thought that if all 4 of the stories were in the same movie and at times connected then we can get away with 4 weak stories and produce a money making movie faster and cheaper than we could have otherwise. This is clearly what Henry Ford had in mind when he invented the concept of the assembly line to make cars. Create things in small pieces and then put it all together later. This works tremendously for making cars, but not so well for making a high-quality movie with a great story.

At the end of this two-hour experience and researching this movie I came to two realizations: #1 was despite the cookie-cutter assembly line idea in "Mothers Day" it was not that bad overall and #2 was that for some reason the actor Hector Elizondo is in almost all of the movies Gary Marshall has ever made. Due to the lack of a real movie here I cannot recommend Mothers Day, but you may want to see it if you are a big fan of the 4 stars involved, which was the exact point of making this movie in the first place.


Mothers Day - IMDB