Sunday, October 22, 2017

Movie Review: Only the Brave

Once again, a Hollywood movie has been released that correlates to recent real life events. This movie is similar to Geostorm that is about curing extreme weather events that we have seen in this country during the last few months and "Only the Brave" is about wildfires and there have been huge deadly wildfires in Northern California in recent weeks. As I watched this movie, I wondered like most people, why anyone would ever want to risk their life doing this job to make a living. As was made very clear within this story many times, putting out forest fires is one of the most dangerous jobs in the entire world. Wild fires that occur in so many areas of this country move extremely quickly, change direction instantly and can kill someone is several different ways including burns, carbon dioxide poisoning, smoke inhalation and even suffocation.

"Only the Brave" is a real life story about the "Granite Mountain Hotshots" where 19 firefighters were killed when they were surrounded by a wildfire. Josh Brolin plays the administrator of the group and Jennifer Connely plays his wife. There are also very good side stories in this movie including a drug addict played by Miles Teller, who is invited to join the group, despite his addiction. I thought the acting and screenplay for this movie were outstanding.

I highly recommend Only the Brave.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House is the story of Mark Felt, one of the leaders of the FBI in the 1960's and 70's, who was passed over to be director of the FBI and turned out to be the legendary "deep throat", who along with the Washington Post and Woodward and Bernstein brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

What was very good about this movie was showing what Mark Felt went through, including some threats against his only daughter, the effect of being the main informant for the Watergate scandal and what that meant to his career in the FBI. Unfortunately this film was mostly too boring and too long to recommend. The cast, starring Liam Neeson and several other recognizable actors including Diane Lane who plays Felt's wife was good, but not very memorable. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this film because of these reasons.

Movie Review: Geostorm

The only remarkable thing about the new film Geostorm is the timing of its release, right after by far the worst Hurricane season this country has ever seen. Real life events and movies like this have correlated in the past but I thought the timing of this movie being made and released was rather amazing and its too bad this movie was not up to its level of coincidental release.

Unfortunately, the problem with this film was taking a great idea that would result in great special effects and having a number of producers and directors trying to add "Hollywood drama" to the story and the end result is an overly complicated and in the end, rather stupid story that involves politics, assassination and a series of events that really have no connection with end of the story. This movie could have been made so much better by just following the simple idea of less is more. How about a computer glitch or something that created a problem with the space station and the surrounding satellites that were built to fix extreme weather conditions? It would have been interesting enough to watch how the scientists were able to debug and fix the software and hardware problems. But someone producer or director, who thought it was too risky to create an intelligent story to go with the special effects slapped together a formula story that follows the typical Hollywood paradigm and actually ruined what could have been a very good action movie. This is highly unfortunate considering the budget for this film and the low ratings on Rotten-tomatoes of only 11% backs up my opinion on where the mistakes were made.

Gerard Butler is the main actor of this movie, playing the lead scientist who created a space station and sattelites that control the weather along with Ed Harris and some other actors we have all seen before, but their appearance was not enough to make this any more than a very average movie. See this film for the special effects and for no other reason.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Movie Review: The Foreigner

The acting career of Jackie Chan goes back 55 years to a film called, Big and Little Wong Tin Bar and since then he has probably completed more films, preformed more stunts and has broken more bones and been hospitalized than probably anyone in movie history. Many of Chan's past martial arts films have elements of comedy in them that for the most part have worked over the years and his collaboration with Chris Tucker in 3 "Rush Hour" movies, with a forth installment recently announced has been very successful.

The movie "The Foreigner" is one of the few purely dramatic roles I have seen Jackie Chan in and his "have nothing to lose" and almost without emotion acting in this movie after losing his last daughter in an explosion by the IRA (Irish Republican Army) I thought was very believable and well done. Terrorism is a very unfortunate fact of life, and due to the Taliban and so many organizations like them, the world has almost forgotten about how many bombs the IRA has set off over the years.

As far as the story of a distraught Chinese man who wants to avenge his daughters death using his skills as Operative, I thought that the plot was a bit overly complicated but Chan's dogged determination and singular desire for the names of the terrorists who murdered his only daughter was well done throughout. The martial arts scenes in this movie were also well done and believable in their real life stumbling awkwardness, unlike many other fight scenes I have seen that look too choreographed. The actor Pierce Brosnan is also in this movie as one of the head people involved with an IRA organization and I thought his acting was also very good in this film.

I thought the Foreigner was a well made movie and I do recommend it.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Movie Review: The Mountain Between Us

Everybody has seen elements of the movie "The Mountain Between Us" many times before and more than likely on a TV movie on the LIFETIME network. This film is mostly about 2 people who survive a plane crash on a mountain with a dog and I admit that the dog is a slightly different twist on a story we have all seen many times before. At the start of this film I was thinking why anyone would want to fly in a very a small plane over a the snow covered mountains of the Colorado area, no matter how desperate they are to get to where they are going and its obvious that this is something most people would never do. There is no mystery her with this story and from the trailers we all know that this plane will crash and from there, the only thing we are curious about is how they will manage to survive and find their way off the freezing cold mountain. Once you crash and are huddled in the remains of a small plane, freezing to death, its hard to really write a story that is that interesting. The audience will wonder how they would react in a situation like this, but for the most part there is not much you can do, other than hope you are found and rescued, try to find food and water and when all hope is lost of being found, try to walk off the mountain. As a screenwriter I would find it very hard to make an interesting story about a situation like this, but the screenwriter did try a twist in such a way that at first seemed unlikely and then towards the end was somewhat effective.

Several things did not make sense in this story, starting with the dog who seems to be full of energy and running around even after not eating for days and trekking through a very cold mountain as one example. This movie stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba and I thought that they were both good in their roles despite the weak overall story. In the end I thought this movie was not a bad one but just OK and I give it a very mild recommendation and I did like the ending.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

In order to enjoy a movie like Blade Runner 2049, that is a sequel to the original Blade Runner, released in 1982, you have to either have seen and liked the original Blade Runner or be filled on on what happened in the original so you better understand this film. There are a few sentences at the start of this sequel to the original that talks about replicants and a bankrupt company that makes these replicants but not enough information to know what happened in the last movie.

Additionally, you have to get used to the dark, rainy and very depressing environment of this futuristic world where either a nuclear war, global warming or both have ruined the planet earth forever. For me the constant rain, darkness, bombed out buildings and extremely depressing world of the future offset some of the good special effects. I also thought that the screenplay was pretty hard to follow as the main character of K, played by Ryan Gosling tries to solve a complicated mystery that involves the daughter of the original Blade Runner played by Harrison Ford in the first movie. One bright spot is the virtual character played by Ana de Armas, but overall despite the very high opinions of the critics, over 80% for both Rottentomatoes and IMDB, I cannot recommend this movie, for the reasons I mentioned and for that fact that this movie was too long and boring in too many spots to recommend.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Movie Review: American Made

I always wondered why anyone would want to have a job working for the various Airlines in the world and that includes being a pilot. The pay for an Airline pilot considering the fact that you are never home, living in Airports and Hotels and constantly en-route to somewhere in the world, is definitely not worth it in my opinion. Why anyone would want to be a flight attendant is a whole new question because considering all the huge downsides, that has to be one of the worst jobs there is.

The new movie "American Made" is about an Airline pilot from the year 1978 named Barry Seal, played very well by Tom Cruise, who was married had a few kids and was like so many who had his job back in the 1970's needed to make a lot more money. What follows in this amazing true life story is a series of events that seemed more like a work of fiction then something that could ever have actually happened. From an opportunity with the CIA to aerial take pictures of a South American country, to drug and gun running followed by an upward and then downward spiral that is hard to believe, this is a story that when you see it you wonder why you never heard who Barry Seal was before this movie.

What happened to Barry Seal in this story is what happens to many people who get very rich quickly and then think they can never make a mistake or get caught because eventually all that money makes them very stupid and it all just goes south. Another recent movie that demonstrates greed and stupidity at this level is last years War Dogs and what is even worse with this story is Seal's involvement with some very dangerous drug lords in South America. American Made is a big departure from movies that Tom Cruise normally makes with a much lower budget than the big budget Mission Impossible movies and the bad "The Mummy" he made this year.

I thought that American Made is a very well told and amazing story about an American Airline pilot who went bad and I do recommend it.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Movie Review: Battle of the Sexes

In the last few days as the new movie "Battle of the Sexes" was about to be released, it was suggested that Bobby Riggs threw his game against Billy Jean King because he owed money to mobsters due to his gambling. Now, after seeing this movie, I am more interested to figure out how a 55 year old Riggs beat the #1 woman in the world, Margaret Court, 6-2 6-1 before he lost to Billy Jean, just a short time after Court beat Billy Jean King almost as easily. Many things don't make sense here, but perhaps Riggs paid off Court to lose to him easily, by promising her a piece of his winnings when he pulled off the Billy Jean King match. As the great promoter that Riggs was, he knew that he needed to have the tennis watching audience get interested first by beating the #1 woman player and then create all the hype and ridiculousness necessary to pull off one of the greatest spectacles in American History.

It is very clear that Bobby Riggs never meant any of the stupid male chauvinist things he said, he was just trying to generate huge interest to make the event become the big money maker it was, and ultimately it all worked. I would have liked to have learned more about the back story to this almost documentary like film about this famous match that happened in 1973 and even how much both Riggs and King were paid, but this was unfortunately never mentioned. The acting of Steve Carrel who played Riggs and Emma Stone who played King was very good, the story was slow at times but in the end the screenwriter and director did an effective job of remembering all that happened in the battle of the sexes, 44 years ago, so I do recommend this movie.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Movie Review: American Assassin

Despite the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes about the new movie American Assassin, I thought this was an effective movie about Terrorism and the people who try to eliminate Terrorism from the world. The story plays like movies we have seen before, even a little like the Karate Kid, but because of the action and the story, I thought it was an effective spy movie. The special effects, especially at the end I thought were very well done and the acting from Micheal Keaton and newcomer Dylan O'Brien was very believable.

Overall, I thought this was a good spy movie and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Brad's Status

If I could summarize this brilliant movie "Brad's Status" about the doubts we all have about our lives it would be in one sentence: "Never compare yourself to other people". The reasons for this are obvious when you really think about it. Its never fair to compare the lives of two different people. Circumstance, parents, DNA, money, luck, the right job at the right time, health, finding love, never finding love, kids, no kids and so many other factors, many of which are out of our hands. When we compare ourselves to other people we have to do this by making assumptions. These assumptions may be accurate, but very often they are not accurate because most of us would have no idea what is the real truth of someone else's life. What we think someone else's life is all about, may or may not be true. What may seem to be a charmed life may not be that charmed at all. But sometimes we all make ourselves feel bad, thinking that time is running out and that just maybe we chose the wrong path because we are not as wealthy or happy as our friends or people we have known because we decided on a profession that doesn't pay as much as some other profession and we think our friends from college or high school are doing so much better than we are. But, are they really? What are the true parameters of success and happiness? Does anybody ever know the answer to this one simple question?

Throughout this movie, there is a voice over narration by the main character Brad Sloan, played very well by Ben Stiller in serious role where Brad is talking to himself as he tries to figure out his life at age 47. He wonders why he was not invited to a friends wedding with this 3 other friends from college and thinks that its probably because his friends think of him as a loser because he is not wealthy and decided to help people with a non profit organization he runs instead of making money. This is another part of the problem, caring so much about what we think - other people might think about us. Brad is very proud of his musical prodigy son who has decided he wants to go to Harvard, but wonders how he could ever pay for his son to go to a college this expensive. One significant scene was when Brad and his son, played very well by actor Austin Abrams meet up with two very attractive female Harvard musicians, one of whom is as idealistic about helping other people as Brad was when he was her age. What follows is some great dialogue about life and work and the reasons why we all exist in the world in the first place. You can also see the disappointment in the eyes of this young woman and she is so dismayed when Brad says that "if he had to do it all over again, he would have gone for the money".

Realization and transition happens in all great movies and this one is no different as Brad slowly realizes what is really important about his life and that just maybe what he thought was true about his reality and the lives of people he was jealous of might not be what he thought in the first place. Throughout this entire brilliantly written story, I was thinking the same thing. "Never compare yourself to anybody else, ever".

Brad's Status is an extremely well made movie that I highly recommend and I think the screenplay, written by Mike White is one of the best I have seen since Manchester by the Sea.

Movie Review: Kingsman The Golden Circle

This movie is the sequel to the first Kingsman that was released in early 2015. The idea of these two movies is the same, an over the top, popular music, fast paced special effects, James Bond like action, with some humor mixed in. The difference with this movie is that there are many more celebrities this time, including Hale Berry, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and even Elton John.

I am not a fan of past paced scene changes and this movie has too many of those, although it was never as bad as a typical Micheal Bay movie. At times being so extremely unusual works and sometimes it doesn't and I thought this film had a mixture of things that worked at about a 50% rate. Julianne Moore's portrayal of a very strange, extremely even tempered female villain definitely followed the attempt by the screenwriter and director to do something that has never been done before, but throwing in the use of a meat grinder to kill the people who betray her was way too over the top.

I feel about this new version of Kingsman like I felt about the last one. Mostly entertaining, but overall a pretty average action movie.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Movie Review: Stronger

There are many horrible things about tragedies like the Boston Marathon Bombing that happened on April 15, 2013. Some of these horrible things are obvious when we see the aftermath and hear about the deaths and injuries, including for this terrorist attack 3 people who were killed including an 8 year old boy and 264 people were injured, 29 severely including the main character of the movie "Stronger" Jeff Bauman who lost both of his legs. For days and weeks after a major terrorist incident like this one, the press covers it almost day and night, but then very slowly, just like any other news event it fades day by day and what is left are the victims who wonder why and try to rationalize how something this horrible happened to them. After all the dust has settled they are left to continue to live the rest of their lives, somehow. A movie like Stronger is so important because we never hear about the victims of horrible terrorist attacks or some other tragedy like the Hurricanes in Houston and in Florida after the event happens. There is always newer news and in the case of the main character of the movie Stronger, its too upsetting to think about a poor young man who lost both of his legs because of two sick diseased terrorists. We learn that Bauman was poor, still living with his parents in a slovenly 2 bedroom apartment and working at a Costco prior to being a victim of this terrorist attack. So, even his life prior to losing his legs was never easy and then suddenly his life became unbearable.

We will all wonder after any terrorist attack about what was the point the terrorists were trying to make. Did they leave a note, explaining why they did what they did? We know they hate us, but why? Can we ever understand the reasoning of someone so insane that they would place ball bearings and nails into a pressure cooker to blow up innocent people, knowing that the weapons they put inside the bomb would maim so many, taking away their limbs, their eyes, their face and even their lives? The level of rationalization necessary for a normal person to understand something like this is impossible, so some of us try and forgive them for what they did, but most of us never can.

The main character Jeff Bauman is played extremely well by Jake Gyllenhaal and because of his acting in this movie there is talk of an Oscar nomination that I agree is justified. The subtlety of Gyllenhall's acting for me was the best part of his performance, realizing that to show the real life of a victim who lost both of his legs because of Terrorists, it was important to not show anything more than the zombie like, trying to exist day by day in a state of numb disbelief that I thought was a perfect and realistic performance. His girlfriend was also played extremely well by Tatiana Maslany and her performance was the equal of Gyllenhaal's in showing that in many ways the new reality of people related to a person of tragedy is almost as difficult as the victim's they live with. I thought the actors who played Bauman's family were also extremely good in their roles as they struggled to help him with regaining some kind of a normal life after such a huge tragedy and how they all struggled with what to say, realizing that there is nothing you can say to help someone who is going through something like this.

I thought this film was extremely well done and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Movie Review: IT

I can only speculate about what Steven King who wrote the It: A Novel many years ago was thinking about at the time. I think that King wrote this 1164 page novel about an evil clown because he was fascinated about the bullying so many young people have to endure in school and like the rest of us, wondered where this level of evil and cruelty comes from within a person so young. As most of us in this country have heard, bullying is an epidemic and in recent years this problem has become worse because of social media and cyber-bullying. We have all heard about news reports where some young person has committed suicide because of bullying or have gone on school shooting sprees, killing many people in retaliation, the most famous is the Columbine Massacre in 1999.

The evil clown known as Pennywise, played extremely well by actor Bill SkarsgÄrd in the new movie "IT", is in fact a metaphor for bullying and this film very effectively explores where evil like this comes from correctly pointing out that all people who bully others actually feed on the fear in their victims. Bulling is about pure evil and people who bully others never think about retribution or about the short and long term damage they are inflicting on their victims. Bullies are all looking to temporarily escape their pain from abusive parents, self loathing for any number of reasons, by finding a victim who they can make feel much worse than they feel about themselves. Its a crime very unique to certain human beings and happens more in childhood, but it also happens when you are an adult and in the working world. As an adult we are bullied sometimes because we are afraid of losing our jobs, so we put up with abuse to make a living. Very often bullying as an adult is a game of leverage and as a result a tremendous amount of stress and anger occur. On the negative side, I thought some of the bullying scenes were too extreme to make the point the story was trying to make although it was effective in showing the fear, rage and anger bullying causes with the victims.

The horror scenes and special effects in this film were very well done but for my tastes sometimes too unnecessarily shocking and violent, especially in the beginning where a young boy has his arm cut off. The beginning of this movie concentrated a great deal on the young characters who are all victims of intense bullying in the high school they go to and its mostly towards the middle of the story that we see more scenes and visions of Pennywise. I thought that this strategy did establish the main message of this film very well.

I mostly agree with the high ratings from Rotten tomatoes and IMDB, 85% and 8.0 respectively and overall I thought that IT was a very good, but not great film that I do recommend.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Movie Review: Mother

Screenplays have to break new ground today. Most people have seen everything in one form or another and recognize small traits or plots or special effects or any number visual tricks in just about every new movie they see. This is why coming up with a new idea right now is about as difficult for any artist who toils for months to create a new movie idea that has never been seen before. The new movie "Mother" without a doubt succeeds in being as different and as new screenplay idea as I have ever seen. Where it fails is for the same reason, trying to be so new and different that it goes too far and that includes some scenes that are extremely objectionable and completely unnecessary even for a story as insane as this one. This film was both written and directed by Darren Aronofsky and considering the story of Mother, its difficult to imagine why this idea was green lighted by any production company.

The main character of mother is played by Jennifer Lawrence who is a young woman married to Javier Bardem who is a writer and a poet. Very soon, people start coming over to their old house where Lawrence's character is trying to fix up and Bardem is trying to write poetry. At first a few people come over, including characters played by actor Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. These people are rude, strange and never listen to whatever Lawrence's character tells them and this includes going into her husband's private office. This then leads to things being broken in the house and even stolen. Then of course this trend of people coming over unannounced and uninvited continues and more people come over who are similar to the first two. Then eventually the people coming over are much worse and then the movie slowly goes into insane directions, that mostly make no sense. You start to wonder while watching this strange movie if all of these weird people are aliens or a cult or something, but this very important part of this story is never explained. This film answers the question, when is trying to be different turn into a movie that doesn't make sense or is objectionable? The answer to this question is for this film the most obvious I have ever seen. With any movie, sometimes less is more and a great example of this is the simple story of the recent great movie "Wind River", that has also been reviewed on this blog and I do recommend people see as much as I do not recommend anyone see Mother.

Due to the objectionable scenes and ending and the way too insane plot, I cannot recommend Mother.



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Movie Review: Home Again

There are many reasons why writing a screenplay is so extremely difficult. The first that comes to mind is writing a good one or a great one could take months or even a year or more and represents a huge amount of work that most likely, unless you are an insider, will never see the light of day with any producer anywhere. Then as a writer you have to come up with a plausible story that makes sense, not only as to what happens in the story, but also makes sense because it flows into a plausible direction that a real person might actually take in real life. These are the fundamental reasons why "Home Again" fails. Even the title of this movie fails because this entire story has nothing to do with going home again.

The story line of this movie is about an almost divorced woman who turns 40, meets a 27 year old man in a bar, then has an affair with him and because he is trying to break into the movie business and her father was a famous director takes him AND his 2 friends in her home obviously makes no sense. From the very beginning this story is not plausible because why would a single woman who has 2 young daughters invite 3 men in their 20's into her home who she barely knows, just because her mother, played by Candice Bergen says, "your father would have liked them". Ultimately if a movie doesn't make sense from the very beginning, it doesn't matter what happens the rest of the way. This film seems a lot like a Nancy Meyers movie and that is because the writer director is Hallie Meyers-Shyer, is the daughter of Nancy Meyers, immediately removing any mystery of how a 30-year-old woman got to write and directs a major motion picture at such a young age.

The star of this movie is Reese Witherspoon who has made romantic comedies like this in the past, this one being one her weakest in recent years. The IMDB and Rotten Tomato ratings for this film are low, 5.6 and 32% respectively and this movie does deserve those low ratings.

This is a film that plays more like a B movie that should have went to DVD and never released.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Movie Review: The Layover

I never thought I would ever see a movie rated as low as the new movie starring Kate Upton, entitled "The Layover". This movie got a 0% approval on Rotten Tomatoes but I do not agree that this movie was that bad as I would have given it a 20 or a 25% rating. I have seen worse movies than this one over the years, much worse. Of course this is not a good movie, its stupid, the story is dumb and contains decisions and action that normal people would never do. Its embarrassing for the two actresses who play best friends, Kate Upton and Alexandra Daddario who make fools of themselves competing for this one guy they meet at random on a plane. You just have to wonder if these 2 actresses ever read this script or did this movie only to remain in the public eye as an actress or as a favor to a friend or for any number of other bad reasons. With ratings this low, you have to think that perhaps Kate Upton has ruined any chance of having an acting career and then wonder if Daddario has hurt her acting career too severely by making this bad movie. Equally amazing is that the great actor William H. Macy directed this bad movie. What was he thinking? Did even he read this script for this bad movie? Considering how bad this film is, he either didn't read it or just wanted a movie directing credit and didn't care how bad the screenplay was.

Fundamentally the story for any movie has to make sense and this movie just does not make any sense. Two very attractive women who have been close friends for years destroy their friendship doing a series of stupid things to either impress or make the other look bad for some random man they met on an airplane. This one central part of the story for this film was never believable, funny or made any sense. The layover from an East Coast plane trip to Fort Lauderdale Florida was diverted to St Louis because of a Hurricane, which also makes no sense. Then, after spending about 2 days in St Louis they all decide to drive 17 hours from St Louis to Ft Lauderdale, just to make sure the plane is not delayed again, even after they were told that the weather had cleared. Four people would never do something this stupid. There are other stupid story lines in this bad movie that also make no sense, but the movie is not worth elaborating too much more about, given all the things that everybody would agree is bad about it.

I saw this movie because of the blog but I recommend everybody else stay away.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Movie Review: Ingrid Goes West

Aubrey Plaza has one of the most unusual names I have seen in many years and her name perfectly suits her effortless comedic personality. Plaza can just make some kind of an absurd comment, or make a face or do something very subtle with her eyes and you cant help but laugh and most of the time its not even obvious that she is trying to be funny, she just is. Her comedic abilities have always seemed effortless and the best comedy is always that way; never anything that you see coming at you that is ever obvious, at times something surprising and always flows without any noticeable effort.

As far as her new unusual movie "Ingrid Goes West", its all about social media and how it affects normal people or the main character in this film, Ingrid, played by Plaza who is a bit mentally disturbed. Social Media can make shy people not shy and lonely people have many friends, or it can have a reverse effect where a person who has mental problems can manipulate people through social media to create a fake person that doesn't even exist to trick someone, in this case Elizabeth Olsen who is the somewhat famous person Ingrid tries to trick into being her friend. This movie is funny in some places, pathetic in some other places and ultimately depressing as you feel for Ingrid who is trying to rescue her lonely life and doing everything wrong to achieve her goal.

The ratings for Ingrid Goes West on Rotten Tomatoes are very high and I found this to be very surprising given that I thought that this was just an above average movie that I do recommend.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Movie Review: The Hitman's Bodyguard

The movie "The Hitman's Bodyguard", does have ton of action, explosions and special effects. What it doesn't have is anything new, or something unique that has never been done before. The constant cursing dialogue has been done in many movies before, along with the car chases and this movie is mostly about 2 guys being chased around by criminals, with accompanying explosions and gunfire. So none of this new.

In the theater I was in, the director Patrick Hughes was in an opening segment, thanking the audience for paying to see his movie and then ratting off amazing statistics about 1200 people who were employed to make this film, in about 3 countries for about 9 months. I was amazed to learn that it takes 1200 people to make a movie like this, but not too amazed about the story of this film, or the fact that we have all seen this kind of movie too many times before. In order to make a hit in movies today, you have to create something innovative, otherwise the film is considered run of the mill, as the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and D- rating from Richard Roper for this movie prove (see Richard Roper's review below).

The Hitman's Bodyguard stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Selma Hayek and Gary Oldman and is so typical and run of the mill that I cannot recommend it, but I do not agree that the movie is as bad as Roper's review below.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Movie Review: Good Time

The movie "Good Time" is about people who are barely alive in this world and wondering how they will survive or avoid winding up in prison or dead. Its about two brothers, one a criminal and the other mentally disabled, then a bank robbery, then the mentally disabled brother winding up in prison and from there an insane ride into oblivion that proves that as low as you may be in life, you can always go lower. I wonder of the title Good Time is being sarcastic because no one watching this movie can consider one minute of this story a good time.

Good Time is a low budget movie starring Robert Pattinson who it seems has decided to make mostly low budget movies ever since he hit it big with the "Twilight Saga" a few years ago. Pattinson's acting in this film is impressive, perhaps even impressive enough to receive an Academy Award nomination, despite the fact that this movie is very small and low budget. Good Time is directed by the Benny and Josh Safdie hwo have collaborated on several movies over the years and this is the first one of their films I have seen. The most impressive directing achievement with this movie was capturing the gritty and desperate environment that Pattinson's character and his brother live in, with no chance, purely by accident of birth to ever break out of their miserable depressing existence. This movie also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, who has a very small part and Bennie Sadfie who plays Pattinson's mentally disabled brother.

This movie captures a desperate world of running from the police and barely surviving in the streets of New York City, has very good acting and do recommend it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Movie Review: The Glass Castle

If your child and your born to parents who are poor, who don’t care, who think its OK to be homeless squatters and have no money then, very simply, your going along for the ride. You are a child, you have no options, no money, no hope and no chance.

While I was watching the movie “The Glass Castle” in an agonized and infuriated state witnessing the lives of 2 irresponsible adults who are basically homeless squatters who have 4 children, 3 girls and a boy I remember thinking that there were actually people like this in the world, never realizing until the end of the movie that this is a true story written by Jeannette Walls The Glass Castle: A Memoir.

Ultimately the solution for so many thousands and perhaps millions of people to avoid stories like this is very simple. If you don't care about screwing up your life by getting drunk, living in abandoned buildings, eating from garbage cans then go ahead; but because that is your life choice you should have no right to ever have children. Children need a home, shelter, food and an education. Children need one parent or both parents to have a job and some level of security, not homelessness and desperation. No person in this life has the right to ruin the life of anyone else, they only have the right to ruin their own life and they never have the right to ruin the life of a child, even before it even begins. This story might have even more to do with irresponsible people who don't care about the welfare of their own children, it also could be as simple as "Misery Loves Company".

Much like the movie Fences that I reviewed on this blog last December, when you have a parent whose life is a total disaster and your a child, your even more unlucky if that parent wants you to be just as unhappy and pathetic as they are. The responsibility of any parent is to work towards making your child's life better than yours was. Not the same or even worse. This is the essentially the concept of misery loves company. The concept of misery loves company is: "If I hate the world and don't want to be a part of it and don't care if I am a homeless squatter than my kids are coming along for the ride".

There should be a test for any parent before they are allowed to have a child, but unfortunately anyone can be a parent in this world and many people have no business having a child and that includes the 2 parents in The Glass Castle.

I thought the acting in this film was outstanding, including Woody Harrelson who plays Rex, the leader of this disastrous homeless family, Naomi Watts as his wife, and Brie Larson, one of their 3 daughters, who somehow escapes her horrible childhood and eventually is able to get a job with New York Magazine. This story and many incidents of abuse are hard to watch and infuriating to any human being who appreciates the sacred responsibility of raising a child.

I highly recommend The Glass Castle, but be prepared to witness a very difficult story about the childhood of 4 children and two irresponsible parents.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Movie Review: The Only Living Boy in New York

The message of this movie for me was, that people want want they think they can't have and they are bored or disinterested in something that may appear to be too easy to have. We have all seen movies like "The Only Living Boy in New York" before and some critics have compared this film as a Woody Allen type of movie. A man is having an affair and his son finds out and later stalks his mistress. Unfortunately the story here is not compelling or new enough to recommend and the surprise ending is too convoluted based on what happens in the story and not really believable. For me the most interesting and memorable thing about this movie was the unusual title.

This film stars Pierce Brosnan, Kate Beckinsale, Cynthia Nixon Jeff Bridges and newcomer Callum Turner, who plays the son who finds out his father, played by Pierce Brosnan is having an affair with Kate Beckinsale's character and then proceeds to stalk her, ultimately having an affair with her himself. What is lacking in this film is any kind of Woody Allen like humor to go along with what I thought was mostly a run of the mill and rather boring and drawn out story. For these reasons I cannot recommend The Only Living Boy in New York.

Movie Review: Logan Lucky

More heist movies have been made than perhaps any other type of movie genre so when you make a new one that is directed by Steven Soderbergh it has to be new and very different and maybe something we have never seen before. The movie Logan Lucky sure is different, strange, at times makes no sense and at other times is funny and ultimately is a completely different type of heist movie motivated by the main character, played by Channing Tatum, losing his job and his x-wife, played by Katie Holmes wanting to move to a different state. What is also highly unusual are all of the characters who are all uniquely strange in their own way. The actual heist that involves a prison break and stealing money through an elaborate network of underground pipes is extremely complex, so complex that its part the inside gag of this story that everybody involved does at first not seem very intelligent. This movie compares in some way to the Oceans 11 movies, also directed by Soderbergh with its complex and very involved caper plot that involves many moving parts and even more characters played by named actors.

This movie has many named actors including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank, who seems to have been out movies for a few years after hitting a huge high with Million Dollar Baby in 2005, demonstrating once again how precarious the acting profession is. Of all the characters in this movie, one of the strangest is Swank's character who is an FBI agent investigating this robbery and her strange acting included many weird facial expressions.

This movie is highly unusual, somewhat funny and mostly successfully walks a fine line between trying to be very different and strange while still being believable and entertaining. I give a solid recommendation to Logan Lucky.

Movie Review: Wind River

One of the things I notice about a great movie is when it does not seem like a movie at all. Nobody is really acting, its just an insight into real life somewhere in the world, where a new story is being told. There is no noticeable acting in the movie Wind River, just subtlety, subtext, snow and the vistas and wilderness of Wyoming within the life of a hunter played very well by Jeremy Renner and an FBI agent played by Elizabeth Olsen. They are investigating the rape and murder of a young American Indian woman who is found frozen to death after running for her life for 6 miles in the freezing cold and snow. The cause of her death was running in extreme cold for a length of time where small vessels of the lungs burst and the fluid freezes and she died very soon after. At first the death of this young woman and how she was found in the middle of nowhere seems to be a complicated mystery but we learn later in this story that what happened to her was very sudden, immediately obvious and perhaps even typical of life in the wilderness where there is nothing but dirt roads, snow, extreme cold and some very poor and depressed people.

What impressed me the most about Wind River was the contrast between its very simple story and slow moving investigation into sudden and striking outbursts of action that compel the story forward. What happened in this story is rather basic without the typical movie tricks we are all used to and with a message about parents having to live with the profound grief of losing a teenage daughter. There are some great speeches about the grief of a parent by Jeremy Renner's character who I believe should receive an Academy Award nomination for his performance. There are many insights into life in the middle of nowhere that also make this film a very unique experience. One can only wonder why anyone would want to live in a place like this but perhaps the love of the land and the big sky's of Wyoming could be the only reason why people stay despite the impossible and depressing conditions.

Wind River is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who was nominated for an Academy Award for last years Hell or High Water, that had this same level of simple but impressive story telling.

At the end of this movie it is stated that almost no American Indian women are ever reported missing and nobody knows how many are missing emphasizing the part of this story that reminds us of the plight of American Indian people in the American plains.

Wind River is a very good and well acted film and I do recommend it.





Sunday, August 13, 2017

Past Movie Review: Seven

This film has perhaps the best, most dramatic and most perfect ending I have ever seen in all my years of going to the movies. The premise was perfect, seven deadly sins and the amazing ending tied the whole movie together for a perfect conclusion that involved the seventh deadly sin and one of the evilest villains I have ever seen in any movie. The music and sound effects during the dramatic conclusion also greatly enhanced the ending.

The actors were also top notch, including Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey in one of his greatest performances. The story was as dark and depressing as the rainy and dark scenes throughout the film. I also thought that Brad Pitt has never been better in any movie, especially during the last scene.

If you ever see the movie Seven, that was released in 1995, you will never forget it. For those who have not seen this great movie in 22 years, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Movie Review: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

There are still many people in this world who still believe that Global Warming is a hoax. Some of them believe that Al Gore created this Global Warming hoax to make money because he made something around 100 million dollars from this first movie "An Inconvenient Truth" that was released in 2006. These same people ignore the pictures, they ignore the ever changing weather patterns, they ignore the average temperatures around the world always going up every year and the ever increasing occurrences of storms and droughts around the world. They ignore the rising ocean levels in many areas around the world, one of the worst in Miami Florida. Most amazingly they ignore the obvious pictures of the polar icecaps reducing every year. To them, despite all the alarming evidence, they still think Global Warming is a hoax. They believe its all a vast conspiracy to make a few people very rich, starting with Al Gore. Very recently, as was mentioned at the end of this documentary, President Trump pulled out of the Global Warming Paris Agreement for reasons that for me had some merit, but the real reason Trump pulled out was because of political pressure from very large coal and oil companies and ultimately Trump's continuing insane belief that Global Warming is still a hoax. I remember thinking during Trump's speech about why he was pulling out of the Paris agreement is that progress in the United States should not stop just because we pulled out of the Paris agreement. At least I sure hoped it wouldn't.

Al Gore's sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power", is similar in many ways to the first documentary as we follow Gore's travels around the world educating others about Global warming by giving speeches and seminars. What is lacking in this movie is more of the same scientific proof of the severity of Global warming around the world provided in the first movie, mostly due to carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Perhaps the reason for this is there is nothing more scientific to say about something that is now pure fact. I did like the fact that this documentary was not all doom and gloom like the last movie and there were some very encouraging evidence that many millions of people around the world are working hard to increase the use of solar energy and wind power and some cities in the United States are now using Solar and Wind power for 100% of their energy needs. From this point on, all humanity can do is hope that the progress continues and more importantly, that its still not too late to not only halt the damage to this planet but to even turn it all around so the planet earth can heal itself. If not then humanity is in a great deal of trouble.

I have often wondered since the year 2000, when Al Gore lost the Presidential election he really won, about how different the world would be now, if Gore was allowed to take his rightful place as President. Would we have had the Terrorist attacks in 2001, the IRAQ War or even the financial crisis because of the real estate bubble of 2008 had Gore been President instead of Bush? Another way of looking at what happened in 2000 is, would we have made anywhere near the progress around the world with Global Warming were it not for Al Gore because he was not the President? Was Al Gore more valuable as President or as the leading advocate for perhaps the most important crisis in the history of the world? This is a question that everybody can decide for themselves.

This is a very good documentary about one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced and I do recommend it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Movie Review: Detroit

There is not a white person in this world who can ever say that they understand what its like to be black person and under the injustice of how the police sometimes treat black people. The reality of police brutality has happened many times during the last few years but it was at its worst during the 60's in this country because of the protesting and rioting that went on for many reasons, most of them socioeconomic.

Most of us have heard about the LA Riots or the Riots that happened after the Rodney King verdict, which is the costliest in US history but the third worst is the riot that happened in Detroit in July 1967, known as the 12th Street Riot and this is the subject of the new movie Detroit. This movie was shot in a very unusual way, with lower quality film and has the look of a documentary.

The first half of this movie focuses on the Detroit Riot that was born out of frustration and unemployment as factory jobs were taken away from the inner city to the suburbs and this trend accelerated after World War 2 but then the rest of the story is about what is known as the "Algiers Motel Incident". The Algiers Motel Incident occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot and centered around several young black men who were in a hotel with 2 white women. What happens in this motel is very difficult to watch both for the brutality and the injustice of several white police officers, the worst one, is played very convincingly by actor Will Poulter. This one young and very evil police officer believed that because he was a police officer, that the law or any level of decency or humanity did not apply to him. I thought the motel part of this film was unnecessarily long, especially because the brutality and insanity of the police officers was so difficult to witness. There is a trial after this incident and I will of course not give anything away about the verdict.

Overall, I thought the acting was very well done including John Boyega and Anthony Mackie but I didnt think this was a great movie about an important incident in American History only a good one and I do recommend this film.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Movie Review: Kidnap

We have all heard the stories about a mother rescuing her child from under a car by lifting the car up with temporary super-human strength. In many ways this movie demonstrates super-human strength and determination of a mother, played very well by Hallie Berry who would do anything to save her son who she witnessed being kidnapped by two very disgusting criminals. After the abduction of her six year old son at a carnival, what follows are some very horrendous car chase scenes and some massive car accidents on several highways. All of this is believable because of the acting of Hallie Berry and her desperation to save her son at all costs. Some of the scenes and ideas here are a little outlandish but ultimately I ignored all of this because of the intensity that engaged me about what was happening on the screen. The two criminals in this thriller were also very believable and well played by Chris McGinn and Lew Temple.

The reality of this world is that kidnapping rings run by lowlife like this actually do exist and unfortunate parents have to live the rest of their lives wondering if their child is dead or alive and this is a life very few of us could ever endure. This movie does a very good job in demonstrating what such an abduction of a young child would be like and what the desperation and anger of a mother would be like within such an intense situation.

For some reason the reviews for Kidnap are not very high and this movie completed filming in 2014 and was then shelved for several years before finally being released that could have something to do with the bankruptcy of the film studio that produced this film.

Despite some negative opinions and several flaws in this story I do recommend this movie.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Movie Review: Valerian and the City of One Thousand Planets

At the beginning of this film, I thought it presented some of the most imaginative aliens and space special effects I have ever seen. At the end of this movie, and I had to leave early because I could not stand to sit through it anymore, I thought it was another typical special effects with no story movie where the producers were only interested in the computer graphics and had no interest in taking a year to write a good story. In fact, there is no real story here at all. I would recommend this movie for people who are on LSD or Heroin, but for the rest of us who are trying to at least stay awake for 2 hours, this movie is a waste of time and computer software. In the end, after going into my 3rd coma watching this mess, I just about had to run away from this disaster.

The few good points of this film are some of the special effects and the actress Cara Delevingne who should have a bright future in Hollywood but given the fickle nature of that business and this bad film who knows. Towards the end there is an appearance of Rihanna who has a small cameo, but not nearly enough of an appearance to rescue this film.

This is a B movie that should have went straight to DVD and I do not recommend it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

What will draw people into this movie because of the previews are the action scenes of hand to hand fighting and martial arts which are very well choreographed and impressive, but unfortunately the rest of this movie was disappointing as far as the complex spy story in Berlin combinations of which we have seen before, the depressing and gray locations where the film was shot in Hungary and the constant chain smoking, mostly with Charlize Theron's character that was done far too much, even for the 1989 time this story takes place. Once you are drawn into a movie like this to see some of the action scenes, you want something more and for me that was just not present in this film which at times I found rather boring and run of the mill.

This movie also stars James McAvoy and John Goodman who play parts we have seen them in before, specially Goodman as one of the leaders of the MI6 organization Theron's character is working for. While watching this film, that I thought was too long, I wondered about people like this who risk their lives every day as spies, realizing that at any minute they could be killed. You just have to admire the dedication and courage of people who believe in their cause so much they are willing to give up any sort of a normal life but unfortunately this movie tells a mostly bad and boring story and for that reason I cannot recommend this movie.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Review: Girls Trip

For two reasons, this blog and the relatively high ratings for "Girls Trip", 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 71% on IMDB, I decided to see this movie. Everybody can tell just from the previews that this film was going to be pretty raunchy and it was, but what is funny? In my opinion, not funny enough because there were not many laughs in the theater I was in and in my opinion the last movie that created the perfect combination of raunchy and funny was the film "Animal House" that was released in 1978.

If I were Jada Pinkett Smith and I read the script for this movie, I would have demanded that some embarrassing scenes that included her character on top of a zip line in New Orleans urinating on people on the street below or some of the other overly raunchy or embarrassing scenes, be either toned down or eliminated altogether if for no other reason than pride or reputation. But, once again the pressure to remain relevant and active in Hollywood seems to be greater than pride for too many actors today who are lucky enough to be in movies and this would include the two other famous actors in this movie Queen Latifah and Regina Hall.

I thought the bright spot of this film was Tiffany Haddish who showed some real comic timing and instinct and to some degree almost saves this story, which is about 4 old friends from college that are reunited in New Orleans for a festival for black women. Some of the later drama that included Regina Hall's husband having an affair and that affair threatening the release of their new book, was well done but rather misplaced in a raunchy comedy like this one.

Even allowing for the fact that some people might find a movie like this entertaining, I cannot recommend it, because there were not enough laughs to cover up the many flaws in this film that included a story that for the most part was not unique enough to anyone to remember.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk

I am very amazed at the very high scores for the new Christopher Nolan film "Dunkirk", 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and 89% on IMDB. I thought this was a war movie that was trying so hard to be different that it forgot to teach the audience the history of what really happened on May 26 to June 4th 1940, during an important battle of World War 2. One scene jumps to another scene, there is no real story or character development and at times I found the movie boring. Considering this is a war movie about an important battle of World War 2 "The Battle of Dunkirk" I was not expecting to be bored. I believe that in order to be respectful to the men who died in a major battle in any war, you cant try so hard to direct a movie where your goal is more about trying to tell a story in a different way rather than creating an accurate depiction of an important battle of World War 2.

This movie stars Tom Hardy who spends his time in this film in the cockpit of an airplane and most of his face is covered by a mask which I thought was highly unusual. Kenneth Branagh plays Commander Bolton one of the leaders of the trapped forces who appears mostly towards the end of the film. Both of these actors seem to be misplaced in this film, almost as if they were added on at the end, so the movie would have a few more famous actors to perhaps generate box office.

The bottom line is that this movie does not educate the audience about exactly what happened during the Battle of Dunkirk because it tries to tell a story in a new way and because of this, it ignores the most important part of a war movie, which is to tell a story accurately and to respect the people who died in battle.

For these reasons I cannot recommend Dunkirk.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

The reviews for "War for the Planet of the Apes" are very high, 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 83% on IMDB. I am surprised at numbers that high for this film, because for me, for reasons I will explain I am more in the 70% range as overall I thought this was just a good and not a great movie.

However, I do give the special effects and the "Performance Capture" technology a 100% grade and you realize immediately that none of the 3 recent Planet of the Apes movies would be possible without this technology because the actor would be in a makeup chair for 8 hours a day. The technology they use involves the capturing of the movement of each actor and then filling in the ape makeup using CGI later. The facial expressions of the apes, as well as the hair on the body and the movement of each ape actor in this movie, is flawless and extremely impressive. Where this film becomes more average is with the story, that I thought was too simple, took too long to progress and in the end was pretty average.

The original Planet of the Apes was released in 1968 and was one of the first films I had ever seen in a movie theater. The original story had to do with a nuclear holocaust where the apes take over after humans destroy the world and this movie explains more about a virus that followed the nuclear conflagration that made apes more intelligent and humans more like animals, starting with their inability to talk. The acting is very good, including Woody Harrelson who plays an evil Colonel and Andy Serkis, who reprises his role as Ceasar, the leader of the apes for the 3rd time, I was hoping for a more interesting story here and I thought that the story for this movie dragged on too long and was too simplistic.

I give War for the Planet of the Apes a mild recommendation.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

One thing a movie must do, if it is a continuation of a previous movie, in this case, the latest Avenger film Avengers: The Age of Ultron, is to explain all of the items that carry through to the new movie. Unfortunately, this new Spider-Man movie does not really explain the left behind alien machines that the evil villain in this movie, played by Michael Keaton, was trying to use to dominate the world. I thought the story of Spider-Man Homecoming was told in an unusual and erratic way, almost as if the screenwriter was trying to invent a method of telling a story. For the most part, this method of storytelling worked, but I thought that there was too much jumping around and less control over the continuity of the scenes.

The new Spider-Man is a 15-year-old boy still in high school and is played very well by 21-year-old Tom Holland and like all of the other Spider-Man movies, the special effects for this film are outstanding but I still think, like many others that the second Spider-Man movie that was released in 2004 was the best in the series so far.

Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man makes several appearances in this movie as the mentor of Spider-Man as well as Stark's best friend played by Jon Favreau. There are also several mentions of the next Avengers movie, Avengers: Infinity War that will be released next year as this is the new marketing campaign for all of these Marvel movies when they try and connect each Marvel movie to the next one.

Overall I thought this movie was very good and on a par with all of the previous Spider-Man movies and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: The Big Sick

Aspiring screenwriters go to the movies more often than most people, mostly for writing inspiration and perhaps to escape from reality.  In my experience going to many movies, it has been a rare event to be inspired by any movie that is a comedy in recent memory.  The new movie "The Big Sick"  is one of those rare movies that has inspired me to write another screenplay because it is just that good.  The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are extremely high, currently 97%, and that is a very well deserved score.

From the start, I was amazed at the quality of the screenplay for this movie as it was the first screenplay about a true story co-written by the star of this movie Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon who is played very well by the actress Zoe Kazan.  This movie is great on a number of levels, starting with the subtle and natural real-life dialogue, the high level of acting and the roller coaster ride of emotions this story takes you through, starting with the romance and breakup between an American woman and a Pakistani man, who is pressured by his family and the traditions of arranged marriages that understandably leads to great conflict. The true story behind this movie is a great idea for a romantic comedy and I cannot remember a story like this ever being done before.  I thought it was an amazing achievement to provide so many solid moments of subtle humor, considering some of the difficult things this story is about including a dangerous unknown infection and hospitalization of Emily that forces her doctors to put her into a medically-induced coma.

The acting throughout this film is outstanding, starting with Ray Romano as Emily's father and has now successfully transitioned from a standup comedian to comedy actor in Everybody Loves Raymond and is now becoming an outstanding dramatic actor. It was also great to see Holly Hunter, who perfectly plays Emily's mother.

The main part of this story is about Emily falling into a coma because of some unknown infection that is spreading throughout her body and this leads to several heart-wrenching scenes in the hospital where her parents and her Pakistani boyfriend played by Nanjiani, agonize over decisions about her treatment and even consider moving her to a different hospital, despite the fact that their daughter has been placed into a medically induced coma as her 5 doctors desperately try and figure out what is wrong with her so they can save her life. The transition and eventual love and respect that Emily's parents gain over time with her boyfriend were also another very impressive aspect of this story.

I thought overall, this film is one of the best written and acted I have seen in many years and will definitely receive Academy Award recognition for everyone involved, and in my opinion, this should include best original screenplay.

I highly recommend this great movie.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Past Movie Review: Unfaithful

One could easily argue that the movie Unfaithful, released in 2002, was by far the best acting role in Diane Lane's career and probably the best movie in recent memory about adultery. There are unexpected twists and turns in this story and an ending that was very messy but considering the shocking events of how this story concluded, the ending was well within any set of irrational human emotions that involve panic, anger, jealousy, and fear.

During the times I have thought about this film or discussed it with someone else, the scene where Diane Lane as Connie Summer on a train, on the way home after her first encounter with her lover; the expression on her face reliving the events of the day, was one of the best acting performances I can remember in many years.  This film is also a great role for Richard Gere as Edward Summer who is very believable as the jilted husband and over time he suspects his wife is cheating on him.  There are some side parts to this story that are necessary to make the movie last 2 hours and are somewhat connected to the affair Edward's wife is having but they flow very well within the story.  This movie is a lesson about a short term decision that at the time might seem harmless but in the long term can completely ruin your life.

I thought that Unfaithful was one of the best dramas about the potential downside of marriage and life in many years, the acting was outstanding and I highly recommend this film from 2002.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Movie Review: Beatriz at Dinner

The idea behind the movie "Beatriz at Dinner" is a brilliant one. By chance, a massage therapist who is a healer of people who have cancer at a local hospital, a lover of animals, who even has goats living in her modest house, visits a gated community where she has given massage therapy to a wealthy family there. When she is about to leave her broken down car fails to start and soon after finds herself having dinner with 3 couples, all of whom are very wealthy. Beatriz is played by very well by Salma Hayek and during the dinner, she meets her exact opposite, a wealthy African game hunter, played by John Lithgow, who only cares about money and cares nothing about people. What is very interesting are the conversations at this dinner, the condescending remarks and the attitudes that some rich people have towards average or poor people. This kind of "rich people attitude" depicted in this film is not true of all rich people, but it was definitely true of the 6 people who attended this dinner. In my experience, it is the rare rich person who over time is always above money going to their head, almost as if having money gives a person some kind of immortality or the right to look down on hard working decent average or poor people. As the saying goes, "We are all equals in the eyes of God". Donald Trump is a very good example of a person like this as he calls poor people losers, conveniently forgetting that without his father and that "small loan" he was given in the 1960's, he would never have been as wealthy as he claims to be.

A key scene in this movie was when Lithgow's character was bragging about killing an African Rhino and even passes around a cell phone picture of the Rhino he killed. Beatriz takes the cell phone and throws it at him and storms out of the room; understandable given her extreme love of animals. One wonders how people like this consider it a challenge to kill a defenseless Rhino, an animal that eats plants and lumbers around in lakes and rivers and is no harm to anyone.

Other actors in this movie include Connie Britton who the wife of the home owner and it seems Beatriz's only real friend during the dinner. Some of the scenes in this movie were very awkward, especially when Beatriz was always lagging behind the others during and before dinner, never really fitting in, especially during the many conversations during this film. Many of us can relate to feeling like an outsider within situations like this. I thought the acting in this film was very good throughout but I did not really understand or like the ending, which at first was a trick ending and then ended in an unexpected and for tastes, a very unsatisfying way.

I thought that Beatriz at Dinner was a good movie experience and I do recommend it.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Movie Review: The Beguiled

The movie "The Beguiled" is a remake of the version made in 1971 starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. My first question about this movie is that I did not consider the first version of this movie made 46 years ago groundbreaking enough to produce a remake so many years later. When I saw the original movie on TV many years ago I thought it was at best a good movie but definitely not a great one or one that was significant enough to shoot a remake many years later.

The story of Beguiled happens during the Civil War in Virginia when a wounded Union corporal is found by a young girl who lives in a plantation with 6 other women who range in age from 45 to about 11. Due to the extreme circumstances of the Civil War, it seems that none of the women who live in this house have been around or seen many men in their lives or at least for many years and this understandably creates some tension and jealousy among the women. After the soldier is treated for his leg injury, this movie seems to very slowly move forward and for my tastes too slowly before it gets to the point that things start to get very insane, both because of the circumstances and because several of the people involved are a little crazy, perhaps due to the horrific insanity of the Civil War. I had the same thoughts about this movie that I did when I saw the 1971 version on TV only once, even though that version is more insane and about 12 minutes longer. This is only a good movie, not a great one.

The Beguiled is directed by Sophia Coppola and starts Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell as the Union soldier. All of the acting is solid throughout and somewhat haunting but for me the movie took too long to get going and what actually happened in the story was not compelling enough to give this film any higher than a marginal recommendation.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Movie Review: The House

What is funny? Both Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler were two of the best to performers on Saturday Night Live for many years and they are both funny. Both Ferrel and Poehler are great in comedy sketches and Will Ferrel has the very rare talent of just making a face or doing something with his eyes and getting a huge laugh just for showing up. What is not funny is the movie both of these talented people are in, titled "The House".

The premise of the House is a very good one. Two parents facing the nightmare of trying to pay for the huge cost of sending just one child to a good college. Right at the start, trying to make paying for college funny is a daunting task because there is nothing funny about putting your financial future in jeopardy by taking a second mortgage out on a house or risking your health by working more than one job. The couple in this story try to pay for college by opening up an illegal gambling house and while this story may have started out a little funny, the whole idea took a very bad, unfunny and stupid turn and in the end turned out to be a pretty bad movie. This is too bad because both Ferrel and Poehler are very talented but the problem has always been finding both a screenplay and a great idea that actually results in a funny movie and in my experience this has been very rare.

I thought there was one scene in this entire movie that was funny, when Ferrel thinks that he has 401,000 dollars in his bank account and his accountant tells him that he is has a 401K account. That was a very good line, but unfortunately the only funny line in this entire movie. I thought it was unusual that the actor Jeremy Renner appears at the end of this movie, but the scene where he is set on fire was not funny and the scene where one of his thugs lost a finger and bleeds all over Will Ferrell was also not funny.

This movie should have gone right to DVD and should be missed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Movie Review: Baby Driver

It is extremely rare that movie reviews are strong as they are for the new movie Baby Driver, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 86% on IMDB. In my opinion, this movie fully deserves all of the positive reviews it has received.

When you think about the screenwriting task of trying to figure out a new and different idea within the hundreds of bank robbery, getaway, crime movies that have been produced over the years, you can probably understand what was facing Edgar Wright, who wrote the screenplay and directed this very good movie. The new ideas in this film are many and they start right at the beginning of this entertaining film with the use of a bright red 2006 Suburu Impreza WRX in a driving sequence that has to be considered one of the most intense and impressive in movie history. The use of a very average car like this one for the opening chase scene, on the one hand, to blend in with traffic but at the same time is bright red I thought was a very funny and original idea. The star of this movie is played by very well by Ansel Elgort whose name is of all things, Baby - again very original. Baby has to constantly listen to music to drown out his tinnitus that was caused by a car accident with his parents when he was a child and this provides a big excuse to have frequent music throughout this film, mostly through Baby's original style IPOD.

Other actors in this movie include John Hamm, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Fox and all were outstanding in this film. The unexpected twists and turns in this impressive story were some of the best I have ever seen as was the dialogue which was equally as unexpected and impressive. Other very unsusual and humorous moments include Baby's habit of recording conversations he has with people using an old style casset tape recorder and later turning those conversations into music.

Central to Baby Driver is the love story between baby and a young waitress Deborah, he meets at a diner played very well by Lily James and as the story progresses Baby's girlfriend is understandably put in greater danger as the bank robbers he is forced to drive for threaten her life. There are scenes of extreme voilence of gunplay that are all expected in a movie like this, but this movie just does all of that better than most ever have.

I highly recommend the movie Baby Driver.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Movie Review: The Hero

It is about time there is a movie that is about the reality of show business and especially an actor who was part of the "lucky few" and in later years, because of some bad breaks or the fickleness of the audience or producers who decide that you are no longer viable, the career you once depended on for a happy life and financial independence are long gone. A recent great example of this is the tragic story of actress Erin Moran, who died at a young age after having such a promising career in the 70's and 80's because of the TV series Happy Days. After Happy Days and the failed TV series Joanie Loves Chachi, which was a very bad show, she no longer had any future in show business and probably had to learn that harsh reality the hard way over a period of many years. Like so many young actors before her, Moran did what she was told and performed in that bad TV show and because of that, she paid a horrible price by being associated with a bomb that ultimately ruined her career in show business. For many people like Moran, the realization that its time to give up the dream may happen for them, or may never happen, leading to many years of hardship and unhappiness when you can never stop remembering the glory days when you were on top of the world.

For the majority of human beings, careers and financial future are very often in the hands and decisions of other people. This is especially true in the world of show business where every job requires some an audition and competition where you are up against many other actors. Rejection and humiliation are part of your world, perhaps for your whole life just because of your desire to be an actor will never go away. I admire those actors who are able to go through years of this rejection, never giving up and having to take horrible and menial jobs to support themselves for years because their dream is so strong. A good example of this is the great TV actor Sterling K. Brown of "This is Us", who proved that just because you are a great actor, it does not mean that your opportunity will come quickly or will ever occur in your lifetime. There are those who make it and stay on top, those who never make it and like the main character in this movie "The Hero", those who make it and then falter and never achieve those heights again. Perhaps this last possibility is the worst one to endure because once you think you made it once, you will always long to achieve those heights again.

The movie "The Hero" is a story about an actor Lee Hayden, played by Sam Elliot, who is 71 years old and achieved great heights and even a TV show in the 70's and 80's and now his only chance at making a living is making voice over radio commercials. He still has fans from his days when he was making popular Western movies and even a TV show, but now hs career is essentially over. He decides to accept a lifetime achievement award from some Western movie association while becoming involved with a woman, played by Laura Prepone who much younger than he is and is employed as of all things, a stand-up comedian. There are health issues and realizations that his career is mostly over and one audition where Elliot gives his best performance of the movie that I thought was very impressive. Lee Hayden also has a daughter, played by Krysten Ritter and their relationship is understandably very strained due to Hayden's divorce and being an absentee father, which is another very common drawback of trying to be an actor.

The best moment in this film for me was when Hayden tell his girlfriend that the second thing to go when you get older is your memory and when she asks what the first thing is, he says, "I forgot".

I thought both the story and the acting in this movie were very well done and I do recommend this movie.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

The good news is that this is the fifth and last time Micheal Bay will direct a movie in the Transformers movie series that started in 2007 with the original Transformers film. While trying to understand why all of these Transformers movies are so bad, with the possible exception of the first one, my explanation is that the computer graphic scenes are probably produced first through several different software vendors and the screenwriter later tries to connect the computer graphics scenes to some kind of disconnected nonsensical story. This means that essentially all of the Transformer movies are developed backward. For me, this would explain why nothing makes sense in these movies and there are no connections between scenes or any kind of flow or respect to the audience so they can follow what is going on. Is it possible to produce a good movie that is all about special effects with no story? The answer to this question seems to be obvious to everyone, except Micheal Bay. I actually think a better movie would be a documentary about how the computer graphics for movies like this are made and perhaps some filming of the production meetings that lead to the creation of this horrible movie because I am very curious about how a movie monstrosity this bad could ever be created.

Michael Bay should take a page from all the Disney cartoon movies, where the story and screenplay are paramount and include years of discussions and storyboarding. These Transformer movies throw all sense of continuity and logic out the window, not caring to create any kind of a story to connect scenes or help with the understanding of what is going on. Eventually, you slowly fall into a sort of a coma and I actually dosed off for about 20 minutes during this mess, probably due to some kind of subconscious self-preservation. What is worse about this latest movie in the Transformer franchise is that it runs for almost 150 agonizing minutes. All of these Transformer movies should be run as a loop to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay because sitting through them is a nightmare. More amazing is that this movie is the worst one of the 5 and Bay seems to outdo himself with each new movie but in the wrong direction.

When this very bad movie was finally over, I remembered feeling very angry because I had wasted 2 1/2 hours of my life sitting through this mess. The budget of 217 million dollars for this movie was money that could have been put to far better use and people who are bad at their jobs will become much more wealthy. A great deal of the money that comes from these movies are the toys and the young kids who just want to see robots fighting and so it seems that everyone involved with these 5 movies only cares about the easy money and never about creating a movie that has some meaning or even a story. I think I was most angry because I know that this Transformer movie will make a great deal of money and that will encourage more very bad movies like this one.

Mark Wahlberg is once again the star of this latest Transformer movie, also appearing in the last one. Clearly, Wahlberg appeared in this movie for the money and there is nothing wrong with that, but at some point, integrity and pride should be more important than money. What does not make any sense is why the great actor Anthony Hopkins is in this movie. One would think that Hopkins has more than enough money and would care more about his reputation at his age than money. Hopkins role and his decision to appear in this terrible movie just make no sense. The only bright spot is the appearance of a young 16-year-old actress Isabela Moner, who has movie star looks and might have a very promising future as an actress, despite the mistake of being in this God awful film.

This movie should be avoided by everyone including small children because it is that bad.