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. Your 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 unique 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.