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Update January 30th, 2019:

I have added a Search Window on the Sidebar (=========> ) to allow for previous Reviews to be found.   It took a while to figure out how to add this feature which to me is necessary for anyone looking to see what any thoughts have been for something that they wish to watch.    You will note that there are multiple entries for many movies.

I hope this makes the reviews more accessible and available for those visiting.   Happy movie watching!

Original Posting:

Thanks for joining me!  For many years I have been sharing movie reviews with my good friend Alison.   What started out as Monday water cooler discussions on what films we saw (we seemed to see movies often) then turned into emails.   She moved from her job.   I moved from mine, but we still kept in contact.

The reviews have been been shared with others over time, but the beginnings remain the same.   When I review, the email was addressed to Alison, and then others were added.

So here I am.   After much thought, the idea of sharing the movie reviews over time has finally taken shape.

I must early on make a shout out to the late, great, Pulitzer prize winning reviewer Roger Ebert, from the Chicago Sun Times.    I depended on Roger and his reviews, and his TV show At The Movies with Gene Siskel.  Now I didn’t always agree with Roger and his reviews, but I would read and enjoy how he viewed these films.   It is not unusual for me to refer to him, or wonder what he would think about a particular film.

I am adding present reviews as some historical reviews as I find them.   You will also see some more lengthy discussions about films as well (like discussions about Alien Covenant or Star Wars The Last Jedi).

These of course are all one man’s opinion.   Nothing more, and nothing less.   If it can save you from spending $13.99 on the latest film in the theatre, by avoiding a bad film (in my opinion) then great!    If it opens up a level of discourse on a film and a debate – I have always enjoyed debating films (and other things).

 

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Maggie Gyllenhaal at TIFF premiere of The Kindergarten Teacher

 

September 16, 2019

I didn’t get to TIFF.  Sad to say, and I tried but I just didn’t get there.  In the end there were a couple of days that worked, but the expense just couldn’t be justified.  Seeing a Gala at Roy Thompson or others were going to run $45-85 a ticket.   I couldn’t justify for films that would be in wide release within weeks.   So I was on the sidelines, and not willing at this age to take my time and chances on a Rush ticket (going to the window and hoping that there would be a seat for $25 cash).

Not sure if I have said it before, but it is worth repeating that I don’t like Jesse Eisenberg.   I didn’t like him in The Social Network, nor Now You See Me and others.   He seems to play himself, or he has been very well typecasted as the small-statured,  smarmy, arrogant, know-it-all who after a while you just feel like punching in the face.   Conversely the typical casting of Alexander Skarsgard has been one of the hunk, good-looking, menacing hero type (see The Legend of Tarzan or True Blood).  In this film, he is a balding, geeky, introverted brother to the marketing guy Eisenberg.  Salma Hayek rounds out the stars in this film, which on first take you might believe is based on a true story.   It is not.  The story focuses around a pipeline to be tunnelled from Kansas City through to NYC.   It looks like a fibre optic line from what I can tell, and it requires extraordinary efforts to have 10ths of nanoseconds in order for traders to gain an edge and make money.   Jesse is getting funding to pay for this tunnel.   All the while his boss, and company owner, Hayek, does her best to thwart the efforts of her now former employees.    It seems as it is much ado about nothing.   Only in America are these efforts made in order to temporarily save fractions of secs before the next technology makes it extinct.   Then there exists the hard line under the Appalachian mountains.   Who cares?   I am not in any way engaged with this film, and do not care about the characters.   Skarsgard towers over Eisenberg and it is funny to see them together.   They don’t look like brothers and don’t act like it either.    In the end, I shrug my shoulders and don’t really care about it.

I re-watched Sophia Coppala’s Marie Antoinette, and my initial assessment from when I first saw this back in 2006 was re-affirmed.   I cannot say that I like the retro soundtrack that was put into this film.   Bow Wow Wow “I Want Candy” and other songs have been added which try to make this seem more contemporary, but just don’t seem right.   The music of the day would seem to be more fitting.   Where has Kirsten Dunst gone, now 13 year ago?   She was Mary Jane in Spiderman.   She landed this role and many others.   You will spot others too like Jamie Dornan, and Tom Hardy in this cast.   Jason Schwartzman gives a memorable Louis XVI performance but not one in which the doomed King would have liked.   He is quiet, not interested in relations nor a relationship with his young wife, and has trouble (most of the film) in consummating the marriage.   The scenes of Versailles itself are amazing and a great reminder of all this place is, both then and now.   What a symbol of French opulence!!   But you can see how the royalty was completely removed from every day life, a theme that I heard matter-of-factly in The King’s Speech where Colin Firth speaks of not having friends and not knowing how the common man (his subjects) actually live.   I would like to think that the trial and beheading of Marie Antoinette would get more attention, as it got none here.   She started out as an entitled young Austrian girl, who grew up in the Austrian palace of Schonbrunn in Vienna (also a worthy pace to visit) and married at age 14.   But she became a symbol of a monarchy who had lost touch and didn’t care for her people.   The consequences of that were fatal, but were more implied than shown here.

 

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September 9th, 2019 (TIFF begins)

It is always an exciting time to be living in Toronto when the film festival comes to town.   These days they are closing down King Street (a main east-west throughfare) to allow for walking and booths and food trucks for the TIFF opening.   The Festival started on Thursday and runs through to next Sunday.  There is a buzz in the city, and there are many celebrities at the bars, restaurants and around at the films they are promoting.   I brought youngest son down with me on Saturday to just get a sense of how it is like again.   Last year we went and saw Julia Roberts from afar.   This year we went and just happened upon a gathering spot across the street and west from TIFF Lightbox theatres.   There we saw a commotion and people clamouring for pics.   We arrived to see the following (we missed Willem Dafoe by a few minutes sadly).   We caught Antonio Banderas entering in a hurry.   Then had a picture shared of Rosario Dawson (a favourite of mine) as she entered.   So cool.

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Antonio Banderas at TIFF 2019, in a hurry
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Rosario Dawson at TIFF 2019

I am hoping to get out to see a film or two, but I have nothing scheduled.   Normally I would have poured over the listings and made my choices of films to see.  Not this year.  It will be hit and miss, and rush something that piques my interest, and I am okay with that.

On Crave (I have had my home subscription renewed) so now I have more options going forward.   I watched the Clint Eastwood film, The Mule.  Based upon the true story Leo Sharp in a NY Times article.   The facts are an elderly man, more or less estranged from his family as he was a work-a-holic, or at the very least chose to be away from him, is roped into running drugs as a driver into Chicago.   He has a clean record, a good driver, and never had a ticket.    He ended up being one of the most trusted mules for the Mexican drug cartel.   The cast is good with Eastwood playing Earl Stone, who is a horticulturalist, and creates amazing flowers and plants for which he gets rewards.  With him Dianne Wiest, as his ex-wife, real life daughter Alison Eastwood, playing his daughter, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia and Michael Pena.   The film was more emotionally impactful than I thought it would be.   Primarily I think because Eastwood is reflecting back on himself and his own life, especially with daughter Alison.   The story itself works and you feel for those involved.   Things happen as you would (generally) expect – although not all when it comes to Clint – you’ll know it when you see it.   In the end there is a message and thoughts on life as you look in the rear view mirror.  Somehow I suspect that Clint wouldn’t have made fewer movies.   Something about him makes me think he likes the awards and the body of work and him being regarded as a living legend in film.   Still as he acts with his daughter, there must be pangs of doubt every now and then of the choices made.   Only he would know.

I started watching the series Euphoria on Crave and I immediately reached out to Alison to get her take on it.   The first episode was so raw, and disturbing as you watch these high school aged kids living the life in California.   I wasn’t sure if I could continue at that pace but I am glad that I stuck with it.   The story follows mostly unknown actors to me in high school with the focal point being a young black woman name Rue (played by Zendaya) who is sharp, and funny and engaging, along with being a drug addict who lies and manipulates her way through life.   She has many fellow students around here, who read off like the characterizations in The Breakfast Club.   There is Sports/Athlete guy, and Crazy, and wallflower and others in this group trying to keep up.   The adults are about as mixed up as the kids, maybe more in cases.   They swirl around in a drama that takes new turns and directions.   It culminates in a final episode for Season 1 where, I think, they have pulled together so many of the storylines that it was excellent writing.   It may seem hollow at first, but it stayed with me.   Stories are left hanging and others seem resolved.  But clearly there will be more to come.   This is not easy to watch at times, especially for a parent myself.   I am not naive enough to think that this doesn’t happen around here.   In fact, I would think the opposite is that it likely is all around.   The young tattooed boy (hard to call him a man) who sells the pretzels at the fair, is one enterprising and street smart little dude.   He is scary.   Others too.   I have said many a time that I have no interest in re-starting life and going back to high school.   This series makes that statement all the more true.   Worth catching if you have the stomach for it.

Finally the TIFF films from 2018 Climax was on.   This is a French film that was more racey.  It really though is a study in chaos.   And to that end it fails.   I can’t say that I understood the point.    It seems to be random and strange interactions of people working through an abandoned building.   In truth I didn’t catch this from the very beginning, but I don’t need to.   The only notable I saw was Sofia Boutella of The Mummy and Atomic Blonde.   I can’t say that yelling and screaming and rolling around on the floor elevated her status for me at all.   Consider yourself warned and know that I saved you an hour and a half of your life, to go watch something far more interesting.

September 2, 2019 – Bonus Alison reviews

Alison:  The timing seems right to talk about Midsommar.  I read a “best movies of 2019” list today which included Midsommar but I immediately discounted it for having Detective Pikachu so I can only take it half seriously.  Four stars on RogerEbert.com and 83% fresh on the tomato page.  My second surprise was a packed theatre which landed Rob and I in the front row for our viewing.  This movie was promised to be a horror flick of sorts and for me it was a fail in that regard.  The premise is that a couple of university students travel to the home of a friend in Sweden to visit the commune (read cult) he grew up in.  There’s the couple that should have broken up on their third date, the two guys that can’t stand their buddy’s girlfriend and of course cult guy.  Everything about this film is awkward.  None of these people seem to really like each other.  Conversations are at an unnatural pentameter and despite appearance there is an underlying anger and uneasiness that starts to take hold.  The cult folks are odd but welcoming and things get underway with the festival.  Without giving too much away, people start dying (one scene quite shocking), friends go missing and the reactions of the remaining friends are not what you’d expect.  Its not scary…its just weird.  Midsommar is from the guy who made Hereditary which I loved.  I suspect this is the movie he wrote first that got picked up after the success of Hereditary.  Do you need to see it???  If you’re curious, go ahead and then I’ll wait for the “wtf email” you will be certain to send me afterwards.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the latest offering from Mr. Tarantino that came with much anticipation and accolade.  Four stars on Roger, 85% on rotten and attention at Cannes.  And yet of the thirty or so people in the theatre, three got up and walked out around the half way mark in what felt like a painfully long 2.5 hour film.  If I had to describe this film in one word i might use “unnecessary” or “self-absorbed”.  Don’t get me wrong, this was beautifully shot film and Brad and Leo gave great performances (and Brad looked especially good doing it) but I kept waiting for it to start or get to the point.  And when it finally did, it was anticlimactic.  I suspect much of the accolades for this film are from those in the industry as this was a directors film.  For the rest of us it was time spent looking at something really well made that just wasn’t that entertaining.
Cold War was nominated for an Oscar and Bafta award last year.  It’s filmed in black and white and is simply gorgeous to look at.  This is a love story that takes place in communist Poland between a musician and the young farm girl he discovers.  Together they are part of a troupe putting on cultural shows until the evil Kaczmarek used the troupe to gain good fortune with the communist party.  He, the musician and she the singer devise to defect to France and when he crossed she got cold feet.  He meets with success in France and she finally decides to join and the love affair resumes.  The characters are engaging but more as a curiosity as everyone plays their cards close to their chest and seemingly there is always an angle.  Love has its ups and downs and this couple is no different but theirs is a never happy kinda love, neither together or apart and always a yearning for a thing you don’t have until having it doesn’t feel that great either.  Don’t expect to walk away feeling your heart has grown as big as the Grinch’s on xmas day and as Jason would say “well, that wasn’t horrible”.

September 2, 2019 – Labour Day

TIFF begins this weekend.  I have done no preparation and no research to review which films I would like to see.   This is unusual as I would normally be part of a group with tickets as a Member and then securing the films I am interested in through the lottery.  Instead, I am on the sidelines and thinking if I am interested in a movie that I will simply rush the theatre at the time of the showing.   I will likely as in the past bring my youngest downtown to catch some stars and the buzz in the city.

I actually went to the theatre this week and saw Good Boys.  This stars Canadian Jacob Tremblay (from Room fame) and a couple other kids.  It was filmed in Vancouver which explained the CIBC bank signs that I saw around periodically.  This was given high praise as very funny and it was doing decently at the box office.   On cheap Tuesday it made sense to go.  The premise is simple, three Grade 6 boys are looking to go to a house party where there will be “kissing”.  They don’t want to go in without any knowledge or experience.   They are just dealing with changes and hormones.  Of the three friends, one (Tremblay) is girl crazy, the second wants to show his singing talent but thinks it isn’t “cool” and the third has parents just going through a divorce.   They interact with some older kids, and look to solve a problem that is posed to them.  It doesn’t really matter what the problem is, and the resolution isn’t all that believable nor important.  The point to it is for setting up the scenes for the jokes and the language.   These young boys have potty mouths which is funny a couple of times and then it isn’t.  It’s similar to South Park kids who swear, but not quite as over-the-top.   And not as funny.   So this was okay.  It had a couple decent laughs.  In thinking about it, for me I like humour when things surprise me and the unexpected or when it’s clever word play.   There were a couple of scenes that made me laugh.   Some of the humour is sex-based for young boys who have no idea what sex and more “advanced” or unusual sex practices are of the adults around them.   No need to see this is the theatre, and it could be a rental on an otherwise slow or cold Fall night.
On Netflix I refreshed my memory of the Dark Crystal by re-watching the original.   Jim Henson created this back in 1982, two years after the success of Yoda in Empire Strikes Back with realistic muppets.  Frank Oz joins in (who is voice and character of Yoda) and together these two voice and portray many of the characters.   I am re-watching as Netflix has just released a prequel to this original film as a series with a lot of money spent on it, and ten new episodes.   The original was 1.5 hours long.   The new series much longer.   Dark Crystal takes place in a mythical place where an elfling is sent on a quest to find a shard of glass to repair the powerful dark crystal which provides power into this world.  There are ruling and diminishing creatures on both sides who look bird-beaked and dinosaur like.   Henson and Oz show their creativity in creating this world and creatures.  You will see many scenes which borrow from other movies (like Empire) and others that are later borrowed (in films like Avatar, and Return of the Jedi).  The story premise is similar to Lord of the Rings.  For the technology that they had, this was cutting edge stuff.   Star Wars did it better with the interaction of live and muppet creatures.   Having all muppet creatures (although I think the panned back scenes with running etc had live people portraying the elfling).   This will be interesting to see if the new series, which is a prequel, captures the style and story of the original but manages to hold our attention with all these muppets interacting.   There are notable voices in the new series including Alicia Vikander, Simon Pegg, Catriona Balfe (Outlander),  Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Mark Hamill himself.   I won’t commit to ten episodes at the moment, but I will give it a chance.
I forgot to add the rental I had this week, from James Cameron with Alita: Battle Angel.   This would appear to be a new franchise from the mind of James Cameron.  He has taken a futuristic dytopian world (and really, aren’t they all?) where certain humans and other beings live on the ground while others live on an elevated city above, similar in a way to Matt Damon’s Elysium, but with a look and feel on the ground a lot closer to Blade Runner.   Funny how that Blade Runner look seems to re-appear time and again.  In this story we start with a cyber-doctor (played by Christoph Waltz) scrounging through junk and debris (like The Force Awakens or Wall-E).  He finds the upper part of a young female and manages to re-start her with new limbs.   She is the heroine in the story with no memory of her past.   The good doctor tries to protect her, and there is a RollerBall-like game that goes on periodically which seems to borrow a bit from The Running Man.   If it seems I am name dropping far too many movies, perhaps it’s because this is a movie of puzzle pieces from other movies.  The highlight is the visuals and the interaction of the young girl and the characters around her; some fully human while others are like Ex Machina and the actor is wearing a similar suit as Alicia Vikander wore.  The weakness is the poor relationship aspect of the story.   It seems that James Cameron can be faulted, like George Lucas, with poor relationship aspects to their stories.  They almost seem like add ons, where the over all plot, and cool technical are focused on while afterwards someone pipes up with the idea “we still need people to care, so let’s add a relationship in there”… There is a backstory, and some history as to how this situation occurred, but I wasn’t really engaged with it.   It kept getting sidetracked by the forced story, and thus lost it for me.   The RollerBall game is kind of cool, but there appears to be no rules really.   The bad guy, is the same bad guy from Deadpool, but only his face.   He’s still bad and you want bad things to happen to him.  Overall this film was disappointing and I think that was the general consensus.    I don’t think that the big screen would have saved it either.

August 26, 2019

The dating world is challenging enough for people of all ages.  Finding the “right” person is fraught with all sorts of challenges.   Personality, physically, age, stage in life, economically, socially, etc etc.   It’s a wonder, really, that anyone ever finds anybody at all.   The odds just seem so far against it.   The 2016 TIFF and Toronto based film Below Her Mouth, adds the complexity of whether the person you are attracted to is also gay like yourself.  In this case, it is a lesbian relationship, but it really doesn’t matter.   The lesbian aspect matters when the facts about the production and writing and directing are brought in with the all-female director, writers and others.   At the time at TIFF this was a bigger deal, as not many female directors were out there, and literally no one was telling the lesbian story from a female point of view.    The story is simple with a young woman, played by a Swedish model turned actor, who is not engaged with the women she meets and has sex.   The opening sequence will show that directly.   She later meets a woman in a local bar by happenstance who turns her head and heart around.   The object of her affection is engaged to a man, and was cajoled into attending this lesbian bar just to “get a drink”.   The two begin a torrid affair.   There isn’t a lot of dialogue, and when there is the Swedish actor can be difficult to understand as she mumbles.  Her amour is better at enunciating and being convincing.   There is sex in this film.   Netflix should really have more films like it.   It doesn’t always have to be PG.  For me, I think the interesting aspect was showing how difficult this dating world can be, and especially with the added dimension of same-sex.   The underlying message is a positive one of being true to yourself.   Further that you can’t live your life for other people.   We all only have this one chance, and we might as well be happy doing it.   So I liked this more than the mediocre reviews that I saw about it at the time.   In brings together thoughts and ideas that I understand and at the same time don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.  I am pleased to Toronto featured prominently and not portraying other US cities like Boston, or Pittsburgh or Chicago.   I also think that we as Canadians are more receptive to these issues these days than our friends to the South.  So even though the film makers likely wanted to avoid me as the viewer, thinking it was all about voyeaurism and seeing ladies taking their clothes off, I likely got the message and the point that these aren’t easy times and that being in this position for someone who self-professes that they had no choice, that I have more sympathy than I did before.

Netflix is also showing a documentary now about Bill Nye: Science Guy from 2017.   Initially I thought when I saw this “how can we have a documentary about Bill Nye?  How many segments of his show can we actually see?”   I was a Sesame Street and Commander Tom kid growing up (older I was Carl Sagan and Cosmos), but my kids saw Bill Nye regularly.  He was (and is) good.   He was a quirky, funny guy who taught a lesson while keeping things fun, explaining scientific concepts to a young audience, and for many young people, Bill IS their Science guy.   He is an icon.  He won numerous Emmy Awards.   Then he kind of disappeared with the show (1993-1998).   So what has Bill been up to for the next 20 years of his life?  Well, he debated a Creationist which was seen on CNN for 2:45 minutes in February 2014.  I leave it to you to decide upon viewing who was more convincing in the argument.    He also has become a voice for Human Impact Towards Global Warming, and further the head of an organization looking to live Carl Sagan’s vision of space craft that are solar powered and can travel the galaxy.   The latter couple items I was not aware of.   Nye finds today’s society distressing and disturbing as we have become a people of Anti-Science.   It is his goal to follow his own father’s creed that “leave the world better than you found it”, and I think if you watch this you will see that he has.  Nye is not a professor.  He is an engineer by trade.  But he is well schooled (went to Cornell University) and he has filled a void in teaching young people.   The look on his face as he watches dinosaurs being shown in a display with human beings around is priceless.   This isn’t as informative, nor interesting as Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour, but it is still worth a viewing.

I finished Season 2 of Mind Hunter and enjoyed this second year, and there will be a third.   The story mainly focuses on the Atlanta killings between 1979 to 1981.  In total there were at least 28 teens and adolescents murdered.    There were political tensions at the time as Atlanta was not what it is today, but a city looking to grow and become a centre for business and growth.  These killings didn’t help the cause.   We follow the two agents and the third female doctor.  All reprise their roles and are uniformly excellent.   They have the task in better understanding behavioural science and more importantly with respect to serial killers.   They interview those in jail who are alive, and try to better understand the mindset.   They build profiles and then look to utilize these in solving current killings of the day.   In this season, they manage to have a meeting with Charles Manson, who is quite remarkable in his stature and uncanny look of the real Manson.  There are legal hurdles and challenges that can frustrate and anger the viewer along with the political aspects addressed earlier.  If you think about how these mothers in Atlanta react, you can see how totally frustrated and annoyed that any parent could ever be.   In the end, did I like it?  Very much.  This is very good TV.   Did I like the result of the cases themselves?   Let’s just say that sometimes the end justifies the means; the murders of young people stopped in Atlanta.   Wayne Williams maintains his innocense and clearly understands the legal process, almost as well as Ted Bundy who represented themselves.   These cases always seem to push the envelope for what people can bear when it comes to the rights of the accused, and the evidence that ties a person to gruesome acts.    In addition we see the human toll on those involved in trying to solve these cases and time and effort required to put together a triable case.   Enjoy.

August 19, 2019

This past week, upon request from my daughter, I went out to the theatre to see one of the new Disney remakes or sequels.    There are so many these days that I have to make sure I am precise.   I decided to see Toy Story 4, rather than The (live/life like) Lion King.

In short, unless you are James Bond, it is difficult to keep the momentum up on a recurring set of characters.   They just seem to have lost out on most of the ideas for them.  Or it can appear as though the creators are trying to be cute and deliberately find a different tangent that blatantly avoids the previous stories.   But for the movie at hand, the basic storyline has the various toys in Bonnie’s room now.  She was given the toys by Andy headed off to College.   Bonnie is just heading into school age.   She has fun playing the the toys, and has decided that Woody (Tom Hanks) isn’t nearly as fun as other toys in her make-believe games.   Woody takes it upon himself to strike out and help on Orientation Day at school.   Now Woody has always a thing for Bo Peep (Annie Potts) but this has been an infrequent tease every now and then.   Bonnie on her first manages with Woody’s help to create a new toy out of a fork, googly eyes, pipe cleaner and broken tongue depresser.   The resulting “Forky” becomes a new favourite.   Things happen.   A search has to take place and Woody and various members of the crew (some new and some older) engage in the quest.   Meanwhile Bonnie and adults head off for a few days in an RV for a pre-school weekend trip away.   Some toys are brought along.

I have always enjoyed the stories created by Pixar.   I especially like their parenting philosophies and how they coincide with my own.  I regard Finding Nemo as one of the great animated films, not just because the father is the hero, but because through Dory and others Marlin realizes that his helicopter/smothering ways with Nemo aren’t helping him, but rather hurting him.   As Dory would say “funny thing to promise” (that nothing would ever happen to his son Nemo) as “if you never let anything happen to him, then nothing would every happen to him.  Not so fun for little Harpo”.    Funny,  and true.  Pixar also gave us slothful adults and younger kids in Wall-E as machines do more and more for the humans.   But here, we have two parents stopping everything and searching for the misplaced Forky who has his own ideas as to where he properly belongs.   Can you really teach somebody to think differently about their place in the world if they believe something wholeheartedly?   Ponder that one.   Oh, and they stop their planned departure from the site they drove to in order to find these missing toys.   They are encouraging this very behaviour that they shunned in Finding Nemo.   You lose a toy, then you learn to live with it.   Instead, the entitled child starts realizing she can turn Mom and Dad upside down with just a little toy.   Bad Pixar.   Very bad.

We also have a sidestory which starts out mirroring the Teddy Ruxpin Lotso character in Toy Story 3.   But then it doesn’t but there is a part of me that thinks I have a hard timing swallowing redemption in a character that aims to take by force something that doesn’t belong to them to better themselves, and move ahead with their own dreams.   That seems pretty damn selfish, especially when you word it like that.   It is.  But that addresses the more evil or bad aspect of the storyline.   Doesn’t there always have to be a bad character?   Maybe not but the making them good (or better later) doesn’t quite work either.

I have to admit that I think that the new character with a base in the former 70s toy by Evel Knievel is brilliant.  Not only in the execution but also in the voice.   You’ll know it when you hear it, and it is spot on.

So in the end, this story deals with the Woody arc more satisfyingly than others.   Characters like Jesse, and Potato Heads and Rex take a back seat.   I wasn’t elated in this film.   It could have waited for the smaller screen.   Pixar, I think, should spend their time working on new innovative projects like Up, or The Incredibles but NOT sequels to them.   Original stories that are charming and fun with good animation and a good message for adults and kids alone.   So see Toy Story 4 if you need to, or decide to encourage Pixar to strive for better and keep your money in your pocket to reward a more unique experience.   Disney may need to learn the Walt Disney lesson that you don’t need to release films every year in animation.   Snow White was 1937.   Pinocchio 1940.   There were 2 years and 4 years between Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty.

On Netflix, I watched the TIFF film from last year Tell It To the Bees.   This is a 1950s story in Britain where a smalltown doctor begins a relationship with a mother of one of the boys in town.   This is very much similar to the structure and challenges faced in America at the time with Cate Blanchett in Carol.    I give nothing away in saying this as the movie poster shows this and more on it.   Times were different.   Norms were different.  An adulterous and abusive husband is seen in the times as preferable for a woman (and child for that matter) than a woman on her own, or one who is attracted to others of the same sex.   Anna Paquin stars, as well as Bonnie and Clyde’s (tv version) Holliday Grainger.   This was also a PG version of this story.   But suffice it to say that I was pleased I didn’t spend $25 a ticket to see this, but rather waited and saw on Nelflix.   It was okay.   I don’t need to see it again.   I think that Carol addressed the issue better.   I struggled at times with how badly the writing team wanted to find a way to make the bees the real protagonist of the story, or in any case the Supporting Actor.   It didn’t quite work.

On Netflix too there was a documentary on Woodstock out.    It was a story not about the music, but on getting the event pulled together.  It isn’t all that gripping or interesting.   There were some astounding failures to plan very well, but that had more to do with lack of time than anything I suppose.   Acts who decided to miss this event, I imagine would grow to regret the decision (like Bob Dylan).   Those who returned home early Sunday and missed the sensational guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix would also kick themselves.    I cannot recommend this, as the music was not the focal point, and that really was the point of the whole exercise.   So spend your time re-engaging with Season 2 Mindhunter rather than this I would suggest.

August 12th, 2019

Last week I was out of contact and unable to post an entry.  I won’t apologize as it was a fun week away with youngest son to show him the Canadian Maritimes.  Many good times and seeing unique places in this remarkable country of ours.   If you haven’t seen the Eastern Provinces I highly recommend it.  Places like Hopewell Rocks, and Cabot Trail and Halifax are simply too good to be missed.

First and foremost this week I have to shout out and acknowledge my eldest son’s birthday today!   And it was almost right around this time that he was delivered, and later handed to me by a nurse while I was on the phone with my Mom.  His eyes staring up at me as he fit easily onto my right forearm bundled in blue blankets.   My son.    He has been a source of tremendous pride and joy ever since.  Here’s to you Buddy on your special day.  Your Father is very proud of you.

A week ago I ended up watching Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.  It is similarly structured as another end of high school film, George Lucas’ classic American Graffiti.  The principal difference is the setting for Dazed is the 70s whereas Graffiti was the 50s.   There are some very young stars like Ben Affleck that you will recognize as well as Matthew McConaughey.   The setting as in many Linklater films is rural Texas.   And the school year is just ending.   The graduating students are thinking about next steps while at the same time preparing to haze the incoming frosh class of Grade 9s.   They carry homemade paddles and exact the punishment to varying degrees of severity depending on their temperament (Affleck doesn’t fare very well).   Not much of anything occurs but the characters are fun and engaging.  They seem very real and you feel like you are watching any rural school at the time.  You will recognize (for those of you old enough to remember those days) that the characters are similar to your memories.   I liked this film, and would recommend for a little escapism.  In high school, a few years means everything, but as you grow older you realize that you all aren’t very different at all.  Life was simpler when your worst thought was how severe a spanking you would get, or who might show up at a park keg party.

Now where should I start as I review the 2017 Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy?  This was almost universally panned and it bombed at the box office (not always two things that go together hand in hand).  This film also made Universal rethink their plans to re-start the older style Monster films (Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde).   I went in with an open mind, or tried my best to do so.  Somewhere on an executive’s or writer’s desk is a mapping out of how this series of films was supposed to work together.   The voiceover by Russell Crowe tried to help, but it was fuzzy.   But how about this movie rather than the series?   To start, there is a story about an Egyptian princess who decides to give her own fate a nudge in a Macbethian way (if that is a word).   However, before she completes what she thinks is her main aim, she is thwarted and sent to be punished.   There isn’t much resemblance of this movie to the 1999 The Mummy with Rachel Weisz, which in many ways is too bad.  That was campy fun, and spawned a few sequels that kept Canadian Brendan Fraser busy before he disappeared.   Now this.   A couple of thieves are looking to find antiquities and sell them on the black market, one of which is Tom Cruise.   He has treated poorly, archaeologist  Jenny Halsey, who you may recognize from Peaky Blinders, and The Tudors.   Several things happen as they come upon a tomb which shouldn’t be where it is.   Much of my difficulty with this movie is how many times silly things happen, and why certain characters manage to survive despite everything go on around them.  Miss Halsey is one of them.   She is a pebble on a flea for The Mummy.   Yet The Mummy and her zombie hench-people manage to never finish her off.   Much like Lois Lane with General Zod, in Superman, but I digress.   And then there is the Russell Crowe character who in an X-Men type of way is trying to create, dare I say it, a League of Monsters.   But what?!   He also happens to be a monster himself with very little self-control for such a learned man.   Surely he would know when to take his medicine and at what intervals.   Things like this just pile up to the point that I lose my patience.   It’s silly.    It makes no sense, and there isn’t the underpinning of why these characters would choose to do this.   As you will see, The Mummy herself didn’t in fact choose her fate, so then what about others?   The good news is, I don’t care – and I don’t need to find out.   There just isn’t enough intrigue nor curiosity in me to delve any further.   Cruise too was a curious choice.  He rarely plays the rogue.    As an aside, Cruise is actually two years older than Crowe, but you would never guess it from the body type (Crowe clearly is enjoying his beers and BBQs Down Under).  Cruise continues to make you wonder where the Dorian Grey-like portrait is of him stashed away in a Scientology vault in Florida as he is ripped and enjoying being with more women in their mid 30s.    But Cruise is more suited to the smart assed agent than the rogue thief.   It didn’t work.   Nor did Crowe.   The best that can be said is the The Mummy herself.   There were decent scenes with her and she manages to muster some sympathy for a character who doesn’t have many redeeming positive qualities.   So this movie is a smelly, hot mess and deserves to be the catalyst for some soul searching at Universal.   We may be saved from more old school Monster movies and keep the memory of Boris Karloff, Bela Legosi and others safe — for now anyway).