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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).

 

Maggie G TIFF 2018

Maggie Gyllenhaal at TIFF premiere of The Kindergarten Teacher

 

February 18th, 2019 (Family Day)

The Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Shoplifters, explores the nature of the family, and what the needs of its various members are from a unique perspective.   This particular group of people are in Japan, and as we find them they are living in squalor, with an elderly woman as Grandma.  There are also an older man, a couple women, and then a young boy.   They early on in the film come upon a very young little girl who has been left outside on a bitter night by her parents.    Each member contributes in their own way, with the older man showing the boy how to be able to shoplift effectively.   Other members have stories which reveal themselves over time, and there are some surprising twists.  The viewers collective experience will colour how we view these people from the beginning and then the assumptions will be challenged.  For me, I was assuming a tight knit family but it is put into question early as the boy interacts with the older man.   Something happens later in the film and puts all of the stories into question as you examine the individual histories more carefully.  It pieces together effectively and once again that age old question of “nature vs nurture” is involved.   Are you really a “Mother” because you have given birth to another human being?   Or is it more than that?   Of course it is – there are so many things that make it up, including being present, showing affection or as billboard says I past just today, “children need roots and wings”.   I agree.    People who should know better do things that they know that they shouldn’t.   But maybe this is really what they feel they can offer, but the truth is that they offer a lot more than that without actually knowing what they are offering and doing.    This was good and I enjoyed it.   Certainly I liked this more than Roma, but that isn’t really a high bar for me.

On Netflix, I won’t ever get back the hours spent watching The Sinner with Jessica Biel.   Bill Pullman as mentioned earlier is a detective who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.   Each of the characters have their own issues.   Many are hidden, and the viewing shouldn’t even try to guess.  Early on there is a horrific attack by the Beal character who has already shown that she has issues.   Detective Pullman is trying to figure out the puzzle.   May I state that the puzzle is contrived and ridiculous as it unravels.  And from one silly turn to another until ultimately I had to throw up my hands and shake my head at where it all went.   It is ridiculous and contrived, and may I say that I am hard pressed to say I can think of another story which revolves so much around wallpaper.   And maybe a dedicated and concerned detective might actually spend the time to put this mess altogether, but really……not really.   So I can say emphatically that this is something to pass on.

Also on Netflix there is the Two Killings of Sam Cooke.   This documentary explores the bizarre and controversial killing of mega-star and singer Sam Cooke.   The man who had the unique and melodic voice with such hits as “What A Wonderful”, “Chain Gang”, “You Send Me” among others.   He was an icon and a worldwide superstar at the same height as Elvis.   He was also very cognizant of his people, and the inequality throughout the US, and especially in the South.   This is not unlike the background from Green Book.  This was a man who was killed at the age of 33, at the top of his game.   He had embarked on owning his own label and supporting other black artists.    He was threatening the current establishment in the record industry.   He was also close friends with Jim Brown, Cassius Clay (and they actually performed a song together) and Malcolm X.   Months after they met together in a hotel room, two of them were dead.    There was no investigation by the LAPD.   The small little hotel where Cooke lay crumpled on the floor shot, was concluded by the LAPD to be justifiable because Cooke as trying to get into another room after money was taken from him.   Turns the woman he was with, was a known call girl for the mob.   Now had this happened to Frank Sinatra or Elvis or another top music icon, then there would have been thorough investigations.   In the end you can draw your own conclusions.   But this is a worthwhile re-visit into a period of history where times were indeed changing.   Authority was being questioned.   A war was being protested.   And the status quo was being challenged on all fronts.

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February 11th, 2019

The “Find” this week of the three movies that I saw, at least worth reporting on, would be The Wife with Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winner Glenn Close.   This is a really good film with a story that unravels slowly, and reveals itself with some flashbacks and current events with a couple.   He is a writer, who early on wins the Nobel Prize for literature.   I give nothing away by saying that.  The husband and wife, have two children (an elder daughter and aspiring writer adult son).  Daughter is pregnant and doesn’t make the trip to Sweden.  The couple attends various events in preparation for the big celebration.  Beyond this I really can’t give much more away without saying too much.  I think this film will really only be fully appreciated upon a second viewing.   There are certain things that are revealed that can colour one’s viewing at the time, but then only upon reflection can you piece together the earlier parts.   So I won’t say any more about the plot.   This film was apparently 14 years in the making, and it took courage to fund it.  I saw it on DVD, and it is in limited release in Toronto.  Glenn Close’s daughter plays the earlier version of her character in College when she first meets her future husband.   Jeremy Irons’ son plays the aspiring writer son.  Interesting.   This was worthwhile.   It is a story about a woman, and the choices that she makes.   Close does some of her best work.   She has been nominated seven times for an Academy Award.   There may be those who think that this is a lifetime achievement award, and I have little doubt that she will finally win Best Actress, but this role stands on its own merit.   Just see how she reacts at the end of the film., for example.    As I texted to Alison “See it,  Just see it…”   She already had.

Movie two was BlacKkKlansman which was another true story that is directed by Spike Lee (nominated again for an Academy Award).  This is the first time he has been nominated for Directing.   Do The Right Thing was nominated for Writing and Screenplay.   This story begins in the early 1970s when the ongoing antagonism between black and white was once more time coming to a head with the Vietnam War, among other things.   The movie’s focus is from a young black police officer (the first in Colorado Springs Co) who in short order infiltrates the KKK, by calling a local number and talking with a recruiter.   He actually ended up having numerous conversations with David Duke himself, the Grand Master of the Order at the time.   When a meeting takes place, he has a Jewish colleague make the meeting.   There are good scenes, well acted by passionate people from both sides (both representing more militant factions of Black Power and White Power movements).   Lee effectively shows how each side tolerates and accepts the more radical sides of their beliefs.   He also effectively shows how those troubled days in the 70s have laid the foundation for the current Trump administration in 2019.   The slogans during the election are used from back in the day, and you can see where hate leads.   How divisive the language is and how the policies of separation and protectionism have crept back in to protect power and keep people of colour (all colours) at bay.   This was a good film too and both youngest son and I enjoyed the history lesson and a few chuckles when the Klan and those that support it, are made to look ridiculous, no matter how much of a smiling face they want to put on it.

Finally, the final film was in the theatre, again with a more historical underpinning with On The Basis of Sex, which is the Ruth Bader Ginsburg film starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer.    I did not see the CNN documentary on the Supreme Court Justice, but this is a story about her relationship with her husband, and the one case in particular that they tried together in the Colorado Appeals Court.   She was one of the first women to attend Harvard Law School.   Her husband was the year ahead of her.   He moved to a job in NYC when he completed school and she went him (along with her infant child) to finish at Columbia Law School.    Harvard refused to give her her diploma from the school.   Never mind as she went on to great things, despite not being able to land a job in NYC after finishing first in her class, and on the Law Review in BOTH Harvard and Columbia.   Different times then, and she became a professor.   On the legal side, she and her husband represented a man, who was denied a Care Givers deduction on his taxes from the IRS because he was a man.   He was never married, and took care of his ailing Mother.    Only a woman could obtain the deduction and the Colorado court of first instance agreed with the ruling.    It was amazing to see the Government argue that the many hundreds of cases which discriminated against one sex or the other were too voluminous to justify overturning the initial decision.   The ACLU, and Ruth and her husband had to be creative and convince a panel of three Appellant judges that they could do right.   It is shocking to think about just how few years it was when women were not treated equally.   A generation.   And this is an ongoing theme of this week’s films.   Both this movie and The Wife show societies that aren’t ready for women to be on equal ground.   That the fabric of society is set, and unchanging.   As they point out in this movie, the law lags behind as society changes.  Precedent is a funny thing, as it binds you to the past, even when the world around you no longer thinks that way.   I know the “liberal” thinkers in the US are praying for good health for Madam Justice Ginsburg, as they hope the Trump Administration doesn’t get a chance to nominate another Supreme Court Justice who will shape the laws for the coming decades (and it is decades).   There is a good history lesson in this film, and in the life of this remarkable woman.  Perhaps the most poignant for me is in her own realization that her life’s work to that point wasn’t just for her, but her strong willed daughter, who stood up for herself and wasn’t afraid to voice her discontent for what she felt was injustice around her.   This was a good film.  As the son of a strong-willed woman, I appreciate it even more – women in those days really were Super-Women who took care of the house, the kids, the career all the while being treated as a second class citizen.    Thanks to all those who stayed the course and redirected the sails in a direction that we are still finding today.

February 4th, 2019

This past week I saw a couple of Academy Award nominated films.   First was Green Book which was the TIFF People’s Choice film, and has been nominated for Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen) and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) as his employer.  This is very much a Driving Miss Daisy type film where there are two people from very different backgrounds who find themselves learning and appreciating about each other more.   This is based on a true story, and is set in the early 60s in the US.   Ali plays a very accomplished black pianist who wants to do a road show starting in the northern US but then heading into the deep south (Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama etc).   Viggo plays an Italian street-smart thug and bouncer required to help assist in driving but also protecting his employer.   Ali’s character is part of a trio who travels together, but in separate cars.    Ali teaches Viggo to write better and assists with letters to his Wife and two kids he leaves behind for a three month trek hat ends on Christmas Eve.   Viggo teaches his employer about current day music and more everyday eating for his uptight and secluded passenger.    Speaking of eating, Viggo basically ate his way through this movie, from an early hot dog eating contest, to spaghetti and the pizza folded in a hotel room.   He must have added 30+ pounds from his days of Aragon in Lord of the Rings.   This is a good story.  It has some predictable scenes, and an ending that ratchets up the cheese factor.   Still two very good performances, although I would suggest that Ali is more likely to win the Award.    For a movie that tries hard to break down stereotypes, and show a man courageously enlightening those in the South, it paints a stereotypical view of the Mortensen Italian character with almost every cliché you can imagine.    Funny I had never looked into actor Viggo Mortensen’s background and I had assumed it was European.   But in truth, he was born in Manhattan, to a Dutch father (Viggo Sr) and American mother.   His maternal grandfather was Canadian (Nova Scotia).    They met in Norway (everybody has a story it seems).    This was a movie well worth the time spent.   It’s not necessarily a big screen film.

Also in the theatre I saw Can You Ever Forgive Me?   This is a movie where Melissa McCarthy is nominated for Best Actress while her co-star, Richard E Grant is nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  This is another story based on true facts.   McCarthy plays Lee Israel, an author of books and magazine articles, mostly biographies.   The story begins with her on hard times in the early 1990s in NYC.   She hasn’t written anything worth publishing in quite some time and she can’t make the rent.   She has an alcohol problem, and doesn’t interact well with people.   In fact she is just nasty all around.   You wouldn’t invite Israel over for dinner.   She runs into the Grant character at a bar and they have an uneasy friendship.   By happenstance, Israel learns that there is a market for celebrity letters.   She moves from selling what she owned to eventually forgeries that she has written herself.   The story continues down this path.    The true find is the Grant character.   He is a chameleon who is a survivor.   He finds ways to scrape by and live in New York.   The actor has been in many other roles and films, but he is really good.   You have sympathy for him while you see he can also be someone with a big heart and help out with Israel and some of her challenges.     Is he better than Ali in Green Book?   Hard to say, but they are close.   This is not an uplifting story, nor a particularly happy one.   There is angst on the faces of McCarthy about what they are doing, and who they are potentially hurting – but an underlying feeling that this is just about survival.   Again not a movie one needs to see in the big theatre, but it was worth the time.

On Netflix I saw the movie The Ice Man, another true story about  Richard Kuklinski, a New York contract killer and thug who also was a strong family man.  He lived this double life, with a loving wife (played by Winona Ryder) and relationships with mobsters, like Ray Liotta acting as Roy Demeo.   These guys are around the time of the Gottis (70s and 80s).   I will make a quick first note that one of the worst miscastings I have seen in some time is David Schwimmer as a mobster.   Even with long hair, he just doesn’t look like a guy from the mob.   Not at all.     Shannon is real find in this film, as he shows a level of intensity in this character that becomes so believable.   He is scary when he gets wound up, and he takes the role to another level.   It is an intensity in his eyes and how he carries himself.   If you were working with him on set I would think that it would be intimidating.    He is a big man (6’4”) and Kuklinski himself was 6’5”.   So the simple story about how this man can lead the double life, is interesting but it has been done before.   If you want to see just how good Michael Shannon can be, then check this out.   He can be a bad guy, like last year’s Best Picture The Shape of Water.

Also on Netflix, I caught the Bruce Springsteen Concert, where more or less he played an acoustic version of a few known songs but actually just told stories on stage about his childhood.   He is a good story teller, and interestingly talks about how although his songs are mostly blue collar, that he hasn’t been that way at all in his life.   He plays piano.   Who knew?   So he is a multi-talented guy who has written many classic songs.   I was glad to have seen it, although I would still like to see him with the E Street Band in a full concert.

Also on Netflix, I watched Whitney which walked through the life of superstar singer Whitney Houston.   Taken too soon, but someone who fell into the trappings of fame, and surrounded herself by too many family who treated her as their own personal ATM.   Near the end she was sued by her father for $100M, for a contract with a record company that he said he procured.   The prevailing story about her was that Bobby Brown ruined her, and began her long road down to addiction.   This documentary hints that this is not the case.   It just seems to go with the territory, with too much money, too much fame and too many Yes-people surrounding you.   It killed Amy Winehouse.    It killed Michael Jackson, and Jim Morrison and so many other musicians and celebrities.

Finally Netflix has the Ted Bundy Tapes which is a four part series which examines the case of Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer who made the term come into the language.   I did not know much about Bundy.   He started in Washington and then moved to Colorado and onto Florida.   He was a narcissist, ego-maniac, who felt he was smarter than everyone.   He had a God complex, and was brutal with his victims.    He played the legal system to its fullest where there was no instant communication, no fax machines.   No way for police to exchange information.   Yet for all his bravado, and over-confidence, he is caught in a State (Florida) that has the death penalty.   He was executed in 1989.  The 30th anniversary of the death (January 24th) was last month.    I enjoyed Manhunt: Unabomber better than this, but this was still interesting.    There were a couple of moments where things happened which were simply unbelievable.  I won’t detail them now but they were just shocking.   Bundy played the system and self-represented himself for much of it for 10+ years.   In the end, justice was served, and people cheered when he was gone.

January 28th, 2019

I re-watched an old friend this past week with When Harry Met Sally… the 1989 romantic comedy that explores the wonders of relationships, as well is being a first rate homage to New York City (which acts as another character).   This was my first time ever watching the Featurettes as part of the Extras in the DVD.   They were added in 2008.  There are interviews with Rob Reiner (director), Nora Ephron (writer), Billy Crystal and others.   Meg Ryan was noticeably absent.

The film is a classic.   The story behind it too is interesting as Rob Reiner speaks about it being really his story as a single guy for 10 years after his divorce from Penny Marshall.  He talked with Nora Ephron, and they began an ongoing dialogue about men and women’s attitudes towards relationships.   This became various scenes within the film.   Billy Crystal, a good friend of Reiner’s, was not initially cast by the Director but came along later.   Neither Crystal nor Ryan were headline stars before this film, and so it was a chance taken to given them the roles.   Crystal incidentally was crucial for many improv bits added to the existing screenplay.   He added the line “I’ll have what she is having” after the scene in Katz’s deli which was delivered by Reiner’s Mom.  He also ad libbed the Central American voice in the Metropolitan Museum below

It is a very funny scene, and you see Meg look over to Reiner after he says “pecan pie” and he is motioning her just to go with it, and she does.

I can watch this film over and over and laugh at it each time.  The proclaimed attitude from Crystal early on about men and women never being able to be friends is an interesting one.  The film takes places over many years, from a first meeting leaving Chicago to drive to NYC, to further chance meetings at airports, book stores etc. until a final New Years Eve scene.    You get to see both the male and female perspectives, which is more unique, and really hadn’t been done until that point.   The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, and it is sad to see and note from the added features that Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia herself), high-pitched voice Bruno Kirby (many films including The Godfather Part II) and Nora Ephron are all gone now.   Gone way too soon.   This is a movie I have in my DVD collection and I thoroughly enjoy it every time I see it.

On Netflix, I have been watching a number of series, some based on Golden Globes and others just to check out what they have done.   Generally speaking I have to say that there is just an overwhelming amount of content out there.  Far too much for anyone to see that is not a professional viewer.   Perhaps I can save some of you some time if you only have limited time or desire.

Based upon the Golden Globe nomination of Michael Douglas, I watched the entire The Kaminsky Method.  Douglas won for his portrayal of an Actor and more recently an acting coach who’s best friend is his crusty agent, played by Alan Arkin.   In many ways I feel as though this series was a vehicle to get much older and unemployed actors some work.   We have in various episodes Nancy Travis (who I haven’t seen memorably since So I Married an Axe Murderer), Ann Margret (who since Grumpy Old Men has been quiet), Elliot Gould (who I think of in the original M*A*S*H movie and that’s about it), Danny Devito and musical personality Eddie Money who is just scary.   But the story is alright, with the best speech being that delivered by Arkin late in episode 2, which speaks about what I think relationships can be all about.   Beyond that, there are far too many jokes and references to peeing and prostate.   There isn’t enough new and interesting material.    So despite having maybe two or three episodes worth of material, it goes on for six.   I cannot recommend and I wonder about the wisdom of the Hollywood Writers who reward these performances.

Watership Down is a bunny series.  I read this in grade school back in the days when they handed out books to read.   It is animated and reflects accurately from what I can recall about the story of survival for these rabbits in a warren.    They live on an chunk of land that is on the verge of being developed.   There are rabbits of different skills, like fighting, digging and storytelling etc as well as does (female rabbits).   The rabbits are well drawn, and move well.   The story is told effectively as you can see the human attributes of hierarchy and also deception as the animals interact with the human world (and other animals as well).   They seem to fight amongst themselves more than they likely should given all of the real dangers that surround them.   Do you need to go seek it out?   No.   But if you like animals, and if you recall this story from your youth then you may want to check it out.   It was alright.

The Sinner is a Jessica Biel series, also produced by her, that is taking on an initial surprising event which isn’t fully explained, and then has Bill Pullman acting as a detective, trying to piece together what was occurred and why.  One learns more as he pieces things together.   Pullman was nominated for a SAG award.   He didn’t win.   I have only gotten through a couple of the episodes, but I am feeling as though I have seen this before, or at least I have seen enough films that I think I know where this is going.  Maybe it will surprise me, but I doubt it.

Finally, the Oscar nominations came out this week.  I  guess I can’t be all that surprised in the fact that I wasn’t surprised.   I thought that the Academy would be opening up some nominations to those I felt were deserving.   It was not to be.   So sadly, there wasn’t any recognition for Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place for Supporting Actress (even though she won the SAG Award for it).  No love for WidowsFirst ManBurning or Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), and altogether too much love for Roma, previously address last week.  The awards are at the end of February, and as always I will send out an email for a No Cost, Fun Only officepools contest to pick the winners.  Alison is our resident two-time champion at the picks.

Oh, and I watched yet again Arrival on Netflix.   Everytime I watch this film, I pick out something different.  Like Alison has said, it is better and better with each viewing.   For me, who I rolled my eyes when the time travel aspect reared its head, it’s nowhere near as offensive than it was at the time sitting in a movie theatre in La Jolla CA.

 

January 21st, 2019

Peter Jackson, Oscar winning Director from the Lord of the Rings film series said about his latest project, the remarkable WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, that he wanted for people to see this and think about their own families and who participated in the Great War.    Jackson was approached in 2014 from the British Imperial War Museum to make an “original and new” film with only actual footage from the archives.    He asked to see some of the footage, and we have all seen it.  The grainy, black and white footage with soldiers marching way too quickly with herky-jerky motions was what he found and he asked about bringing this to Park Road studios in New Zealand to see what they could do.   The results were amazing.

Jackson decided to get involved with this possibility for new and improved footage.  It was cleaned up, slowed down, colourized and made part of a stunning story of actual soldiers who participated.    Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrabKK9Bhds

Peter Jackson on the process of restoration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cSXfKSRKz4

Jackson and his team poured over 100 hours of footage and 300 hours of audio recordings.  They have condensed it all into a very watchable and moving story that tells the story of an average British soldier on the front lines.   From recruiting at ages from 15yo and up to the training and then deployment to the front.   Then to battles and war conclusion it is all addressed in vivid detail.   Black and white to begin, and then moving to updated footage complete with full sounds (including live ammunition blasts and gun shot).   It is moving.   It is must-viewing for those who wish to pass along and teach the next generation.   He didn’t talk about many other tangential stories that could have been told like Women in the War and their contribution, the Battle on the Sea, etc.   This was done on purpose.

For me, these were remarkable young men who saw this as their duty as British citizens.   They wanted to push “Jerry” back into their respective Axis countries.    The living conditions were atrocious.   And 100 years later where we have so many paralyzed by fear of germs, and won’t touch anything in the public or eat anything that is “expired” – this will be eye opening.   Humans survived month after month in disgusting and deplorable conditions and managed to survive.   The soldiers also came to respect those on the other side who suffered just as badly as they did.    Together they defended their country and kept a terrible force at bay (at least for thirty years).

This film is in limited release, and there are performances at Cineplex in Toronto today (January 21st) at a few select theatres.    The performance I saw had additional footage from Peter Jackson with an introduction and then a 30 minute Making Of segment.   It was a project for him to honour his own grandfather who was injured in the War, and was never the same dying too young.  My full theatre stayed late and didn’t move.   Catch this if you can if you have any interest in history, humanity or the War.   This will be a film that can be seen for generations to come.   I want to take a quick moment to thank my friend Rhea for bringing this film to my attention.   She knows I like history and war history in particular and sent me a link about the screenings.   I am glad that this did not pass me by!   Thanks.

On Netflix I saw the BBC series, sponsored by Netflix called Bodyguard.   It stars Robb Stark actor from Game of Thrones, Richard Madden.  He won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a series.   He was excellent here, and this was a political thriller with twists and turns that kept the viewer guessing.   Also like Game of Thrones there are surprising plot turns that will make one wonder they will go next.  It is a six part series that feels a little bit like the first season of Homeland.   Well worth a watch if you crave something to binge over the next little while.

Finally a word or two about the Golden Globe Best Foreign Film and Best Director Winner Alfonso Cuaron for Roma.   Roma is currently on Netflix.   I watched this with eager anticipation as the buzz has been very high for this film.   At the completion (it took me over two days to complete) I was numb and confused as to what all the fuss was, and is, about.   Yes, this film is beautifully shot in black and white, and depicts the times in Mexico in the early 1970s.   From the old cars, to the dress, to the political climate it has been all painfully reconstructed.    I honestly cannot imagine the coordination that would have been done to get a late scene in the streets of the city from the vantage point of an office building when a demonstration turns violent.   There is a wide pan in a large window that would have been painstaking.   I respect that.   But in terms of hours spent watching this story, it didn’t grab me.   The story is plain enough as we follow a household with a doctor, wife and four children and a few of their household servants.   There is an event that changes the dynamics within the household, both for the main owners and also for the servant (one in particular).    Then the story moves forward with deeper meaning in various scenes than what I can grasp from a first viewing.   As the credits roll, I think to myself “Is that it?”   Apparently it is.

In a quick text exchange with Alison, she says “I didn’t love it.  It’s well shot but if you have to watch a movie really about nothing, I preferred Kiss of the Serpent.” (Italics added by me for emphasis).   Now I haven’t watched Kiss of the Serpent, but I am not sure that even this recommendation makes me seek it out.   Truth is for me that this was slow.   I was not engaged in it.   There are things like the dog shit that obviously have much greater meaning than I attribute to it.    And there is a kung fu scene, which just makes me scratch my head for any subtle significance, beyond what is one’s first impression at seeing it.   This film will inevitably get Oscar nominations, maybe even further Oscar wins.    Cuaron won the Best Director for his film Gravity with Sandra Bullock.    This is for the film snob to enjoy – and although I can be accused of being one myself, this doesn’t do it for me on any level.    However pretty or well shot a movie is, it still needs a good story well told.    There are some exceptions to this, Malick films come to mind that are more experiences and literally moving pictures, images and art.   But this doesn’t rise to that level.    I cannot recommend and I do this knowing that I will be in the minority.

January 14th, 2019

This week I went out with youngest son to see the latest Best Animated Film from the Golden Globes, which is Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse.   It defeated Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet.   Now I preface the review with the well-known understanding that I am not a big superhero guy.   I just am not, unless it has Christian Bale acting as Batman.   Beyond that I am not really interested (okay, well maybe still Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, but in truth that has nothing to do with being a super hero).   Both son and I found the story here to be a bit confusing.   In short we have the (laughable) bad guy Kingpin.  Laughable because only in animation could a character be so unbelievably big through the shoulders and body and actually move.   Every time he came on screen I had to chuckle.  So there was that.  But he creates a machine, not really explained, that can create alternate dimensions where his own wife and son could return to him.  As part of this we see a young man with his police father who is bitten by a radioactive spider.   He then becomes another spider-man in addition to the already known Peter Parker.   The stories of the alternate dimension spider-people stand on their own (one voice was particularly interesting) and they do come together.   The animation was very good, incorporating comic book views, as well as visuals that can only be accomplished through animation.   Still.   Maybe it is just me, but the super hero overload, and especially Spider-man who seems to have a re-boot every three to five years, just wears on me.   The wrinkle is that alternate dimensions means anybody could be Spider-man, and even have some unique powers that he currently does not as Peter Parker.   But for me, I only live in one dimension, and that is the Peter Parker dimension.   Yes, I like the added flair with personalizing the individual Spidey look but in the end there isn’t a big emotional connection to the story.   For the Incredibles, I can feel for the family and hope that things go well.   I suppose this young new Spidey I hope for too, but it’s not the same.  And yes it isn’t lost on me that the Incredibles are super heroes too, but again, it’s not the same.

On Netflix they have released Chappaquiddick, starring Jason Clark and Kate Mara, and the dentist from The Hangover.  This is the Teddy Kennedy story and his car accident very late at night with a woman not his wife, off a bridge on an island in Cape Cod.   Its Senator Kennedy in 1969 as Apollo 11 has left to land on the moon, and he is on the island preparing for a potential Presidential bid.   He has gathered up some staffers who worked on brother Bobby’s campaign.   The accident takes place and you see through it all the actions and in-actions of Teddy.   The knee-jerk reaction for most people, I think, would be after the accident and miracle of escaping a car overturned in water, would be to seek help (just a short run up the way) and help the woman with you.   But Senator Kennedy is not most people.   He thinks of himself and his political career.   “There goes the White House” he says.   And after a failed attempt with his friends to assist, and being told to “get help” Teddy doesn’t.   Family patriarch is the aging Joe Kennedy, crumpled and barely able to speak, and he provides no help nor comfort.   He is played by Bruce Dern, and shows a man incapable of compassion nor love for his only remaining son.   It was an eye opening film, and makes you realize the celebrity and power of the family that has many powerful people spin-doctoring their way through a crisis.   You can youtube the actual address to the people with Teddy explaining the incident.   I am amazed at the end result and won’t spoil it here for those who don’t know it.   But suffice it to say that even though the people of Massachusetts decided to forgive and forget, I am not so sure that a man of character such as this should be representing The People.

Monday January 7th, 2019 (New Years Edition and Golden Globes discussion)

Welcome to 2019!   The movie discourse has already begun with the Golden Globe Awards from last night.   There is clearly some controversy here, but really that is the point.   For me, I was pleasantly surprised to see Glenn Close win for Best Actress in a Drama.  She surprised most who thought Lady Gaga was going to win, including herself I think from her reaction.  I have not seen The Wife but it is on my list.   I won’t revisit the poor categories here and the films that were missed for consideration by the Globes.   Still with the choices they had, they made some surprises elsewhere.   Regina King winning for Best Supporting Actress in If Beale Street Could Talk.  Another film that I need to see.    I had thought one of Supporting women in The Favourite would been victorious.   But it was not to be.   I think that King’s performance merited this award.
Rami Malek as rock icon Freddie Mercury was the reason to see that film.  Was it the best performance for an actor in the year?   Not from what I have seen.   And many others that I have not seen.   Despite the value here, I can say without any hesitation that Bohemian Rhapsody was not the best dramatic film of the year.   It simply isn’t.   There are better stories.   Better writing.  Better everything.  A watered down version of the life of Freddie Mercury through the eyes of the surviving members of the band (who now race to head out on tour to capitalize on this new momentum).   Call yourself Queen.  Sing the words.  But the music died with Freddie.   Cristian Bale and Olivia Colman winning were solid victories.   I need to see Vice.   Not sure just how good it is.  American politics played out by actors for living people left.  So the awards are given.   Sandra Oh and Andy Sandburg were not funny and the bits they tried to use for laughs didn’t work, like trying to give flu shots to the stars.   The look of Willem Dafoe as they tried to roll up his sleeve was priceless.   Sharing needles likely is not really something to be encouraged by the media.   I really liked the Carol Burnett Award, and her speech as its first justified recipient.   She made good points about how television has changed since her days with Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Vicki Lawrence.   She is a class act, and deserves to have others in television be recognized for their contribution to the medium.    Anyway, a strange night with strange nominees for categories that didn’t really match what was on screen.  Let’s see what Oscar chooses to do and I will remain hopeful it makes better choices all around.

For my movie I will review Tag, which was a panned and moronic film inspired by a true story.    Seems some friends (10) play a game of Tag with one another as adults and have been since being kids.   The film has Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Isla Fisher (who I really like) and the dentist from The Hangover.   Not a bad cast.   But the film goes horribly wrong by the methods employed by the Renner character to avoid getting tagged.   And there are extreme actions taken to get help on finding a character – for example, threatening waterboarding and actually tying up the person and putting a cloth over their face.   Then there is a faked pregnancy and miscarriage which is in very bad taste.  They go too far for a film concept that doesn’t merit a full length feature with the stars involved.  Needless to say I can not recommend and I wouldn’t waste your time with it.

Finally a quick thought or two about Paddington which is on Netflix.  It is a real life version with a Ted-like bear (however nowhere near as vulgar (and fun) as Ted).   The story follows what I can remember as a kid about the young bear who loves marmalade and gets into trouble just by carelessness mostly.   He has a family that takes him in from the train station.  Dad is the Dad from Downton Abbey, and his Wife is the deaf lady cleaner from Shape of Water.   It is harmless.  It is decent.   It isn’t particularly memorable as saw it and forgot almost just as quickly.