November 21, 2016 US Thanksgiving edition

First a quick update and reply on the US election.  Having had a couple of weeks (including a week in the US) to reflect upon the results I am frankly stunned at a couple of things: first, is the unexpected amount of hate that there is for Hillary.   The FBI investigation notice the week of, was a deadly attack on her, especially for the on-the-fence voters.   That and the night before the election with Trump dominating CNN with his rally speech in Pennsylvania (after dinner the night before).  Republican strategists get full marks for getting him out there at the right time; second, the number of passive-aggressive voters who say one thing and then vote another way.   Like Kathleen Wynne, no one will ever claim that they voted for her, yet she has a majority government.   Imagine that!   It will be a rocky four years, and the damage to the Supreme Court will be long lasting.    We’ll see just how much he can actually accomplish (like how much of a wall really gets built to Mexico).   I expect Obama-care to get axed straight away.

On to the movies.   I have seen two while on vacation.   First was Arrival in San Diego.   This is yet another story about alien arrival on planet Earth, and the consequences.  I liked where this started, and as a premise it has a lot of potential.   Aliens arrive in multiple places around the globe, and as humans we are looking to sort out what their intentions are.   Language is an issue.   These elephant and octopus-looking aliens don’t speak, per se, but make whale-like sounds and communicate with complex symbols of black ink.   Who can decipher that?!   Turns out that the US government turns to university professor Amy Adams.   She has her own history that is quickly examined here and she gets engaged.   There are some excellent visuals here, and tension.   There is further commentary about humans and how we interact with each other when “national security” issues arise.   The military and people in power act different than the rest of us – that’s why it was better for ET to have met and spent time with Elliot and family and also for Star Man to have met and driven around with Karen Allen.   Anyhow, this movie loses me when it starts messing with time.    It is hinted at in the beginning voiceover, but it really kicks in when tension rises and things have to happen (and also to make sense).   It fails when explanations are given for what transpires.   I just eventually had to roll my eyes.   The opportunity was lost.  Sadly.   And some quality set-up and story get overlooked.    This is a big theatre film, it just deserved better than the ultimate resolution.   I think that Adams, who I am generally not a fan of, did a decent job here and brought the emotional focal point to the story.    She has looks of wonder and you can sense her long days in knowing human kind depends on what she can figure out before the military gets too antsy.   I will take this Amy Adams character over Lois Lane, Daily Planet any day!  At least here, there is a valid reason for her to be engaging with aliens (unlike Kryptonites).

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a new tangent in the JK Rowling world of Harry Potter.   Because, you know, Rowling having more money than the Queen of England was just not enough!   But this is a prequel of sorts and builds upon the story of Gellert Grindelwald – but you need to pay close attention to gather this from the newspaper clippings in the beginning.    The film gets started with Eddie Redmayne arriving by ship to NYC in the late 20s.    He has a suitcase of creatures.   Through a common mishap, the suitcase ends up in someone else’s hands and mayhem ensues.   The creatures get out and cause mischief.  They need to be found and returned to the suitcase.   Redmayne meets up with some new characters and they stumble upon a greater issue taking place in this time (muggles, called Non-Mags in America, are afraid of magic and wizards with creatures).  So there are human and wizard factions looking to sort things out and what, if any, any co-existence can take place in the future.   There are some plot twists and turns, and the story moves along at a good pace.   There is romance, and tension and seeking out someone with some rare power that is looking to be harnessed.   Why it needs to be set in the US, the evidence was flimsy.    This is a UK story based in London.   Always has been.   Coming to NYC to buy a creature – doesn’t hold much water nor returning another creature to Arizona.   Whatever!   The cast generally is very good (notably Redmayne and Colin Ferrell), save for casting of Tina Goldstein, a US based investigator.   While the blonde-haired, mind reading sister is very good, here the frumpy and dull sister is not engaging.   Anyway, this is the beginning of a new set of films as the ending certainly suggests.   This is escapism and it suits its purpose.   I summed it up in one word and that was “charming”.   This is a new take on the wizarding world, with some real world commentary about humans in general.   Girlfriend liked this far more than I did, but she is more into Potter than I am.   The background on Grindelwald would help if you know it, but not necessary.  Most watching this won’t know it.  There are some clever creatures with good CGI.   The animals in themselves are not dangerous, but need careful handling at times.   I am glad to have seen it.   I expect there to be more.   I don’t feel the need to rush out and read the book to see what I may have missed.   Rowling scores again – we’ll see just how well it is received.   Star Wars Rogue One is coming…..


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