August 3rd, 2016

I tried to see Jason Bourne last night but the theatre was full and decided to pass on wrenching my neck from the first row (especially with herky jerky fight scenes that will leave one seasick).

I did watch the Final Part 2 Mockingjay Hunger Games on Netflix and was completely underwhelmed.   The conclusion and big epic battle did, in fact, require the pristine heroine to actually shed some blood and put down some of the enemy, but it meandered and was directionless for so long.  The ending was utterly disappointing as she ends up with a Coke and a smile and a babe in arms in a green forest – with Pita!!   Little pipsqueak Pita!   Who wants to be with a midget named after bread?!   It was just silly.   There were not even any great battle scenes and the culminating event with the Dictator was telegraphed from miles away.
So for me, this series ends in a whimper but not as quietly as Divergent.   I grow weary of these stories where the heroes are teens (and the world is dependent on they coming up with the world-altering plans).   Most teens I wouldn’t trust much more than mowing my lawn – let alone defeating the baddies and enemies of the state.
So little in the theatre worth watching.   I do not need to see Suicide Squad and the early reviews are terrible.  So I am hopeful as the end of August approaches that TIFF can bring some light on the silver screen.

July 25th, 2016

This weekend I saw Star Trek Beyond.   What I discovered is that there is no universal love of the Federation of Planets.   Seems it breeds maniacal dictators hellbent on causing mass destruction with many lives.  In this case your future betrothed Idris Elba (an Alison favourite!).   The storyline takes our well-travelled crew into an area where they are ambushed and left for dead or slaves.   There are some inside jokes (the best with Bones I think).   They must deal with said maniac and a weapon that seems to borrow heavily from the Matrix.
I had expected this story to address the Klingons with the ‘inevitable war’ but that was not the case.   Instead we have an introspective executive not sure where they really belong until they find a force that brings common purpose.
It was fun and a good spectacle.  I am not a fan of tight Bourne-like fights where the angles are so close.   And I wonder why the all-powerful baddie needs to resort to fisticuffs at all.   There were a few ‘yea right’ moments where I decided to suspend my disbelief.   It passed.   Still.  This is worth seeing.
I would like to see Spock and his story explored further.   What does the survivor of a holocaust of an entire planet do?   How do you cope?   Especially when you don’t really feel.   We will see if we get there.    The Sulu thing was just funny…..

July 11th, 2016

I was catching up on some Netflix movies in the past little while.  I noted that they just got The Big Short which I expect to check out once again.

Last night I watched the comedy special Freedumb where he has a live talk in Nashville during this year.  Jim Jeffries is the guy who did the brilliant bit about Gun Control which has gone viral.  He addresses it about halfway through his special.  Sadly he remarks that his email blows up when other tragic events happen (like Paris) where the gun activists will say (“See it happens everywhere….” to him).
He has an equally brilliant discussion about Donald Trump and radicalizing youth that I will leave to your own time.  I had some really good laughs here, and he makes some good points and he also uses the “c-word” more than anyone I have heard previously – he is apparently the Rosa Parks of the c-word in getting it used in comedy clubs again!   He also had some good points with freedom and which countries are “more free” than the US (Canada is an example).
I started watching Roger Waters The Wall, which is a film about a performance of the music, but also about his own personal journey with his own family – which is less interesting than the music.  Life After Porn was interesting too as a film talking about what impacts such a life has on those who perform for a time in it.
I expect to hit the theatre again soon with the release of the new Star Trek and later the new Bourne film.  So there will be some time to see more films.  I have little interest in Secret Life of Pets nor other things presently out.

June 27th, 2016

A weekend to suspend your level of disbelief

This ended up being a weekend where I was able to catch up on a few movies both in theatres (which was a treat) and then on the TV.

In the theatre I started Friday with The Shallows.  I wanted to see this for the shark really, and it had nothing to do with orange bikinis – but despite that I enjoyed this more than I thought that I would.  I don’t know much of Blake Lively’s work (having never seen Gossip Girl nor Green Lantern nor others.)   I did see her in The Town where I thought that she was decent as a tough, street person with a son.   Here like Tom Hanks in Cast Away she IS the movie.  If you don’t believe her, it falls apart.    She is a medical student taking a hiatus on a beach after the recent death of her Mother and trying to “find herself”.    That is the basic premise.   She seeks an out-of-the-way beach where her Mom was when she was pregnant with her.    She likes to surf, and is out with just a couple other locals.    That and a sizeable shark that stakes a territory there.   It becomes a tale of survival and wits where at times that level of disbelief has to shine through.   Like the timing of a calm swimming shark as it passes by and her thinking that she can time how long she has before it comes back.   What is lost in the logic is that the shark can also swim faster, and be there sooner.    And the level of smarts for a shark that can presumably be hunger-satisfied in other ways that are readily apparent.  But never mind.  There is some real tension, and questions about how this woman will ever get through this.   There is a cheesey last few minutes that could have been left out.

On Saturday it was Finding Dory, the much hyped, well attended sequel to the beloved Finding Nemo.    This isn’t as good.   Despite getting us re-acquainted with some old friends (like the sea turtle Crush, and Mr Ray the Manta Ray teacher and of course Dory, Marlin and Nemo – the same energy is not there nor the strength of story.   Dory’s quest here is to find her long lost family.  Apparently they live in California – now WHY California was chosen rather than some place in Australia or even New Zealand is beyond my comprehension.   How did Dory ever get to Australian seas to begin with?!   Can a Tang actually swim that far?   How old does a Tang really live?   Her parents are a curiousity.    How does a Tang with Short Term Memory Loss remember anything long term?  Is that even possible?   We explore all these head scratchers.  Then we go beyond this through introductions to new characters like a Whale Shark, a beluga whale with his sonar on the fritz and Hank the Octopus.   Hank’s story is introduced (something scared him and he doesn’t want a repeat performance – but we have no idea what).   And he is an octopus that can change colour as a chameleon to things around him but to degrees that are unrealistic.   Further he can climb up and out of the water and by the end he is doing things and moving places that make little sense.    It was Hank and his character that took away from the story for me, and my daughter.    We both felt a little cheated and the story went way beyond where it really needed to go.  Yes, in the first a pelican carrying two fish in it’s mouth into a dental office was far fetched, but it flowed.   Here not so much.    So there are some cute gags, and some interesting conversations.   There are some genuine touching moments, but it was not on the same level as the original.    The theatre was packed and sold out on a Sat night!    Plenty of little kids, plenty of chatter throughout.   Not sure just how engaged youngest son would have been for this one.    It was still good to see, and if you do make sure that you stay to the very end of the credits (like Ferris Bueller).

On Netflix I caught Trumbo last night which I had been meaning to catch since TIFF and the Oscars.   A known story of the Hollywood blacklist.   I find it interesting that Ronald Reagan was the head of the Actors Union with reviewing Un-American activities.   He and John Wayne both did not come across as being very good people – at least in this fight!!  I also had not realized that Edward G Robinson was such a key figure as well, who decides to sell a Van Gogh painting (!!) to fund Trumbo and his team of Communists.    This was a good performance on a number of fronts including Diane Lane, playing his Wife and also from the children.   Interesting how the writer keeps writing and the almighty dollar and writing scripts for movies that sell ultimately eliminate the blacklist.    Kirk Douglas comes out on the right side and Spartacus is an important movie for fighting the good fight.    It was a sad part of American history and important to show how lives and careers were destroyed for the paranoid few.   Tricky Dick takes another shot in the nose to his lasting legacy.

Finally I had read a while back Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and stopped watching the episodes to read the book.   The book was memorable and enjoyable  and I liked it better than the series here (with Canadian content like Donald Sutherland and Gordon Pinsent).    Eddie Redmayne too is here, but fresh from the Jeff Bridges School of Speaking with Marbles in Your Mouth.    His early speaking is garbled and hard to understand.  Amazing he becomes this Oscar Winning actor – although not for speaking!!  Anyway, there is a great deal of Game of Thrones feeling here although this is more based in truth and history.   There is a lengthy battle for the throne of England after a mysterious shipwreck with a royal member aboard.    Many stories and people are impacted and all these stories eventually come together.   The church building to me is fascinating – although the religious undertones can be a challenge at times.   Anyway, it was an 8 episode series that I enjoyed watching.

Finished Homeland Season 4 – in Pakistan and thought that this was well done.

June 13, 2016

So this week there was nothing, and I mean nothing in the theatre that I have wanted to see.   Not the various multiple superhero movies.  Not any of the other films that are around.   So I am delving further into Netflix.

I saw TIFF movie from last year “He Named Me Malala” which is a documentary about the young Pakastani woman who is shot by the Taliban, along with two of her friends and survives.  She then becomes a spokesperson for various women’s causes including the right for education and a voice.   She also is the youngest person to get the Noble Peace Prize.   I of course am sympathetic to this young woman’s plight.  And anyone living in these conditions in these countries rules by extremists and radicals.   I cannot understand any culture that wants to remove education for their youth – women or men.  Still, there is a part of me that thinks that Dad is involved in pushing his own agenda.   He is a nobody basically, who now through his daughter gets an audience with the Queen, and President Obama and the UN world leaders etc.   All in the name of escorting his daughter.   She is well spoken.  She is passionate.  Still his life has risen dramatically.   There is a political purpose here for this young woman – showing the terror of the Taliban regime.   I am not clear whether this is what’s best for this young woman.
I managed to see Terminator Genesys with the now known to me Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) playing Sarah Connor.   This updated Terminator tries to reflect current technology and issues, and turns the whole premise on its ear.  Ah-nold is still there, but is quick to point out how he is not obsolete, and repeats it back to perhaps convince himself of it.   The time travel stuff works, a bit, but you have to believe.  And there are flaws to me in logic as John Connor seems to have a Matrix-like Agent ability to become almost anyone – and thereby stay close to fleeing people.   But where did that ability come from?   How the heck did he get into that helicopter?!   It is not answered.   I liked Clarke here, and the new Kyle Reece was interesting.   Ah-nold – with the greying hair and an obvious need of an upgrade isn’t what he once was – but maybe that is the point.  The real threat seems to be shifting to the Web and the Cloud and inter-connectivity.
I am watching Homeland too with the Season in Pakistan – a theme from Malala.  Carrie is in Pakistan when a higher up gets whacked and she had a front row seat for it.   Now she needs to figure out how it all became bad.  Saul is a private security consultant.  She leaves behind her daughter in the US early on, and deals with this new problem.

June 6th, 2016 – D Day edition

For this week I was able to see Jane Wants a Boyfriend, as a download.   It didn’t make it into the theatres it seems around here.   This is a story about a young woman (Louisa Krause) in her late 20s or so who lives with her parents and has an older sister.  She has Asperger’s and Mom and Dad look after her.   Big sister also plays a hand in taking care of her,    Big sister is an actress and engaged.   Mom and Dad we soon find out are looking to move from Brooklyn to New Jersey.   This changes life somewhat for Jane who is high functioning but socially awkward and painfully uncomfortable.   She watches romantic movies and wants a relationship.   The story continues from there and was interesting and engaging.   No known actors to me (except Mom who was on thirtysomething forever ago).   This plays out in some ways that you won’t always anticipate.   I liked the characters and cared what happened to them.   Everyone has their own challenges and they grow and learn.

Worth a look, especially if you hope to gain a little insight into those with these challenges.
I watched Love on Netflix, which is done by the same director who did Irreversible a few years back with Monica Bellucci.   Dude really likes the darker erotic side of life.   In Irreversible, there was was a horrific rape sequence that many felt went too far, here it is basically full on nudity, penetration and sex on screen.  I don’t have the 3-D TV, but it was filmed in 3-D and there is a scene in particular that would be alarming and funny in 3-D I have to admit!!  Anyway, this disjointed story tells, in time shifts, the relationship between a French girl and her American boyfriend.   They explore their sexual lives together and things happen which impact them.   There are highs and lows, with rage and frustration.  Some actions just have nasty and ongoing consequences, and this is shown here.  I watched in two segments as it was very long — and repetitive.   I cannot recommend unless you seek out some titillation – but even then it gets monotonous and slow.   The movie moves at a snail’s pace and the French female lead is sometimes hard to understand with her accent.   See if you choose, but you’ve been warned…

May 30th, 2016

On the airplane on the way to Iceland I watched Creed.  I had heard a decent buzz on this, including your review and I watched it.  I thought that this was well done.  It kept me engaged.  I liked the story about the young boxer.  I felt that Stallone shied away from making this truly a darker film by having the “you fight and I will get treatment thing”.   I think that his acknowledging that he had very little left to look forward to in life (the whole concussion and later issues with brain disease being completely ignored) would have made it more interesting for him to pass away.   But anyway, the fight sequences were good, and the kid was good.   Too bad that they found Felicia Rashaad rather than the original Apollo’s Wife.   Not sure where she would have gone.  Anyway I did like it.

I saw a few episodes of Season 1 Game of Thrones.   I enjoyed.
I also watched the Air episode of Cooked where they talk about bread.   I had decided to make baguettes at home from scratch yesterday and this was poignant and timely for me.   The observations about glutton intolerance were very interesting and the whole breadmaking process.  I also watched the documentary on wine and Sommaliers.   A good overview of wine and the process.  Interesting scenes and shots of wineries mostly in Europe.   Well worth it.

May 2, 2016

Certain movies don’t always translate well to all age groups.  We have talked before in movies like Terence Malick’s Tree of Life or To The Wonder where a younger audience member without the life experience cannot interpret the images in the same way someone in (cough) middle age would.   As an aside, a real life example of this happened in seeing the musical play If/Then a week ago.   There is a scene where the main character makes a decision to kiss a very married man who she is working with and a younger woman in the audience behind us made an audible gasp, and was shocked by the behaviour.   This was a moments where when you are 22yo, life is more black and white, while when you get older there is a lot more grey.   But I digress…

Everybody Wants Some is the new Richard Linklater film set in the 80s on a Texas college campus just days before the beginning a classes around early 1980s.  There is a fraternity of baseball players and the movie shows a rookie joining in.   Linklater did Boyhood, but also the Before Sunrise series of films, and Me and Orson Welles (I do like some of his work).  This is kind of a sequel to Dazed and Confused set in the 70s, also.     And to follow up on the point made earlier, the 22 yo watching this won’t relate to a phone cord stretching into a single dorm room, and someone having a $300+ phone bill.  Phone cord?!   What’s that?!   They won’t laugh at the hair styles and the too-tight short shorts the guys are wearing.   So there are some nostalgic moments of going back to the 80s.   This film is a series of scenes with these young men (18-23yo) who have facial hair that men much older would envy, but who are getting through the few days left before class (which is periodically addressed by countdown reference at various times).   You get to know the guys in the dorm, and the girls that they like and how they act.  There is Animal House type hijinx and some clever and funny practical jokes.   There is also conversation about very little – and times of being rather slow.   As you jump from one sequence to the next, some are funny, some are less so.   There are times of reflection on where they all fit in, and how anyone who isn’t playing a sport can really attend school – to “sit behind a desk for the rest of their life”.
This was not a great film.  There are no name actors (I did not recognize one of them) but they were good and effective.   The storyline is okay, but it doesn’t have a lot of time in the movie sense to go very far (how much do any of our lives change in less than a week) and so there is much of a destination.   Perhaps it is set up with a sequel in mind.   Perhaps it is meant to just be a slice of Americana at a funny period in time.   I chuckled.   I laughed.  I saw cars that made me smile (like a Gremlin!) — and now it is over and I write about it, I likely won’t speak of it again.   I am thankful my older kids did not see it, as I can only imagine how they would have reacted – because I felt that way and I GOT the inside jokes!!!

April 25, 2016

The dark sceptre of high expectations impacted my weekend movie experience again.   It is the dreaded situation where you read the reviews, talk to a few people who have seen the movie and everyone seems to be raving about it.   You plunk your movie money down and see the film eagerly awaiting the lights to dim.   Then they do, and you watch, sinking ever more into your seat knowing that it didn’t live up to how you expected.

The movie in question for me was Jungle Book.  This live action/CGI film by Jon Favreau is a reboot of the earlier Disney cartoon based on the Rudyard Kipling book. The reviews (and rottentomatoes) have uniformly praised this film.    The voices of known stars like Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray and Christopher Walken are all well integrated.  There is some humour, mostly from Murray as you would expect, and the animals generally talk.   There is the young Indian star in the film who is quite good.   I never saw the entire animated film before, so I was not familiar with the story.   I went with girlfriend and her daughter and they both were more familiar.   I knew the songs (Bear Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You) but that was about it.   Here the songs with the talking animals just seem out of place.  They interrupt from the otherwise straight story-telling.   But tell me why is that some of the animals can talk and others can’t?   Mowgli even asks one, what his “language” was.   Curious.  If animals can talk – even the smallest of mice – then why not all?
Idris Elba, your boyfriend, sounded more and more like Liam Hemsworth I have to admit, but he had an effective role.   There are some unique messages here, like the power of man, and man’s ability to impact on the environment, both the good and the bad.   Further messages about cooperation and peace too.  Still I left the theatre thinking – M’eh….this was a movie I hadn’t intended on seeing, and I went because it was given such positive reviews.

April 4th, 2016

I have avoided the hype and overly-bloated Batman v Superman to go and see the talented General Zod (cough Micheal Shannon) do Midnight Special.   It was a toss up between this and Everybody Wants Some, the 80s college baseball movie.   I feel as though I need to see Dazed and Confused first though for that.

Shannon here plays a father who is on the run early and trying to protect his son, as well as deliver him to a particular place at a particular time.   Many are trying to stop him including authorities and a Texas sect, who looks at his son and his special powers as a God.
The story is sci-fi and thriller but really about people and relationships.  Shannon is the protect-at-all costs parent who is engaged and focused completely on his son’s well-being.   He can’t explain anything, but he supports and does all for his young son.  The son struggles too, and goes on his own journey.  He is played well here by the young man.   Mom is played by Kirsten Dunst who has seemed to have disappeared since her days as Mary Jane.   I won’t divulge much more than the bare facts other than to say that the ending is a bit much.   It goes further than it needs to much in the same way that Man Up did before.   We didn’t need to see a moment that borrows heavily from Close Encounters of the Third Kind meeting Tomorrowland (and that’s kind of like it felt).   Shannon though is the real story here, and he is working on a more impressive line of roles that is the even of other good actors like Edward Norton, Daniel Day Lewis (well I am reaching more than a little bit there) but Ryan Gosling.   In 99 Homes he was really good as well as paired with same director in Take Shelter.
I also watched on Nextflix Albert Nobbs from 2011.  If you like Downton Abbey, then this film is right up your alley (so to speak).  In fact a few of the characters come from Abbey, and are also British film mainstays – like Mr Weasley from Harry Potter fame.   Glenn Close plays a butler/servant in a well to do hotel in Dublin, but is a woman in a man’s world.    She is steadily saving for her dream opportunity – to run a shop.   One day she meets a painter who changes her perspective on life and what is attainable.   Close was nominated for this performance for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.  She portrayed Nobbs on stage as well and it is a good role.   Understated, the quiet loner who keeps to themselves and wants to quietly go about their business.   The challenge of course is relationships where you have two people who are interacting (usually anyway) and this is something that Nobbs struggles with.   Plans are made, assumptions are acted upon as if this idea has already sprouted roots and was shared.   It is not.   See the look of surprise on Nobbs’ face when he visits the painter later after the painter’s wife has passed from a nasty flu going around.   There is real surprise when there is a realization about others and how they feel.   Well worth viewing and I was glad that I saw it.