I rate Dumplin’ GREAT at 87%.
As we are in the first week of 2019, here are ten movies based on real life where by the end of any of them, you should be a little bit inspired.
127 Hours (2010) is about Aron Ralston who finds himself trapped while hiking Blue John Canyon in Utah. It is based from his memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The only problem is it’s a remote area and no one really knows his true location. So, he begins a video diary for several purposes. It stars James Franco as Aron.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) is about Chris Gardner’s way from homelessness to entrepreneurship. It is based from his memoir with the same name. The movie stars Will and Jaden Smith, as son and father, focusing on their new relationship while Chris proves himself as an unpaid intern stockbroker.
Hotel Rwanda (2004) is about Paul and Tatiana Ruseabagina whose decision to help refugees saves many lives. It takes place during the heightened tensions between Hutu and Tutsi people. It stars Don Cheadle as Paul and Sophie Okonedo as Tatiana.
Unbroken (2014) is about Louis Zamperini who was a prisoner during World War II. It is based from the book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It focuses primarily on the relationship between Louis and “The Bird.” It stars Jack O’Connell as Louis and Miyavi as Mutsuhiro Watanabe.
12 Years a Slave (2013) is about Solomon Northup who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold into slavery. It is based from his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave. Solomon lives his captive years in Louisiana, owned by Edwin Epps, before he proves his status as a free man. It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon and Michael Fassbender as Edwin.
Catch Me If You Can (2002) is about Frank Abagnale Jr. who is a con man and commits enough check fraud to catch the eye of an FBI agent. It is based from his memoir, Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake. Carl Hanratty and Frank play a cat and mouse game. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Tom Hanks as Carl.
The Pianist (2002) is about Wladyslaw Szpilman who as a Holocaust survivor finds surviving on Polish streets tough and unbearable. He meets Wilm Hosenfeld and a relationship forms. It is based from his memoir, The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45. It stars Adrian Brody as Wladyslaw and Thomas Kretschmann as Wilm.
Hidden Figures (2016) is about Karen Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson who were integral to NASA’s achievements during the 1960s. It is based from the book by Margo Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. It stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson.
The King’s Speech (2010) is about King George VI and his speech therapist who helped him overcome his stutter. Lionel Logue becomes an integral part of his life. It stars Colin Firth as King George and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel.
Chariots of Fire (1981) is about two athletes from different backgrounds including their time in the 1924 Olympics. Eric Liddell is a Christian and Harold Abrahams is a Jew, but both find passion and purpose in running. It stars Ben Cross as Harold and Ian Charleson as Eric.
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Page Number: 232
TRAINED TO KILL: THE INSIDE STORY OF CIA PLOTS AGAINST CASTRO, KENNEDY, AND CHE is written by Antonio Veciana with Carlos Harrison. This was an interesting read as it is from the viewpoint of a man who had an overwhelming desire to kill Fidel Castro. It includes his upbringing and life before becoming involved with the CIA and his interaction with his handler, Maurice Bishop. He would later find out his real identity and how far his power could go to protect himself. It is less about the plots against Kennedy as about two to three pages are allocated to that. While it was interesting to read these few pages, it is not substantive enough or verified enough to be taken as fact and is basically speculation even though he came face to face with Lee Harvey Oswald. I was more interested in the reasons Veciana followed on the path of ending Castro at all costs, sometimes alienating his family and friends. He made sacrifices and put others in danger in this autobiography as he even states. It was clear Bishop used Veciana and Alpha 66 to achieve what he thought was the best for Cuban relations and U.S. interests, but Veciana did much of it willingly without much questioning. It includes a chapter covering Che Guevera’s life and death as well. His last attempt to kill Castro closed his door as an asset. It served as a reminder of what he spent a lifetime trying to accomplish but failed, but also opened another door where he was able to realize what was most important to him.
You’ll have to forgive me for going on a soapbox because I’m one of the last people to give advice on eating healthy and exercising regularly since I ran into some major snags in 2018. I’m not going to lie that either one has been easy for me because it hasn’t. I’ve gone in spurts, started and quit, started and quit again usually for health reasons (bad feet and terrible sinus pressure from allergies and sinus problems), but realize it does more good for me than bad. The gym was closed for two months. It’s too cold outside. Excuses and more excuses. I’m a type of person that really craves physical activity so here goes nothing. I keep going around in circles. I know how long it takes to make something a habit. Blah, blah, blah. I know what it means to sweat because I’ve done it before. Usually if I’m not exercising, I’m eating poorly. Blah, blah, blah. I decided to put together some quotes to get me psyched to start, but more importantly continue each month so I can actually say with 99% confidence that I gave it my all when December hits again. I’d also like to be able to touch the floor with ease again. Here goes nothing.
Quote from Aquaman by King Orm: “A war is coming to the surface. And I am bringing the wrath of the Seven Seas with me.”
I’m not a DC or Marvel diehard fan, but I understand Aquaman is known to be one of the lesser favorites of the DC characters. I don’t favor one over the other, but have seen more movies produced by Marvel. Yet, Aquaman is worthy to watch. It has done well in the box office and racked in about 728.7 million dollars so far. Let’s explore the underwater world of Atlantis and those who inhabit it.
Aquaman is a character created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. This story is by Geoff Johns, James Wan, and Will Beall. The screenplay is written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall, and directed by James Wan. The story centers around the friction among different kingdoms and their rulers including the control of the waters between two half brothers, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and King Orm (Patrick Wilson). In addition to being an action and fantasy, this movie has snippets of a coming of age story from boy to teenager to man where Arthur is tested again and again. Other major cast includes Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus, Amber Heard as Mera, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as David Kane/Black Manta, Michael Beach as Jesse, Graham McTavish as King Atlan, Temeura Morrison as Tom Curry, Randall Park as Dr. Stephen Shin, and Julie Andrews as Karathen. It is a Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films production. It had the release date of December 21, 2018 (USA). The MPAA rating is PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some language. It has a running time of 2 hours and 23 minutes.
Aquaman begins with the union of a lighthouse keeper named Tom Curry and a queen from Atlantis named Atlanna. They have a child named Arthur and as he grows from being three to nine to thirteen to sixteen, he realizes he doesn’t have a normal life nor will live one. After rescuing Russian Naval crew members, Arthur is called back to Atlantis by a red-haired woman named Mera (Amber Heard) after some convincing. He gets a quick crash course in Atlantis protocol and history as he returns to the place he vowed never to go again. We get further insight into Arthur’s powers under the tutelage of Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) in flashbacks and the current hatred Orm Marius has for his half-brother. Everything hints to Orm successfully becoming the Ocean Master despite Arthur battling him in a duel. Arthur is not deterred and along with Mera continue on their quest to stop Orm. They hide from Atlantean soldiers, walk many miles in the Sahara desert, and battle their way through The Trench. It ends with a spectacular fight and don’t blink too long because the underwater creatures swim fast and their jaws are even stronger. There’s a little bit of everything in this especially those interested in kings and queens, overlapping conflicts, enemies and friends, fighting and wars, and personal redemption.
There are two minor flaws I saw in Aquaman. While I thought the end battle was great in terms of seeing the different kingdoms jockeying for power and the special effects of the underwater scenes, it was drawn out a little too long for me. I was fully immersed in the movie, but a person tends to get a little antsy near the end. I think it would have just as well been near perfect with a few less explosions. Being this is an action movie first and foremost, the story isn’t going to go as much in-depth as a period piece drama or realistic war movie. This isn’t to say it didn’t have a good story because it did. The conflict between the Arthur and King Orm was great as well as his other relationships. This is why I would have liked to have seen a little less comedic lines from Aquaman. It seemed all the other characters were so serious in their personal journeys, but maybe this was done intentionally to let Momoa shine. He is known to be a prankster on set so the silly moments sort of make sense. I guess it’s just a preference of mine.
When the credits started and the major cast members were listed, it cut back to one of the major characters. This pointed with a big arrow toward an Aquaman sequel and one of the cast members having a bigger role. Apart from the above minor flaws, they weren’t that much of a deterrent because I’d see the sequel as well.
I give Aquaman Four Fingers and One Thumb at 93%.
Commit to Change
Eat Healthy Foods
Focus on Myself
Pay off Debts
It’s December and another year almost finished. For the first time in a long time, I will be in another state from which I live for the holidays. I finally watched It’s a Wonderful Life and The Hebrew Hammer along with a few more I’ve never seen. I admit some were better than others so fair warning. Here they are in no particular order.
I had never seen this film and had to push myself to watch it. I was expecting sappiness dripping all over the place, but surprisingly there was little of that in It’s a Wonderful Life. I was most impressed by the production design and the dialogue was about as crisp as it could be in a movie. James Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch were first-rate. This movie had a kind of darkness I was not expecting and the ending, while a little cheesy, was justified. The theme of helping others and second chances should be reminders to us all.
The first time seeing this movie and will say it’s decent enough. It followed similarly the humor in Bad Santa 2, but had a little more substance that was seen in Office Christmas Party. Adam Goldberg stars as Mordechai Carver. He is all Hebrew and all Hammer. Mordechai is an outsider in the Jewish community, but is sought when Santa Claus’s son threatens to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. He along with Esther (Judy Greer) and Mohammed (Mario Van Pebbles) work together so Damian doesn’t get his Christmas wish. Hebrew Hammer does have some stereotypes and strong language, but hopefully the viewer understands its Comedy Central ties.
This is another movie I’ve seen for the first time. I ended up watching both the original and the 1994 remake. Miracle on 34th Street is definitely the quintessential Christmas story and the original is better of the two. Who knew Drunk Santa was a such a popular theme back the mid 1900s. A young Natalie Wood plays an adult mind trapped in a child’s body. She doesn’t believe in Kris Kringle much to her mother’s dismay. Her mother has personal issues of her own and as their lives intersect with Kris Kringle and Fred Gailey, it makes for a family friendly movie including kids that don’t believe in what is known more today as Santa Claus.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, but I was impressed by it by the end. Yes, there was Krampus coming out at night along with his elves and other toys to wreak havoc on a family wanting to enjoy Christmas, but it was more than this. The backstory was portrayed nicely via animation. The costumes and special effects were done well and while many of the scenes were hokey, there were others more serious. The ending had a nice twist to it. Bottom line, I really liked Krampus.
With all the controversy over the song “White Christmas” and also Irving Berlin’s movies, I thought I should give this movie a try. Go where the controversy is, right? While I did see some set decorations in one of the musical sets that might be construed as questionable, it wasn’t enough to detract me from watching White Christmas. I was wondering how they would bring the Army presence back since it was so strong in the opening scene. I liked how they finally brought back the Commanding General. The dance choreography and accompanying music numbers were part of why I watched it in the first place. Good story and movie.
I saw this a while ago and still like it mainly due to Steve Martin. Mixed Nuts is about man named Philip who works for a suicide hotline. His life is turned upside down, although it was never right side up to begin with, when the night doesn’t go as planned. It involves a serial killer, a cross dresser, a pregnant woman, and roller bladers (remember when those were all the rage). It has enough laughs and can you go wrong seeing Liev Schreiber in drag? Not really. It was his first role in a movie too.
I saw this last year, but still crazy in every sense of the word. This is the second raunchy of all the holiday movies in this list. It’s about an office manager and CTO, played by T.J. Miller and Jason Bateman, working together to gain a potential client while the looming threat of having their office permanently closed hangs over their heads. There’s protocol to follow that HR sets on paper and verbally, but in Office Christmas Party, the rules are broken one by one as the night progresses. It has some SNL cast as well as other notable comedic cast like Jason Bateman, Rob Corddry, Olivia Munn, and Jennifer Aniston.
This is the most raunchy of holiday movies this year in terms of language and sexual innuendos. While I liked Bad Santa, this one recycled too much of the same dirty language. It was used as a solution for cheap humor instead of coming up with things that could and would’ve been funnier. The story was decent enough where sometimes mothers can be the biggest bitch of all. So why am I recommending it? Because if you can get past the repetition coming out of Kathy Bates’ mouth and others as well, Bad Santa 2 does have an ending that is satisfactory for a movie about a drunk Santa and his revengeful sidekick.
This is another movie I saw quite some time ago. Despite what you think of Chevy Chase, this is a good movie to watch for the comedy and hopefully a few laughs. It has the usual squabbles within the Griswold family and even more when the relatives come knocking at Clark’s door. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation involves too many tangled up lights, not enough money, misbehaving animals, and a SWAT team, but by the end everything is wrapped up with a nice red bow. It’s your typical Lampoon’s movie, but this time with a young Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis.
This movie is what I would call whacky with different people coming together on the holidays. I wasn’t sure how it would play out, but by the end I thought it was good. There was a decent mixture of harsh reality with entertaining moments in Love Actually. Seeing Bill Nighy shirtless while singing was quite memorable and seeing Alan Rickman getting more impatient by the second during the gift wrapping scene was comical and afflicted at the same time. Not everyone got everything they wished for by the end, but this is the reality for all us.
There you have it. There are my ten holiday movie picks. I’m not sure if this will happen next year or maybe not as many movies. Either way, Happy Holidays everyone.
Producers: Mohamed Alrafi, Jennifer Aniston, Michael Costigan, Kristin Hofmann, Danny Nozell, Kelly Todd, and Christopher Tricarico
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writers: Julie Murphy (novel) and Kristin Hahn (screenplay)
Major Cast: Danielle Macdonald as Willowdeen Dickson, Jennifer Aniston as Rosie Dickson, Odeya Rush as Ellen Dryver, Maddie Baillio as Millie Michalchuk, Bex Taylor-Klaus as Hannah Perez, Luke Benward as Bo Larson, Harold Perrineau as Lee Wayne/Rhea Ranged, Kathy Najimy as Millie’s Mother, Ginger Minj as Candee Disch, Hilliary Begley as Lucy Dickson, Sam Pancake as Dale, Dan Finnerty as Eugene Reed, Molly McNearney as Delia Shepherd, Tian Richards as Marcus, Ryan Dinning as Patrick, and Andrew Fletcher as Tim
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
This has minor spoilers.
While it isn’t what I normally watch, I’ve been known to stray here and there. This is one of those movies. It’s a coming of age story about Willowdean Dickson, nicknamed “Dumplin” by her mother, Rosie. We find out the daughter is nothing like her mother. Willowdeen doesn’t have Rosie’s looks or interests. She enjoys lounging in pools, having crushes on guys, and singing along to the radio. We are taken into her life, which includes her love of Dolly Parton who reminds her of her aunt, Lucy. While she feels out-of-place, her best friend, Ellen, serves as a rock in her life when her mother is unavailable. Rosie isn’t embarrassed with Willowdeen’s weight as she believes although she is fully embarrassed by her mother’s fascination with pageants that leads to even more distance between them. A combination of events leads to Willowdeen entering the Miss Teen Bluebonnet Pageant and in a round about kind of way to understand her mother better. There are rules to this pageant, but she doesn’t care because winning isn’t her goal. It is to challenge the beauty standard and convinces a handful of other girls to do the same. Hannah, Millie, Ellen, and Willowdeen attend the pageant orientation much to Rosie’s frustration. They practice and decide what to wear after the committee has no choice but to allow them entry. Nothing happens without some minor setbacks along the way and after accepting their differences, they seek help from one of Lucy’s past friends, Lee Wayne. In the midst of all this, Willowdeen juggles her feelings for Bo. As the pageant approaches, the outsiders make up their own rules to support of each other. The relationships come full circle and no one really is left feeling alienated or cheated out of something they deserved. This is basically a feel good movie. You can pretty much predict how it will end. This is okay because it has enough substance to keep the viewer interested, but would’ve liked to seen more exploration between Lucy and Rosie.
(This is the first time in a long time I’ve just written something without thinking about it. I didn’t edit throughout nor will I edit this. Another flash fiction.)
It was dark that day. Actually, it was really dark that day. The sky wasn’t letting any sunlight through the clouds. Sure, it had rained prior to this, but when it remained dark each morning I realized something was wrong, like really, really wrong. This wasn’t one of those shrug your shoulders and move on with your life wrong. This was what the hell is wrong with you, what the hell is wrong with your head, and what the hell made you think you could do that moment.
This was that dark day when I found out the person I thought would remain loyal to me forever wasn’t so loyal. He wasn’t the person I thought he was and while it was foolish of me to think he had an ounce of good in him still, the lesson still had to be learned whether I liked it or not. I didn’t know him when we first set eyes on each other. I wondered about him yes, but not enough to want to talk to him. It was him that made the first move, him the one to say hello, and him the one to use up my precious time.
It was innocent from the get go, but as time went on I didn’t like what I saw or heard. He wasn’t vicious outright, but he had a mean streak to him. He was someone you didn’t cross when he was angry or happy for that matter. He had a type of walk that intimidated people because they knew if you stepped too close, there would be a certain kind of hell to pay. He was good at dispensing it however he felt. This I know because I was at the receiving end of it. My whole body was hurting from all his wrath on that dark day.
Because of this experience, I have a hard time trusting people now. I’m not sure if I will ever trust anyone again. I very much doubt I will, but if a day ever comes again when I do, I will have him to thank for it in a twisted sort of way. I’m not there yet, but time will tell. People who go through this are resilient types. I have to be one of those. I think I’m one of them. I hope so as I continue to sit in my own darkness, in the dark, in the darkest depths of singular pain. Sometimes the absence of an apology is just that, sometimes it means much more, and sometimes it’s all in your imagination.