Movies

pcpopcorn

This page is for movie trivia, movie information, and brief thoughts.  It will basically be everything else besides single movie recommendations and reviews because those are posted as blog entries.  However, two or more movie recommendations will be posted on this page.  I’m currently watching foreign films to post more of them.

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March 25, 2019: Gregory Peck WeekendRemoved a Few Times

Quote from Moby Dick by Captain Ahab: “Sleep? That bed is a coffin, and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep, I die.”

Quote from On The Beach by Julian Osborne: “In the end, somehow granted the time for examination, we shall find that our so-called civilization was gloriously destroyed by a handful of vacuum tubes and transistors. Probably faulty.”


I regard Gregory Peck as one of the best actors of all time to grace the movie screens. The first movie I watched him in was To Kill a Mockingbird and he will continue to be a screen legend. Like this movie, Moby Dick and On the Beach, include pressing societal issues and in the case of Moby Dick, mental issues as well of Captain Ahab. Peck would be nominated for five Academy Awards in his career and finally won an Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird.

Moby Dick (1956) is an adventure and drama about Captain Ahab and his quest to get revenge on the white whale who physically injured him, but more to seek revenge for his damaged pride. It is told from the viewpoint of Ishmael, one of his crew. I have yet to finish reading the book, which has sat on my shelf for over two decades now. This story is adapted from Herman Melville’s book, screenplay by Ray Bradbury and John Huston, and Norman Corwin where no credit was given. It is directed by John Huston and stars Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, Leo Genn as Starbuck, James Robertson Justice as Captain Boomer, Harry Andrews as Stubb, Bernard Miles as The Manxman, Noel Purcell as Ship’s Carpenter, Edric Connor as Daggoo, Mervyn Johns as Peleg, and Royal Dano as Elijah. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.

The film opens with Ismael meeting a Polynesian cannibal named Queequeg. He along with Queequeg agree to take part of a voyage despite being warned about Captain Ahab. On the Pequod, there are others who serve as company and some of them comfort to Ishmael including Starbuck, Stubb, Tashtego, Flask, Daggoo, Peleg, Elijah, and Fedallah. It takes a while for Captain Ahab to appear, but when he does everyone finds out how ruthless and unforgiving he is when it comes to whales. As they find success on these hunts, stories are bountiful including the real reason Ahab never wants to be on dry land. The various ships they encounter have stories that paint a bleak picture for them. Ahab might never find the white whale, but he will continue until the sea or the whale stop him. When Moby Dick is finally seen, Ahab does everything in his power to weaken the white whale. The chase is on and after Moby Dick destroys boats and terminates lives, Ahab has no choice but to go eye to eye with him. The visuals in this movie are stunning, and while it clearly is not an actual whale, the final scene between Moby Dick and Ahab is one I will remember for a long time. Despite Captain Ahab being a character I would not want to meet, I give Moby Dick a rating of 100% for the acting, direction, production design, and everything else that makes it a perfect movie.

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On the Beach (1958) is a drama and romance about Commander Towers and his duty to his crew and survivors of the radiation fallout after World War III, including Moria Davidson who grabs his attention despite increasing tensions between the two. This story is adapted from Nevil Shute’s book and screenplay by John Paxton. It is directed by Stanley Kramer and stars Gregory Peck as Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers, Ava Gardner as Moira Davidson, Fred Astaire as Julian Osborn, Anthony Perkins as Lt. Peter Holmes, Donna Anderson as Mary Holmes, John Tate as Adm. Bridie, Richard Meikle as Davis, John Meillon as Ralph Swain. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long. I would say this is more depressing of the two films because of how death is presented.

The film begins in Australia where devastation from war has killed most of the inhabitants in the northern hemisphere. It is in the south where people seek refuge including the American Commander Towers. Most of them know the severity of the situation including Lt. Holmes and encourages his wife to face the fact they might die. A few remain hopeful that the radiation poisoning will not reach them. Despite the small chance of finding a few survivors, Towers and his officers sail on the USS Sawfish in search of them. When they reach the west coast, the reality of the situation becomes authenticated in several ways. This leads to the officers dealing with the inevitable in their own way whether it be through car racing, romantic getaways, or nostalgic monologues. As USS Sawfish submerges underwater for the last time, it’s a somber ending to what could have been. Unlike Captain Ahab, I wouldn’t mind meeting Commander Towers, but not under these circumstances. The acting in this movie too was perfect. It didn’t hold my attention as much as Moby Dick, but it was a near perfect movie. Therefore, I give On the Beach a rating of 96%.

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March 22, 2019: 10 Foreign Movie Recommendations

I’ve been thinking of the foreign films I’ve watched in the past. Here are the ones I remember from each year starting in 2000 to 2009. The countries chosen are from Mexico, France, China, Hong Kong, Italy, UK, Germany, Austria, Spain, Taiwan, and South Korea.  Here they are in order of year.

2000

Amores Perros (2000) is a drama and thriller movie from Mexico. It is rated R for violence, gore, language and sexuality. It runs 2 hours and 34 minutes. The story centers around three strangers: Octavio (Gael García Bernal), Valeria (Goya Toledo), and El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría). Taking place in Mexico City, dogs and dog fighting, social classes, and different forms of violence make the three stories gritty, dark, and realistic.

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2001

Amélie or Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (original title) (2001) is a comedy and romance movie from France. It is rated R for sexual context. It runs 2 hours and 2 minutes. The story centers around Amélie (Audrey Tautou) who had a sheltered childhood because of her father. As an adult, she spreads her wings in Paris and searches for the meaning of life including finding love. It also stars Matheiu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix.

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2002

Hero or Ying xiong (original title) (2002) is an action, adventure, and history movie from China and Hong Kong. It is rated PG-13 for stylized martial arts violence and a scene of sensuality . It runs 1 hour and 47 minutes. The story centers around an officer who doesn’t have a name (Jet Li). Nameless tells of how he defeated three enemies of Qin, the ruler. It also stars Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as Broken Sword, Maggie Cheung as Flying Snow, Ziyi Zhang as Moon, and Donnie Yen as Sky.

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2003

The Dreamers (2003) is a drama and romance movie from France, Italy, and the UK. It is rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content, but the R version is basically three minutes shorter. It runs 1 hour and 55 minutes. The story centers around two twins, Théo and Isabelle (Louis Carrel and Eva Green) and how they influence an American student, Matthew (Michael Pitt), to give up his conservative mindset during the 1968 Paris student riots.

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2004

Kung Fu Hustle (2004) is an action, comedy and crime movie from China. It is rated R for strong stylized action and violence . It runs 1 hour and 39 minutes. The story centers around the Axe Gang and how Sing (Stephen Chow) in his quest to be a part of it leads to a battle between the gang and residents of the town. It also stars Xiaogang Feng as Crocodile Gang Boss, Wah Yuen as Landlord, Zhihua Dong as Donut, and Kwok-Kwan Chan as Brother Sum.

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2005

Downfall or Der Untergang (original title) (2005) is a biography, history, and drama movie from Germany, Italy, and Austria. It is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and some nudity. It runs 2 hours and 36 minutes. The story centers around Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), Adolf Hitler’s (Bruno Ganz) secretary, and their time together before he kills himself. It includes those closest to him during this time, Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), and Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), and how despite their presence, Hitler’s increasing fragility is all too evident.

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2006

Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno (original title) (2006) is a drama, fantasy, and war movie from Spain, Mexico, and the US. It is rated R for graphic violence and some language. It runs 1 hour and 58 minutes. The story centers Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who copes with her new stepfather and home by immersing herself into a world of fantasy. It also includes Captain Vidal (Sergi López) and Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), and Fauno/Pale Man (Doug Jones).

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2007

Lust, Caution or Se, jie (original title) (2007) is a drama, romance, and history movie from Taiwan, China and the US. It is rated NC-17 for some explicit sexuality. It runs 2 hours and 37 minutes. The story centers around the attempted assassinations of Mr. Yee (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) and whether Mai Tai Tai (Wei Tang) will be able to successfully asked what they were sent to do. It also stars Joan Chen as Yee Tai Tai, Leehom Wang as Kuang Yu Min, and Tsung-Hua To as Old Wu.

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2008

Persepolis (2008) is a biography, drama, and animation movie from France and USA. It is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language, and brief drug content. It runs 1 hour and 36 minutes. The story centers around Marjane Statrapi (voiced by Chiara Mastroianni) and her family during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and how she handles this change when she returns from abroad. It also includes Danielle Darrieux (Grandma), Catherine Deneueve (Mom, and Simon Abkarian (Dad).

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2009

Mother or Madeo (original title) (2009) is a drama, crime, and mystery movie from South Korea. It is rated R for language, some sexual content, violence, and drug usage. It runs 2 hours and 9 minutes. The story centers around a mother (Hye-ja Kim) who seeks to find out who framed her son Do-joon (Won Bin) for the brutal killing of a woman, in order to prove his innocence. It also includes Goo Jin as Jin-tae, Je-mun Yun as Je-moon, and Sae-byeok Song as Sepaktakraw Detective.

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March 3, 2019: Going Back to the 1980’s

There were 33,493 movies released in the 1980s according to IMDb. I was going to narrow it down by the major genres according to AFI, but that doesn’t work since I’ve only seen a few animated movies from this time. I definitely need more than two to have a list of five in every genre. I next thought I could cover the most popular directors from that time, but that would cover basically a lot of movies. I’d like to make this somewhat manageable. I then thought about the movies that defined the 1980s, but that would take a whole month to try to come up with a suitable list. I finally decided to just wing it and see what happened. Here it goes for now, but later I will probably expand on this decade in some way.

1980

This was the year of 9 to 5, Private Benjamin, and The Blue Lagoon. I decided to pick Coal Miner’s Daughter, which is the story of Loretta Lynn, a mother of four from Kentucky that became a famous country singer. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. It is directed by Michael Apted.

Fun Fact: Sissy Spacek beat Meryl Streep for this role.

1981

This was the year of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. I decided to pick Mommie Dearest, which is the story of Joan Crawford and her adopted daughter, Christina. It stars Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. It is directed by Frank Perry.

Fun Fact: Faye Dunaway needed a voice coach to help her after she lost it due to all the screaming.

1982

This was the year of Tootsie, Rocky II, and Annie. I decided to pick E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, which is the story an alien stranded on Earth and the relationship with a boy. It stars Henry Thomas as Elliott and Drew Barrymore as Gertie. It is directed by Steven Spielberg.

Fun Fact: The theatrical run for this movie was over a year.

1983

This was the year of Flashdance, Mr. Mom, and Risky Business. I decided to pick Trading Places, which is the story of a businessman and con man. It stars Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray Valentine and Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthrope III. It is directed by John Landis.

Fun Fact: Eddie Murphy had no understanding of commodities trading.

1984

This was the year of Gremlins, Footloose, and Splash. I decided to pick The Karate Kid, which is the story of an old master who teaches karate to a teenager who just moved to California. It stars Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso. It is directed by John G. Avildsen.

Fun Fact: Chad McQueen is in the movie. He’s Steve McQueen’s son. His character’s name was Dutch.

1985

This was the year of Back to the Future, The Color Purple, and The Goonies. I decided to pick Witness, which is the story of an Amish boy and his encounter with a police officer. It stars Harrison Ford as John Book and Lukas Haas as Samuel. It is directed by Peter Weir.

Fun Fact: This was Viggo Mortensen’s film debut.

1986

This was the year of Top Gun, Aliens, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I decided to pick The Name of the Rose, which is the story of murders in an Abbey and how a friar is sought to solve these deaths. It stars Sean Connery as William von Baskerville and Christian Slater as Adso von Melk. It is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Fun Fact: The preparation for this movie was five years.

1987

This was the year of Fatal Attraction, Three Men and a Baby, and Lethal Weapon. I decided to pick Predator, which is the story of a special operations team sent to Central America on a rescue mission. It stars Arnold Schwarzenagger as Dutch and Carl Weathers as Dillion. It is directed by John McTiernan.

Fun Fact: The human body count in the movie is 69.

1988

This was the year of Rain Man, Twins, and Die Hard. I decided to pick Young Guns, which is the story of a group of gunmen seeking revenge. It stars Emilio Estevez as William H. Bonney, Kiefer Sutherland as Doc Scurlock, Lou Diamond Phillips as Chavez y Chavez, Charlie Sheen as Dick Brewer, Dermot Mulroney as Dirty Steve Stephens, and Casey Siemaszko as Charley Bowdre. It is directed by Christopher Cain.

Fun Fact: Kiefer Sutherland accidentally popped his squib blood pack, which had taken an hour to rig up.

1989

This was the year of Batman, Dead Poets Society, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I decided to pick My Left Foot, which is about a man with cerebral palsy who paints with his left foot. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown and Brenda Fricker as Mrs. Brown. It is directed by Jim Sheridan.

Fun Fact: Brenda Fricker has only been nominated once for an Academy Award and won it for this movie.

March 2, 2019: Underrated and Overrated Actresses and Actors of Today

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When I first moved to Los Angeles, I rented an apartment that Hollywood actresses and actors stayed. The executives would then shuttle them to any of the studio lots for whatever movie they were in and after a long day, bring them back to this apartment. It had an elevator, I think, but it wasn’t operating at the time. You could tell the building had been around for a while as the architecture was a throw back to that time period. While this practice is no longer being used, here is my list of current underrated and overrated actresses and actors.

The underrated actresses and actors come first because they deserve more spotlight. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad, but for whatever reason they aren’t given the chance to be a powerhouse star like the ones we already know. Although on the flip side, they probably aren’t looking for stardom and just want to act. Here they are in no particular order.

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Emily Blunt

Angela Bassett

Lili Taylor

Michelle Yeoh

Tilda Swinton

Amy Adams

Rachel Weisz

Michelle Williams

Margot Robbie

Rooney Mara

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Don Cheadle

Steve Zahn

Domhnall Gleeson

John C. Reilly

Ben Foster

Antonio Banderas

Oscar Issac

Walton Goggins

Byung-hun Lee

Gael García Bernal

The overrated actresses and actors come last because they get enough spotlight. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad either. Maybe, some of the movies they starred in weren’t that good. When you start talking about craft, basically two come to mind for their lack of it. People’s fascination for them doesn’t match what they offer on the screen movie after movie. Sorry, but it’s just how I feel. I’m not going to tell you if they are male or female as you will have to make your own decisions regarding this list. Here they are in no particular order.

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Angelina Jolie

Scarlett Johannson

Kristen Stewart

Jennifer Lawrence

Emma Watson

Kate Hudson

Halle Berry

Gwyneth Paltrow

Jennifer Aniston

Reese Witherspoon

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George Clooney

Leonardo DiCaprio

Tom Cruise

Dwayne Johnson

Liam Neeson

Mark Wahlberg

Will Smith

James Franco

Jeremy Renner

Robert Downey Jr.

And there you have it, my list of underrated and overrated actresses and actors. I was going to put up pictures, but in the whole scheme of things does it matter. If you are wanting to see their faces that much, I will leave it up to you to browse the internet.

February 7, 2019: Back to the 1990s Again!

Now that we are done bringing back 80s fashion and trends for the most part, we have crept into the 90s finally. Back then, semi established writers/directors were casting their nets wider in Hollywood such as Jane Campion, Kevin Smith, Amy Heckerling, Quentin Tarantino, Mira Nair, Gus Van Sant, and Joel and Ethan Coen, Sofia Coppola, and Todd Solondz. Here are my favorite movies for each writer/director listed above from that decade. Note that some of the movies were adaptations by previous works.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) is a movie about male hustlers. Mike finds guidance under the more experienced Scott, played by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. They go on a journey together, mainly for Mike to find his mother. It sends them across state lines and overseas. It’s a drama that has a tragic element from start to finish. It’s directed by Gus Van Sant. It has a R rating for strong sensuality, language, and drug use.

The Piano (1993) is the movie about a young girl and mother, both struggling for their independence. Anna Paquin played Flora, which won her an Oscar, and Holly Hunter played her mother, Ada, also won an Oscar. Sam Neill (underrated actor in my opinion) and Harvey Keitel lent their hand in making the tone creepy in their own distinct ways. There is great cinematography throughout it and the story is quite haunting. It’s a period piece drama directed by Jane Campion. It has a R rating for extreme graphic sexuality.

Mallrats (1995) is the movie where college students focus on the wrong things. Brodie and TS, played by Jason Lee and Jeremy London, don’t have much going for themselves except to try to win back their girlfriends. What’s the best place to put their winning plan into motion? It’s called a mall where losers usually stay losers, but cool losers. It’s a comedy directed by Kevin Smith. It has a R rating for strong language, sexuality, and drug content.

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) is the coming of age movie with a sarcastic tone. Dawn Wiener, played by Heather Matarazzo, is an outcast in school and has earned unfortunate nicknames by her classmates. She searches for acceptance in all the wrong places including a boy named Brandon and a much older student named Steve. I think every student who wasn’t part of the popular crowd can relate to this. It’s a comedy directed by Todd Solondz. It has a R rating for language.

Clueless (1995) is a movie about living and maintaining the status quo in Beverly Hills, California. Cher Horowitz and her best friend Dionne, played by Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash, set out to make their circle bigger. They befriend Tai, played by Brittany Murphy, who becomes too much for either one to handle. It’s a comedy directed by Amy Heckerling. It has a PG-13 rating for sex related dialogue and some teen use of alcohol and drugs.

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) is a movie about two friends who end up in competition for a man. Tara and Maya, played by Indira Varma and Sarita Choudhury, are close but opposites. Tara is a part of royalty and Maya’s role will only be of a servant. They each have their own desires and agendas for Raj Singh, played by Naveen Andrews. It’s a period piece drama directed by Mira Nair. It has a R rating for strong erotic sequences, nudity, and some violence.

Fargo (1996) is a movie about a car dealer who digs himself into a further hole to get out of debt. Jerry, played by William H. Macy, is married to a woman who is about as smart as himself. As the plan goes from bad to worse and bodies pile up, it’s the sheriff from Brainerd, Minnesota to the rescue. It’s a crime drama directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It has a R rating for strong violence, language, and sexuality.

Jackie Brown (1997) is a movie about a flight attendant who is also money smuggler for Ordell, played by Samuel L. Jackson. When Jackie, played by Pam Grier, finds herself in trouble, she has to use her charm and negotiating skills to outmaneuver the agents, bosses, and enemies never far away. It’s a crime drama directed by Quentin Tarantino. It has a R rating for strong language, some violence, drug use and sexuality.

The Virgin Suicides (1999) is a movie about five sisters who each deal with living with strict Catholic parents in their own way. This family keeps taboo matters hidden rugs and sensitive topics under lock and key. The Lisbon family, maladjusted as they were, leaves a lasting impression on the town. It’s a drama direct by Sofia Coppola. It has a R rating for strong thematic elements involving teens.

1990s

And there you have it, more 1990’s movies. I eventually have to venture out of this decade and move either to a time way before or into 2000 and beyond.

January 29, 2019: Quote by Kubrick

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January 18, 2019: Movie Review: Papillon (1973) and Papillon (2017)

Quote from Papillon (1973) by Toussaint: “If you’re going to catch leprosy, it’s better to catch it from money than from people.”

Quote from Papillon (2017) by Dega: “Now what’s the son of two school teachers doing in a place like this?”

I’ve been wanting to watch these movies for a while. I finally got around to brushing the dust off the cases and putting them into my Blu-ray player. I’ve seen a handful of prison movies and enough to know what it can be, shouldn’t be, actually is, history of it, and current reality of the institution that has grown its own wings and become a beast of its own. I liked both versions although the original matches more to the book than the remake. The original script was written primarily by Dalton Trumbo and the remake by Aaron Guzikowski. Instead of separating them, I’m going to semi blend both into one piece of synergy, keeping in mind Henri Charrière more than likely did not experience everything he wrote about. It was more an amalgamation of the prisoners he met and the things he witnessed, but he never lost sight of what he went through as well. This is a good thing because it’s almost unimaginable if he actually did go through all that and survived as well as he did.

Pisaries Creator’s Note: I tend to put spoilers in movies that were released for quite some time and although the remake is newer, the story is not. There will be some spoilers about Henri Charrière’s and other prisoners’ experiences below. If you care not to know about them, do not read any further, but do watch these movies if you haven’t already.

Bagne de Cayenne Arria Belli [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Papillon is based from the autobiography of Henri Charrière’s time in the French Guiana penal colony where the mortality rate at one time was 75%. The colony opened in 1852 and housed political prisoners at Devil’s Island, those in solitary confinement at Saint-Joseph Island, and the general population at Royale Island. Additional housing was later built. Much like other facilities that closed its doors because of poor conditions, rampant abuses, and public criticism, the French government stopped sending prisoners there in 1938 and the colony closed in 1953. While many prisoners died of violence, diseases, lack of nutrition, and forced labor, a few were lucky to escape and live. One of them was Henri although records say instead of escaping from Devil’s Island, he escaped from the main island. There has been authentication issues regarding his book as some argue Henri embellished his story. Either way it makes for a great story and this is why he probably angled it as an autobiography rather than fiction. There is no disputing he was housed at this general penal colony and was sentenced to live there for his entire life, starting in 1931.

Getting to Know the Major Players

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Papillon Set in 2017/Bleecker Street

To sound like a broken record, Papillon is an adaptation of Henri Charrière’s autobiographical book although more accurate is a narrative book by today’s standards. Dalton Trumbo and Lorenzo Semple Jr. are credited as the screenwriters and William Goldman as a contributing writer. The director was Franklin J. Schaffner. It was given an MPAA rating of R. It has a running time of 2 hours and 31 minutes. It is produced by Robert Dorfmann, Franklin J. Schaffner, and Ted Richmond. It is distributed by Allied Artists and Columbia Pictures. In the 2017 version, Aaron Guzikowski is the screenwriter who adapted his script from the books “Papillon” and “Banco” by Henri Charrière’s with Michael Noer as the director. This version also has a MPAA rating of R for violence including bloody images, language, nudity, and some sexual material. It has a running time of 2 hours and 13 minutes. It is produced by Czech Anglo Productions, Ram Bergman Productions, and FishCorb Films. It is distributed by Bleecker Street. Both movies included Louis Dega, a prisoner playing a major role in Henri Charrière’s attempts to free himself, and this is the platform on which the story progresses and evolves. Dega is played by Dustin Hoffman in the first movie and Rami Malek in the second. Charrière is played by Steve McQueen in the first movie and Charlie Hunnam in the second.

I will start with the summary of the original and then remake. You are pretty much thrust into the harshness of Henri Charrière life. It’s not going to be easy for him as he takes his walk of shame down a crowded street after being convicted of murder. He is with others who have been charged to carry out their sentence in the French Guiana penal colony and those who are sentenced 8+ years spend their whole life there. He hears about another prisoner named Louis Dega who is rumored to have lots of money. Henri meets the soft-spoken prisoner after Louis gets a little too close to violence. They come to a an agreement where they will help each other out once they arrive: Louis will provide Henri money for his future plans and Henri will provide Louis with physical protection against other prisoners and guards. They aren’t the only ones with plans as one prisoner tries to escape and the other hurts himself to be sent to the infirmary. The rest are given a lecture about what happens if they try to escape: the first attempt gets a man two years in solitary, the second attempt means gets a man five years in solitary, and a third attempt means the guillotine.

Because of Louis’s crime, he is sent to hard labor with Henri in tow. It is here Henri makes his first attempt at escaping, only to find you shouldn’t be so trusting, and is sent to solitary confinement. He is given nothing to do but pace back and forth and eat the little meals he receives each day. He is able to get by when he finds half a coconut in his bucket, but it doesn’t last long. This extra food given to him allows Warden Barrot (William Smithers), the chance to show how much worse it can get. He punishes Henri with small rations and makes him live without any light. This leads to a sort of mental breakdown where he imagines his life before he came there, illustrating his questioning the choices he made. When he is released from solitary confinement, he reunites with Louis and meets another prisoner, Maturette (Robert Deman) who is being preyed upon by a guard.

They come together and with the doctor’s help named Pascal (Val Avery), Henri makes a second escape attempt. Initially Louis only wanted to help him, but after it doesn’t go as planned, he is forced to go with Henri. They scale the walls and make it to the jungle, only to find another problem. Yet, luck is on their side as Henri, Louis, and Maturette find another boat with the help of a trapper and leper colony chief named Toussaint (Anthony Zerbe). They land in Colombia and are forced to separate right away as guns are pointed at them. Henri has no choice but to leave and meets a Spanish prisoner. He next wakes up in a village of natives who feed and house him. It is here he sees what true freedom really means. Their bond is solidified when Henri gives the leader a butterfly tattoo like his own.

He next finds refuge in a convent until he is betrayed again. He is sent back to the penal colony, and this time for five years in solitary confinement which leaves him looking older and weary. He somehow makes it through this period and is sent to Devil’s Island to a cabin for live the rest of his life. Despite his aging, he recognizes Louis tending to his garden and pig. More time spent with him reinforces Henri’s own need for freedom, even if it costs him his life. This time there is no jungle to battle through or boat to secure. He is high up with nothing to keep him afloat except coconuts strung together. After he says goodbye to Louis, he makes the jump to freedom he’s wanted throughout his incarceration.

The opening of the remake immerses you into the life of Henri Charrière prior to talking the walk to the boat that will carry him to his new life at the penal colony. It gives you a little window into Henri, allowing you some sympathy for his situation. He might be part of the Parisian underworld, but it doesn’t mean he’s a murderer for which he was framed. After being found guilty despite his alibi given from his lover, Nenette (Eve Hewson), he find himself walking close to Louis Dega. It is here where Louis’s wife tells him he will get out soon. As they are loaded onto the boat that will take the prisoners to South America, Henri settles into the madness as best he can. He is now in a place where every man is for himself, and despite this he still only takes physical action when it is only necessary. He comes to an agreement with Louis after helping him during an altercation. They exchange money for protection, giving you the first glimpse into prison reality. When they finally arrive on the island, a few try to escape in front of everyone. They don’t get very far and the ones that do eventually are brought back. It is at this moment Louis realizes this is not what he thought it would be and is truly scared for the first time since arriving.

After an escaped prisoner, Julot (Michael Socha) is guillotined, it’s Henri and Louis who have to move the body to its final resting place. It is here Henri makes his first attempt at escaping, but he doesn’t make it far. It leaves Louis dazed and frightened. Henri is given two years in solitary confinement where he can’t talk. The only human interaction is when he sticks his head out of the hole for a haircut. He is annoyed when another prisoner asks him how he looks, but after a prolonged amount of time there, he finds himself asking how he looks too to another prisoner. He does a lot of walking back and forth along with push ups until he is too weak to do anything. His rations have been cut in half after the guards find out someone has been supplementing his food with coconuts. After keeping his silence with Warden Barrot (Yorick van Wageningen) about this, he still survives and is released to the infirmary.

He reunites with Louis and makes an aquaintance with a prisoner named Maturette (Joel Basman). Reluctant at first to help Henri, Maturette decides to help him by sacrificing himself sexually. This helps clear the way for a successful second attempt at escaping. This time it isn’t only Henri, but also Dega, Maturette and Celier (Roland Møller). While they are now free, it isn’t all that great because there are too many people in their boat. This leads to an altercation where not everyone lives. They leave what happened behind as best they can and find solace at a convent in Colombia. Despite their willingness to live better lives, they are captured again and sent back to the penal colony.

After five years has passed, Henri is released from solitary confinement and sent to Devil’s Island to live for the rest of his life. He isn’t willing to settle for less and despite Louis who tries to convince him to stay, he commits to jumping from the cliff into the water where many have died before. In this third escape attempt, Henri swims to his makeshift coconut raft hoping to find freedom he desires.

Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman or Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek

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I was thinking McQueen and Hoffman were going to be the better choice when it came to acting. Dustin Hoffman carries himself on the screen in such a way that you don’t blink too many times in case you might miss something. I have now seen two movies Steve McQueen starred in, this and The Magnificent Seven, and while his performance edged out Hunnam, it wasn’t by much because Hunnam’s portrayal of Henri was good and borderline great. Where McQueen’s performance was a little more aggressive in nature, Hunnam’s performance was just as insistent but more of a quiet nature especially when had to dig deep during his solitary confinement days or should I say years. This isn’t to say Hunnam wasn’t capable of showing his darker side when his character’s life depended on it. I thought Hunnam’s was a more likable Henri compared to McQueen’s. While he might not have had quite the range of McQueen, I found Hunnam more believable in terms of portraying and showing vulnerability and strength between himself and Malek. Yet, I preferred McQueen’s portrayal of Henri’s mental and physical breakdown during solitary confinement from his mind to his teeth. Hunnam lost around 35 pounds for this role where I couldn’t find anything about McQueen weight loss. I preferred Hoffman’s performance in that his unassuming and non-threatening manner on which he played Louis was done in an understated way that you forget it’s him. While this was done superbly, I missed some of the rare opportunities found in Malek’s portrayal of Louis such as the result of when you agitate him one too many times. While Hoffman and McQueen played characters who became friends because they were forced at first, I felt Malek and Hunnam were better able to portray their character’s friendship out of convenience at first and then because they truly wanted it by the end. I would say both were compelling and convincing, but overall I preferred Hunnam and Malek’s performances.

Which Butterfly Had the Prettier Wings?

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While the story was the same, there were some notable differences between the versions. Much of it had to do with the different time periods, but maybe also how the director envisioned the movie. Leprosy was incorporated in the original, but it doesn’t hold as much weight compared to today so I assume they took it out to make it a little more modern. The scene where Henri and Louis work together to fight an alligator is not in the remake yet had held some importance as it kept them together as prisoners. While the settings are richer in terms of color in the remake, there is less connection to the native animals or animals. There was more of an effort to incorporate a connection to the outside world in terms of loved ones in the remake as Dega longs for his wife and freedom to see her again. The original had Henri facing his demons with a panel of judges telling him he was guilty. I preferred the remake where it was more creative of him visualizing a safe and the meaning of it in his life. There was also a nod to his Parisian lifestyle that you hardly got in the original. The special effects were better as well such as the blood. It looked less like a combination of ketchup and food coloring. There were some scenes that could have been eliminated in the original. Therefore in terms of overall production, I preferred the 2017 version over the 1973.

Concluding Thoughts

As I bring this to a close, this movie had mixed reviews among top critics and viewers. While I would have liked to seen more closure about what happened with Nenette in the remake, it signals the fact most of the prisoners once released never returned to France. The biggest issue with the original was the length. After the book was released, the French government invited Henri back. He died in 1973, almost being 67 years old. Charles Brunier who claims he was the inspiration for Papillon died in 2007. He lived much longer at the age of 105.

PC’s Rating for Papillon (1973)

Four Fingers of GREATNESS at 86%

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PC’s Rating for Papillon (2017)

Four Fingers of GREATNESS at 90%.

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January 11, 2019: Some TV Statistics

The highest paid TV actresses or actors in 2018 (Forbes)

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The longest running U.S. TV series (Wikipedia)

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The longest running scripted U.S. TV series (Wikipedia)

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January 11, 2019: How Much are You Worth in Hollywood by the 2018 Statistics?

Many of us dream and think what it would be like to earn and have a net profit in the millions.  We think it will bring us all kinds of happiness and indeed, it does in some respects, but in others not.  There are pitfalls to most everything.  You lose your privacy when you become an actress and actor.  You are subject to magazine gossip.  Lovers want to know everything about you: what you eat, drink, and crap.  You better have a thick skin.  The haters can rip your soul from your body and step on it without missing a beat.  The thing is this kind of job, while a few earn into the millions, the majority do not.  It’s hard to have longevity in Hollywood and yes, more so for women.  Most every actress has some kind of Botox injected into them and some actors do it as well.  Is talent (some less than others) measure up to what they have in their bank accounts?  I’m not sure, but  even if you have a family member working in Hollywood doesn’t mean you have it made.  Did Jennifer Aniston not teach us anything?  Here are some statistics about wealth and longevity in Hollywood and then adding some general statistics so the lower classes don’t feel left out.

The world’s highest paid actresses in 2018 (Forbes)

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The world’s highest paid actors in 2018 (Forbes)

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The best investment return of actors and actresses in 2018 (Forbes)

This means for every one dollar paid to the actress or actor, the average return of her or his movies earned was great to good.

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The worst investment return of actors and actresses in 2018 (Forbes)

This means for every one dollar paid to the actress or actor, the average return of her or his movies earned was okay to bad.

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The rest of us sit way below any of these people unless you come from a great source of wealth.  You are probably in the same boat as me. 

According to the Business Insider from 2017, the wealthiest 30 people in the world control 1.23 trillion dollars.

About 13.6 U.S. adults have a net worth above one million so that accounts for 41% of the world’s millionaires.  However, Switzerland has the most millionaires per capita so that means 1 out of 8.6 people can call themselves a millionaire.

The U.S. may have the largest amount of millionaires, but the median wealth per adult if $44,977 and only goes down for certain pockets of minorities.  The distribution isn’t equal by any means. 

This might give perspective for all of us regarding wealth in the U.S. and the world.  There’s definitely enough to go around, but unfortunately the very top doesn’t seem to want to share all that much.

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January 3, 2019: 10 Movies Based from Real People

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.

December 19, 2018: 10 Holiday Movies to Watch

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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.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

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.

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Hebrew Hammer (2003)

  The first time seeing this movie and 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.

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

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.

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Krampus (2015)

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.

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White Christmas (1954)

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.

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Mixed Nuts (1994)

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.

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Office Christmas Party (2016)

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.

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Bad Santa 2 (2016)

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.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

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.

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Love Actually (2003)

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.

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December 8, 2018: Today is Bryan Cranston Day

Quote from Trumbo by Dalton Trumbo: (challenging John Wayne) “If you’re gonna talk about World War II as if you personally won it, let’s be clear where you were stationed – on a film set, shooting blanks, wearing makeup, and if you’re going to hit me, I’d like to take off my glasses.”

Quote from The Infiltrator by Robert Mazur: “Roberto, I am glad you are here. But there is a part of me that wishes you hadn’t taken that risk.”

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tarring in was an X-Files episode called “Drive” where he played Patrick Crump although is most known for his role as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle and Walter White in Breaking Bad. Trumbo and The Infiltrator are based on true stories, which lends itself to interesting subject matter. There were more opportunities to inject humor into the dialogue in Trumbo versus The Infiltrator, but Trumbo didn’t have the opportunity for the tension you’d find in crime drama. I put them pretty much neck and neck in terms of production value. Below are short descriptions and ratings for both.

Trumbo (2015) is a drama about the screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in Hollywood during the late 1940s, and the result of it impacted his family, friends, and most of all himself. His story is adapted from the book by Bruce Cook and the screenplay is written by John McNamara. It is directed by Jay Roach and stars Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo and Diane Lane as Cleo Trumbo. In addition to Cranston and Lane, David Maldonado plays Rocco, Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, Alan Tudyk as Ian McLellan Hunter, and Louis C.K. as Arlen Hird. It has a MPAA rating of R for language including some sexual references and is 2 hours and 4 minutes long.

The film opens with Trumbo being a top screenwriter for the studios until his Communist Party alignment comes under the spotlight by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He is forced to serve eleven months in a federal prison and when he gets out, as the saying goes, he’s a changed man. He now has to write under the radar and does so with the help of his family and screenwriters who weren’t blacklisted. This lead to him not being able to accept the Academy Awards for Roman Holiday (1953) and The Brave One (1956), but also lead to hardships on a personal level. He was contacted to write Spartacus (1960) and because of the change in political climate including the election of a new President, the power of Hedda Hopper and anti-Communist Hollywood elites lost their traction. Trumbo and the other blacklisted writers were no longer seen as villains, and his family was able to resume to more of a level of normalcy. I give Trumbo a rating of 90%.

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The Infiltrator (2016) is a crime drama about a U.S. Customs Service agent, Robert Mazur, who infiltrates the drug underworld using the alias Bob Musella. It leads him to the key players under Pablo Escobar and their money laundering schemes. This adaptation is based from Mazur’s own book and the screenplay is written by Ellen Sue Brown. It is directed by Brad Furman and stars Bryan Cranston as Bob Musella, John Leguizamo as Emir Abreu, Diane Kruger as Kathy Ertz. Other cast include Juliet Aubrey as Evelyn Mazur, Joseph Gilgun as Dominic, Yul Vazquez as Javier Ospina, Michael Paré as Barry Seal, Benjamin Bratt as Roberto Alcaino, and Elena Anaya as Gloria Alcaino, and Carsten Hayes as Rudy Armbrecht. It has a MPAA rating of R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material. It is 2 hours and 7 minutes long.

The film opens with Mazur finishing an undercover operation, only to be sucked into another one after some convincing by Emir Abreu. With the help of Abreu and Dominic, Bob Musella takes shape and works his way up the underworld food chain where he goes through a series of tests. Operation C-Chase would last two years, which proved hard on himself, but he eventually finds himself where he wants to be. He is now near the top of the food chain and befriends Robert Alcaino and his wife, Gloria. Mazur likes to work alone, but is given no choice to work with another undercover agent named Kathy Ertz. She plays his fun-loving fiancée who has an eye for finer things, but as they continue to work as a team, Ertz becomes even more of a vital part of their undercover operation. Using the backdrop of a wedding as the operation comes to a close, it is clear to Mazur and Ertz that even though you are paid to bring down the “bad guys” it doesn’t mean relationships aren’t formed. By the end of Operation C-Chase, these were broken as well as the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) members arrested and charged. I give The Infiltrator a rating of 90%.

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November 15, 2018: 10 Random Movies from My Collection

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1

Nine (2009) is a musical drama about an egotistical Italian film director who tries to find balance with his personal and professional lives. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido Contini with Sophia Loren as his Mamma.

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2

The Great White Hype (1996) is a sports comedy about two boxers, one retired from the ring and one in the best shape of his life, that come together for the big fight. Damon Wayans and Peter Berg play the fighters. Samuel L. Jackson plays the promoter.

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3

The Good Girl (2002) is a drama about a store clerk who has an affair with a stock boy who thinks he’s Holden Caulfield from A Catcher in the Rye. Jennifer Aniston plays the bored wife, John C. Reilly as her husband, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the boy.

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4

Machete (2010) is an action thriller about man who has been set up during an assassination. With help from his brother, he gets his revenge. Danny Trejo plays Machete and Cheech Marin plays his priest brother.

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5

Rat (2000) is a comedy drama about a family man, Hubert Flynn, turning into a rat. His family has different plans for him, but it’s clear this can’t go on forever. Pete Postlethwaite is Flynn and Imelda Staunton is his wife.

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6

I Shot Andy Warhol? (1996) is a biography drama about the true story of Valerie Solanas who shot Andy Warhol after he ignored her requests to have her script made into a film. Lili Taylor plays Solanas and Jared Harris plays Andy Warhol.

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7

Undertow (2004) is a drama thriller about a father and his two sons who are forced to move to a farm in rural Georgia after his wife dies. He reestablishes a relationship with his own brother. Dermot Mulroney plays John Munn and Jamie Bell and Devon Alan play his sons. Josh Lucas plays Deel Munn.

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8

Casa de mi Padre (2012) is comedy western about a man, Armando Alvarez, who works on his father’s ranch and with the help of his brother hopes to bring it out of debt. The problem is that Alvarez falls in love with Sonia and becomes the target of a drug lord. Will Ferrell plays Alvarez, Diego Luna plays his brother Raul, and Gael García Bernal plays Onza.

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9

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) is a drama about a couple living the married life of alcoholism, bitterness and verbal fighting. It is only fueled when they are around other people. Elizabeth Taylor plays Martha and Richard Burton plays George.

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10

Hairspray (2007) is a musical comedy/drama about a teenager obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. She finds herself center stage on the show and decides changes need to be made to make it more inclusive. Nikki Blonsky plays Tracy Turnblad, John Travolta plays her mother, and James Marsen plays Corny Collins.

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October 30, 2018:  How Long Will Movie Theaters Last?

movietheater3I’ve been thinking about the longevity of movie theaters and how long they will be in business.  The need for a fairly cheap diversion from reality and entertainment is the reason why they will always have a place in the world, but I feel over time the desire will decrease if the trends keep going as they are.  Much like drive-in theaters are a phenomenon of the past, it maybe that theaters as we know it today are few and far between.  While it won’t be on the level of Blockbuster where only one store exists and that is in Bend, Oregon as of August 2018, the ability to watch movies on big screens in the confines of your home or apartment/loft has already made an unwanted dent in Hollywood and un-Hollywood movies. 

There are some, like myself, who frankly wishes that studios would give more of a chance on other movies besides remakes and comic book heroes/heroines.  I know there are other independent movies (that meaning has definitely changed over time) and adaptations that are worthy of viewing.  The thing is I’m now willing to wait for movies to either come on Netflix or Hulu and if I feel the compulsion, go to Redbox or something similar to it.  If I miss those opportunities, I can always buy it online.  Let’s face it.  The flooding of the ways in which to view movies has made the current experience of going to the movie theater less appealing to some.  I used to be gung-ho in buying the ticket, waiting in line for the popcorn (large with butter please if you’re at Arclight), watching the previews, and finally 20 to 30 minutes later enjoying the movie. 

Now, I’m less willing to sit in the theater although the current one has reclining seats to the point of you could fall asleep if you wanted, but you don’t because these days movie tickets aren’t cheap.  The prices for me ranged from eight to 17 dollars when I lived in Los Angeles.  For years, I went to AMC with their discounted tickets.   Sometimes, I went to Arclight where the movies were the highest priced, but had the best popcorn.  I liked Laemmle Theatres as it was a family run movie theater.  I went to Regency right before I left Los Angeles.  Now, they are around 12 dollars.  The other reason I’m less willing to watch a movie in the theater because I’m pickier nowadays with the movie quality.

The movies I thought had opportunities to be good and possibly great viewing experiences were mediocre when the credits rolled.  I was disappointed one too many times.  Yes, movie reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve read enough to know there is something missing in many movies being released today.  I can’t put my finger on it, but from what I’ve seen, there isn’t enough depth.  The characters have backstory, but the actions only go halfway into the belly of the problem or issue.  I’m severely missing that layer of fat.  Not that I want eat it, but I want definitely want it dangling in front of my nose.  Take off the saran wrap, please. Let me experience the smell.

I plan on seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater. Not sure on opening weekend, but I will go eventually. I think the days of seeing movies every month are gone for me. I’m finding it too time consuming.  Bad, I know, but times have changed. The large bucket of popcorn should be enough for a family of four, but now it is usually deemed as suitable for one or two people. Then, you get the refill. I’m not sure what will replace the movie trend of remakes and comic book adaptations, but when it does, I’ll be looking forward to it.

October 6, 2018: 10 Horror Movies to Watch

As October 31st comes creeping around the dark corner, here are 10 horror movies decent to watch for either their cheesiness, gore, hilarity, and in a few cases suspense. Not everyone needs to die and blood doesn’t need to be shed to be a Halloween movie, but it sure helps. I pretty much kept it to the so bad it’s so good or looks good but was okay movies. Here is my list this year, in no particular order, I watched (most again/a few for the first time).

Dr. Giggles (1992)

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Terrifier (2017)

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House of Wax (2005)

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Six Souls (2010)

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American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002)

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Children of the Corn (1984)

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Pumpkinhead (1988)

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Sacrifice (2016)

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People Under the Stairs (1991)

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Cult of Chucky (2017)

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September 30, 2018: Movies from 1990 to 1999

I look back at the 1990s with some fondness. There were many good movies that poured out of the studios in this decade. Here are my ten movie picks, one for each year, that are still great to watch.

Misery (1990)

Paul Sheldon should count his lucky stars he has such a huge fan base. He was doing so well until Annie Wilkes came into his life. She’s the nightmare all writers fear. Heck, she’s the nightmare everyone fears. This is based from the Stephen King novel of the same name. James Caan plays Sheldon and Kathy Bates plays his crazed number one fan. Good thing you don’t need your legs for inspiration or to write.

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Cape Fear (1991)

Max Cady is not someone you want to mess around with in either the 1962 version or this one. Sam Bowden learns the hard way when Cady is released from prison and seeks revenge on his family. It stars Robert DeNiro as Cady, Nick Nolte as Bowden, Jessica Lange as Leigh (wife), and Juliette Lewis as Danielle (daughter).

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Bram Stokers: Dracula (1992)

Everything is not right in love and dracula. This is an adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola with Gary Oldman as Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina, and Keanu Reeves as Tom Harker. This centers around Dracula’s longing to love again and becomes fixated on Mina. The soundtrack is really good too and Tom Waits has a small role.

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Ba wang bie ji (original title)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)

This is the longest movie I’m recommending because it spans quite a bit of time. It’s an adaptation from Pik Wah Lee’s (Lillian Lee) novel that focuses on two performers in the Peking Opera. It follows their lives, competitive in career and love, as they navigate their way through the political turmoil in China. It stars Leslie Cheung as Chen Dieyi, Fengyi Zhang as Duan Xiaolou, and Li Gong as Juxian.

farewellmyconcubine

Léon (original title)
Léon: The Professional (1994)

The first movie that Natalie Portman starred in and as a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda. She finds life again under the tutelage of a hitman and her emotions don’t run deep for her parents and sister. Her brother is a different story, and this is why she pesters Léon to the point of him teaching her how to hold a gun and shoot properly. Little does he know the only thing she wants is revenge. You can’t go wrong with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman either.

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The Usual Suspects (1995)

This remains one of my favorite Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Spacey movies. The whole cast is great and the interaction among them all is first-rate. The whole time you’re trying to figure out why everyone is there and if you’ll actually find out who Keyser Söze is by the end. Sometimes the truth can be right in front you, but sometimes it is very far away.

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Sling Blade (1996)

The second movie Lucas Black was in and complete in his underwear. He plays Frank Wheatley who befriends a man named Karl Childers who was recently released from a mental hospital. This movie was written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton and stars himself as Childers. It’s a great drama with great small roles played by Robert Duvall, John Ritter, and Dwight Yoakam.

sling blade

Le cinquième élément (original title)
The Fifth Element (1997)

We zigzag back and forth from the 23rd century to the past, about 5,000 years, when the people with good intentions are still battling those with only evil intentions. All will be lost if the four stones aren’t found, but have no fear because Korben Dallas played by Bruce Willis and Vito Cornelius played by Ian Holm come to the rescue, sort of. Milla Jojovich as Leeloo is the Fifth Element.

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Lola rennt (original title)
Run Lola Run (1998)

This movie is for all those girlfriends who have boyfriends who can’t stay out of trouble and put them in predicaments they’d rather not be in. Lola played by Franka Potente has to fix her boyfriend’s screw up. She’s a woman who keeps running in order to get 100,000 Deutschmarks so Manni doesn’t get killed or have to rob a bank. There are many different ways this day could end and all in 20 minutes.

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Being John Malkovich (1999)

This gem of a movie is written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It deals with getting inside someone’s mind, and in this case, John Malkovich. As the puppeteer who found this portal, Craig Schwartz, he begins to ponder the true meaning of life and all it has to offer him. He shares his secret with others and this soon leads to problems for everyone involved. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course, John Malkovich.

beingjohnmalkovich

September 30 2018: My Top Ten Lists of Best Actors/Actresses

I was going to write down the reasons why I picked these actors/actresses, but then I decided against it.  My choices speak for themselves.  My mark of a great actor/actress is his or her ability to transform on the screen as well as the capability of having range.  These are in no particular order, but might change by next year.  For now, here they are.

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My Top 10 Under Age 55 Actors (Living)

Michael Fassbender was born on April 2, 1977.

Christian Bale was born on January 30, 1974.

Brad Pitt was born on December 18, 1963.

Ryan Gosling was born on November 12, 1980.

Domhnall Gleeson was born on May 12, 1983.

Peter Dinklage was born on June 11, 1969.

Will Ferrell was born on July 16, 1967.

Tom Hardy was born on September 15, 1977.

John C. Reilly was born on May 24, 1965.

Joaquin Phoenix was born on October 28, 1974.

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My Top 10 Under Age 55 Actresses (Living)

Emily Blunt was born on February 23, 1983.

Kate Winslet was born on October 5, 1975

Charlize Theron was born on August 7, 1975.

Nicole Kidman was born on June 20, 1967.

Laura Linney was born on February 5, 1964.

Anne Hathaway was born on November 12, 1982.

Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969.

Jessica Chastain was born on March 24, 1977.

Lili Taylor was born February 20, 1967.

Marion Cotillard was born September 30, 1975.

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My Top 10 Over Age 55 Actors (Living)

Daniel-Day Lewis was born on April 29, 1957.

Steve Buscemi was born on December 13, 1957.

Forest Whitaker was born on July 15, 1961.

Sean Penn was born on August 17, 1960.

Samuel L. Jackson was born on December 21, 1948.

Bill Murray was born on September 21, 1950.

Sidney Poitier was born on February 20, 1927.

Christoph Waltz was born on October 4, 1956.

Choi Min-sik was born on April 27, 1962.

Christopher Plummer was born on December 12, 1929.

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My Top 10 Over Age 55 Actresses (Living)

Helen Mirren was born on July 26, 1945.

Judi Dench was born on December 9, 1937.

Angela Bassett was born on August 16, 1958.

Glenn Close was born on March 19, 1947.

Francis McDormand was born on June 23, 1957.

Meryl Streep was born on June 22, 1949.

Katey Sagal was born on January 19, 1954.

Tilda Swinton was born on November 5, 1960.

Jennifer Jason Leigh was born on February 5, 1962.

Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958.

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My Top 10 Actors (Not Living)

Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 (died 2003).

J.T. Walsh was born on September 28, 1943 (died 1998).

Humphrey Bogart was born on December 25, 1899 (died 1957).

John Hurt was born on January 22, 1940 (died 2017).

Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967 (died 2014).

Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924 (died 2004).

James Dean was born on February 8, 1931 (died 1955).

Paul Newman was born on January 26, 1925 (died 2008).

Alan Rickman was born on February 21, 1946 (died 2016).

James Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 (died 1997).

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My Top 10 Actresses (Not Living)

Grace Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 (died 1982).

Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 (died 2011).

Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922 (died 1969).

Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 (died 1962).

Ingrid Bergman was born on August 29, 1915 (died 1982).

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938 (died 1981).

Lynn Redgrave was born on March 8, 1943 (died 2010).

Vivien Leigh was born on November 5, 1931 (died 1967).

Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 (died 1993).

Lauren Bacall was born on September 16, 1924 (died 2014).

September 7, 2018: Lowest and Highest Grossing Movies

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July 24, 2018: Movie Fight 1

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I decided to compare briefly two movies I’ve seen within a few days of each other. These happened to be on Hulu and basically watched them because I’m doing a Cheers marathon right now while sometimes unpacking. It brought up other options I might be interested in and The Brady Bunch Movie came up. Plus, both were expiring soon so I thought why not watch some nonsense for once. I even watched the sequel to The Brady Bunch Movie.

Dirty Grandpa stars Robert De Niro as grandpa and Zac Efron as grandson. Grandpa, who’s wife just passed away, wants to live life as his departed old wife wanted him to do. He persuades his grandson to drive him to Daytona Beach, Florida, where many fine looking female students go for spring break. The only problem is grandson is getting married soon, and his demanding fiancée wants him all to herself. He wants this too, but grandpa has other plans for his used to be fun grandson. It’s a road trip with some endearing moments, but it has more foul language and sexual references than I care to count. I guess I sort of understand what the writer and director was trying to do with this film. It just falls way short of the finish line for De Niro and Efron in terms of utilizing their acting skills and seems to rely too heavily on the over the top comedy routine shtick.

The Brady Bunch Movie stars Shelly Long and Gary Cole and all their children. The most notable being Christine Taylor and Jennifer Elise Cox who played Marcia and Jan Brady. I did like the constant arguing between them. I liked Jean Smart and Michael McKean as the Dittmeyers. I liked RuPaul as the school counselor. Even despite all the complaining from Jan, I found Cindy the least likable. I don’t know why. So sorry Cindy. You know the family in some way will have a problem and need to put their differences aside. They do just this to help their parents. The movie had some funny moments, but the dialogue was a bit too much for me. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed somewhat forced and stiff. I can forgive it more because the movie is supposed be goofy. It captured what living in a large family can be like and luckily I never grew up in that although I was definitely born into it.

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Since I’m the only judge, I score the contest where The Brady Bunch edges out Dirty Grandpa by a few punches. I laughed more in Dirty Grandpa, but overall The Brady Bunch is the winner due to its subtle humor and a tad more realism.

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April 18, 2018: 10 Sports Movies You Probably Don’t Want to See

These ten sport movies could be lumped into the category of bad for several reasons. I’d probably watch a few again, but most I would not. This list is my picks for box office sport baddies. There are spoilers in most of my short descriptions so don’t read them if you want to give any of them a try. I have given you fair warning because as you will see some are pretty ridiculous.

Racing Stripes (2005)

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I know this is a children’s movie, but damn, this movie makes no sense. A zebra having brain capacity to want to be a horse, and compete at the highest level for horses. We all can suspend reality if there’s good reason, and more importantly, we must be convinced to do so. Racing Stripes does not give any explanation for why the zebra, aptly named Stripes by the daughter of the man who rescued him from a circus, is hell-bent on competing in the Kentucky Crown. In spite of being born in captivity (I’m assuming) and forgotten when the circus left, the zebra still retains some of its genetic makeup. Yet, there is little indication of this throughout the movie. I’m not expecting some magical potion that allowed this zebra to think like a horse, although it might have pushed the story along. There needed to be some plausible reason for this. The voices for the animals were done by quality actors and actresses, but it wasn’t enough to make it a worthwhile movie. I wouldn’t bet on this wannabe horse at any race track if I was into this kind of gambling, which I’m not.

8 Seconds (1994)

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It’s hard for me to root for a movie where the main character rides bulls for a living. I’m not into bull riding nor do I see any advantage of this sport (if you can call it that). It’s a highly dangerous activity, and this movie proves there are consequences. Yes, Lane Frost’s untimely death is tragic. Yes, his quick fame lead to an ego in overdrive. You might wonder how his head fit through saloon doors. While there’s no denying he was attracted to thrills, the portrayal of the rodeo lifestyle seemed at a distance. Lane’s personality flaws were obvious, which is fine, but he didn’t have enough on his good side to make him truly likable. The fact it starred Luke Perry might have detracted from telling the story because we all know how much girls lusted over Dylan McKay in 90210 or maybe that is why he was hired. Either way, it wasn’t enough for me to go my pile of good sports movies.

Summer Catch (2001)

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Summer Catch’s awfulness isn’t because of Jessica Biel or Freddie Prinze Jr’s acting, but due to the poorly written coming of age script. It isn’t that baseball and teenage romance can’t go together. I’m the first one to admit I find baseball boring as all hell, but a well written script will make me forget the boring as all hell part. This movie is mind numbing because the local baseball player completely ditches the game for the woman he realizes he loves while scouts are present. No, I don’t think so. To be overly dramatic, PULEESE!!! Then, to make it even more unlikely, she forgoes her job in San Francisco to stay with him while he proves himself as a minor league player. I’m not saying some people get lucky breaks, but if baseball meant everything to the character of Ryan Dunne, he wouldn’t have left his game during the middle of it. Everything happened a little too nicely at the end.

Gleaming the Cube (1989)

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I remember watching this movie thinking whoever is skating during the credits is pretty damn cool. I knew it wasn’t Christian Slater, but at the time I didn’t realize that the technical advisor was one of the original Z-Boys. Stacy Peralta was able to get skaters, such as Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, and Mark Rogowski, to do the stunts. They were the best part of the movie. Christian Slater over acted during the emotional scenes. Whether that was himself or the director wanting it, I’m not sure. Gleaming the Cube was full of cheesy lines. The moral of the story is if you’re a Caucasian skateboarder, you will be able to stop the bad guys by blending so well into the Vietnamese community. It would make more sense for your adopted Vietnamese brother not to get killed, but what do I know? Like I stated earlier, I watched it for the skateboarding, which led to me thinking skateboarders were rad. I’m still waiting for a skateboarder to sweep me off my feet and carry me into the sunset.

The Cutting Edge (1992)

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If you know anything about skating, it’s that hockey skaters and figure skaters are two different disciplines and most noticeably the toe pick. I’ve seen this movie many times, and one I’d probably watch again. I almost feel guilty for including this into the bad pile, but it’s one where paying close attention is not needed to understand it. The verbal jabs back and forth on and off the ice are enjoyable, but the cutting between actual figure skaters and actors of D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly is quite choppy. Parts of the script seemed far-fetched such as the skaters being good enough in a short amount of time to compete in the Olympics. I wonder how many people clapped at the end of this movie when it was released.

Rocky V (1990)

I rocky vthought this series should have ended when Rocky went head to head with Ivan Drago. I don’t care what anyone says. I like Dolph Lundgren as an actor. He’s as tall as you’d think in person. At first glance, I thought he was a waiter. Anyway, this movie is bad. Rocky V has nothing in it that made the first movie great. The acting is sub par and the lines feel forced. Fame and fortune came and went quicker for Rocky in between IV and V. I want to ask Rocky what was he thinking for not fighting Drago for money, but I guess remembering and honoring your friend was more important. Even when he finds himself penniless, he won’t fight inside the ring, but eventually fights outside the ring, on the mean Philly streets. It doesn’t make sense given his past actions. How many times did he tell Adrian he was a fighter. The only endearing thing is seeing his real life son, Sage, be his son in the movie. Enough said before I get overly verklempt.

Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

kickboxer vengeance

I never thought I’d have to stop a movie because it was that BAD. This was one of them. I couldn’t even keep it on while working on something else. It was THAT BAD. Georges St. Pierre nor Jean-Claude Damme could convince me to stay the course. This says a lot because I like both of them for different reasons. I’m not expecting anything spectacular, but as I watched this monstrosity unfold I turned it off to rescue my eyes and ears. The shame is this could have been a decent remake. Kickboxer: Vengeance was so off the mark with a bad script, bad acting, and just bad everything. I got all this from just watching a quarter of the movie.

Snowdogs (2002)

snowdogs

When you take one of the hottest, muggiest areas of the United States and place one of its inhabitants into one of the coldest, harshest areas, you might find yourself watching Snowdogs. I know this is a children’s movie, but would a man who grew up and lived his whole life in the city want to brave the outdoor elements with dogs that don’t like him? Get to know the dogs first and have them be comfortable with you before striking out with them, meaning you trust them and they trust you, on the Arctic Challenge. I’m all for getting acquainted with your roots, but it’s not very realistic. Even Cuba Gooding Jr. realized it wasn’t a good movie so yes, watch at your own risk. I guess the only saving grace were the dogs because I like dogs.

Swimfan (2002)

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The title of this movie is about as on the nose as you can get. This is about swimming and fans. I remember a family member stating “what a terrible looking movie.” He was right, so very right, and should’ve heeded his words. When you combine a recovered addict who is a swimmer, his girlfriend who also is a swimmer, and a girl who doesn’t know how to swim, it makes for a questionable movie. It has all the elements a bad teenage thriller would have and for being such a bad girl, Madison sure has a lot of good luck minus her predictable ending. And let’s not forget Stanford was chomping at the bit to get a piece of Ben’s wake he left with his powerful kick.

Ladybugs (1992)

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This is one of the bad movies I wouldn’t mind watching again. Long live Jonathan Brandis and Rodney Dangerfield, but more Jonathan Brandis. While there isn’t much substance in the dialogue and obvious misconception of girls as shitty athletes, it does play around with crossdressing. Wasn’t Matthew’s wig so convincing? There’s no denying that Chester is a misogynistic asshole throughout most of the movie. You pretty much predict what happens with Matthew/Martha and the girls soccer team. I almost want to shield my eyes for how intense Rodney Dangerfield’s gaze is on this one sheet.

February 28, 2018: 10 Sports Movies You Should See

These ten sports movies are in no particular order. They are the ones I liked and thought were worthy of my eyes. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include Rocky, it’s because I’ve sort of spoken about it before. Let’s begin before the night ends.

A League of Their Own (1992)

aleagueoftheirownWhile the men serve their country in WWII, in come the women to prove that they have just as much right to swing a bat and fight with each other. Dottie and Kit Hinson who are sisters along with other females aren’t taken seriously during the women baseball tryouts until publicity and interest can’t be ignored. Sibling rivalry, competitive game playing, and sporting legacies are all a part of this movie. It was one of the selections to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry in 2012 for good reason. A League of Their Own is directed by Penny Marshall. It stars Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, and David Strathairn.

The Wrestler (2008)

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2008 was the year when many thought Mickey Rourke would win the Oscar. He didn’t win, but he secured a roll of a lifetime. It was personal and professional in the same vein for him. This movie digs into the wrestling world. The character of Randy Robinson finds himself past his prime. ‘The Ram’ works on making his career relevant again and personal relationships better. The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronofsky. It also stars Marisa Tomei and Rachel Evan Wood.

The Fighter (2010)

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This is based on the true story of two boxers, Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. The half-brothers also have too many sisters to count including one played by Conan O’Brien’s sister, Kate. Micky Ward overcomes his Lowell, Massachusetts odds, including his overbearing mother and his drug addicted brother. He is presented with a chance to prove himself in the world light welterweight title. Let the training begin. The Fighter is directed by David O. Russell. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Jack McGee.

Moneyball (2011)

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Billy Beane is not your average guy in baseball. He’s the Oakland Athletics GM who builds a team with the help of Peter Brand. He finds resistance in his scouting approach, but stays the course. As time passes, he reaps some rewards, never wavering from his principles. This is less focus on an actual game and more on the activity behind the scenes. It is well worth the watch. Moneyball is directed by Bennett Miller. It stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Foxcatcher (2014)

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The antagonist in this movie is the heir to the du Pont chemical company, and based on a true and tragic story. Today the company advocates genetically modified foods, but back in the 1980s John du Pont immersed himself into the world of wrestling. Piggybacking on the success of the Schultz brothers in the 1984 Olympic Games, du Pont sought the help of Mark Schultz to help him have a successful wrestling team in the 1988 Olympics. It was during this time that events happening at his training facility led to him being in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons. Foxcatcher is directed by Bennet Miller. It stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Vanessa Redgrave.

The Karate Kid (1984)

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You love to love this movie. Daniel from New Jersey becomes Daniel-san of California under the direction of Mr. Miyagi. As he moves through the painful halls of his new high school, he becomes more disillusioned with his situation, and you become more sympathetic. He’s not just a bratty Italian teenager from Newark with enemies all around him. He really is picked on by Johnny and his friends. It’s just not fair. His journey is one of self-discovery and redemption as he masters the crane kick. The Karate Kid is directed by John G. Avildson. It stars Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, and Randee Heller.

Raging Bull (1980)

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Jake La Motta knows how to be a bull inside and outside the ring. While it serves him well inside the ring, outside is a different story. He has a way of offending friends and family members where many abandon him during this period in his life. Time heals most things. La Motta was remembered for his world middleweight champion win and stand-up comedy routines. Raging Bull is directed by Martin Scorsese. It stars Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, and Frank Gallo.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

milliondollarbabyClint Eastwood remains one of my favorite directors. He knows his craft to the point of ridiculous. He often chooses stories that have subtly within them. This movie is no different. Maggie Fitzgerald is past her prime, but finds passion in boxing. Under the direction of a washed out grumpster, she rises the ranks of the lightweight boxing division. There is retribution and amends to be had for the major characters. It’s a great movie from start to finish, and really touches home if you have a heart beating inside your chest. Million Dollar Baby is directed by Clint Eastwood. It stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie, and Jay Baruchel.

Prefontaine (1997)

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If you ever visit Oregon and specifically Eugene where the University of Oregon is home, there is a household name in running, and that is Steve Prefontaine. A long distance runner who worked closely with Bill Dellinger and Bill Bowerman (look up Nike), Prefontaine competed in the Munich Games of 1972. After this experience, he works even harder to prepare for the Montreal Games of 1976. This is no thrills story where the only way to attain your goals is by doing it. Prefontaine is directed by Steve James. It stars Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey, Ed O’Neill, Breckin Meyer, and Amy Locane.

Chaempieon (2002)

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This is a true story about a boxer from South Korea. Not letting his childhood affect him, Kim Deuk-Gu rises to become a force of nature during the 1980s. ‘Gidae’ fought in Las Vegas in 1982 against Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini. The movie is a look into the sacrifices people often are forced to make. It is a movie that also gives you perspective about life in general. Chaempieon is directed by Kwak Kyung-taek. It stars Yu Oh-seong, Chae Min-seo, and Jung Doo-hong. There is also a worthwhile documentary The Good Son that includes that speaks of this particular fight.

February 10, 2018: All Things Christopher Plummer

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Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hollywood trends have come and gone, only to come back again, and things have rapidly changed with social media. Things are more accessible to create your own little movie, but of course, they will usually not be the blockbuster you think it will be. This can be a blessing and a curse. Let’s face it: watching an amateur video on YouTube is not the same experience as watching a movie in the theater or on your television from a DVD or Blu-ray. This technological modernization of the world, which includes Hollywood has also produced effective “cheaper” made movies with stories seemingly realistic. The acting profession might not have the glamour and glitz it once did. There continues to be crossover from other professions: music and fashion. This isn’t to say it is easy to get into Hollywood because for the majority it is damn hard. You must want it bad. It takes an equal amount of work to stay relevant. The writers’ focus has long forgotten about most epic stories or ones that require an overabundance of thinking by the audience. The audience has spoken. It’s become all about comic book adaptations. Think movies with more action than story, but enough of the latter to not be thought of as one trick cinema.

I tend to be drawn toward roles where actors/actresses are able to showcase their acting range. I firmly believe that a great actor/actress has range. S/he is able to absorb into a role, and if it is one that flies in the direction opposite from where s/he stands in reality, then all the more reason to stand up and clap for him/her. My take on what makes a great actor/actress might differ from the mainstream, as I look to someone who is able to convincingly portray a good person as much as a bad person, and better yet if it is in the same movie. This isn’t to say an actor/actress playing the same role over and over isn’t good, but to launch them into greatness takes work, and then to become one of the legends takes an even larger body of work, and an understanding few attain. A great actor/actress is multilayered in techniques, able to gain access to that “needed thing” effortlessly, and quickly transition within scenes and between performances. I have more to think about what makes a legend, in any profession, but would venture to say it’s a combination of longevity and relevance.

I was first introduced to Christopher Plummer from my grandma. She watched The Sound the Music every year. This was my first introduction to musicals. While this was not his defining role, it surely made him a household name, and this musical is still one of my favorites. I continued watching all kinds of movies as I left my teenage years and ventured into my twenties, thirties, and now forties. I have become enamored, in a non-romantic way, with Plummer as I have with Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Poitier. There is something when seeing an actor/actress who’s walked the streets of Tinseltown year after year, and is no longer considered a “new face.” The Treasure of the Sierra Madre remains one of my favorites for Bogart and In the Heat of the Night for Poitier. My favorite, so far for Plummer, is The Fall of the Roman Empire.

As I watched Plummer in his role as J. Paul Getty, it dawned on me how much I enjoy his performances. I thought about him playing Kaiser Wilhelm II, Leo Tolstoy, Aristotle, and John Barrymore. I thought about his ability to equally play a warmhearted soul and one that is wicked in nature. He’s an actor continuing on his path of promise and deliverance. It almost seems silly for me to even comment because he doesn’t need my accolades. He has already proven himself, but lately I’ve wanted to see faces of “older” actors/actresses. Hollywood likes newcomers, the next big thing, so this is my way of saying I want continued space for veteran actors/actresses. If anyone is deserving of a Hollywood spot, one should be reserved for Christopher Plummer.

February 5, 2018: Humphrey Bogart Quote

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January 17, 2018: New Movie Rating

I’m getting there piece by piece. I can’t wait to apply this to my two reviews and future recommendations. The lower the rating, the smaller the finger size. Symbolism has to count for something.

Cheers and Happy Movie Watching Everyone!!!

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December 24, 2017: 10 Must See Holiday Themed Movies

10 Must See Movies in Decemberor maybe in January

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These holiday themed movies are in no particular order. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s because I’ve never seen it. Yes, you heard it right. Maybe this year will be the year. I mean while I’m at it, I might as well fit in The Hebrew Hammer. Until the next time, cheers with eggnog or hot apple cider or hot chocolate or whatever else you might drink on a cold, winter night.

A Christmas Carol

While not the best rated or most liked version of this story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (2009), is about Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s easy to find bitterness when the future looks bleak. I envision most people going through this at some point in their lives. Scrooge ultimately has to decide which road he will take. I really liked this version because of Jim Carrey’s voice and the film’s animation.

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Four Christmases

There are two camps of people: those who enjoy the cold weather in December and those who would rather be somewhere toasty warm. Four Christmases (2008) is a hilarious movie about spending time with your family and wondering if you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Jon Favreau gives a solid performance as Vince Vaughn’s redneck brother. There’s other funny moments and is a lighthearted movie.

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Home Alone

The staple of every holiday movie collection. KEVIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!! Home Alone (1990) is where you realize eight-year olds know more than you think and are able to take care of themselves. This is a big SORT OF. Kevin McCallister turns out to be his parents’ worst nightmare on Christmas, but soon everyone realizes the true meaning of Christmas by the end. It has a few sappy moments, but a great movie for any family.

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The Polar Express

ALL ABOARD!!!!!!!!! The Polar Express (2004) is another animation movie Robert Zemeckis directed. This movie is about a boy who travels to the North Pole where he learns about himself and what friendship means during Christmas. Again the animation is visually great and you can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks.

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Little Women

I’ve seen this movie more than ten times and probably less than twenty. Little Women (1994) is one of many adaptations about the March sisters from the story written by Louisa May Alcott. You journey into the lives of each sister as they grow up without their father due to the Civil War. It touches upon many subjects and all in all is a good wholesome movie.

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Bad Santa

Willie is a very bad Santa. I mean what can go wrong. A lot. Bad Santa (2003) is about how even criminals can get a do over. Willie and his sidekick elf, Marcus, commit robberies in department stores but meeting a kid throws a wrench in his holiday game plan. It sends him in a downward spiral, making him face his holiday demons.

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Arthur Christmas

This is a movie about time constraints and sloppy work done, but there is nothing to fear because Arthur will make all things better. Arthur Christmas (2011) is about how Arthur’s journey to right the wrong before Christmas morning arrives. It is up to him to that a girl’s missing present doesn’t become just that. Arthur is voiced by James McAvoy and Santa is voiced by Jim Broadbent.

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A Christmas Story

This is a movie I never really appreciated until I sat down and watched it in its entirety. It’s a classic. It’s so funny. A Christmas Story (1983) is freaking awesome. The tongue on the pole, the pink bunny costume, the leg lamp, and Chinese restaurant. Ralphie got a raw deal in life, and even though he has the brattiest little kid brother, he still holds out hope for the BB gun. Christmas miracles do happen.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A character to scare every little kid out there, solely based on Jim Carrey’s make up, but is a great story by Dr. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is how one girl’s actions leads to changes within the Grinch. He learns that there’s more to life than being mean and selfish as he meets the people of Whoville.

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The Family Stone

This probably isn’t the first movie you’d pick as a holiday movie, but The Family Stone (2005) is one of mine. It’s about a family where the tightness among them is tight despite all their dysfunctions. It centers around a matriarch, played by Diane Keaton, and how she wary of the newcomer, Meredith, which is her son’s girlfriend. The differences are noticeable among them all, but it’s hard to put them aside when nothing said is right and every action taken is misunderstood. A good movie for those who know dysfunction exists in every family.

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Come Back Next December for More

December 24, 2017: IMDb Genre Recommendations

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Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by IMDb. There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did.

IMDb Major Genres and Definitions

1. Comedy

Virtually all scenes contain characters participating in humorous or comedic experiences.

Moana (2016) is an animated movie I absolutely loved. It weaves the story of ancestral lines, familial duty, and individual dreams. It has a female protagonist, Moana Waialiki. She searches for her own destiny, as well as protecting the island on which she lives. The scenes between Maui and herself were the some of the funniest. You can’t beat Dwayne Johnson as Maui and his moving tattoos. The musicality is a highlight as well.

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2. Documentary

Numerous consecutive scenes of real personages and not characters portrayed by actors. This includes stand-up comedy and concert performances.

13th (2016) does an excellent job breaking down the reality of the current day prison system, and the involvement of the African-Americans in the United States. It has solid, good information that should not be ignored. Historical events occurring 200+ years ago doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant today. It gives insight into the ugliness of race relations and inequality that still bleeds in present day situations, and how politicians use it recklessly to further to their campaign agendas.

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3. Family

Universally accepted viewing, and aimed specifically for the education and/or entertainment of children or the entire family.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is another adaptation of the story by Roald Dahl. Who is better as Willy Wonka, between Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, is anyone’s guess. They were both equally good, playing this kooky character, and I’m not sure who would stand on top of the candy cake. This story reminds me how kids are the products of their environment, and each one seems to have a few of the deadly sins, unless you have the name of Charlie. The kids are less interested in the Oompa-Loompas, and more concerned about the competition among themselves and where they fit into Wonka’s candy filled factory. This movie is a dream for people who want to run around in a house made of candy, eating whatever is within reach, or maybe I’m just speaking for myself here.

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4. Film-Noir

Typically features dark, brooding characters, corruptions, detectives, and the seedy side of the big city. Almost always shot in black and white, American, and set in contemporary time.

The Maltese Falcon (1941) is one of the best movies Humphrey Bogart starred in and one of the best mysteries ever made. It’s a whodunit without really ever getting closure for some of the people. It leaves you with scrapes without any ointment to stop the burning. Who knew a bird could be the object of so much attention, but well deserved, indeed.

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5. Horror

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters effecting a terrifying and/or repugnant narrative.

It Comes at Night (2017) builds slowly over time, with its focus being on survival in a time of uncertainty. The head of the family, Paul, expects discipline in following his rules to keep them safe. This is put to the test when someone enters into their life, ultimately seeking help, further complicating the line between safe and unsafe. There aren’t any gimmicks to draw the viewer into this movie. What you get is what you see with honest dialogue, raw tension, and ending that leaves you thinking about what you would do in this situation.

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6. Musical

Several scenes of characters bursting into song aimed at the viewer while the rest of the time, usually but not exclusively, portraying a narrative that alludes to another genre.

Les Misérables (2012) is an adaptation from Victor Hugo. Let’s all stand and clap at his writing achievement. This musical production is one you either loved or hated. I found very little wrong with it. The cast was amazing with Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and his nemesis, Javert, played by Russell Crowe. The duo of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were perfect to play the Thénardiers Anne Hathaway shined as Fantine as a prostitute and her daughter Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried. This story has it all: turmoil, revenge, forgiveness, redemption, and change.

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7. Romance

Numerous inter-related scenes of a character and their personal life with emphasis on emotional attachment or involvement with other characters, especially those with a high level of purity or devotion.

Her (2013) is not your typical romance movie. When I first heard about it, I thought seriously, how good can a movie like this be? I should’ve known better because of two things. One, it was written and directed by Spike Jonze, and two, it starred Joaquin Phoenix. This involves a writer, Theodore, who falls in love with the voice from his operating system on his phone. He’s not socially awkward to the point of not being able to have friends, but they are few and far between. It’s an intriguing story with undercurrent themes of consumerism and social media.

her

8. War

Numerous scenes and/or a narrative that pertains to a real war, past or current.

Allied (2016) could be seen as a typical love and war movie, and in some ways it is, but it also had an edge to it. The main characters, Commander Max Vatan and French Resistance member Marianne Beauséjour, come together during World War II, working together for a greater cause. It’s after things settle that complications arise. Domesticity only goes so far. This is about one’s loyalty to country and what happens when things appear differently from another angle.

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9. History

Primary focus is on real-life events of historical significance featuring real-life characters, allowing for some artistic license. Fictional characters, incidents, and dialog should be minor.

Lincoln (2012) is the movie when I realized James Spader had changed quite a bit in appearance. It’s also the movie about the biggest conflicts, Civil War and slavery, the United States government and citizens and non-citizens have ever had to face. Daniel Day-Lewis took the role and carved himself another fine performance. The scope of negotiations to secure the ratification of the 13th amendment might seem simple when looking at it today, but as we’ve currently seen with Congress, there’s ample room for debate between two political parties and factions within even one or the other party. This movie focuses on a small slice of American history and you don’t want to miss it.

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10. Music

Significant music-related elements, such as concert or story about a band.

Baby Driver (2017) was a surprise, meaning that it was that good. I wasn’t sure about the title of it and a half pink/tan one sheet. I learned my lesson. Don’t judge a movie by its one sheet. Baby is a getaway driver for a ruthless crime boss named Doc who controls his future and every move. His dream of living on his own terms is within grasp, but he keeps getting pulled back time and time again. You learn music is an integral part of life. The best scenes were between Jon Hamm who played Buddy and Ansel Elgort who played Baby.

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11. Mystery

Numerous inter-related scenes of one or more characters endeavoring to widen their knowledge of anything pertaining to themselves or others.

Wind River (2017) is one of the movies I always appreciate where it focuses on the interconnectedness between people. The movie has conflict throughout: the FBI and locals unable to see eye to eye, two fathers clashing with each other, the cultural differences between Natives and everyone else. Revenge is a dish best served cold especially in this case because the location is Wyoming during the winter. You finally find out how the girl was murdered, but not before realizing some harsh truths about life. It has a great realistic ending.

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12. Sci-Fi

Numerous scenes and/or entire background should be based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets.

The Martian (2015) is pretty much a feel good movie with a lot of holy crap moments. Matt Damon’s character of an astronaut, Mark Watney, learns to thrive on Mars when he is left alone. A mission is formulated to rescue him and as it gains momentum, it’s not only the space world wanting him to return safely. This is a movie you could watch with your family except small children just because they don’t have the attention span.

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13. Thriller

Numerous sensational scenes or a narrative that is sensational or suspenseful.

The Butterfly Effect (2004) is a relative oldie in my collection and not sure why it was rated so poorly among some critics. It definitely kept my interest. It stars Ashton Kutcher as Evan Treborn who tries to piece his childhood together one memory at a time. He goes back and forth between past and present time for what you will recognize this is a good thing. Many things happen behind closed doors and this is one of those movies.

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14. Western

Numerous scenes and/or a narrative where the portrayal is similar to that of a frontier life in the American West during 1600 to contemporary times.

The Hateful Eight (2015) is not supposed to be funny, but for some reason I find Quentin Tarantino’s movies more hilarious than not. This isn’t my favorite film of his, but it’s good with its superb cast including Walton Goggins, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Samuel L. Jackson. Never able to narrow down what year exactly this takes place except to know it’s after the Civil War, eight people are forced to face nature’s harsh winter and counter defensive moves among each other. You won’t be disappointed in this over the top movie.

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15. Fantasy

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a magical and/or mystical narrative.

Elf (2003) is a gem of a holiday movie about an elf, played by Will Ferrell, that is nothing what you would think these toy makers should look or act like because let’s face it, he’s not an elf. As you can guess, he has some identity issues. He ventures out into the “real world” to find out who he really is and connect with his birth father. Elf is the epitome of a holiday movie: the North Pole, Santa Claus, family, and spirit.

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16. Drama

Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a serious narrative, and can be exaggerated upon to produce melodrama.

Spotlight (2015) showcases the power of a newspaper, especially when it’s willing to dig where few people ever want to dig within religion. The level of sexual abuse is maddening and tragic within any institution, but the Catholic Church seems to be the top layer for the widespread incidences, as you learn in this movie. It has lasting effects for the abused and often little consequences for the abusers. The statistics listed at the end are daunting. It highlights a huge problem called power inequality (racial, social, economic, familial), and until this is fixed it will never be fully rectified.

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17. Crime

Whether the protagonists or antagonists are criminals, this contains numerous consecutive and inter-related scenes of characters participating, aiding, abetting, and/or planning criminal behavior or experiences usually for an illicit goal.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) is one kick ass, bad ass, and kill as many people who deserve it movie where Keanu Reeves is John Wick. The level of fighting and vendettas is even better than the first movie. John Wick was born to do one thing, well probably more, but since his family life rug was pulled out from under his feet, he does what he has to do to survive. It’s a simple story with adrenaline filled scenes and great special effects. I can’t wait for the third installment as it’s bound to be just as good in 2019.

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18. Action

Numerous scenes where action is spectacular and usually destructive.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a movie for my heart. Apocalyptic movies tends to bring out the best in the downtrodden and worst for the other side. This story is about a the attempt to right the perceived wrongs by a displaced woman, Furiosa, and a man with nothing to lose, Max. They learn to trust each other, and ultimately find a little bit more peace when their road out of hell appears to have ended.

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19. Biography

Primary focus is on the depiction of activities and personality of a reason person or persons, for some or all of their lifetime. Events in their life maybe reenacted or described in a documentary style. It should generally follow reasonably close to the factual record.

Lion (2016) is one of those movies I will watch year after year. It has to be one of the best movies based on real life I’ve seen in a long time. It probably struck a chord because like Saroo, the protagonist in the movie, I too was adopted. The movie doesn’t hide the difficulties of some adoptions. The interaction between the two brothers before Saroo’s adoption were the best moments in the film. There are many heart wrenching scenes and the ending is unforgettable. It left me thinking there are no coincidences in this story. With this being the last genre recommendation, I would say put Lion near the top of your list to watch. You won’t regret it. Trust me, you won’t.

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December 3, 2017: AFI Genre Recommendations

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Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by AFI. There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did.

AFI Major Genres and Definitions

1. Animated

Animated includes images primarily created by computer or hand and the characters are voiced by actors and actresses.

Zootopia from 2016, a 3D computer-animated comedy, is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. It involves a rabbit named Judy, striking out on her own in a city called Zootopia, to be part of its police force. She finds herself having to work with her enemy, the fox, in order to solve a crime, while also proving herself to the police chief. The humor is on point, and is a movie for almost all ages.

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2. Fantasy

Fantasy is when live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world.

The NeverEnding Story (Die unendiliche Geschichte) from 1984, a fantasy, is a movie that keeps on giving. It involves Bastian, a child who is routinely picked on, and finds refuge in a book. He becomes entranced in the story, and specifically the characters of Falcor (flying dragon) and Atreyu (warrior child). The movie has gotten flack for its special effects and ending, but back in the day it completely captured my attention and heart. It still does. The nostalgia of the 80s.

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3. Gangster

Gangster centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting.

Black Mass from 2015, a gangster movie, is a book adaptation. It’s about the relationship between James Bulger, known as Whitey, and the FBI, in particular with agent John Connolly. It is one of the best acting performances by Johnny Depp. The other one that comes to mind is when he played John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester in Libertine. It’s a movie I didn’t have a hard time watching because the FBI and gang activity are personal interests, but even if they weren’t, it had enough dramatic tension to fill a large table of beer mugs.

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4. Science Fiction

Science Fiction marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.

Snowpiercer from 2013, a science fiction movie, is based on a graphic novel. It’s about different economic classes that live on a train where the distinction between the poor and rich is a very clear line. It only takes one person to rally the crowd, and when Curtis gains foothold outside his living quarters, there’s nothing that will stop him. It’s quite serious from start to finish, as many science fiction films are, because usually something is in peril. There’s no falling asleep in this movie.

snowpiercer

5. Western

Western is set in the American West that embodies the spirit, the struggle, and the demise of the new frontier.

Unforgiven from 1992, a western, is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies. He plays Bill Munny, a man who wants to be left alone to live out the rest of his life in peace. Yet, life often gives you what you don’t want. It has great acting and the premise of less is more is part of why this movie plays so well on the screen. Known as an efficient director, there is a purpose for everything you see and don’t see in this movie.

unforgiven

6. Sports

Sports has protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition.

Battle of the Sexes from 2017, focusing on the sport of tennis, tackles serious matters with the right amount of humor interspersed throughout. We’ve heard about the tennis match in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Seeing this movie is the closest I’ll get to the whole experience and events leading up to it. The fact I had a better understanding of the hardships women faced in sports is a testament to the movie. Emma Stone’s performance is Oscar worthy, and of course, Steve Carrell did well playing an unlikable character.

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7. Mystery

Mystery revolves around the solution of a crime.

Se7en from 1995, a mystery, is about the seven deadly sins. It makes you wonder who the hell is responsible for this murder streak. For what it is worth, it’s a little ironic given the bad guy is now being portrayed in Hollywood as a bad guy. It has cost him two roles now, which I’m not too happy about him leaving, but karma comes to mind. Getting back to the movie, it goes into the darkness of what people can be and do if you aren’t paying attention. So pay attention to it all and maybe see how you stack up with the deadly sins.

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8. Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy includes development of a romance leading to comic situations.

Midnight in Paris from 2011, a romantic comedy, is a movie I enjoyed because you hardly go wrong with Woody Allen. It involves a couple vacationing in Paris. Gil is a screenwriter who finds his inspiration while being transported back to the 1920s at midnight. It has a dreamy quality to it and worth seeing. You also can’t go wrong with watching the recreating of 1920s Paris.

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9. Courtroom Drama

Courtroom Drama has a system of justice playing a critical role in the film’s narrative.

Primal Fear from 1996, a courtroom drama, is a movie that involves religion and murder. It can’t get any better than this, but wait, there’s a lawyer hiding the shadows ready to take on this case. Okay, it does get better. The need to control the situation, by both the lawyer and defendant, makes it tense. Sometimes you watch movies to be appalled by human action and this is one of them.

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10. Epic

Epic is large-scale, set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Their scope defies and demands, either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time.

Lawrence of Arabia from 1962, an epic historical drama, is a movie that kept my attention. As with many epic movies, it’s a long one of around 3 hours and 40 minutes. It’s about a British Lieutenant, T.E. Lawrence, following his own path during WWI. He disobeys commands, and rallies warring Arab tribes together for the sake of attacking a Turkish port. It’s worth seeing. It won best picture of the year and six other Oscars.

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October 23, 2017: More Halloween Movies

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October 21, 2017: 9 Halloween Movies for Every October and 1 TV Special

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While I haven’t watched animated movies for a while, I thoroughly enjoyed watching every movie listed below. From the Peanuts characters to vampires to trolls to the undead, the stories and characters will keep you entertained. These just aren’t for people with kids because I’m living proof you’re never too old to watch a movie for a younger audience. They are listed by release date.

(Yes, I realize It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a television special.)

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

#1

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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

#2

monsterhouse

Monster House (2006)

#3

igor

Igor (2008)

#4

coraline

Coraline (2009)

#5

paranorman

ParaNorman (2012)

#6

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Hotel Transylvania (2012)

#7

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Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

#8

frankenweenie

Frankenweenie (2012)

#9

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

Images by IMDb

October 20, 2017: 10 Horror Movies for Every October

Things that Go Bump in the Night

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There’s many Halloween movies one could watch. I hope to watch a few new ones for the purpose of recommending or reviewing them before next year’s Halloween is chasing me. Here’s my list of Horror movies that are timeless wonders until that time comes. The lists are in order of release year. Enjoy and happy horror movie watching.

psycho

Psycho (1960) has one of best string of first act scenes in a horror movie. Everyone will remember to be wary of taking showers in motels. The movie seeks to answer what really happened to the character, Marion Crane, after she left her job in a mad hurry. The story continues to involve her sister, Lila, and her boyfriend, Sam, as they unravel the mystery. The ending is one of the best, but this is why Alfred Hitchcock is known as “the master of suspense.” There are five movies in this franchise, including the remake with Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn in 1998.

the exorcist

The Exorcist (1973) is about a mother fighting for her daughter’s life, basically demonic possession, with the help of two priests. If entities jump from one person to another, the ending has a definite creepiness to it. On a side note, Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair injured their backs in different scenes so the level of authenticity is definitely present. The are five movies in this franchise, not including the re-release in 2000 showing the staircase scene of the spider walk.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is about a group of friends, including two siblings, who encounter a family of freaks or the more technical term of being a psychopathic family. Leatherface: a man donning human flesh as a mask, wielding a chainsaw, being extremely tall, has all the traits of one scary &#*^@^&$. This script is very loosely based on Ed Gein, a Wisconsin serial killer, and surprisingly more serial killers are located in the pacific northwest and in some southern states. The commentary is worth the listen. There are seven movies in the franchise, including remakes and spin offs focusing on Leatherface. The latest one was released this month, featuring Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor, although I haven’t seen it.

halloween

Halloween (1978) is a movie most people watch around this time. This is another favorite of mine. Some are for personal reasons. Others are purely for creative reasons. I met Jamie Lee Curtis once. She’s zany as you think, but in a good way. Listening to the commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray between John Carpenter and herself was priceless. From the opening scene to the last, it cemented my belief some people are wired to be evil. There are ten movies in the franchise, including the Rob Zombie directed ones, and the eleventh coming out in October 2018.

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The Shining (1980) is about a haunted hotel that has negative effects on those who stay there. A writer, Jack Torrance, with his wife and son stay at Overlook Hotel in the dead of winter. Odd phenomenon occur as time passes, alarming Jack’s wife most of all. Yet, all bad things must come to an end. This is the only movie made, although there was a television mini-series made in 1997.

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Friday the 13th (1980) brought the words of Camp Crystal Lake and name of Jason to the forefront of slasher films. The movie follows camp counselors, and one by one they are hunted by an elusive killer. There is nothing wrong about a mother’s love for her adult child, no matter how many worms he has crawling on his face, and the bond is stronger than the strongest glue. There are twelve movies in this franchise, including spinoffs focusing on Jason and Freddy vs. Jason, and the remake in 2009.

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Halloween II (1981) is another movie most people watch around this time. This is one of my favorite sequels. It is one of the few horror movies that holds a candle next to the original and not have its flame blown out. The nightmare continues for Laurie Strode in the hospital. There are ten movies in the franchise.

gremlins

Gremlins (1984) is about those adorable, little creatures called mogwai. The movie is completely absurd when you force it into the realistic cupboard, but that’s what is great about it. There is no way an animal would change its genetic makeup at such an accelerated rate from light, water, and food. It forces you to suspend your reality. The lessons learned by small town U.S.A. still rings true today. Do not possess something you are not fully prepared to handle. You might find yourself unable to deal with the unintended consequences. Who can forget Stripe? The badass leader? There are two movies in this franchise, not including the latest one to be released at a TBD date.

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Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is about one of my favorite evil characters in contemporary horror cinema. Yes, 33 years is not that long ago. Freddy Krueger had all the elements of being terrifying and alluring. His exaggerated mannerisms were a part of his darker psyche. He paid the piper long ago and now he’s wanting to collect through revenge. There are nine movies in this franchise, including the spin-off focusing on Freddy vs. Jason, and the remake in 2010.

hellraiser

Hellraiser (1987) is about a woman who finds it increasingly hard to resist her past lover who escaped the clutches of the Cenobites from hell. He convinces her to restore him back to life by offering sacrifices to the demons. The leader is known as Pinhead. As some deals are made, others are broken. When is the last time you would trust a demon? The answer would be never. There are nine movies in this franchise, not including the latest one to be released this year.

October 6, 2017: Could I Watch These Movies Without Any Guilt, Today?

I’ve done some thinking lately about xenophobia in Hollywood.  I’ve seen a few movies riddled with it.  Midnight Express demonizes Turkey.  Return to Paradise paints Malaysia with browns and blacks.  Brokedown Palace portrays Thailand in a poor light.  Oliver Stone has since apologized to Turkey and its people.  Billy Hayes, whom the movie is based, has taken a firm stance of his love for Turkey and its people through interviews and finally returning there in 2007 to further repair the damage that was done by his book and movie adaptation.

Is watching these types of movies going to prevent people from visiting any of these countries?  It wouldn’t for me, but it might for some.  I’ve seen these movies over ten years ago, but not once did I think of the secondary consequences and influences it might have on viewers.  Sure, it reinforced my standard of not smuggling drugs out of foreign countries.  Is twenty years harsh punishment for a first offense drug charge?  Yes, to me, it is.  Is death warranted for a first offense drug charge? No, to me, it isn’t.

I’m less certain if it is careless for a screenwriter or writer to sensationalize a certain ethnic or racial group or write scenes riddled with fictional violence.  I used to think it was careless without any room for exceptions.  People write what they know, what is familiar to them, and sometimes the topic is open to great criticism.  Is giving harsh criticism to a screenwriter or any writer fair when they write from the heart?  I’m not sure anymore.

Because of the current racial tensions, I thought about not recommending these movies. Then, I thought I’m letting someone else dictate what is and isn’t suitable for me to watch, and worse yet, blog.  We all have opinions and even more so rampant with social media.  I realize not everyone is going to agree with me nor do I want this.  People aren’t robots without emotions. We don’t need followers without thinking for ourselves.  So, I’m thinking for myself in this blog.  I’m kicking the dirt in the air and seeing where it lands.

Despite the xenophobia and criticism, I’m recommending Midnight Express with Brad Davis as Billy Hayes and Return to Paradise with Joaquin Phoenix as Lewis McBride. I watched them for the stories, but what stayed with me through all these years was the performances by these two actors.  

Midnight Express is a movie adaptation from the non-fiction book by the same name.  The movie was directed by Alan Parker and written by Oliver Stone.  In addition to Davis, there are solid performances by John Hurt and Randy Quaid.  The Turkish prison guard, Hamidou, is still excellently played by Paul L. Smith.  The movie starts with the arrest of Billy Hayes and progresses with his time spent in a Turkish prison.  You see how he deals mentally and physically with his incarceration even during those times when all hope seems gone.  Despite the movie being released in 1978, it’s a commentary even today of not going into another country without being fully aware of their culture and laws.  The only downfall given by Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times was feeling sorry for Billy Hayes. I was one of the viewers who did feel sorry for him so this reinforces why I’m recommending this solely based on Brad Davis’s performance.

Return to Paradise is a movie written by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson. It is a remake from a French movie called Force Majeure from 1989.  The movie was directed by Joseph Ruben. The movie is about three friends who visit Malaysia on vacation, and because of their carelessness one is arrested and sent to Malaysian prison. The acting by Vince Vaughn and David Conrad is not on the same caliber as John Hurt, but they served a necessary purpose.  Besides the question of whether Lewis McBride will be released from prison, it includes what would you do for your friend.  This is when talk flies out the window, and action is the only thing having importance.  The major downfall given by Peter Travers from Rollingstone were the B-rate suspense tricks used in the movie.  I was one of the viewers who was moved by the emotionally charged ending so this is why I’m recommending this solely based on Joaquin Phoenix’s performance.  He’s only gotten better in his roles since this one in 1998.

And there you have it, my long overdue two movie recommendations, and yes I could watch them again.

September 26, 2017: Pisaries Creator Movie and Show Rating System

From now on when I review movies and shows, I will list IMDb, Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes scores, and then my own score.  I’m hoping this will make more sense and make it a little more mainstream.  I’m currently compiling movie lists and look forward to using my new rating system.

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August 28, 2017: Movie Recommendations/Reviews

lostcityofzkingarthur I decided to rent a few movies this weekend, Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, because a part of me wanted to see if they deserved the lack of interest during opening weekend and long after they left the theater. My overall general conclusion for both movies is no, but I do have a few suggestions along the way I believe would have made them better. If you haven’t seen the movies yet, and can tolerate the minor mishaps I comment on, then by all means, watch them because I did and survived.

This blog contains general spoilers for those not familiar with these stories.

I watched Lost City of Z first, on a Friday night, when I was boned tired. It probably wasn’t the greatest time to watch a 141 minute long movie, but I did it anyway. The story is about the British explorer among his many other titles, Percival (Percy) Fawcett, and his repeated attempts at discovering a lost city in South America he believes exists. His explorations take him deep into the Amazon where insects and animals are not the only ones to prove dangerous. The script, written by James Gray, is based on the book by David Grann, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. It is also directed by Gray. The main cast is Charlie Hunnam as Percy Fawcett, Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin, Angus Macfadyen as James Murray, Sienna Miller as Nina Fawcett, and Tom Holland as Jack Fawcett.

A movie of this magnitude would have done well for itself by splitting it into two to capture adequately all the parts of the story or going back into the script and focus on one or two parts of the story. The heart of this movie should have focused on exploration and survival meaning the majority of the story should have concentrated on Fawcett’s time in the Amazon.

The veins found in the arms and legs of any story are important, sub-stories so to speak, but were too haphazardly thrown into the main story to make it beneficial. The letter correspondence between Fawcett’s wife and himself could have proven to be touching, but all you really got was voice over in the end. I’m not expecting love letters to be written between Percy and Nina because that is not what this story is about nor do I think this was in his nature to write these kinds of letters. I mean here was a husband and father who was away from his family where he missed significant parts of raising his children. It might have given him a little more depth to know the part of him that was not steeped in his desire for exploration did exist. Movies are known to sometimes stray from actual events in order to improve it.

The scenes relating to the World War I did not advance the story in any meaningful way although I’m more undecided about the debates over the authenticity and purpose of his missions. I think it would have been just as sufficient to have a single antagonist before he went on his first mission as seen in the movie to comment on the sentiment during that time when non-white people were viewed as savages. I wasn’t turned off by his speech later in the movie, but it wasn’t a make it or break it scene for me.

There’s quite a of span of time between his missions so titles referring to a timeline, dates in particular, would’ve been helpful. This coupled with smoother transitions between the locations in the Amazon to his home in England would have made it appear less choppy and more tolerable.

The last scene of the movie was neither here nor there for me. It didn’t have the same kind of impact as the other parts of the movie. I think because it didn’t solely focus on Fawcett and his son, Jack, and what was clearly obvious to them. By the end of this film, I realized I could’ve had a little more insight into the workings of Percy Fawcett as a person. I wonder how it would’ve played out had Brad Pitt or Benedict Cumberbatch took the role instead. I’m not saying this was sub-par because of Charlie Hunnam because it was far from it. He’s a good actor with adequate range so yes, I recommend this movie.

(87% Rotten Tomatoes/6.7 out of 10 IMDb)

*******

I watched King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, on a Saturday morning, when I was still bone-tired. This too proved to be somewhat of a challenge, but not as much due to the pacing of it, and it was 126 minutes. The story is about the son of King Uther Pendragon, Arthur, who sends him away in a boat to safety, after he is attacked by his own brother, Vortigern. It is in the brothels where Arthur is raised and ultimately finds his true power and calling when he reaches adulthood. It is directed by Guy Ritchie who also had a hand in the script along with several others, and for all intents and purposes it is a “not think too hard” kind of movie. The main cast is Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, Jude Law and Vortigern, Eric Bana as Uther, Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage, Aiden Gillen as Bill, and Tom Wu as George.

This is a typical Guy Ritchie film with traits of a catchy soundtrack and scenes where he likes to incorporate time sped up or replaying how things actually happened. I was not bothered by the CGI effects although this bothers some people immensely. I can suspend reality and say those are actually gigantic elephants destroying castles and bridges or those look like actual sets even though I know they are not.

The story continues with Arthur finding friendship and loyalty among his peers including a prostitute named Lucy. He protects her until she needs no more protection, but soon finds his own life is in peril. I personally liked the character of Vortigern. He seeks the one thing he will never have when compared to Arthur and that is power and how he gets his power. The gross looking sea creatures that entice whoever will listen to them were also my favorites.

Arthur escapes the fate brought upon him by Vortigern when he receives help from The Mage. He then goes through rejection and attraction to the sword until he finally accepts his fate his father bestowed upon him when he died. The power of the sword, Excalibur, is realized during a fight when all seems lost. There are more chase and fight scenes to carry the movie to a satisfactory end. It includes enough sorcery to advance the story. The ending is predictable due to the story, but even without knowing the full story, it is set up where you can deduce what will happen. Arthur goes on to fight his uncle, Vortigern, for the crown. The sword finally belongs to him, and he is surrounded by his most loyal friends. He bears the crown his father once wore and starts the next chapter of his life.

(28% Rotten Tomatoes/7 out of 10 IMDb)

*******

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If you didn’t stop reading this blog, then you actually got to the good or should I say bad when compared to other King Kong movies. While I enjoyed watching King Kong in action and the gigantic animals and insects, it was the dialogue that was hard to ignore. John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, and the rest of the cast did as best they could with the material. Maybe, I am being too harsh. It is another “not think too hard” movie. The best part was seeing Miyavi, the actor who did such a great job in Unbroken, and who I hope is in more movies and not just for two minutes. If you want to see this solely based on the fact you like King Kong, then watch it. If you are expecting something else, then don’t.

July 8, 2017: JJ Feild Quote

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July 4, 2017: Cillian Murphy Quote

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July 3, 2017: Movies Coming to a Theater Near You

There a few movies I’d like to see in the theater being released this year.  I’m not sure I will get a chance to see them all, but here is a brief description and its major cast.

*******

Dunkirk is about Allied soldiers who find themselves surrounded by the German Army during World War II.  It is written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  It stars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy who I think are phenomenal actors.  I’ve already watched Peaky Blinders twice now.  It also has Kenneth Branagh (the actor who has done many Shakespeare movies and convincingly I might add) and Harry Styles (I only know him for being the ex-boyfriend of Taylor Swift and singer of One Direction that I’m not into, but hopefully this movie will catapult him into a different spotlight).

Battle of the Sexes is about the infamous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the 1970s. It is written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It stars Emma Stone (The Help and Birdman) and Steve Carrell (Can it get any better than 40 Year Old Virgin or Incredible Burt Wonderstone?) as well as Elizabeth Shue (forever tied to The Karate Kid) and Sarah Silverman (hilarious in A Million Ways to Die in the West).

*******

Wind River is about an FBI agent who tracks a killer with the help of a game tracker on an Indian Reservation.  It is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan.  He’s the actor who played the Deputy in Sons of Anarchy.  He is responsible for writing Sicario, which is a great movie from start to finish, and Hell and High Water, which I have to still watch.  It stars Jon Bernthal (Fury and Sicario), Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the Olsen twins that starred in Godzilla), and Jeremy Renner (anyone remember his role as Jeffrey Dahmer? Or the more notable role in Hurt Locker?).

The Mountain Between Us is about two people stranded after their plane crashes.  They must come together to survive when they realize no one is coming to rescue them.  It is an adaptation from the book by Charles Martin and scripted by J. Mills Goodloe.  It stars Kate Winslet (Red headed beauty in Titanic and Orange haired crazy in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim).  It also has Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Family Stone) and Beau Bridges (Max Payne and Bloodline).

*******

Gook is about the time right before and during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.  Two Korean American brothers form an unlikely friendship with an 11 year old African American girl.  The brothers find themselves having to band together to defend the store with the girl during the riots. It is written and directed by Justin Chon.  It stars Simone Baker (American Horror Story), Justin Chon (Twilight series), Curtiss Cook Jr. (Bull), and David So (You Tube).

Thor: Ragnarok is about the fictional superhero who fights for his own survival on the other side of the universe, and must also save the Asgardian civilization from a new threat, Hela.   It is directed by Taika Waititi and written by Eric Pearson and story by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Stephany Folsom.  It stars Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek), Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris and another ex of Taylor Swift), and Cate Blanchett (the spell bounding portrayal as Queen Elizabeth).  It also includes Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

*******

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Ferdinand is about a bull mistaken for a dangerous beast.  He is captured and is determined to return to his home with the help of a team of misfits.  It is an adaptation from the book by Munro Leaf.  It is directed by Carlos Saldanha.  It stars Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire and Nurse Jackie), Kate McKinnon (SNL who does a superb job portraying Justin Bieber), and David Tennant (menacing as Kilgrave in Jessica Jones).

(One sheets and general descriptions taken from IMBD)

May 27, 2017: Hollywood Screen Legends and Those Missing in Action

The lack of diversity in Hollywood has been on my mind off and on the last few months. The whole debacle of the “White Oscars” and the unfortunate mistake of naming La La Land as this year’s Best Picture, which I think was an honest mistake in all regards, only fueled the fire.

I watched an episode of Charles Barkley’s American Race that aired on TNT, I think a few weeks ago, but these weeks are all blending together for me. It is almost June, which means summer will fly by, and then it will be fall. Once October rolls around, you might as well pack up the ghost and get out your Christmas tree or Menorah or whatever else you have tucked away in your closets.

Getting back to the topic at hand, the consensus is there isn’t much respect for Barkley doing this docuseries. The few reviews I did read weren’t that positive. I felt a little bit bad for him. It did lend to reinforcing my belief that it is hard for Hollywood to change when the people running the studios are White males between the ages of primarily fifties to seventies. It goes hand in hand that the people in power are usually the ones with strongest voices. They have the most resources. They make the majority of decisions. They are the ones who are heard over all the yelling in the background.

I typed out a list of the greatest screen legends from AFI, male and female, and only one person that I recognized that could be viewed as a minority was Sidney Poitier. This doesn’t take away from the talent of everyone else on this list because they are included for very obvious reasons. Don’t get me started on my admiration for Humphrey Bogart. The thing is I would bet my hands there were equally as talented non-White ethnic actors and actresses during this time. They just weren’t given the chance to shine because Hollywood is hard enough as it is to break into, and when you add race into the mix, it makes it that much harder.

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There’s a Hollywood trend going on: the rebooting of long past television franchises and remakes of films already recognized for their great acclaim.  I have no issue with this, but what does open my eyes is the sloppy decision making along the process in some productions.

I know viewers have an investment in the original because they tend to hold allegiance to what they already know including myself.  I’m willing to give most movies a chance as I did Halloween by Rob Zombie, but when the light on the candle blows out in the first few scenes, I’m not clamoring to watch the second remake.

I won’t name the television show I tried to watch on Netflix recently.  I wanted to hop on this bandwagon, but I could only get through five minutes of it before removing it from my queue.  So why did I stop watching it?   Because of the acting overall and especially of what I would say is the main character’s acting chops or lack thereof.

I began to think of the scenes from the 1980s series where the original actress understood the nuisances of the character.  I thought maybe I was being too harsh on this new actress, but I don’t think I’m asking too much.  It’s hard to get past people who force the acting.  She sounded more like an actress in a body vs. a body in a body.

This finally leads to my movie recommendation where I think the original and remake are solidly worthy.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead.  As a closing note about movies, what happened with the belly flop of King Arthur this weekend?  I was hoping it would do well in the box office because I like Charlie Hunnam as an actor, and it looked like an interesting movie.  I will have to read about its demise later.  Happy movie watching everyone and good night.

Images by IMDB/Trailer by IFC Films

March 15, 2017: How many of these Greatest Movies have you seen? 

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March 14, 2017

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March 5, 2017

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March 4, 2017

AFI Says…

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Rotten Tomatoes Says…

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Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Films

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I came to Hollywood in late 2006 wanting to live the big Hollywood dream as a screenwriter.  I went to an immersion program and ten years later I have written a few screenplays that went nowhere… really, really fast.  Fast forward to ten years later, which was the end of 2016 so I’m well on my way to making Los Angeles my home for eleven years.  I learned the hard way even if you believe in yourself 110% does not mean “it” will happen.  I’ve always been interested in movies, but I also enjoy the process of film making from the skill of actors/actresses to the strength and stamina of the DP and Director to the creativity of the production and set designers to the way sound effects can enhance a movie.

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Tinseltown was a small community with a cut throat atmosphere and even more so today.  It is hard to get into and even harder to sustain it.  The new best thing is always around the corner and someone will take your place.  You need to be relevant and want it on many levels.  Those people who continue to work in the film industry, I commend them in every way possible.  It was not enough for me to learn all about below the line and above the line career opportunities, which none I was so lucky to be hired.  If I could do it over again, I might have delved into producing, but after a while I gave up on it altogether.

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This made me feel like a failure many times over until I realized putting my eggs in one basket was never the way to go.  It doesn’t mean I gave up my creative endeavors, but I have a different spin on it compared to my early 30s.  I never took life for granted, but being in my early 40s I understand how important it is to “truly” live your life.  Being that I’m creative and ever the thinker, this page is dedicated to movies or if you prefer, film.  I usually watch movies long after they have come to and gone from the theaters.  I’ve become more selective and it takes a special kind of film, theme, actor/actresses to make me not see driving to a theater as a chore.  No matter if it bombed or excelled over the weekend, if I am interested in the movie, I will watch it, absorb it, and then comment on it.

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I’m not interested in being the most knowledgeable and well-rounded film guru because I’m the farthest thing from it.  There is no snootiness to this page and blogs/reviews posted will be humble.  I don’t need to show I’m well versed in this kind of genre or have seen every movie out there imaginable about X or Y or Z because I haven’t.  However, I’ve included a list a top movies for the recent years and best movies of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes and AFI.  I will soon post personal top ten lists.  The genres I prefer are dramas, musicals, epics, horror, political thrillers, and documentaries along with some comedies, westerns, and fantasy so be sure to tell me of any good movies you’ve seen because suggestions are always welcome.  It will break up the 160 Netflix choices in my queue.

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