Movies

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December 17, 2017:  Coming Soon!!!

Rotten Tomatoes Genre Recommendation and Redbox Reviews

As well as looking into the future, think 2018, about biopic movies and the guilty movies I hate to admit I’ve seen, and some more than once.

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.

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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.

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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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December 3, 2017: Documentary Recommendation

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Produced: Ari Folman, Serge Lalou, Verona Meier, Gerhard Meixner, Yael Nahlieli, and Roman Paul

Directed: Ari Folman

Written: Ari Folman

Cast: Ari Folman, Ori Sivan, Ronny Dayag, Shmuel Frenkel, Zahava Solomon, Ron Ben-Yishai, Dror Harazi, Mikey Leon, and Yehezkel Lazarov

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Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir) is unlike the traditional animation. It is also a documentary with the focus of war. It was released in very limited theaters in 2008. Five to be exact. Therefore, I saw it when it came out on DVD. This documentary is highly engaging. The story seeks to uncover the reasons why the protagonist, Ari Folman, is having nightmares long after 1982 has passed when he served in the IDF. He finds his answers through speaking to those around him during the first Lebanon War in the 1980s, and not necessarily soldiers. Ari’s desire to fill in the blank spots during this time is to give him resolution, and to confront what he might have done during this fragile time.

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The first time an animated film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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November 25, 2017: TV Recommendations

Police, Detectives, and Agents!  Oh my!

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Outstanding police departments can make you feel safe in your community. I would venture to say they are cities not heavily populated, which are basically small town U.S.A. Corrupt police departments can dampen a whole city’s image. Los Angeles comes to mind, which The Shield is loosely based from, and in particular the Rampart Division. The rest who carry a gun and badge are in between the two. When you talk about the FBI and CIA, there appears to be more gray areas when it comes to procedural affairs. It might be because these institutions are so large compared to police departments. Nevertheless, these are the shows that have stuck with me over the years, and the ones I want to watch, but not finding the time.

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The ones I have watched!!!

21 Jump Street

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This show catapulted Johnny Depp as a heart-throb centerfold for teenyboppers. I was not one of those teenyboppers even though I was ripe for the age. I swear on my own hands, I was not, but, oh, Tommy Hanson and all the characters of 21 Jump Street. It ran from 1987 to 1991. It had a total of five seasons. Its creators are Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh. It even had a spin-off show, Booker, with Richard Grieco that lasted one season. I can hear the theme song, Hot in the City, to Booker now. 21 Jump Street involves an undercover police unit whose focus was on solving crimes committed by primarily young people in high school. I remember the ex-hippie Captain Jenko that was in the first season’s episodes before Captain Fuller came and stayed. The topics ranged from alcoholism to racism to child abuse to promiscuity. It had an overall seriousness with sporadic goofiness to make it realistic, primarily done by Peter DeLuise’s character.

Homeland

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This show has gotten criticism for how they portray certain Middle Eastern people, but it goes to show you can’t please every living person. This heavy laden topic is important, not the purpose of this blog. I’ve watched up to season three. Remember the shows collecting dust on my shelf. This is one of them. I have yet to watch the other three seasons. It premiered in 2011 and the seventh season starts in 2018. Its creators are Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. Homeland is about a CIA operative, Carrie Mathison, whose personal complications with her bipolar disorder often get in the way of being taken seriously by her co-workers. The end of the third season brought full circle the story of character Nicholas Brody. I look forward to what happens in season four because another personal complication arises for Carrie and her prevailing is what she does best.

Quantico

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I watched Quantico twice so far, both two seasons, because it was that good. I’m a sucker for learning about different characters and what makes them tick, question, scream, and punch their way through life. It premiered in 2015 and the third season starts in 2018. Its creator is Joshua Safran. The show is about a group of FBI recruits who train at Quantico. The mystery unravels to find out who is the terrorist or if one even exists. The main focus is on the characters of Alex Parrish and Ryan Booth. The ending of season two leaves it at a nice spot to leap into a new story line, sort of, but whether it goes there remains to be seen. There are some borderline knocking on 90210 door moments, but not enough to turn me away.

The X-Files

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This is another show I watched partly in high school. It ran from 1993 to 2001. It had a total of nine seasons. The X-Files picked up again in 2016, but have not watched them. Its creator is Chris Carter. The episodes involve unsolved cases with questionable and often un-explainable phenomenon. Its main characters include two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who eventually come to the same conclusion about the government agency they work for and their personal and work related discoveries. If you are fascinated with the extra-terrestrial as I am, then this show is definitely up your alley. Yes, I saw the movie too.

The Shield

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This show I could watch a million times and never get sick of it. Okay, maybe I’m stretching it a little too much, but DAMN is this a good show. Someone recommended this to me before I moved to Los Angeles. Thank you E.H. Then when I moved here, I saw the taping of The Shield by accident on one of my runs (when I actually ran instead of now jogging). In addition to seeing Michael Chiklis smiling in a doorway not very far away, I’ve seen a fair number of cast more than once: Walton Goggins (many times with family), Jay Karnes (airport), Benito Martinez (what a nice guy), and Kenny Johnson (many times with family). I’m still waiting to see CCH Pounder, Catherine Dent, and David Rees Snell. Michael Jace will die in prison for a killing his wife in 2014, which is a shame, because he played his character so well. It ran from 2002 to 2008. It had a total of seven seasons. Its creator is Shawn Ryan. The episodes involve the lives of a dirty cop and those that serve with him on his anti-gang task force. The notable guest stars of Forest Whitaker, Glenn Close, Anthony Anderson, and Laurie Holden, to name a few, made it all the better. The final episode is hands down one of the best I’ve seen.

The Fall

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Forget about Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. He blows his character, Paul Spector, out of the water in terms of creepiness. Then again, how many teenage girls are turned on by serial killers. Well, maybe some, but not to the level of C.G. This is a slower show, but once you get past that, you are able to see it for what it really is: a masterpiece showcasing a serial killer from Belfast going head to foot with law enforcement. It becomes a cat and mouse game between a methodical killer, Paul Spector, and driven police officer, Stella Gibson. It premiered in 2013, and has three seasons so far. Its creator is Allan Cubitt. I have yet to watch the last season, but it was the last for Dornan, so I’m sure it will blast the pressure to maximum force.

Criminal Minds

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The ever revolving door of actors and actresses for this show, but I’ll still take it. I’m still a little upset I’ll never know how Hotchner really was supposed to finish. This is a long running show. It premiered in 2005 and the thirteenth season is going on now. Its creator is Jeff Davis. Criminal Minds is about FBI agents, part of the Behavorial Analysis Unit (BAU), who are profilers hunting serial killers and those committing heinous crimes. It is led by Emily Prentiss. Her team uses the ever catchy term: unsub or unknown subject. I’ve seen all except the current season. This is the reason Netflix exists. I do a dive bomb when it is released, and don’t leave until I’ve watched them all.

24

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I’ve watched this show about three times, and each time the ticking of the clock bothered whoever was around me. 24 ran from 2001 to 2010. It had a total of eight seasons. Its creators are Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow. The episodes involve Jack Bauer, director of a counter-terrorist unit in Los Angeles, and his team. I prefer to think of him as a bad ass who walks the thinnest of lines between sanctioned protocol and what’s on the other side of it. It’s hard to think so much action could happen in one day, and how the people involved are still functioning by the end. Yet, it does happen so it makes the show all the more impressive. There was a mini-series 24: Live Another Day that aired in 2014. There was a spin-off, 24: Legacy, that aired in 2016. It had one season.

The Blacklist

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This show has basically replaced The Shield, for me, in terms of caliber. The level of corruption is astounding where it grabbed me from the start. The well-developed characters was a pleasant surprise. The character arc of Mr. Kaplan at the end of season four was one of the best I’ve seen. The Blacklist premiered in 2013 and season five resumes in 2018. Its creator is Jon Bokenkamp. The show involves primarily two characters: Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington. Keen is a newly married FBI profiler. She comes face to face with Reddington, and throughout the show questions his motives and behaviors at every corner. It will be interesting to see how the second half of season five progresses since a major bomb was dropped on Keen.

The Killing

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This show was slow to start, and admit I had to give it another try. I’m glad I did because it is well worth the watching. Stay invested in it because I eventually didn’t want to turn it off, but had to because I needed sleep. The Killing ran from 2011 to 2014. It has four seasons. Its creator is Veena Sud. Its main characters, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, work as a team in a police investigation. As they uncover pieces to the story of what happened to Rosie Larsen, things get unhinged on personal and political levels. It is a great whodunnit and whydunnit show.

NYPD Blue

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This show had the ever revolving door of the main actor that would bring a sex appeal factor to the television screen. David Caruso left the set, never to glance back, and actors kept replacing the last. This never detracted from the show because the writing was superb, but I wish actresses were given more credence to their profession. I think of A.D.A Sylvia Costas and Detective Connie McDowell. NYPD Blue is about the professional lives of detectives in their precinct, and how it often bleeds into their private lives. It ran from 1993 to 2005. There were twelve seasons. Its creators are Steven Bochco and David Milch. It is led by Lt. Fancy and later Lt. Rodriquez. The mainstays throughout most of the seasons were Detective Sipowicz, Greg Medavoy, Bobby Simone, and Connie McDowell. NYPD Blue was a groundbreaking show for a reason.

Mindhunter

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This show surprisingly I had to give another try as well because my eyes weren’t cooperating at the first round. But the second time, I was all in and ready to go. Mindhunter has one season so far, and can’t wait for the next one in unknown. Its creator is Joe Penhall. It involves the formative years of FBI research into the mind of killers by the hands of two agents: Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Both actors are excellent in their roles, but Holt McCallany knocks the ball out of the park. They forgo the old method of looking at crimes and delve deeper into a criminal’s modus operandi. This show is based from actual research and events. I’m willing to watch anything psychologically and/or criminally related. It’s one of the few things that can keep me up at night when I’m bone tired. Enough said.

The Assets

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This mini-series was discovered as I was surfing Netflix. I’m not sure if it is still on there, but it’s worth the watch. It keeps you invested. The Assets is about the ultimate capture of a CIA mole by other CIA officers. This is a cat and mouse game between Aldrich Ames and Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille. This is based on actual events where Ames fed classified information to the Soviet Union. It aired in 2014.

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There you have it: the shows I’ve seen that stuck with me. I’ve purposely left out other notable shows for a time factor. On that note, let’s move to the ones I have yet to see.

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The ones I still need to watch!!!

Graceland

Graceland is a show about a rookie FBI agent trained by a FBI legend in a beachfront residence. Its creator is Jeff Eastin. It had three seasons.

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The Wire

The Wire is a show about the Baltimore inner-city drug scene from the view of the criminals and police department. Its creator is David Simon. It had five seasons.

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True Detective

True Detective is a show about police investigations. It follows different cases in each season. Its creator is Nic Pizzolatto. It has two seasons so far.

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Justified

Justified is a show about a U.S. Marshal going back to his poor, rural hometown in Kentucky. Its creator is Graham Yost. It had six seasons.

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Luther

Luther is a show about a genius detective who is dedicated, obsessed, and consumed by his work in the Serious Crime Unit. Its creator is Neil Cross. It has four seasons so far.

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Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake is a show about a detective attempting to solve crimes while keeping herself in check. It has a gap in between the seasons. Its creators are Jane Campion and Gerard Lee. It has two seasons so far.

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a show about forensic evidence team in Las Vegas. It had sixteen seasons. Its creator is Anthony E. Zuiker. (I haven’t watched enough episodes to say I truly know about it.)

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Southland

Southland is a show about the LAPD. It had five seasons. Its creator is Ann Biderman.

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The Americans

The Americans is a show about Soviet spies in America. It has five seasons so far. Its creator is Joseph Weisberg.

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There you have it: the shows where people wear badges and/or affiliated with crime in some way. I could say so much more about this topic, but given the lack of time, I won’t. On that note, happy television watching because there’s a lot out there.

November 4, 2017: Thor:Ragnarok Review

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I went to a movie I intended seeing in one of my previous blogs. FINALLY!!! Thor: Ragnarok is the third installment in this franchise. I bet my hands there will be another one based on how the movie ended. No, I will not tell you how it ended, and this review will be spoiler free except the synopsis. Okay, maybe a few more details, but not enough to be mad at me. If the one sheet indicates anything, this movie has something for everyone: kids, teens, and adults. This movie has enough story and substance to keep your attention throughout its duration of 130 minutes. You don’t need to be a comic book nerd to enjoy the movie. I’ve never read a comic, manga, or graphic novel in my life, but enjoyed this movie from start to finish.

Synopsis of Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is the story about good and evil. Every family has their squabbles and this one is no different. It wouldn’t make for a good story if Thor, his brother Loki, and his sister Hela all got along. The three siblings can’t put their differences aside even when their father, Odin, speaks to them. This is a battle within the family as much as the battle to preserve Asgard, which is where Thor’s loyalty resides. A handful of remaining citizens of Asgard lend themselves to fight for their survival and their land alongside Thor. But what will Loki and Hela do? And who wins at the end?

Thor: Ragnarok is written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost. The story is based on the comics by Stan Lee (saw him in a parking lot), Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby. It is directed by Taika Waititi. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki (he should keep the dark hair), Cate Blanchett as Hela, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. It also stars Idris Elba as Heimdall, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Karl Urban as Skurge, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Clancy Brown does the voice of Surtur (if anyone has influence to bring Carnivàle back, let me know because I’m dying to find out what really did happen to Brother Justin Crowe).

This film is successful because it truly did keep the audience invested. It has the proper amounts of comedy and drama even though it is an action movie. The scenes grip the viewer in the sense you feel connected to the main characters. I know this is a corny thing to comment on, but for being a movie filled with comic book characters, they did not appear flat and one-dimensional. The writing did exactly what it was supposed to do in this movie. It didn’t sound forced or emotionless. I can’t really pick a best scene because all the actors and actresses were equally on solid ground. What edged out Jeff Goldblum was his comedic timing and facial expressions, and of course, you can’t deny Cate Blanchett being a bad ass sister.

I made note of the music used and it was done well, but not that I’m an expert on this. Let’s just say it didn’t bring me out of the movie. The production value was top-notch and the costumes had no wiggle room. The CGI was incredible and a shout out to the stunt actors and actresses involved.

What Else I Liked about Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is a movie based on Norse mythology. I find this kind of stuff fascinating. What greatness of the Fenris wolf, but wish it had a little more scene time. In order to understand the motivation of Hela, there was some backstory needed. It can be tricky to include it without hitting the audience over the head. It might seem easy to do, and maybe for some writers it is, but the way it played out on the screen did not scream THIS IS BACKSTORY. The other thing that translated well on the screen were the fight scenes. I enjoyed them immensely and even the short verbal digs between Thor and Hulk. Even during the most intense battles, there was humor, but this is what made it a popcorn movie.

Minor Notices about Thor: Ragnarok

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There were two things I noticed, so minor, that it might not even be worth mentioning. But because nothing is ever perfect, here it goes. I did notice an extra moving when he should have been dead. This is what I assume since the others were motionless, thus the implication they were dead. The other was the hip swaying from Valkyrie prior to the battle scenes. I say this because it was suitable for Hela. She wanted to make a grand entrance and even grander performance. However, I did not understand this coming from Valkyrie. Her prior demeanor and actions seemed to indicate she would not do this. Again, these things are so minor in the whole scheme of things. It wasn’t such that big of a deal, but surprisingly, they affected my score a tiny bit.

Conclusion about Thor: Ragnarok

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie based from a comic. I will say it had enough of a story to make it engaging. It had enough action to keep me entertained. It had enough humor to keep it lighthearted. I forgot to wear a watch, but even if I had it on, I wouldn’t have looked at it. It’s definitely better than some of the FAILS released this year. There’s a reason I’ve been watching more Netflix and T.V. lately, but once in a while a movie compels me to see it on opening weekend. This was definitely worth it, and soon Hollywood will be releasing holiday movies in full force. Where has the time gone?

Pisaries Creator Score is 95%

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Images/Trailer by Marvel Studios

November 4, 2017: Documentary Recommendation

Searching for Augusta: The Forgotten Angel of Bastogne

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This documentary starts in Belgian Congo where Augusta Chiwy was born in 1921 and ends in Belgium where she died in 2015. She was 94 years old. The center of the story is about this courageous and heroic Belgian nurse who volunteered to help the sick and dying soldiers during World War II during the siege of Bastogne. She worked alongside an U.S. Army physician, Dr. John Prior, and Belgian nurse, Renee Lemaire.

There is a saying that great things come in small packages. Augusta would fit into this category. She was a short woman, but very determined. She was humble and did not speak of her bravery long after the war ended. This changed when she met Martin King, a British historian. He was able bring her from the shadows for his book Voices of the Bulge.

The documentary is one of the most powerful I’ve seen in a while. It uses beautiful charcoal illustrations, conveying the moods and emotions of the time, and is just as powerful as if actual pictures were used. The relationship between John and Augusta convinces me certain people are destined for each other, even if for a short time.

Martin King recognized great strength and beauty in this heroine. She was recognized for her service by receiving the Order of the Crown (Belgium) and Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service (USA). This story is something special as it touches upon ugly realities including war and racism, but does it in such as way that you leaves you thinking there is more good in people than bad.

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Trailer by Martin King/Photo by Wikipedia

October 23, 2017: More Halloween Movies

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October 21, 2017: Review of Jaws Franchise

It started with the book by Peter Benchley. Some parts were left out of the movie, Jaws. Some parts were left in it. The script had rewrites and changes were sometimes done the day before shooting. The mechanical great white sharks were referred to as “the great white turd” and “flaws.” There were many production issues from rising costs, script changes, and finding actors. While it was touted to be a summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg had his doubts, and never showed up on the last day of filming. And yet, this was one pivotal moment of his career as a director, where he progressed to show audiences his directorial talents over the last fifty some years. Put in another way, the man has mad skills.

As with most movies in a franchise, they tend to get worse, in terms of overall quality the longer they continue. The quality of the stories usually suffer as original content has already been used in the first movie. In this particular case, how many times can you make a predatory shark a good story? If you haven’t seen the last two movies in the franchise, they are still worthy to watch if you like movies so bad that they turn out to be so good. What kind of an oxymoron is that? Yet, it still exists, especially in Hollywood.

After the success of Jaws, Benchley said he would never have written the book the way he originally conceived it had he known what he knows today. Despite inspiring terror and fear of sharks, he did his atonement via his lifelong shark conservation efforts and education. This majestic creature existed alongside dinosaurs, though evolution definitely took place where the shark is much smaller today, it is an achievement in itself.

In the order of least to best liked, I begin with Jaws: The Revenge and will continue until all four movies are reviewed. I apologize because there will be spoilers in these reviews. My guess is if you haven’t seen any of the Jaws movies, you probably won’t see them, unless I persuade you. Weirder things have happened.

Let’s Break this Shark Apart

#4 Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

You Start at the Caudal Fin

The fourth movie in this franchise. WOW! Where to begin? From the start!

It must be assumed this shark is a relative of the other sharks destroyed in the previous movies. It should also be assumed communication among the sharks occurred, passing on their revengeful desire to kill. Because why else would a shark that killed Mrs. Brody’s younger son swim from the Atlantic Ocean to the Bahamas? It’s pretty obvious the sole reason was to kill her entire family. This shark seems a lot smarter than the other sharks. It seemed more aware of its surrounding, and you can’t beat a shark that roars like a big cat when hurt.

Details and Players

Jaws: The Revenge was written by Michael De Guzman. It was directed by Joseph Sargent. It starred Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, and Michael Caine. The budget was around 23 million and grossed almost 21 million in the USA. The movie is 89 minutes long and released in July 1987.

About Jaws: The Revenge

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Jaws: The Revenge focuses on Ellen Brody and the remaining Brody family. After her younger son, Sean, is killed days before Christmas, she decides to get away from dark, cold waters to more warmer waters of the Bahamas. This is where her older son, Mike, lives with his family. She is able to slowly heal from the death of her son, but there are reminders whenever she goes. She has an active imagination, believing the shark that killed her son is always lurking in the water depths. Bottom line, she suffered from PTSD with huge tendencies of obsession. Just when she thought things were returning to a semi-normal state, the shark appears, putting her granddaughter in danger.

The fight begins between the shark and herself, but not before she shows her anger over Mike not telling her of his knowledge about the shark. There is now friction between mother and son. She continues to get reminders of the shark with the sculpture her daughter-in-law created. It looks like a shark’s jawline. The shark ramps up its efforts at annihilating the Brody family as the turmoil continues among the Brody family and friends. They manage to put their differences and pride aside and fight for survival.

The ending involves explosives, as the other movies previous. Some of the better scenes were between Mario Van Pebbles as Jake and Lance Guest as Mike. There’s a friendly competition between them. The most awkward scene was by Lorraine Gray as Ellen as she danced her way to convincing herself she was okay during a parade. People go back to what is comfortable for them, especially when their nemesis is gone, which is what Ellen did when she flew back to Amity Island.

Minor Observations

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There’s a phrase people use for dialogue that doesn’t sound natural and has no subtext. It’s referred to as ‘on the nose.’ This movie is on the nose. There’s not too much subtly to it. Then again, this isn’t the type of movie that needs it. I wonder what Ellen Brody was going to do without any weapon. Even if she had one, I don’t think it would have improved its status. The same goes for Roy Scheider had he accepted a cameo role. The movie sank in the box office like the helicopter the shark manages to render useless. It was nominated for seven Razzie Awards and won one for Worst Visual Effects.

Pisaries Creator Score is 61%

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Images by IMDB/Trailer by Classic Trailer

#3 Jaws: 3-D (1983)

You Move to the Dorsal Fin

The third movie in this franchise. We are inching into again another movie that is bad it is good. It is a little better than the fourth installment, but not by much. The Brody’s are well into living the life of a curse. The shark is smart in this movie too because it seems to know Mike works at Sea World Orlando. The sharks must have been communicating with each other again.

Details and Players

Jaws 3-D was written by Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb. It was directed by Joe Alves. It starred Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Lea Thompson, and Louis Gossett, Jr. The budget was around 20 million and grossed around 45 million in the USA. The movie is 99 minutes long and released in July 1983.

About Jaws: 3-D

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Jaws 3-D centers on Brody’s children: Mike and Sean. Mike is now a park engineer at SeaWorld, and in a relationship with a marine biologist called Kay. Together they work to maintain order in the park and keep the manager of the park happy. The park has plans to open an exhibit called, Undersea Kingdom. When a Great White of small size is found in park waters, the bright idea is to use it as publicity. It isn’t looking good for this shark. The two choices it has is being killed on live television or captured and held in captivity. They agree on the lesser evil. Kay believes it will be a being great moneymaker. The problem is the shark dies because it isn’t suited to living in captivity.

Things start to further disintegrate in the park and between Mike and Kay. Sean comes out of his shell and overcomes his fear of water, thanks to Kelly Ann Bukowski and beer. He finds himself swimming in dark waters with her, oblivious a park worker recently died. He continues to have a good time with Kelly. I will say the opening sequence was decently filmed. You never know what’s lurking beneath, as they say.

Things are starting to make sense to Mike and Kay when the body of the park worker is seen floating near the top of the exhibit. The mama shark is ever closer and wanting revenge for the death of her baby. It comes full speed ahead and smashes enough things with her head and body to create flooding in the tunnels. This whole scene was ripe with bad dialogue. Mike and Kay come to the rescue. They water level goes down. The patrons survive and scurry out of the tunnels like rats.

Bouchard, park manager, and FitzRoyce, man who wanted to kill the shark on live television, do their part to stop the 35 foot shark. She becomes caught in the filtration pipe and is blown to shreds with a grenade. How FitzRoyce managed to stay in the sharks mouth is impressive, but he served his purpose. If someone was going to die at the end, he was the likely candidate. A shout out goes to Cindy and Sandy, the dolphins, because without them the movie wouldn’t have ended on a happy note for Mike and Kay. He decides to move away with her to pursue another job interest. End of movie.

Minor Observations

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This has to be my least favorite out of the four. Why didn’t I put it before Jaws: Revenge? The primary reason was not movie related, but because of the SeaWorld location. There wasn’t social media back in the day. The Cove and Blackfish hadn’t been filmed yet. There wasn’t as much pressure on SeaWorld to end their whale shows. On a purely technical level, it’s like Jaws is suspended in water. On a purely acting level, I like how Louis Gossett, Jr. played an out of touch manager. He clearly understood some parts, but others he had no clue. It is what made him real, even though this can lead to tragedy and death. It was nominated for five Razzie Awards including Gossett’s performance.

Pisaries Creator Score is 63%

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Images by IMDB/Trailer by Retro Trailer Archive

#2 Jaws 2 (1978)

You Move to the Pectoral Fin

The second movie in the franchise. The tide has turned for the better. We are into territory where it is translating less bad movie is good to good movie is good. It is better than the last two in the franchise, partly because Roy Scheider as Martin Brody and Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn. The Brody’s had some reprieve for a while, but the time has come for some bloodletting. The Great White seems to have everyone fooled until more people die in this movie. It’s like a sheep in wool’s clothing.

Details and Players

Jaws 2 was written by Carl Gottlieb and Howard Sackler. It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc. It starred Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, and Murray Hamilton. The budget was around 20 million and grossed almost 103 million in the USA. The movie is 116 minutes long and released in June 1983.

About Jaws 2

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Jaws 2 begins with the disappearances of beachgoers on Amity Island. Martin Brody is still the Police Chief and ever viligant of keeping the beaches safe. The mayor is as stubborn as in the first movie. He is not swayed with Brody’s overactive imagination, even though he was proved wrong before. It isn’t until he sees the developed pictures from the diver who was killed that Brody’s convinced there’s another Great White. The damage has been done. He is fired on the spot by the town. The mayor nor the council look kindly on firing a gun at a beach. Even through his drunken pity party, his wife stands by him.

Brody finds himself being bored to tears being out of work. He does things to pass the time by. It doesn’t work. He goes into town with his wife, Ellen, and discovers their sons has snuck out with his friends. Mike went to look cool in front of the girl he likes and Sean went to be like his older brother. Their parents go into rescue mode, and persuade the new Police Chief to accompany them on a fast paced boat ride. When they arrive at the destination, the only person there is a girl who is in a catonic state, until she screams, “SHARK!” Mrs. Brody brings the frightened teenager, Lisa, back to shore.

You know what Former Chief Brody is going to do, but in case you don’t know, I’ll tell you. He arrives to the remaining party to find boats turned over. The kids cheer much too soon. Don’t they know anything? Just because the rescue helicopter arrives, doesn’t mean it will fulfill its misison. It is dragged into the water by the shark. One of Mike’s friends sacrifices herself to save his younger brother. The ever protective father has a touching moment with Mike and sends his sons to safety. He isn’t going to risk their lives. This fight is between him and the shark.

Good thing there’s an island nearby that has an electrical station. Before the shark can kill anymore teenagers, Brody catches its attention through hitting the power lines. It swims toward him with mouth wide open. Instead of biting into human flesh, it is electrocuted. What comes up also goes down as the shark falls deeper into the water. Brody waits to be rescued with his sons and their friends. He can now say he’s responsible for killing two sharks. Vindication, at last, sort of.

Minor Observations

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This movie doesn’t outshine the original, but I like this second installment in that it felt most like a horror movie. It might have had to do with many of the scenes involving teenagers. Yes, the Brody parents were there, but this mainly was a monster terrorizing a bunch of teenagers without any kind of method to protect themselves. I have a easier time believing teenagers not bringing a weapon because they only wanted to have fun. This would be the last Jaws movie Roy Scheider would take part in. The movie sailed partially into the sunset concerning revenue. It wasn’t nominated or win any awards. Good to stay under the radar, I guess.

Pisaries Creator Score is 78%

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#1 Jaws (1975)

You End at the Snout

The first movie in this franchise. YES! End at the beginning.

If this movie only existed, it would probably be for the better. As I noted above, the scripts became more outlandish with each shark arrival and demise. This shark was definitely a different kind. It seemed to hold onto grudges like some people hold onto rage. It had a lot force behind it’s bite. It’s pretty obvious the shark was the main antagonist to Brody, whereas Quint was the main protagonist to Hooper. Despite of all the mechanical issues of the Great White Turd, it remains a selection in the United States National Film Registry.

Details and Players

Jaws was written by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. It was directed by Steven Spielberg. It starred Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. The budget was around 8 million and grossed about 260 million in the USA. The movie is 124 minutes long and released in June 1975.

About Jaws

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Jaws starts with a beach party taking place. Chrissie decides to go swimming with her boyfirend who is having major trouble taking off his pants he’s so drunk. She dives into the water by herself, and soon is killed. Her body turns up the next day, forcing Chief Martin Brody to make a difficult decision. He decides against closing the beaches as it will hurt the town’s economy. He should’ve listened to what his gut told him. More deaths occur from the elusive Great White. It is when he feels the sting of a mother’s hand on his face that he propels himself into action. You get the sense he does this half out of guilt and the other half fear.

After meeting Matt Hooper, played convincingly played by Richard Dreyfuss, do they try to influence the mayor to close the beaches. He still doesn’t agree, and isn’t keen on the shark hunt taking place after a bounty is placed on the killer. It sends boats of all kinds onto the water. One of them holds Brody, Hooper, and Quint. These are hands down some of the best scenes. It can get really boring on a boat when the shark isn’t present. What did a Police Chief say to the marine biologist and shark hunter? It is here they realize the enornomity of the situation. The scenes only get better when all is quiet until a shark rams your boat.

The next day the Great White comes back for more. Quint hardly contains his excitement of the possiblity of winning the bounty. Hooper wants to get as many pictures as possible to look at later. Brody just wants to go home and have it all be over with. Things are looking up for them, but just when they were sort of getting along, one of them has to die. Quint’s death was epic. Great scene. That’s what he gets for smashing the radio.

It is now up to Brody and Hooper to save the people and their beach. How will they do it as the boat, Orca, is sinking? Fast, very fast. Plan A fails. Plan B can’t fail or else Amity Island will be scarred forever. Through all the adrenline rush, Brody gathers his wits, shoves a scuba tank in its mouth and shoots it. The tank explodes inside the shark. Bits of it fly everywhere as Hooper congratulates Brody on his victory, and they swim off their merry way.

Minor Observations

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Many low budget, often struggling productions, sometimes do very well in the box office. This is no exception. Things have a way of working out, as the saying goes. It also could have gone the other way, but it didn’t. Jaws was nominated for four Academy Awards and won three for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. Now, please, pass me the popcorn.

Pisaries Creator Score is 99%

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Personal Conclusion

I’ve been fascinated with sharks since high school. It’s been one of my bucket list items to swim with sharks. I haven’t done it yet, and it might never happen, but one can dream. Great whites are thought of as an apex predator although smaller ones find themselves as prey for Orca Whales. They swim at the top of the food chain along with the hammerhead, blue, tiger, and mako shark. There are over 500 species, and range from small to extra-large. The dwarf laternshark is the smallest and the whale shark is the biggest, although the whale shark is a filter feeder. In conclusion as Halloween approaches, remember not all sharks are bad and not all shark movies are good.

Last and Definitely Last

Now that I’m done with the reviews, here are some facts when you stack them up with other things that might kill you. The information is from National Geographic Wild.

sharkwoman

In 1996!!!!!!!! (A little outdated, but you get the point.)

Toilets, room fresheners, buckets and pails injured more people than sharks.
Toilets injured 43,000 Americans.
Buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans.
Room fresheners injured 2,600 Americans.
Sharks injured 13 Americans.

buckets
A person has a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu during his or her lifetime.
A person has a 1 in 218 chance of dying from a fall in his or her lifetime.
A person has a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during his or her lifetime.

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The United States averages 19 shark attacks each year and one shark-attack fatality every two years.
Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 37 people each year.

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For every human killed by a shark, humans kill approximately two million sharks.

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.)

A

greatpumpkin

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

#1

thecurseofthewererabbit

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

hoteltranslyvania

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

#7

hoteltransylvania2

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

#8

frankenweenie

Frankenweenie (2012)

#9

boxtrolls

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.

texas chainsaw massacre

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.

the shining

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.

fridaythe13th

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.

halloweenII

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.

nightmareonelmstreet

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 15, 2017: Lost in La Mancha

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Lost in La Mancha is a documentary about Terry Gilliam’s quest to film successfully a script about Don Quixote.  The story would’ve shifted back and forth between present London to 17th century La Mancha had it ended the way Gilliam intended.  The documentary follows the cast and crew as they encounter disaster after disaster.  It originally starred Johnny Depp as Toby Grosini and Jean Rochefort as Don Quixote. Gilliam had high expectations and a grand vision for this movie.  Therefore, any kind of mishap was not going to be welcomed.  Well, it did happen, and it wasn’t welcomed. Think of anything that could go wrong in a movie to go wrong: creeping budget, equipment loss, actors getting injured, and uncooperative environment.  The only thing that didn’t happen was aliens from space abducting the whole cast and crew.

Fast forward to June 2017 when Gilliam was able to successfully film the entire movie, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.  It stars Adam Driver as Toby, an advertising executive, and Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote.  The story hinges around Don Quixote mistaking Toby for Sancho Panza, his sidekick.  The script was written by Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, and based on Miguel de Cervantes y Saaavedra’s novel.  While other movies have been made about Quixote, I’m sure Gilliam’s version will have his magic touch.  I look forward to watching it when the time arrives.

Image by IMDb/Trailer by CG Entertainment

October 15, 2017: Gerald’s Game Review

Are Those Handcuffs on Your Wrists?

gerald's game

Gerald’s Game didn’t get the spotlight as Stephen King’s adaptation of IT. While it probably won’t garner accolades for being a superb watching experience, there is enough content to keep a viewer’s attention. These are the kinds of movies people often watch for fun. It is what I call a very guilty pleasure. There shouldn’t be any spoilers in this review, and my rating will be found at the end.

Information on Gerald’s Game

gerald'sgame

Gerald’s Game is a movie about a couple, Gerald and Jessie Burlingame, trying to spice up their boring life. They are what you would call going through a marriage mid-life crisis. The story begins when they arrive at a remote cabin. Right from the start things go south where accusations are spewed from both their mouths. So much for this second honeymoon, as the blame goes far and deep between them. Jessie soon finds out there is no going back in time as much as she wants it to happen. What parts of her survive through her desperate ordeal, or if she even survives at all?

Gerald’s Game adapted script was written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard. It was directed by Mike Flanagan. It’s main cast was Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood. Does anyone remember her from Bon Jovi’s video, Always? The supporting cast of Henry Thomas as Jessie’s father and Chiara Aurelia as a young Jessie are equally memorable. For those who have read or seen Dolores Claiborne, there will be a recurrent theme you definitely recognize. I would say these were the most powerful due to their subject matter. As I was watching those scenes, I thought, say it isn’t so Elliott.

Carla Gugino played Jessie with realistic vulnerability, and especially in scenes where there seemed little hope of any kind. The movie adequately portrayed the internal debate within her mind. There could have been an issue of too much talking head, but there was enough interaction from Gerald for it to be a non-issue. There usually is some switching of past and present time in King adaptations. This movie also incorporated it, but did not overuse it. There was voice over in a particular scene where it was most appropriate. It brought closure to a relationship long past.

What Else I Liked about Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game is a relationship story with a lot of what ifs. What if you were in a failed marriage? What if you had a distant husband or wife? What would you do to save your marriage? What would you do if you could go back in time? I like these kinds of movies because it makes me think about things I might not otherwise. This movie was also able to do what few have ever done before, and that is to feel phantom pain where none should exist.

What I Didn’t Like about Gerald’s Game

The part I didn’t like was the lengthy end extensive voice over that filtered from the scene I did appreciate. It would’ve been more impacting had it not rambled on so long. It started nicely and then threw everything into it including the kitchen sink.

Conclusion

For those of you who have Netflix, I’m not going to beg for you to watch this movie. I will, however, suggest you watch it. If you find you can’t find the time to solely focus on it, fold some clothes while thinking how lucky you are to not be in Jessie’s shoes. Or if you are a guy, to not be in a Hollywood producer’s shoes right now. Just think, your life probably isn’t as bad as it may appear. Cheers and continue watching movies.

Pisaries Creator Rating Score

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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.

Midnight Express
IMDb Users gives 7.6
Metascore gives 59
Rotten Tomatoes All Critics gives 95
Pisaries Creator gives 3 Fingers
Return to Paradise
IMDb Users gives 6.9
Metascore gives 54
Rotten Tomatoes All Critics gives 71
Pisaries Creator gives 3 Fingers

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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pisariescratingsrtomatoesratingsmetacriticratingsimdbratings

September 20, 2017: Five Reasons Why I Still Keep Netflix

(These aren’t movies, but you get the point, I hope.)

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There’s been some backlash over Netflix, mainly their original programming and what they allow to stream on their service. I find it more user-friendly based on my preferences and needs. I prefer the option of binge watching television shows and seeing older movies. Releasing only one season or a few seasons at a time is cumbersome for shows no longer airing and those with many seasons. I will say Hulu has some original programming I’m interested in watching. So far all I’ve seen is the first episode of Handmaid’s Tale. So far, so very good. I can’t wait to see more. Since I was introduced to Netflix first, I’m giving it some needed love, and my choices are in no particular order.

CAUTION: DON’T TRIP OVER THE SPOILERS ALONG THE WAY!!!

#1: House of Cards

house of cards
Image by IMDb

House of Cards (original programming) is a political drama involving Frank and Claire Underwood. It is an adaptation from the book, same name, written by Michael Dobbs. The BBC made a four-part series in 1990. There are five seasons, so far, in the current version. Season one starts with Frank as a Congressman who has high sights of making his name mean even more in Washington D.C. I think we all know politicians can be ruthless and the show doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Some of it may be construed as over the top, but we all have private things we’d like to keep private especially when it involves circumstances where coming back seems impossible and lethal means exactly that. The progression through the seasons continue to focus on the different personas the Underwood’s take including the political stage, as well as their pitfalls and achievement. It is equal part a story about the Underwood’s marriage arrangements and their maneuvering in the political world. Season five ended with more questions to the motives of Claire and how Frank will counteract this in season six. I will say after watching this it gave me more respect for Robin Wright’s acting skills and Kevin Spacey never disappoints. Michael Kelly who plays Doug Stamper is a character I find very intriguing. I’m curious how his character arcs when the show ends. There have been great guest roles. A part of me wants to see what Frank has built collapse at the end of the show, and hope I get to see the next part of his life as the next season is still pending. I’m 99% confident there will be a next season. It’s just plain silly to stop it at such a pivotal moment in quality television making.

#2: Narcos

narcos
Image by IMDb

Narcos (original programming) is a crime/police drama about the lucrative cocaine industry and those opposed to it. It is created and produced by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. There are three seasons and the fourth season is to be released in 2018. I have only seen the first two seasons and one episode of the third. Season one begins with Pablo Escobar and his rise to the top as the drug kingpin in Colombia. Wagner Moura who plays Escobar was highly convincing as the vindictive, egotistical, and family loving billionaire. To give an idea of how he operated, Escobar stapled a cone onto a horse’s head and wings on its back so his daughter could have her very own unicorn. This ended up killing the horse by infection and this real life event is not in the show. He got what we wanted even if it meant death. His cousin, Gustavo Gaviria, was one of the few he trusted. Their relationship was one I enjoyed watching especially when it was tested. The first season involves the interesting relationship between DEA agents, Steve Murphy and Javier Peña, where the latter is not a part of the capture of Escobar as seen later. Season two continues the saga of Escobar’s imprisonment or lack thereof since he planned and built his own prison. He effectively remains hidden due to strict loyalty from his cartel from the police, and only when it crumbles does his life come to an end in the infamous shootout on top of the roofs of Colombia. It leads to the Medellín Cartel to be succeeded by the Cali Cartel. They gained top control of the cocaine manufacturing and distribution before Escobar’s blood turned cold. Season three begins with Peña going undercover in the Cali cartel. I’ve only seen the first episode and it did not disappoint. I suspect there’s going to be moments of surprise and tension as the Cali Cartel operates through bribery versus violence. Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, as head of the Cali Cartel, is both cunning and charming. Season four will set place some of the time in Mexico. I will also say the location manager for the show was recently killed so RIP Carlos Muñoz Portal. No matter how the fourth season ends up, I’m going to like it because it hasn’t lessened its content just because Escobar and Murphy are gone.

#3: Stranger Things

stranger things
Image by IMDb

Stranger Things (original programming) is a science fiction drama about a town in Indiana during the 1980’s. It is created and written by twins, Matt and Ross Duffer. There is so far only one season, and the second season is to be released in October 2017. There are plans to have four total seasons. It revolves around a mother, Joyce Byers, and her two sons. Her younger son runs around with a group of children who come across a girl named Eleven. The purpose of her existence is not fully explained, but it is enough to know she has supernatural powers and can use them for good. While Byers and her younger son is reunited in the end of the season, the town has clearly been affected negatively. I’m curious to know more about the portal in season two and hope they delve further into it. Matthew Modine who plays Dr. Martin Brenner works at Hawkins National Laboratory is seen sparsely so far and believe they will go even further in his broken relationship with Eleven in season two.

#4: Peaky Blinders

peaky blinders
Image by IMDb

Peaky Blinders (BBC) focuses on the Irish gang located in Birmingham, England so it is crime drama. Tommy Shelby, protector and criminal, is the boss of the Peaky Blinders. He lives his life always keeping in mind ways to further advance his bloodline and gang family. It is created by Steven Knight and produced by Caryn Mandabach. The actors and actresses are those you might not recognize and were picked for good reason. You don’t want someone who can’t speak in an Irish and English accent convincingly. Season one focuses on how Tommy’s one decision impacts himself and his family throughout the whole season. I know it is vague, but I’m trying not to spoil it too much. Season two is when the charming Tom Hardy character arrives as Alfie Solomons. It focuses on the horse betting scene and where we get a sense that Tommy loves anything that is profitable. Season three started with a great opening episode and ended with a bang I couldn’t have expected. Get ready for the Russians because they come into various scenes in all their glory. Season four will more than likely be released in 2017.

#5: The Last Kingdom

last kingdom
Image by IMDb

The Last Kingdom (BBC) is a British historical drama. It is an adaptation from Bernard Cornwall’s book series, The Saxon Stories, and set in late 9th century England. The centerpiece of the first season is Uhtred’s survival that leads to him forming a relationship to King Alfred after he escapes with Brida. It was refreshing to see a female character of her strength, but not losing sight of her femaleness. This relationship between two very different men continues into season two full of tension and respect for each other. You get to see the vulnerable side to Uhtred as one tragedy piles on top of another. These were some of the best scenes of Alexander Dreymon. Season two also involves seeking revenge along the way as Uhtred carries out his allegiance to King Alfred. Be prepared to see battles where blood spills whether Saxon, Dane, or Viking. I’m sure season three will not stray from the dilemma of Uhtred honoring his ancestors and those who raised him. I’m curious what will happen with Beocca and Thyra. Season three will more than likely happen in 2018. There is talk about it being solely original programming, but either way I hope it is released sooner than later.

And there you have it, the five reasons I still keep Netflix at this moment.

netflixfive

September 10, 2017: My Third Movie Review of the Year

IT Review

This review will contain some spoilers, but I’d venture to say the ones who wanted to see IT have already seen it and the ones who didn’t really don’t care, but for the ones who will wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray this is for you.

THIS WILL CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS BECAUSE I’M DISCUSSING THE MOVIE LIKE NO ONE’S BUSINESS OR PUT IN ANOTHER WAY I’M POPPING ALL THE RED BALLOONS!!!

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But not quite yet. I need to get a few observations out relating to the movie and other audience members. First things first. I realize Bill Skarsgård is not Tim Curry, but this did not detract in his performance playing Pennywise. It is incredibly hard to fill someone’s clown shoes especially the likes of Tim Curry. I noticed the shout out to Curry during the scene when Richie Tozier, played by the child actor from Stranger Things, was in that room full of clowns. I stand by my conviction. No one will beat Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown. NO ONE. Did anyone see him as the serial killer on Criminal Minds? Yeah, watch it. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ryan Gosling as Pennywise though. Food for thought. Second things second. Because I read the book although I don’t remember it word for word because it was so long ago, but I do remember more the TV mini-series, I did some comparisons while watching the movie. Third things third. A handful of teenagers had no idea the story continued after the supposed defeat of Pennywise in the Derry sewer pipes. The groans alone was evidence enough. IT has to come back to terrorize them as adults. It’s only logical. It also reminds me to maybe wait to see the Chapter 2 after opening weekend. I’m not sure I can sit though a movie being so crowded again. Fourth things fourth. I never once jumped or screamed during the movie although I did laugh once or twice, but for all the right reasons. Richie Tozier could have used a nice cleansing of his mouth, but again 1980s were the 1980s. I’m curious what will transpire in the next chapter beyond the obvious.

Information about IT

IT2017

IT is the story by Stephen King and adapted for the world to see. The story is of a handful of children coming together in a small town in Maine called Derry to fight the disappearance of people especially children. It is a fact that children disappear at a faster rate than any other town in the United States in comparison to Derry, and has been happening since they can remember. The TV miniseries took place in the 1950s where the movie is set in the 1980s, and while I would have much preferred the 1950s, the story had to progress forward as with any adaptation. I’m glad the director, Andy Muschetti, decided to give the characters back their original names after Cary Fukunaga left due to creative differences. I’m sure I could have figured out who the child was compared to the 1990s version, but it would have detracted from the experience. This movie had enough freshness to it where I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars because I looked at my watch once and couldn’t forgive one thing in the movie.

IT script was written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman. The characters are Bill Denbrough (played by Jaeden Liberher), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly Marsh (Sofia Lillis), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhand), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff), and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs). There are the nemeses to the Loser’s Club of Henry Bowers (played by Nicholas Hamilton), Belch Huggins (Jake Sim), Victor Criss (Logan Thompson), and Patrick Hockstetter (Owen Teague). We all know who Pennywise is played by, but if you need another reminder it is Bill Skarsgård. You can also see a glimpse of him in the trailer below if you dare.

There are a few parts I enjoyed in this movie not in the TV version. The first was getting to know the home of Pennywise on a more intimate level. I felt one of the strongest scenes was not so much in the rescue of Beverly after Pennywise had captured her and brought her to his lair. I was more interested in what was around her and above her. It hits home seeing all those toys and bikes and other things children would play with in a tall heap. I enjoyed seeing the connection to the past in regards to the circus beyond the newspaper clippings in the scrapbook as in the TV version as I was able to see him perform as a clown on his makeshift stage in the film. The suspended bodies in the air yet to be eaten had a macabre feeling to it. The gore of what Pennywise was capable of and did was more in your face, literally as the scene in the bathroom with Beverly showed, the blood was everywhere.

The director’s vision of the opening scene was exceptionally executed. It couldn’t have gotten much better when Georgie Denbrough (played by Jackson Robert Scott) loses his arm. It is implied in the TV version he probably loses his arm, but in the movie there is no denying he lost his arm. There is a slim chance he might get away with one arm as he hobbles away, but I knew there was not a chance in Derry Hell he would survive. He eventually gets sucked into the drain, which ended the scene just as well as it began. This brings to me the portrayal of Pennywise. While I prefer Tim Curry’s version because even with the clown paint and costume, there was a slim chance he actually was a friendly clown until he changed his voice and opened his mouth, showing his razor sharp teeth. On the other hand, Bill Skarsgård’s version had the appearance of being really, really off due to his makeup and costume. I’m sorry to say, but when a clown has two messed up two front teeth, semi-coiffed hair, and a clown outfit sporting something similar to an Elizabethan collar, I’m going to say you aren’t right from the start. It also had to do with contacts Skarsgård wore. They were a little scary. Okay, actually quite a bit scary. I’m sure if he was chasing me while cackling in that menacing tone I would be screaming my pretty little head. I thoroughly enjoyed him transforming from the various things the children were afraid of into Pennywise. My favorite was when he was the headless man slowly coming after Ben in the library, turning into Pennywise, and BOOM he is there. The other scene I enjoyed was the garage scene where the children are looking at the Derry’s sewer system from projector and before you know it the clown makes his grand appearance.

What Else I Liked About IT

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Despite all the gore and scare, this story does have resonance beyond trying to survive a killing eating clown taking different forms. This movie comments on the need for acceptance when particular children don’t find it whether related to physicality, race, or sex. It’s about how easy it is to overlook children and not listen to them. It’s about how children understand more than sometimes adults give them credit for. It’s about how groups survive better than one person acting alone. It’s about how karma sometimes happens in not so mysterious ways. It’s about reminding us to be cautious despite knowing most of us are safe. It’s about being aware there are things out there to hurt us, but even through the darkest of darks, there is a glimmer of light. And one more thing about this movie, it left me wanting to know who is going to play the adult characters, and hoping it doesn’t end with the non-scary ending as the TV version.

One Thing I Did Not Like About IT

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This was the reason I gave it 3.5 stars out of 5. What was with Pennywise’s shaking head? I did not like it. I did not like it. I repeat. I did not like it. Call me intolerant. I couldn’t stand it. I’d much rather have him creepily come out of cabinets or closets. Give me his three rows of CGI teeth. I hope they take this out in Chapter 2. This is all I’m going to say about that because I’m probably in the minority here.

Conclusion

I did like this movie overall and despite me looking at my watch. I wanted to be scared, but I wasn’t and probably because of who I am as a person. I sort of went into it knowing I wouldn’t be scared although there were plenty of teenagers and children who did scream. I’ve said before if any child tells me his/her doll is possessed, I will believe it thanks to the movie Chucky. The same goes for this movie. If any child tells me a clown is trying to kill them, I will believe it. This is trending into supernatural territory and a topic possibly to be discussed later. As I was coming back from getting ice tea today, I saw someone carrying a bunch of red balloons and kid you not they were stacked similar to the ones held by Pennywise. So on that note, this review is officially done and sweet dreams.

Images by IMBD/Trailer by Warner Brothers

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.

(76% Rotten Tomatoes/6.8 out of 10 on IMBb)

August 10, 2017: Movie Recommendations

These two movies are on opposite sides of the spectrum.  I’m going back in time, to the mid and late 1990.  The first one is a black comedy and the other one is a drama.  I’m almost willing to search for them in my collection and take a trip down memory lane.

Shallow Grave

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This dark crime comedy was written by John Hodges and the first movie directed by Danny Boyle. It had the relative newcomer actor at the time, Ewan McGregor, along with Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox. The story revolves around three friends who find their fourth roommate dead in their flat.  They realize he left behind a large amount of cash, and what they will do to preserve their new found discovery is at the heart of this movie.  I remember it being insanely mad with a perfect ending. Watch the trailer to see if it piques your interest.

It was rated 67% by Metascore and 70% by Tomatometer.
Trailer found on Criterion DVD/Blu-ray

The Red Violin (Le violon rouge)

theredviolin

This drama was written by Don McKellar and François Girard, and directed by the latter. There are many different actors and actresses in this movie as it takes places in five different cities ranging across four centuries. Some of them are Greta Scacchi, Jason Flemyng, Colm Feore, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sandra Oh. The story revolves around a red violin, with its origins from Italy.  It changes hands several times and tells how each of the people who came in contact with it were impacted.  The story concludes in Canada.  This is the perfect movie if you enjoy character driven stories.  Watch the trailer as well to see if it piques your interest.

It was rated 57% by Metascore and 74% by Tomatometer.
Trailer from Movie Clips Trailer Vault

July 24, 2017: My Second Movie Review of the Year

Dunkirk Does Deliver

dunkirk

I saw this movie yesterday.  I liked it for the fact it did not have any love interest in the plot in the traditional sense.  Love and war are themes that will never go away, and there is nothing wrong with this, because I like these movies too.  The last one I enjoyed was Allied although it didn’t do well in the box office, but let’s get back to Dunkirk.  The only love in this movie was a soldier’s love to be reunited with safety and comfort.  There shouldn’t be any spoilers in this review unless you aren’t aware of the general happenings at Dunkirk.  This will be my second review this year. 

Dunkirk scored a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer of 93%) and IMDB (Metascore 94%)  It was victorious in the box office with earning 50.5 million in its opening weekend.  I would rate it five out of five stars for the cinematography alone.  Those shots from the sky looking down at the ships and boats.  Damn!  They were so impressive!  The production design was absolutely amazing as was most everything about the movie!  While the story really doesn’t have any twists and turns as most people know about the horrors of World War II, it does an amazing job reminding viewers how difficult survival was on land, sea, and air.

Nolan did a superb job weaving the stories together like he usually does, shared in an intimate way, and this to me was the whole purpose of this film.  The interaction between Shivering Soldier (played by Cillian Murphy) and Mr. Dawson’s family (played by Mark Rylance) was just as tense as the assaults from the sky by German planes.  It was Nolan’s shortest script and for good reason.  It didn’t need much talking head.  Tom Hardy who played Farrier was amazing throughout the movie although he wasn’t the only one carrying the film.  Jack Lowden who played Collins was equally great.  I rate the whole experience four and a half out of five stars.

Information about Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a movie about the rescue of Allied soldiers in France after being trapped and sitting ducks, for lack of better words, by the Germans forces.  The evacuation took place between May 26th and June 4th in 1940.  By the end of this rescue mission, with the help of small vessels transporting soldiers from the beaches to ultimate safety of larger ships and then land, there were many unnamed heroes and heroines in this story.  The ending was perfect as it commented on the realities of war.  It had a solid cast and believe one of the reasons the movie works well is some of the actors weren’t well known.  Dunkirk was written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  The more recognizable actors were Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, and Mark Rylance.  And then there was Harry Styles who did a good job.  Not once did I think there’s the guy from One Direction throughout the movie. 

Why Not Five Stars

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The reason for not giving it five stars was the partial confusion of the title usage in relation to time.  The movie focused on three primary areas: air, sea, and land, which was the way it should be because this is how wars are fought.  I don’t consider myself a dummy by any means as even my roommate was a little confused about it until we realized what was actually happening.  I enjoy movies rolled out in a non-chronological order.  I just wish I had some reference as to what one week, one day, and one hour meant in terms of how they were all related at the beginning instead of later in the film.  Looking back it makes me wonder why I didn’t get it right away, but glad I’m not the only one.  While I wish the ending (movie wise not historical wise) had happened differently for selfish reasons, I’m glad it wasn’t that way because nothing is completely one way or another.  One of the main characters didn’t fully arc as pointed out by my roommate, but then again not all of the characters had the ability to fully complete their circle, which is what war presents to soldiers.  Could a person really fully return to “normal” once back from this particular war if he survived or any war for that matter?  I have my suspicions, but I’m not willing to answer that question right now.  Let’s just say trauma changes a person and no matter how hard you try to shove a square object into a round opening, it will not fit.

Conclusion

I believe this movie will stand the test of time as I think it is currently being viewed as a well crafted movie for many reasons and Oscar buzz seems to be already buzzing.  I liken this movie to Fury despite it having a higher production value.  If anyone wants to watch Fury, I highly recommend it.  It was written and directed by David Ayer.  But again, let’s get back to Dunkirk.  With absolute certainty I was wholly invested in every character and every scene from start to finish.  My biggest disappointment was not finishing all the popcorn when the credits rolled and on top of that not wanting a refill.  This has NEVER happened before so maybe I won’t get any popcorn and just enjoy the movie the next time.  Probably not, but I can dream, right?

Images by IMDB/Trailer by WB

July 8, 2017: Movie Recommendation

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Produced: Letty Aronson, J.E. Beaucaire, Richard Brick, Jean Doumanian, Charles H. Joffe, and Jack Rollins

Directed: Woody Allen

Written: Woody Allen

Major Cast: Sean Penn,  Samantha Morton, Anthony LaPaglia, Uma Thurman, John Waters, Woody Allen, James Urbaniak, and Brian Markinson

Sweet and Lowdown stars the talented Sean Penn as Emmet Ray, a jazz guitarist who garnered acclaim during the 1930s.  The movie follows him on his quest to be as good as his idol, Django Reinhardt, but there are peculiar rules he must follow in order to achieve this.  One of them is not getting romantically involved with a woman despite his mad desire for it.  He eventually finds love in a woman played by Samantha Morton, but will he be able to sustain it?  You must watch the movie to find out or look online.  The film received decent scores from critics with Metascore rating it 70% and Tomatometer rating it 78%.  This isn’t too surprising as most Woody Allen movies are well worth the watch.  This is sweet and short description, but that is all it really needed. 

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)

July 1, 2017: Movie Recommendation

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Produced: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, Dominic Catanzarite, Kevin Frakes, Buddy Patrick, Ashwin Rajan, Steven Schneider, M. Night Shyamalan

Directed: M. Night Shyamalan

Written: M. Night Shyamalan

Major Cast: James McAvoy, Betty Buckley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Izzie Coffey

I’ve seen most of M. Night Shyamalan movies although I took a pass of The Last Airbender and After Earth.  I don’t think I need to go into detail why this is the case, but am curious now to see how much of these movies deserve the low scores they received.  Shyamalan has been nominated for both an Oscar and several Razzie awards.  He was nominated for Best Director (Oscar) and Best Original Screenplay (Oscar) for The Sixth Sense in 1999.  He was nominated for Worst Director (Razzie) and Worst Screenplay (Razzie) for The Happening in 2008 and After Earth in 2013.  He won the Razzie award for Worst Director and Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2010.  Okay, maybe I won’t watch this one. 

I looked at my pile of unwatched movies on my shelf and decided upon Split.  I had read some good reviews on it while ignoring the bad ones.  Sure, they had some validity, but in my view if you have a talented actor, such as James McAvoy, you can forgive other shortcomings.   Yes, people can’t scale flat vertical walls by their strength alone because we don’t have anything attached to our feet and hands that suction to surfaces.  Yes, the story was a little disjointed when it came to transitioning from the past to the present of the character Casey Cooke.  I’m not well versed in shooting scenes, but they weren’t so jarring that it took me out of the film. 

Some people have a hard time suspending reality when things don’t make logical sense in movies.  I can see the point of some finding it hard that someone random, anyone, out there in the folds of the script didn’t clue into the character’s unusual behaviors and report him to the police.  But, viewers and/or critics didn’t write the script so therefore M. Night Shyamalan did what he set out to do and achieved it.  Let’s not forget it took nine million to make, but earned 40 million opening week, and 138 million so far. 

The movie progressed at a decent pace, and the interactions among the girls might have been a little wooden, but I didn’t finish the movie thinking I had just wasted two hours of my precious time.  I’m not going into much detail about the movie because I don’t want to spoil it except to say it’s about a man who has different personalities, attributed to his childhood, and how he copes with them.  I wondered what would happen to James McAvoy’s character at the end, which was a little bit of a surprise.  It definitely could’ve gone the other route, but Shyamalan’s vision persisted. 

I’ve been vague and unfocused compared to other recommendations, and sifting through the muddle you might not be able to recognize I’m applauding this movie.  This is a movie of what can happen to individuals who are subjected to prolonged periods of mental and physical stress.  We don’t need to look far for the unintended consequences of today’s institutions which includes super max prisons, the armed forces, and on personal level, families.  It also speaks of the fragility and strength among people.  What might break one person, the next will have struggle, but come out with a greater resolve in the end.  So yes, I found the character of Casey Cooke the most intriguing after James McAvoy’s character’s many personalities.

I could speak more to his different personalities, but feel that is the genius of M. Night Shyamalan.  He doesn’t need to hit every little detail so it bounces off your face.  He lets you do some of your own thinking.  Yes, he could’ve imparted a little more backstory of the main characters, but it wasn’t necessary.  Yes, he could’ve made it more realistic so less people would write bad reviews, but most of us know he focuses on topics that aren’t 100% viewed as legitimate by everyone.  This is one of those movies where you could either either throw everything into it including a car chase or you choose deliberately and use only what is necessary to propel the story forward.  Shyamalan picked the latter, which was the right choice.  I conclude that you should watch Split and not compare it to The Sixth Sense or any of his other movies, but to see it as its own animal.  Pun intended.

June 9, 2017: Movie Recommendation

This has spoilers so stop reading if you do not want to know the ending of this movie.

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Director: Randall Miller

Screenwriters: Jody Savin, Randall Miller, and Ross Schwartz

Story: Ross Schwartz, Lannette Pabon, Jody Savin, Randall Miller

I saw this in the theater, which I’m sure was a limited release since it was an independent movie. This movie had enough substance behind it to keep my attention. The story was intriguing especially since I can find a good handful of things to drink besides wine. The mark of a good script.

The film hinges on a character/actual person named Steven Spurrier. He is played by Alan Rickman who captures the essence of being a struggling wine shop owner in Paris. He flies to Napa Valley, California to find suitable wines for his Judgement of Paris contest, hoping it increases foot traffic in his store.

He brings back a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena, which will be competing against the best wines France offers. The Parisian taste testers choose the wine from Napa Valley as the winner, thus putting California on the map. The rest is history as they say, sort of.

Steven Spurrier held another Judgment of Paris in 2006 where another California wine won again. He was not fond of this movie although I thought it was overall enjoyable. It isn’t a movie that would have won any Oscars, but it was decent enough to support.

The supporting cast is Bull Pullman and Chris Pine playing the father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett, Eliza Dushku as Joe, Dennis Farina as Cantavale, Hal B. Klein as Shenky, and Freddy Rodríguez as Gustavo Brambila.

While Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 48% according to its Tomatometer, it does have an Audience Score of 58%. The choice of viewing it is up to you as always, but can you really beat Alan Rickman doing the thing he does best.

May 28, 2017: Movie Recommendation

argo

Produced: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov

Directed: Ben Affleck

Written: Chris Terrio, Tony Mendez, Joshuah Bearman

I saw this in the theater when it came out in 2012. Argo was the kind of film that really had you at the edge of your seat even if you were aware of the end result. It is about a CIA operative, Tony Mendez, who plans the rescue of six United States embassy staff from Iran in early 1980s. He is portrayed by Ben Affleck, and convincingly I might add. This was the perfect role for him. The success of this mission is dependent upon the assistance of Hollywood and cooperation from Canada. Mendez goes through the motions of setting up a production company with a green lit script, fake crew members, and as you probably guessed it, the location of Iran. You watch to see if the six will survive this mission with Mendez leading them hopefully to safety. I’m pretty sure you can guess which way it went, but in case you don’t or don’t want to know ahead of time, I won’t say anything else except watch this film. You won’t be disappointed especially if you are into historical dramas and/or should I say Ben Affleck.

May 28, 2017: Movie Recommendation

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Produced: Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon, and Marc Turtletaub

Directed: Sam Mendes

Written: Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida

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This is a dramedy directed by Sam Mendes. The person responsible for directing the hit movies American Beauty and Road to PerditionAway We Go is the journey of a married couple, waiting for their first child to be born.  Their original plan of living close to his parents is spoiled when they surprise Burt (Jon Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) of moving out of the country.  This is when Burt and Verona decide to go on the road in search of the best place to raise their child.  Along the way, they observe differing parenting styles of family and friends, and come to an understanding of what kind of parents they want to be.  They also finally discover where they want to set down their roots.  This film has a good supporting cast and the most recognizable names of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janey, and Josh Hamilton.  While this didn’t have the widespread reach like American Beauty, it is well worth the watch if you desire a lighthearted movie with the right amount of serious moments.

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.

May 7, 2017: My First Movie Review of the Year

chuck

After viewing the trailer for Chuck on television, I pretty much knew I’d be seeing this movie this weekend. It was playing in a few theaters near me and one was close to my old stomping grounds. Today was the day to see it at Arc Light. The movie did not disappoint. I would rate it four out of five stars. It wasn’t perfect, but was pretty damn close. There shouldn’t be any spoilers in this review.

Information about Chuck

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Chuck is the movie about Chuck Wepner, also know as “The Bayonne Bleeder.” He served as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s character of Rocky although Sylvester Stallone has denied this allegation. It would later be settled in court. This was not in the movie, and for good reason. It would have detracted away from the movie’s primary focus being Chuck’s conduct in his relationships and how it affected his family, friends, and most of all himself.

Chuck was written primarily by Jeff Feuerzeig and Jerry Stahl. It was directed by Philippe Falardeau. It had a superb cast including, but not limited to Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan and Spotlight), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men and A Handmaid’s Tale), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy), Naomi Watts (St. Vincent and Birdman), and Pooch Hall (Suits and Ray Donovan).

Some of the best, emotional scenes were between Chuck played by Liev Schreiber and John played by Michael Rapaport as his estranged brother. I was able to suspend my belief these were actors, which to me is the mark of great acting. I saw tiny sparks of comedy in their interactions during intense scenes, which again is the mark of great acting.

I’m well aware this was a boxing movie too. The fight scenes were well choreographed and shot. The movie’s soundtrack matched the ugly outfits picked by the costume designer. The cinematography gave the viewer a realistic 1970s New Jersey feel. The whole production was top-notch.

Liev Schreiber as Chuck was one of those protagonists you can’t hate for too long despite his womanizing ways, drinking binges, and egotistical personality traits. I always got the sense his flaws prevented him from attaining complete acceptance by others, but more important they outweighed his desire to be rewarded justly. There is a scene with Chuck and Sylvester Stallone played by Morgan Spector, and by the end of it you feel for him. It wasn’t for his lack of trying in life because he really did try to the best of his abilities at that time. He was a boxer who basically went fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali, had his short claim to fame, and found himself swimming against the currents of his life after it.

What Else I Liked about Chuck

Chuck is a down to earth, human story. I like these kinds of stories. They translate well on the screen if done the right way. I can say hands down that it was done the right way. I began to see a few parallels between the movie Chuck and the movie Rocky besides the obvious. Yes, the characters were similar. That’s a no-brainer. Yes, the underdog got the chance to go the distance with the champ. Yes, some things didn’t go as planned along the way.

Sylvester Stallone was fairly new in Hollywood at the time he wrote Rocky. He had done various odd jobs to pay the bills. When he was satisfied with his draft, he shopped it around. The studio offered him a handsome amount of money, but he rejected it until he was offered what was requested. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing the role of Rocky, and the rest is history as they say. At the end of it all, Chuck and Sylvester mirrored each other too, with the end result being recognition for dues paid. I conclude that while Sylvester Stallone turned Rocky into a franchise (and can we all agree it should’ve stopped at Rocky IV with Drago), Chuck got something of equal worth: his own movie about his own life.

Conclusion

This review isn’t meant to stand the test of time. Some might disagree with parts of this. I am open for debate. My views might change over time, but I doubt it. I hope this encourages others to see this movie. If you don’t, at least, watch Rocky with the commentary. It’s pretty entertaining. There’s a comedic side to Sylvester Stallone you won’t find in his movie Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! On this ending note, have a good night, and happy movie watching.

Images by IMDB/Trailer by IFC Films

April 30, 2017: Documentary/Movie Recommendation

The life of Richard and Mildred Loving, both reluctant to be the face of interracial marriage, sort of mirrors how well this movie did in the Box Office.  Let’s just say the gross total doesn’t cover its production costs as of today.  I’m not sure why more people didn’t want to see it in the theater.  It might be an ugly reminder the United States once enacted laws to preserve the status quo.  The last state to officially legalize interracial marriage was Alabama in 2000.  The film focuses less on the courtroom drama and more on their hardships as the Loving family tried to raise their children safely.  It wasn’t until they won their case in the Supreme Court in 1967 that they were able to return to Virginia and raise their family in relative stability.  The viewer never loses sight of the connection between race and power on both the national and personal level.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I found myself more hopeful than anything when the credits rolled.

April 18, 2017:  Documentary Recommendation

humanodyssey

I learned how resilient and strong our Homo sapiens sapiens ancestors were after watching this.  The rough terrain, unrelenting weather, and scarcity of food they endured and survived really make us the smartest bipedal animals in existence.  I watched all the great peoples of the world with primitive hunting styles and ways of life existing “alongside” the industrialized societies of today.  We have really turned into a population as an whole that our ancestors might question, good and bad.  Many millennial children will be the first to not be in a better place economically and physically compared to their parents.  I wonder hundreds of years from now will things have actually changed for the better given all that has gone and continues to dwindle.  It’s good food for thought as we seem to be turning into a world of machines and speed.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Netflix where this can be viewed as well as on PBS.  Everything in moderation, right?

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Image by Wikipedia

April 18, 2017: Movie Recommendation

Contagion

I was away longer than I wanted because the circle thing in the picture below.  It made sure to let me know it had invaded my body and then some.  It knocked me down where I had to rest in bed and basically slept Thursday and Friday, got through work Saturday, and more rest on Sunday and Monday.  I’m feeling somewhat better today.  Thank God.

My recommendation is, of course, a movie related to sickness in the form of a virus that spreads rapidly.  Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, has the perfect ending where you, as the viewer, completely understands the magnitude of infection and disease as it spreads.   It has stuck with me long after.  It also has an engaging beginning hook and a well-paced middle.

This definitely isn’t the feel good movie you want to watch at the end of a trying week.  It is coined as a “medical thriller, disaster film” for a reason.  I recommend watching it when you on the upswing in life as it realistically portrays what could happen although on a much smaller scale this did occur.  I only have this left to say:  remember to wash your hands. 

Cold Virus Image by webmd.boots.com

April 11, 2017: Documentary Recommendations

It’s Time to Get Serious Again!!!

You will get a sense of my interests as many of these are the same subject.  While this list doesn’t even scratch the surface, these are the ones that stood the test of time.  My apologies for not being able to format it properly, but I did not feel like staying up all night trying to get it to work after numerous tries.  The font would have been too small and not very eye friendly.  Enjoy.

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April 10, 2017: Movie Recommendations

It’s Time to Laugh!!!

Sneakers is a caper movie about five hackers.  It has some slapstick comedy and is well-paced.  My favorite character is the blind soundman played by David Straithairn.  The car scene was priceless.  Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley are good.  Dan Aykroyd and Sidney Poitier give equal performances.  Mary McDonnell does her part for the larger cause, but not without some resistance.  I give a shout out to River Phoenix because no one can forget young Indiana Jones.  The ending comes together in a nice little black box. 

Gross Pointe Blank is about attending your high school reunion for all the wrong reasons.  It stars John Cusack and Minnie Driver as past high school sweethearts.  It also stars Dan Aykroyd, at odds with John Cusack, as there can only one hit man allowed in this Michigan city.  This doesn’t justify the bad dancing by Jeremy Piven to popular 1980s songs.  All I have left to say is “POPCORN!” 

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion capitalizes on all the stereotypical blonde jokes and the cliques that often exist at reunions.  The popular students forever hold that status, the nerds remain nerds, the jocks never lose their helmets, the cheerleaders remember their cheers, and the remaining students aren’t remembered all that much.  It speaks of the friendship between Romy and Michele, the need for acceptance, the pain of rejection, and coming out stronger by the end without being overly mushy.  

Evolution is one of my favorite movies with David Duchovny.  It can’t get any sillier than four out of place characters fighting against rapidly advancing alien life.  As the movie progresses, the scenes go from ridiculous to over the top.  This is the appeal of the movie.   Watch it for mindless viewing.  

Ted could be a movie one might not want to admit watching.  I’m not one of those people.  I laughed more than anticipated.  You wouldn’t think a movie about a man choosing a teddy bear or his girlfriend could span a length of 106 minutes and keep your attention.  It did so well done to Seth McFarlane on your first directing gig.  As a side note, you need to have a bit of tolerance for swearing and innuendo because this movie has both. 

April 5, 2017: Movie Recommendation

life

Dane Dehaan portrays a convincing James Dean before his stardom in Hollywood.  He is followed by a photographer working for Life magazine, Dennis Stock, who is played by Robert Pattinson.  He joins Dean on an impromptu road trip back home where the relationship solidifies into trust and allows for the later snapping of the iconic pictures we now know today.  The tricks of a photographer and the love/hate relationship with the camera still exists, but now it’s more with the Paparazzi.  If you are looking for a no thrills drama without car chases and twists and turns, this is the movie for you.  It’s simply a movie about one man who doesn’t trust anyone but his family, and the other trying to find acceptance in a hard entering profession where not many knocks are heard.   

April 1, 2017: Movie Recommendation

cityofgod

City of God or its Portuguese name Cidade de Deus was released worldwide in 2003.  It’s about gang life in Rio de Janeiro.  It involves a kid, Rocket, who grows up with a camera in hand.  He doesn’t want any participation in this illegal lifestyle.  He remains in proximity to the gang members as he matures, but far enough away where he is relatively safe.  It’s a movie based on a true story where living in a rough environment is common occurrence for many kids in such disparity between the economic classes.  The opportunities or places to increase their skill sets are sorely lacking, which is reflected in the tagline, “If you run, the beast catches you; if you stay, the beast eats you.”

March 25, 2017: Movie Recommendation of an 80’s Movie

thefly

A movie I haven’t seen in a while is The Fly.  I’m talking about the David Cronenberg movie where I never looked at Jeff Goldblum the same way.  The metamorphosis of his character was one of greatness.  Yes, I prefer character driven movies vs. action based movies although I have no issue watching any Fast and Furious franchise movies.  The story of the enthusiastic scientist in the beginning to the tortured creature he became at the end also involved the human interaction he sought through Geena Davis’s character.  If only Seth Brundle had taken a little more time to ponder the consequences of his teleportation, but then the viewers would’ve been turned away in boredom.  This isn’t the jump out of your seat because scary things are lurking behind furniture movie.  Every action has an opposite reaction.  Isn’t that how the saying goes?  The Fly is a movie where you see what happens when you don’t check your obsessions at the Telepod door.  Enjoy the spectacular vision it deserves.  

March 23, 2017: Book Recommendation about Actors and Actresses

This is a great book for the fact it gives the reader insights into the personalities of famous actors and actresses, unadulterated and brutally truthful.  Even if it portrays the Hollywood legends in a less than favorable light, you continue to have respect for them as they deserve.  I enjoyed it from first page to the last.  If anything it will serve as a nice diversion from the current Hollywood trends of remakes and comic book films, which there is nothing wrong with, but it is nice to reflect back on eras of the past. 

Explore on Amazon

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

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March 14, 2017: Movie Recommendation

nocturnal animals

This serves as a story of meeting an actor I admire and a movie he starred in that I am recommending.  The first was such a private moment in the sense we were the only two there except his friend, but I tend to forget about his friend.  It was just little old me jogging on a narrow path with the actor coming towards me from the opposite direction.  I had not been paying much attention in front of me as my focus was where my shoes were going, making sure I didn’t trip over any rocks. 

I was sporting my Ray Ban sunglasses and had on my blue jogging shorts.  This is when someone hit my arm as he passed me.  I glanced at him, didn’t really think about it, and picked up my pace.  I kept getting farther from the person when a thought crossed my mind.  Was that Jake Gyllenhaal?  I decided to stop after a few more steps and turned to find him standing still and looking back at me. 

I was sure he was looking at someone behind me, but he was not.  When I registered it actually was Jake Gyllenhaal and not to appear too weird, I darted off.  His head was shaved as he was filming the movie End of Watch.  I jogged back home, knowing I would remember this arm bump, and in between that time and now I’ve seen a handful of Jake Gyllenhaal’s movies.

The movie I’m recommending is Nocturnal Animals.  The interweaving between past and present is nothing new, but effective to the story.  I like a good drama.  Who doesn’t like seeing the relationship between two people have its ups and downs play out on the screen?  While I read some viewers grumbled about the ending, I thought it was done the right way.  It kept my attention from start to finish.  It made me think what would I do in the situation.  Enough talk.  Go watch the movie.  Enjoy it, and eat tons of popcorn for me.

March 11, 2017

I was late in watching the series Spartacus.  I wish there were more seasons and wonder what would have occurred had Andy Whitfield continued to live past the age of his prime.  I heard of this documentary while watching her and along with the other actors that played gladiators.  The tenacity and strength he possessed to prepare for this role astounds me.  I knew the filmmaker rallied his fans to help raise the finances needed to make this documentary.  I was one of the fortunate ones to reap this benefit.  It goes to show one never should lose sight on the importance of what life has to offer.  Live it to the fullest, learn from your mistakes, and look ahead more than behind you.

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

100RT2100RT100RT3 March 3, 2017

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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