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Very interesting movie, kept me immersed in the story.
I found this on Amazon streaming movies.
This is a sci-fi story, it involves a technique that will likely never be realized, that is inventing a machine that allows a person's deepest memories to be recalled and actually viewed by that person and others, all recorded on what looks a lot like a glass microscope slide.
Peter Dinklage is the lead character as Sam Bloom and it is never totally clear why he does this, but when the inventor of the machine is found dead in his office, with bullet holes in the wall behind him, Sam sets out to solve the mystery, how did the man die and was he murdered? He has to get access to the machine and the memory slides.
Dinklage is very good in this role, if he had grown up to be 6-4 instead of 4-4 I suspect he would be a bigger star and a romantic lead, he has the looks and voice and the acting chops. The movie uses lots of cuts and editing tricks to keep the suspense up, and it works. I enjoyed it more for the character interactions than the story itself.
Anton Yelchin has a role in this movie, filming finished up just a short time before he died in an unfortunate accident in 2016.
Very entertaining, a nice story of Chinese teens helping a Yeti get back home.
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our public library. Not only are the video and audio super good, there are a number of very interesting extras regarding the cast and the making of movie.
The main story involves three teens helping a captured and escaped young Yeti get back home, after they figure out it is the slopes of Mt Everest. Along the way the story includes some nice family bonding.
The main character, other than the Yeti, is a teenager named Yi, voiced by Chloe Bennet, a Chinese American whose birth name is Chloe Yang, and who played one of the main characters in the TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.".
We enjoyed it, a very inventive story, we were totally entertained.
Katy Keene (2020)
The good, the bad, and the pretty in NYC.
I first became aware of Lucy Hale when she starred in "Life Sentence", the brief TV series about a girl who is dying, decides to live life to the fullest, even getting married in Paris. Until she found out she was cured.
Here she is Katy Keene, a young single professional in NYC, living with a strange mix of other young and single people trying to make it. She has a long-time boyfriend who works as a bouncer, they love each other, but when he proposes Katy isn't sure she is ready for that.
In 1961 an entertainment executive proclaimed that "TV is a vast wasteland." While that isn't necessarily true, most TV shows actually do fall into that category. "Katy Keene", the show, is a so-so fluff of a TV series, featuring mostly very pretty actors who are capable of pulling off their roles. It is made in the usual formula, each episode has several themes going on and the programming features one of them for a minute, the next for a minute, and soon there is the commercial break.
There is absolutely nothing new here, if you like Lucy Hale who is very attractive, then you'll like this show. But to be honest it is just fluff entertainment, something to watch when you have absolutely nothing else that you want to do and it is too early for bedtime.
But then the very same can be said for most TV shows.
Official Secrets (2019)
Real story of a British Iraq War whistleblower.
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library. No extras on the disc, just the movie, although we see a short glimpse of the real Ms Gun at the end as credits roll.
This appears to be a British movie, filmed in England with British actors, but it is based on a book by an American husband and wife team, then the script was written by a different American husband and wife team. It traces true events when in 2003 the US and England were working to get justification to attack Iraq, depose Saddam Hussein, and free the Iraq people. I remember that year well, it turned out to be "weapons of mass destruction" which eventually was proven false.
Keira Knightley is the British spy analyst, Katharine Gun. She (and others) find an email which appears to be a request to essentially use blackmail as a way to get other countries to agree so such an attack would not be considered a war crime. She is uncomfortable with this, she sees it as illegal, she gets a copy of the note in the hands of a journalist.
This is a very nicely told story, showing the behind the scenes activities and British law which intended to prosecute Gun for revealing classified information.
East of Eden (1955)
The first James Dean movie, from the novel of the same title.
Over the past few weeks I decided to see all three of James Dean's movies, I got to this one, his first, after I watched the other two. I found it on DVD from my public library.
Dean certainly deserved all his accolades as an actor, without him in the role of troubled son Cal this might have been a very ordinary movie. We can only imagine what success he might have had if he had lived to middle age and beyond, like Clint Eastwood has.
Lots of themes here, severe father that is hard to love, estranged mother that the sons were told was dead, competition among brothers. A very nice classic movie.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Very entertaining Wes Anderson movie.
We can't really use the term "film" anymore, everything is shot digitally and edited digitally. I found the BluRay edition of this at my public library.
I really enjoyed it, and I believe anyone who enjoys Wes Anderson movies, like "Moonrise Kingdom", "The Grand Budapest Hotel", and his other contributions will also like this one. A very cool story and using some of the best actors in the business to voice the animated characters, many of whom are dogs.
Epic story of west Texas, the ranches and the oil boom.
I managed to find this movie on DVD at my public library, it is the restoration released in 1996 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of "Giant." The movie is long at almost 3 hours and is on two discs.
While the dates are not specifically mentioned, by the ages of the children and the mention of Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, it appears the story spans about 1925 to about 1950. Hudson was near 30, Taylor and Dean were about 23, Hopper was still a teenager, as was Mineo. This was Dean's last of three movies, he died in a car wreck after filming but before the movie was completed.
Hudson played the owner of the 595,000 acre ranch who travels to Maryland to buy a prized horse, but comes back with both a new horse and a new wife. He expected his son to inherit the job of running the ranch, he expected his wife to be a typical west Texas rancher wife. But the story includes the themes of headstrong women, both the older sister and his new wife, a son that wanted to be a doctor instead, plus the rampant prejudice displayed against Mexican immigrants that they called "wetbacks."
Quite an epic story and deserves its place in film history.
Scotch: A Golden Dream (2018)
Really a "must see" for anyone who enjoys whisk(e)y of any type.
I found this on Amazon streaming movies. I am one of those whisk(e)y lovers, I enjoy all types, including a good Scotch, even though Bourbons are my favorite. Some years back I had the pleasure of visiting Oban and the distillery there, it has a lasting impact on me.
A running time of 90 minutes at first seemed too long but it is so well organized, covering every aspect in turn, and the stories are so well told that when it was over I found myself wishing it had been a bit longer.
The film includes many in the industry of making and marketing Scotch whisky, but more focus is on Jim McEwan, a distiller and master blender, a 52-year industry veteran. He is a quite entertaining person, obviously quite skilled in the subject, and also seems like a very nice person. His is the fairy tale story, as a young boy walking past the Islay distillery he was often detained by looking through a window, as a willowy teen was given a summer job, and through hard work and dedication became one of the giants of the industry.
Feel good story about a young girl overcoming personal obstacles.
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library. It is a faith-based fictional story with a good message, we enjoyed it.
By way of summary: High school basketball coach John Harrison receives unfortunate news that the largest local manufacturing plant suddenly shuts down, forcing many families, and their kids, to leave in search of other job opportunities. John's dreams of winning the state basketball championship suddenly vanish. He very reluctantly agrees to coach the cross-country team where he meets a runner, the only member of his team, who is on her journey of discovery. John and his wife are inspired by their new friend in the hospital while John attempts to help the runner win the biggest race of the year.
It is heavily Christian based, which works fine for this movie although those who object to such subject likely will not like this movie. Filmed in Georgia.
Light of My Life (2019)
Dystopian present, dad and his daughter fight for survival.
My wife and I watched this via Amazon streaming movies.
Casey Affleck is sort of a modern day Woody Allen, writing, directing, and starring in this film. Like Woody he indulges himself at times to the detriment of the story. Here is is simply "Dad" and what is revealed during various glimpses that some sort of virus has resulted in almost all the females of the world to perish, including his wife. This happened when his young daughter was a baby. Now she is 11, her hair is short, she dresses like a boy, he tells everyone she is his son. All for her protection.
The movie starts with a tender scene, dad and daughter are in their tent in the woods, he is telling her a made-up story which also involves Noah and the Ark. That is fine, but the problem is this monologue goes on and on and on, I believe for 8 or 10 minutes. We seriously considered aborting the movie during this introduction, it isn't interesting, it has no real point and just slows everything down.
But that aside it is an interesting take on father and daughter hiding out, moving from place to place, practicing quick exits if trouble comes, and it does a few times. It was filmed in British Columbia, mostly in the snowy winter. It ends without conclusion, with the viewers simply knowing that it won't get any easier as the daughter grows up, will they make it to a safe place or will they perish.
We enjoyed it for the story, once the opening and boring monologue was over.
Adopt a Highway (2019)
Just released convict tries to reconnect with outside life.
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library.
I was expecting more, not sure what though. While this certainly isn't a bad movie it does move very slowly in many spots and in some ways lacks authenticity. However the overall message is a very good one.
Ethan Hawke, who also produced, is Russell Millings. While it isn't really explained, a series of quick glances at old newspaper clippings tell us he was a California "three strikes" victim and was imprisoned for roughly 20 years for selling small quantities of marijuana. Now he is being released.
I don't know what goes on in prisons but in his case he knows nothing about cell phones, email, and the internet in general. However when he learns and looks up his father back in Wyoming he finds that he has died.
Russell gets a job as a general grunt at a restaurant, cleaning dishes and floors, taking out garbage. One night late, into the early morning, he finds a baby in the dumpster.
The movie has an unusual name but the connection is why not adopt a young person, not a real adoption but a symbolic one? Find a way to assure it is taken care of as the person grows into young adulthood.
My biggest issue is with how Hawke chose to portray Russell, almost as a nonverbal person. When asked to explain the sequence of events that led up to his discovering the baby, he stammers a very slight amount but doesn't explain anything. He plays him as a person who is severely handicapped verbally. I think the movie would have been more effective if he had played him differently.
The movie is only 80 minutes long, with credits, and to me it comes across as overly simple for the subject.
La Femme, Anna M.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library, my wife skipped.
Luc Besson does what he knows best, this movie has many approaches and elements he used in "La Femme Nikita", but with a Moscow connection. He uses a particular technique to trick the audience, we will see a scene and think we know what all went on, but later we will re-watch part of that scene and are shown additional information that completely changes what we thought happened.
This works very well and keeps the stories interesting. Seeing how it parallels the Nikita story I expected an ending something like hers, and we do indeed get it. However it is done in a completely different manner.
Good popcorn movie, if you don't mind lots and lots of gun battles and killings. Too much in my opinion but aside from that I found it to be a really entertaining watch.
Wild Bill (1995)
"Well that was mighty 'white' of you Wild Bill."
I found this movie on Amazon streaming, it is an entertaining take on the famous stories surrounding Wild Bill Hickok. The years covered are the 1860s and 1870s and most of it seems to mirror how his life really went. Live by the gun and die by the gun, at a very young age.
It includes a number of actors I have grown to enjoy over the years, including Jeff Bridges who does a remarkably good job in the role of Wild Bill Hickok. Plus this is probably my favorite Ellen Barkin role, as Calamity Jane forever hoping that Bill will commit to her.
Others include John Hurt, Diane Lane, Keith Carradine, David Arquette, Christina Applegate, Bruce Dern, and James Remar.
The filming (or editing) style is interesting, most of the movie is in color but flashback scenes are in grainy, high-contrast black and white.
Good movie of its genre.
Raunchy humor and not much more.
I was watching the first episode where Awkwafina stars as Nora from Queens, which is a natural because she really is from Queens. But unfortunately it follows the all too common formula of relying on too much raunchy humor. I don't care for that approach at all, I object to that type of programming to pollute my home environment, so I will not be watching any more of it.
As one reviewer wrote, "Toilet jokes are the lowest form of humor and it's always sad when female writers resort to them." So true.
There is nothing new here, not even the inappropriate grandma. It comes across as brainless programming designed to just fill time by reflecting current issues but because the writers are lazy they write in raunchy humor as a substitute. And the actress goes along with it. Too bad, seems like a very short run is in order.
Gracie's Choice (2004)
Based on a true story, oldest sister adopts her siblings.
I came across this movie on Amazon streaming. It is based on a true story but the names have been changed. Some of the narrative is also different, but reading the true account you see that it is mostly authentic.
Kristen Bell was about 23 when this movie was made but with her small stature and youthful looks she is convincing as a teenager, Gracie Thompson. Her mother is a complete mess, a con artist, and always involved with drugs, bringing home strangers, each of the five children have different fathers.
When mom is jailed once again the authorities tell Gracie that all the children will be put into foster homes. She objects strongly, she gradually learns of her options, she enlists the pro bono help of a lawyer, she eventually gains legal guardianship of her half-siblings while their mom's rights are terminated.
It was a very difficult undertaking but her conviction and strength made it happen. An uplifting movie based on a true story.
It Chapter Two (2019)
Pervasive filthy language is a put-off but otherwise an interesting sequel.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. It is disheartening that script writers choose to add so much filthy language, not just occasionally but all the way through the movie. It is at best a distraction, at worst ruins the viewing experience for many people. It is unnecessary and just represents lazy writing.
I watched the first movie, "It", almost two years ago. It was set in 1989 and the kids were generally around 13 during filming. They used the same kids for this movie, filmed two years later, so they were generally around 15-ish.
In this story it is 27 years later, 2016, and Pennywise has made his appearance again. The kids are all grown up now, all 40-ish, and scattered around the country, mostly not keeping in touch. Until Mike, who still lives in Derry (fictional Maine town), contacts them and tells each they must return. They had made a pact back in 1989, if Pennywise indeed did show up again the only way to eradicate him would be the participation of all of them.
I actually enjoyed the dual time period and the dual sets of actors. At appropriate times the story switches to 1989, at other times to 2016 and is done in an interesting way. Rather than dwell on the horror that the movie includes, and there is lots of it, I mostly focused on the relationships between the old pals and at times the townspeople, comparing what was going on among them in 1989 vs 2016. Even Stephen King himself has a role, as a shopkeeper of old items, one of the grown boys finds his old bike there and buys it.
Yes it is long at almost 3 hours, but except for the pervasive and unnecessary filthy language, I enjoyed the movie.
Too many shamefully shallow reviews here.
If you haven't seen this movie yet I urge you to NOT pay attention to the very negative "1" reviews. They are bogus, following are a few excerpts of the bogus comments.
BOGUS: "I went to the cinema with my friend and I shockingly, for the first time in my life, immediately fell asleep (instantaneously)! There was no plot, it was so boring for a 28 year old like me." (Yeah, well when you are sleeping that's pretty much what you get. With any movie.)
BOGUS: "Don't waste your time or $$$. It's a slow 2.5 hour death march. Boring from start to finish." (He must have been texting during the movie.)
BOGUS: "Long, boring, without anything happening basically and pointless." (This reviewer apparently didn't even see the movie.)
BOGUS: "I don't get the other reviews. There was no humor. No curiosity. There was no character development, you couldn't really care for any of the characters. There were no problems, no danger, nothing exciting happening." (Nothing said in this comment is accurate. Was he sleeping?)
BOGUS: "The lack of storyline makes this movie excruciatingly hard and frustrating to watch. I was bored and annoyed to the point where I considered walking out." (Lack of storyline? Ha, the storyline is clear and interesting, makes me wonder what the viewer was actually doing.)
BOGUS: "So many pointless, unnecessary scenes that go absolutely nowhere. " (This viewer surely has a very short attention span.)
BOGUS: "Really bad acting and no story what so ever. Please don't waist your time watching this." (This guy doesn't even know waist vs waste!)
(My point in listing a few excerpts is that many viewers who write these very negative reviews and vote the movie a "1" are CLEARLY BOGUS, some probably didn't even see the movie, or just don't have the ability to properly analyze a story.)
Under the Skin (2013)
Scarlett in all her glory, Alien to me.
I am a Scarlett Johansson fan, ever since I saw her in "Horse Whisperer" in 1998. Realizing I had not seen this one yet, I managed to find it via the Kanopy streaming service through my public library's subscription.
It is not a mainstream movie, with a clear story and character motivations. It is a good watch for those who enjoy occasionally exploring alternative themes and filming styles. There is a vague opening, to suggest that an alien character has arrived and will explore Earth, in the process hunting down unsuspecting males. Scarlett Johansson plays the lead and is only known as "The Female."
All filmed in Scotland, much of it outside towns and cities in the unusual and mostly beautiful countryside. There isn't much action, nor is there much dialog. The film is atmospheric and attractive, and when it ends it is very easy to think "so what?"
I am glad I took the time to watch it but I will estimate that most lovers of clear-cut, mainstream movies will not enjoy it.
Ad Astra (2019)
Space travel as a vehicle for examining human relationships.
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library.
Frankly I had no idea what to expect. The story starts with Brad Pitt as Roy McBride, working on an International Space Antenna, so tall the commercial planes fly far below and workers have to wear space suits because of the lack of oxygen. Think 8 to 10 miles high. When an unexplained surge causes serious problems, Roy has to jump off and parachute to safety.
Then the story turns to a suspicion that Roy's astronaut dad, Jones Tommy Lee Jones as Cliff McBride, didn't die all those years ago but in fact is alive near Neptune and somehow is responsible for the dark matter surges that are harming Earth. And to make the mission even more dramatic, they fear if left unchecked it could destroy all life in the Solar system. So Roy's mission, which requires him to take a commercial flight to the Moon, then a secret flight to Mars, before heading to Neptune, would be to track down Cliff and bring him home, and in the process destroying the source of the rogue surges.
That is a pretty important and complex mission and suffice to say not everything goes as planned, Roy has to get very inventive. The space travel is a Macguffin of sorts, it isn't integral to the central idea which is the father-son relationship, but trying to find a long lost dad in the vastness of space is better than looking for him in the Amazon.
I see they used NASA as consultants of sorts, but they had to play fast and loose with the science here. Climbing onto a spacecraft while it is already in the process of a launch? Beyond far-fetched. Avoiding pirates on the moon, what no personal flying drones yet? No orbiting drones to shoot down crooks? Getting to Neptune in a bit less than 3 months? Neptune is almost 3 billion miles away, it took Voyager 12 years with gravity assists from other planets. And a whole host of other things. But they needed to include some action.
So, if you evaluate a movie like this solely on believability of the science and the action then you will be disappointed. But if you judge it on the quality of the story and characters then it is nicely entertaining and asks serious questions about how we humans relate to each other and to our existence in general.
Troop Zero (2019)
Outcast kids form their own scout troop, and "zero" is the only number available.
My wife and I (separately) watched this on Amazon streaming movies. I don't believe she finished it.
I watched it for one primary reason, much of it was filmed in the little town of Luling, just west of New Orleans along the Mississippi River. I used to live and work nearby and it was fun to see the movie using that as a filming location.
Cute and accomplished young actress, Mckenna Grace (about 11 during filming) and her dad live in this rural area. The year is 1977 and one thing the US government was seeking were voices to go on the gold records that would get launched on the two Voyager missions to deep space. So, if aliens ever captured the record they would (in theory) be able to figure out how to play it.
The core story involves winning a contest at a scout outing but the outcast kids did not belong, they had to start their own scout troop. Set in Georgia, they were told the only number remaining unassigned was zero, so they became troop zero.
One thing I absolutely can't stand in a movie is a food fight, and there is a big one among the girls of two different troops about midway through the movie. So I skipped a bit. But aside from that it is just mostly a lot of cuteness and silliness with non-southerners putting on a fabricated southern accent. But the ending scenes are very good, the script finds a novel way to get the kids a part of the ultimate goal.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)
The birds and the pigs must cooperate to thwart the Eagles.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library.
A bit over two years ago I watched "Angry Birds", flightless birds on a small island thought they were alone until pigs from a small island a short distance away tried to steal all their eggs and small hatchlings. Now in a truce of sorts, both islands are being attacked by a settlement of Eagles who live on a very icy island and have devised a way to shoot large ice balls to the other islands. Their goal is to capture those islands for themselves, to get away from their frozen island. So the flightless birds and the pigs must cooperate, to go to the frozen island and destroy the mechanism that shoots the ice balls.
Of course to enjoy this you have to suspend ALL notions of reality. A small island within sight of the other two tropical islands cannot be frozen. A small chick inflated with air cannot rise into the atmosphere and eventually find itself near the planet Saturn. So you just go with it and try to enjoy the sight gags and sideways references to various things in our everyday adult life.
For what it is the movie is suitably funny and entertaining, just a 90-minute diversion, an extended cartoon.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, as the three high school misfits.
I recently took a renewed interest in old Natalie Wood movies and this one, "Rebel...", is one that I had somehow never seen over my 60-odd years of movie-watching. It is partly famous for James Dean's death on the highway in 1955, shortly before this film was released. I found the movie on a modern restored DVD edition at my public library. The picture and sound are really good for a 1950s movie.
The DVD has a number of interesting extras, for example clips of the original B&W filming which was quickly aborted and re-filmed in the costlier widescreen, full color format.
Dean (who was 24), Wood (who was 16), and Mineo (who was 16) each play characters that had significant family issues. The story is as much about parent-teenager relationships as it is about student conflicts. Dean is of course superb in his role as Jim and it certainly would have been interesting to see what all he might have done as an actor if he had lived into middle age and beyond.
In a stroke of extreme irony, the extras include a short interview of James Dean during a break while shooting his next movie, "Giant." In it he looks into the camera to deliver a PSA especially for teenagers, leave racing to the track, always drive cautiously now on the highway, you never know what the other cars will do.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019)
After a 20 year funk, can Bernadette get her mojo back?
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library. We enjoyed it, all actors are good in the roles and to me Blanchett turns in one of her better performances as the genius architect that ceased to create after her difficulties with pregnancy and motherhood.
Cate Blanchett is Bernadette, living in Seattle with her Microsoft executive husband and teen daughter. She doesn't do much anymore, they bought an old large fixer upper but are not fixing it up. She doesn't seem to have any friends. At one point her family arranges an intervention, they think Bernadette needs to be hospitalized but she escapes.
Having planned a trip at their daughter's request, to Antarctica, and seemingly being aborted, through a series of quirky events all three of them end up there and Bernadette finds the inspiration to reignite her passion for architecture.
Good movie. Filmed partly in Greenland standing in for Antarctica,
Nancy Drew... Reporter (1939)
Early Nancy Drew movie, as a school student helps solve a murder.
The past year I have been in a Nancy Drew mood, started when The CW network presented a TV series in 2019 where Nancy is a young adult. Then there is the 2019 movie with the Hidden Staircase, the same title as a 1939 Nancy Drew movie.
So I found this one, "Reporter", on Amazon streaming, it is one of four Nancy Drew movies made in 1938 and 1939 starring Bonita Granville (who was 15 in 1938) as Nancy Drew. It is in B&W and runs just over one hour. Nancy along with a group of students are given a chance to write an article for the local newspaper, in the process Nancy ends up at a court hearing, and eventually helps clear the name of a lady by discovering the real killer.
It is tough comparing a 1930s movie to a modern movie, the acting and production values are so different, but this one comes across very nicely and is entertaining for what it is.
Not quite the remake of the 1939 Nancy Drew movie of the same name.
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. The CW network has a darker, young adult Nancy Drew weekly TV series so I watched this one to compare what is done with Nancy as a 16-yr-old vs a young adult.
In 1938 and 1939 four Nancy Drew movies were made, one of them had this same name. It involved a house that someone was trying to get the occupants, two old spinster sisters, to leave. Key to solving the mystery was a hidden staircase in the old house.
Cute freckled Sophia Lillis is Nancy Drew in this modern version. In the extras the actress herself calls this an origin story although that might not have been the intent. Her mother has died, she and her attorney dad move from Chicago to a fictional community, River Heights. There a company is trying to establish a railway line through the town and Nancy's dad is one of those fighting it for the sake of the community. That angers some who have a lot at stake financially and that causes the tension in the story. And a mystery for Nancy to solve.
So the story involves Nancy getting in trouble, enough so she has to do community service. In spite of that she still manages to work on solving the mystery and it does indeed involve the discovery of a hidden staircase in the home of an old grand aunt of one of her classmates. But the plot of this one is quite different from the 1939 movie of the same name.
Considering what it is, I found it to be suitably entertaining. At one point I was impressed that they actually broke into a lab and used chromatography to identify myristicin, a hallucinogenic chemical derived from nutmeg. The Nancy Drew of 1939 didn't have a skateboard, nor a cell phone, and didn't post things to social media. Nor did she have access to security video. A lot has changed in 80 years.