Thursday, August 17, 2017

Berlin Syndrome 2017

     This film is based on the debut novel of Melanie Joosten.  She won the Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers and she was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of 2012.  Australian photojournalist Clare is in Berlin, Germany.  She wants shake herself out of her routine life and she’s put her items back home in storage.  She meets Andi and even though they are instantly attracted to each other, Andi says he has plans for the evening.  Clare looks for Andi the next day even though she told him she was leaving for Dresden.  Clare stays overnight at Andi’s apartment and she finds herself locked in the apartment in the morning.  When he gets home from work, she asks him why and he says he meant to leave the door key but it’s in his pocket.  The next morning, he leaves the key but she immediately finds out it doesn't fit the door?
     This film and the title are a take-off on Stockholm syndrome.  A with this syndrome person begins to side with the person they are with and become psychologically dependent as a survival strategy.  The phrase originated after a six-day bank siege.  Patricia Hearst used this as her trial defense when she robbed a bank in Berkeley California with the Smybionese Liberation Army or SLA.  She was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 and freed on September 18, 1975.  There are some very tense moments in this film!!  I didn't know what was going to happen and how this is was going to end??  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Drama directed by Cate Shortland with Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken, Lucie Aron, Nassim Avat, Malin Steffen, Thuso Lekwape.

Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 74% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.5* out of 5* with 30 reviews, The Guardian 4* out of 5*, Metacritic 70 out of 100 with 17 critics 6.6 out of 10 with 16 reviews.
Special Note:  Kreuzberg and Mitte, Berlin, Germany and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  Teresa Palmer was also in Hacksaw Ridge of 2016.  Andi’s apartment was recreated on a Docklands sound stage in Melbourne.  This apartment is based on a real one in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Berlin.  It’s a 50 or 60 apartment building with only about 8 units occupied. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Imperium 2016

     This film is inspired by the real story of FBI agent Michael German and he helped co-write the script.  Nate Foster is working for the FBI, he is persuaded to go undercover and infiltrate a radical white supremacy terrorist group.  Nate must watch everything he says and everything he does constantly. The group is nervous out moles.
     The physical appearance and mentality of Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t seem to be one that the supremacists would readily accept as one of their group?  His body build doesn’t look like them?  He doesn't act or talk like them?  The dialog doesn’t say much except F bombs one after another?  There is continual back and forth at the FBI about if they do or don't have a case?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

109 min, Crime directed by Daniel Ragussis with Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell, Nestor Carbonell, Chris Sullivan, Seth Numrich, Pawel Szajda, Devin Druid, Burn Gorman, Adam Meier. Roger Yawson.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 84% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 256 reviews, Metacritic 68 out of 100 with 17 critics 6.9 out of 10 with 56 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Chesterfield, Petersburg, Hopewell, Richmond, Prince George, Virginia.  The name Imperium is Latin and commonly used in German to mean empire.  It’s also synonymous with the word Reich but not in the context of the German Empire.  Neonazis frequently refer to a Western Imperium.  The casting of Daniel Radcliffe helped get this film financed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Flirting with Disaster 1996

     Mel Coplin was adopted and he's looking for his birth mother and family.  He has contacted student-psychologist, part-time adoption agent Tina Kalb.  She will go with Mel, his wife Nancy and their young son to meet Mel’s mother Valerie.  Mel’s agency will cover the trip since this is part of her dissertation and research.  They leave New York for San Diego to meet Valerie.  She is a blond Scandinavian woman with roots in the Confederacy.  She has twin daughters that look nothing like Mel.  Tina finds out the computer has made a mistake and this is not Mel’s mother.  Next, they go to Battle Creek, Michigan to meet Mel’s father Fritz Boudreau.  This is another mistake because Fritz handled Mel’s adoption for his biological parents.  Now they are going to rural New Mexico to meet Richard and Mary Schlichting.  The Schlichting also have Mel’s biological brother Lonnie.  He's not taking the sudden arrival of a brother very well and he’s overly rude and very jealous.  With so many mistakes, Mel’s adoptive parents are worried and they travel to New Mexico from New York.
     Mel and Nancy haven’t named their son yet and he’s almost a year old?  They’ve been waiting to learn more about Mel’s biological parents.  Nancy isn’t happy with Tina traveling with them but she’s overruled.  It seems as if the next mother or father gets more weird as they travel.  Most of the time, they don’t look anything like Mel.  There is so much traveling and so much confusion.  It almost seems like you are actually on this trip and there are too many problems?  2 ½* (This movie was just so-so)

92 min, Comedy directed by David O. Russell with Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Jenkins, Josh Brolin, Celia Weston, Glenn Fitzgerald.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 87% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 206 reviews, Metacritic 81 out of 100 with 16 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Michigan; Tucson, Cave Creek, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Marana, Arizona.  Ben Stiller and the director David O. Russell didn’t get along during filming and they had many arguments.  Time Magazine chose this film as one of the Best of Film 1996 as #7 in their year- end issue of December 23, 1996. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The American Friend 1977

     This film is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.  Tom Ripley makes a living selling forged art works.  He has a painter recreate and frame the paintings.  He sells them at auction for a very good price.  Tom has another criminal business associate who wants him to become involved in an even riskier enterprise, murder.  There is a local picture framer, Jonathan Zimmermann and he has a blood disease that is fatal.  Since Jonathan has a wife and a son, he could want extra money for his family before he dies?  Tom believes the crimes can’t be traced back to him or his forger.
     This DVD is newly released with widescreen enhancement.  The films Purple Noon and The Talented Mr. Ripley are adaptations of the same novel used for this film.  There are also four other Tom Ripley novels.  I thought it was interesting to see a younger Dennis Hopper at the age of 41.  I also could not picture Bruno Ganz as any other character than Adolph Hitler!!  He is younger but still has the same facial structure at 36 years old.  3* (This movie is OK)

125 min, Crime directed by Wim Wenders with Dennis Hopper Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gerard Blain, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Peter Lilienthal, Daniel Schmid, Sandy Whitelaw, Jean Eustache, Lou Castel, David Blue.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 90% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 49 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hamburg, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Hauts-de-Seine and Paris, France; New York City.  Bruno Ganz carried a real gun in the first murder because the filmmakers couldn’t afford a fake gun?  Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz got into a fistfight on the set.  They went out together for a night of drinking that settled their differences?  There are seven movie directors in the cast of this film and they all play criminals.  Wim Wenders and cinematographer Robby Muller fought with the film-developing laboratory because they wanted to color correct the lighting?  Director Wim Wenders picked Dennis Hopper up at the airport, he had long hair, unshaven, dressed in military fatigues and he had jungle sores.  He had flown directly from the Philippine locations for Apocalypse Now of 1979.  John Cassavetes was originally considered for the role of Tom Ripley.  Bruno Ganz played the role of Adolf Hitler in the 2004 film Downfall.  There are many comical videos online of him in a scene from Downfall but with different dialog.  There is another film with the same title from 1991.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hidden Figures 2016

     Russia has launched a man into space and the US space program is behind in the 1960’s.  NASA segregates the colored women working in the organization.  They have their own work area and bathroom.  Three special women begin to change this practice.  Katherine Johnson starts to do very complicated mathematical calculations for the US launch of a man in space.  Dorothy Vaughn begins working with the new IBM digital electronic computers in their own separate room.  The machines can do the calculations much more rapidly than any human.  Mary Jackson wants to be an engineer and she goes before a Virginia judge for permission to take night classes at the local all white high school.
     There is a lot of information published about the space program at NASA but nothing is ever said about segregation or brilliant women treated like second-class citizens.  They have a double barrier, they are colored and they are women.  Katherine Johnson has to leave the office and run a half-mile in any kind of weather to use the colored restroom.  Al Harrison wonders where she goes a couple of times a day?  He has no idea what she is doing until he asks her.  The men in the calculations area believe Katherine Johnson doesn’t know what she’s doing until she starts writing her work on the blackboard.  Dorothy Vaughn is performing the duties of a manager but she doesn’t have the title or the pay?  I thought this was very good!!  4 ½* (I really liked this movie)

127 min, Bio directed by Theordore Melfi with Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Gen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 92% critic 93% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4 ½*, Amazon Video 4.9* out of 5* with 2288 reviews, Metacritic 74 out of 100 with 47 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in East Point, Morehouse College, Canton, Atlanta and Monroe, Georgia.  The real life Katherine Johnson is now 99 years old.  She calculated trajectories, launch windows and emergency back-up return paths.  Dorothy Vaughn was born September 20, 1910 and she died November 10, 2008 at the age of almost 98 years old.  She worked at NASA for 28 years and supervised the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division.  Mary Jackson was born April 9, 1921 and she died February 11, 2005 at almost 84 years old.  After she became an aerospace engineer in 1942, she worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

High Heels 1991

     In the opening of this film, Rebeca is with her mother Becky and her stepfather on vacation.  Soon after, her stepfather dies in a car accident and Rebeca leaves for jobs as a singer.  She doesn’t return for 15 years.  Becky returns to reunite with Rebeca and they have a difficult relationship.  Rebeca loves her mother but she is also hurt she has been gone so long.  Becky lets Rebeca know she is disapproving of Rebeca’s marriage to Manuel because previously Becky was with Manuel.  A month later, Manuel is murdered in his villa.
     The investigating magistrate focuses on Rebeca, Becky and a woman working with Rebeca.  This film is like a telemundo in style because there is a LOT of drama.  Why did Becky stay away so long, why did Rebeca marry someone who had been involved with her mother?  Why did Manuel marry Rebeca?  Don’t worry!!  Everything will be answered in 112 minutes!!  3* (This movie is OK)

112 min, Comedy directed by Pedro Almodovar with Victoria Abril, Marisa Paredes, Miguel Bose, Anna Lizaran, Mayrata O’Wisiedo, Cristina Marcos, Fedor Atkine, Pedro Diez del Corral, Bibiana Fernandez, Nacho Martinez.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 50% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 46 reviews, Metascore 51 out of 100 with 12 critics
Special Note:  Filmed in Comunidad Valenciana, Madrid, Spain.  Originally Antonio Banderas was selected to play the role of Juez Dominguez.  Cristina Marcos was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for a Goya award but she has less than 5 minutes of screen time.  The literal translation of the Spanish title Tacones Lejanos is Distant Heels.  Rebeca and Becky have a talk about their conflicts and they reference situations is Autumn Sonata of 1978 by Ingmar Bergman. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Uncertain Feeling 1941

     This film is based on the play Divorcons that opened in Paris in December 1880.  The setting is New York in 1940, Jill Baker has a problem and she is persuaded to see a popular psychoanalyst because she has psychosomatic hiccups.  After seeing the doctor, she becomes disillusioned about her husband Larry Baker.  She meets pianist Alexander Sebastian in the doctor’s waiting room and he’s more confused than Jill?  She invites Alexander to come to a dinner party she is hosting that evening.  This is a dinner to help Larry win over an important business client.
      Larry has become boring and he doesn’t pay attention to his wife.  This leads to her being swept off her feet by Alexander.  Larry doesn’t know it but his attorney’s secretary is in love with him?  Larry, Jill and Alexander are very selfish and they are interested in their own needs.  They play also tricks on each other to further their own causes.  The theme is men are the superior beings?  I thought Merle Oberon was a beautiful woman and she has lovely clothing.  

84 min, Comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch with Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Alan Mowbray, Olive Blakeney, Harry Davenport, Sig Ruman, Eve Arden, Richard Carle.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 60% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 71 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3* out of 4*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 424 reviews.
Special Note:  Merle Oberon doesn’t have very many close-ups in this film.  She was recovering from her second session of cosmetic poisoning.  She had pits and sores on her face that could not be covered with makeup.  (I didn’t notice any of this?)  This film had an indifferent reception but the cast treasured the experience of working with director Lubitsch because of the atmosphere he created.  This is a loose remake of Kiss Me Again by Lubitsch of 1925.  Sol Lesser had formed a partnership with Lubitsch but it was dissolved when this film did poorly at the box office.  The original copyright holder did not renew the copyright and the film became under public domain.  Many versions on the market are poor quality.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Keeping Up With The Joneses 2016

     Jeff and Karen Gaffney are a married suburban couple with a son and a daughter.  The kids go to a summer camp and their parents finally have some alone time.  A house on their street sells and the new owners are Tim and Natalie Jones.  Karen is suspicious of the couple because they don’t seem to be what they say they are?  They are impossibly glamorous, accomplished, traveled the world, done exciting things and now they are living here on this cul-de-sac?  Karen thinks they may be spies or something else along this line.  She follows Natalie and she sees her do a book drop-off.  She has the remote for their garage door and she goes with Jeff to see inside their house. 
     I thought this film was funny and there are a lot of stunts too. Motorcycles are chasing a car, they tear off the door, windows are broken and a is house blown up.  Zac and Jon have funny scenes in a Chinese restaurant with snake wine and a live snake on the table.  This film is somewhat like a lightweight and inexpensive James Bond or Jason Bourne takeoff.  3* (This movie is OK) 
105 min, Action directed by Greg Mottola with Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, Patton Oswalt, Ming Zhao, Matt Walsh, Maribeth Monroe, Michael Liu, Kevin Dunn Dayo Abanikanda, Henry Boston.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, Roger Ebert 2*, 19% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon Video 3.8* out of 5* with 592 reviews, Metacritic 34 out of 100 with 31 critics 5.8 out of 10 with 61 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Atlanta, Decatur, Forest Park and Peachtree City, Georgia; Raeford, North Carolina.  Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm are old friends.  Isla Fisher said Jon Hamm can smash something with his elbow while kicking in a door and pulling out a gun!!  The location of the two houses was a larger than average cul-de-sac in northwest Atlanta.  Gal Gadot is from Israel but in the film she says she is Greek.  This film was expected to do a lot better with budget of $40 million and the gross was a total of $29.9 million for a loss.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dunkirk 2017

     The setting of this film is WWII between May 26-June 04, 1940.  One week is covered on land, one day on the sea and one hour in the air.  Nazi Germany has invaded France and thousands of British and French soldiers have been forced to retreat to the seaside town of Dunkirk.  The British soldiers are stranded on the beach and large ships have been sent to take them out to sea.  Three RAF Spitfires are also trying to keep the German Luftwaffe planes from bombing the ships but they are very much outnumbered.  The men get on a ship only to have it sink.  If they survive the sinking, these men swim back to the shore and wait for another ship.  The wounded on stretchers have priority but one stretcher takes up more room than several men.  Britain sends out an emergency request for all seagoing vessels of any size to set sail to Dunkirk to take as many men as possible aboard.
     All the characters and the story lines are fiction but some of the events are loosely based on true history.  Generally, the representation of the evacuation is realistic.  Destroyers and fighter planes were held back in order to defend Britain in case of an invasion attempt.  Leaflets were dropped from German planes demanding that the British surrender.  Adolf Hitler thought he had plenty of time to attack the stranded men and he ordered the Panzer tanks to wait for the crews to rest.  Initially, French soldiers were not to be rescued but Winston Churchill rescinded this order.  I thought this was probably the tensest film that I’ve ever watched?  There is something happening every minute and you don’t know how many men will be killed and how many will be rescued?  Ships sink, planes ditch in the water and the only respite for the men is that Germany held back because they thought it was impossible for a rescue to save the men!!  5* (I really loved this movie)

106 min, Action directed by Christopher Nolan with Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, James Bloor, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Luke Thompson, Michel Biel, Constantin Balsan, Billy Howle, Mikey Collins, Callum Blake, Dean Ridge.

Note:  Imdb 8.5 out of 10, 93% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Metacritic 94 out of 100 with 52 critics 8.3 out of 10 with 980 user reviews.
Special Note:  About 30 veteran Dunkirk survivors in their mid-nineties attended the movie premiere in London.  They felt it accurately captured the actual events but the soundtrack was louder than the actual bombardment!!  (I did think the sound of the bombs was loud!!)  Most of the men on the beach were young and inexperienced soldiers.  Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas plus a friend made the crossing from England to Dunkirk on a boat like the civilian ships.  Nolan received a $20 million salary and 20% of the box office gross, the biggest deal along with Peter Jackson who received the same amount for King Kong 2005.  An IMAX camera was in the cockpit when the Spitfire ditches and fills with water.  Potentially, both the camera and the film were ruined but the wet film was shipped back to Los Angeles and processed before drying out.  Nolan rode in a Spitfire for the movie to get a feel of the plane and angles for scenes.  Over 50 boats were used and this is the most for any film.  There is another film with the same title from 1958. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Interrupted Melody 1955

      This film is based on a book by Marjorie Lawrence titled Interrupted Melody: The story of My Life.  Marjorie Lawrence lives on her family farm in Australia.  She tries out in the Sun Aria at Geelong, Victoria, Australia in 1928 and she is selected to study with Cecile Gilly, a voice coach in Paris.  She begins singing opera programs in Monte Carlo and then in different countries.  She sings at the Met in New York and establishes herself as one of the great singers of her time.  She meets Tom King when she is just starting to perform in programs and he comes later to see her again.  She wants to marry him but he doesn’t want to interfere with her career.  He is just establishing himself as a physician in obstetrics.  Suddenly, Marjorie becomes ill and this changes their lives.  She has polio and she can still sing but she is unable to walk.
     Tom remains at Marjorie’s side and they move to Florida where the warm weather may help her instead of the cold in New York.  He tries to help her when she is in deep despair.  Their lives are falling apart, money is tight and Tom decides to reestablish his practice in New York.  While Tom is away, Marjorie begins to sing for servicemen who are also disabled like she has become.  This is a very inspiring movie with Marjorie on top of the world, at the bottom and pulling herself back up out of her despair.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

106 min, Bio directed by Curtis Bernhardt with Glenn Ford, Eleanor Parker, Roger Moore, Cecil Kellaway, Peter Leeds, Evelyn Ellis, Walter Baldwin, Ann Codee, Leopold Sachse, Stephen Bekassy.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 57 reviews, Letterboxd 3.1* out of 5* with 95 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3* out of 4*, user rating average 3.68 out of 5.
Special Note:  Filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, California.  Glenn Ford was at a lull in his career but he made it a condition when he took this role that he would receive top billing.  This right belonged to Eleanor Parker and she said she cared more about the project than the billing.  She regretted this decision because she really wanted to receive credit as the star of this picture.  She said Ford tried to upstage her at every chance by forcing her to turn her back to the camera to interact with him?  Parker studied the opera songs and she sang the songs but an octave lower.  The higher octave notes were sung by Eileen Farrell.  It was said that Marjorie Lawrence was disappointed not to have been asked to dub the songs.  This film just broke even at the box office, earning a profit of $101,000.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Live by Night 2016

     This film is based on a 400-page book by Dennis Lehane.  The setting in the beginning of this film is Boston, Massachusetts of 1926.  Prohibition has created an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters and corrupt policemen.  Joe Coughlin is the youngest son of a Boston police captain.  Joe is as different from his father as he can be.  He started out with petty theft and now he is working for one of the most fearsome mobsters in Boston.  He likes the life of an outlaw and he likes robberies but the getaways are getting more difficult.  Later, he moves to Florida and sets up operations in this area.
     There are many times when I couldn’t hear or understand the dialog?  This film goes on too long with repetitive scenes?  There are a LOT of understandings between the criminals and the police.  There are a LOT of payoffs to get things going and keep them moving.  If you are not willing to play along, you will have a short life!!  Money and power mean everything.  The men can be working for one boss one day and a boss on the other side the next day.  I liked the cars, clothing, mannerisms and hairstyles of this time period.  3* (This movie is OK)

129 min, Crime directed by Ben Affleck with Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Affleck, Remo Girone, Robert Glenister, Matthew Maher, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Miguel, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 34% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.5* out of 5* with 240 reviews, Rolling Stone 3* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Brunswick, Savannah, Georgia; North Andover, Lawrence, Boston, Massachusetts; Pasadena, Universal City, Los Angeles, California.  Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role of Coughlin but he decided to produce instead.  Cinematographer Robert Richardson wanted to use the Ultra Panavision 70 but it was rented for use on Rogue One of 2016.  The film was delayed because Affleck was filming Gone Girl of 2014.  For the first two weeks of release, this film was shown in 2,822 theatres but with the biggest drop in history, 2,659 theatres stopped screening and only 163 theatres were left.  Jennifer Lawrence and Lindsay Lohan were considered for the role played by Elle Fanning.  There is another film with the same title released in 1948.  Dennis Lehane also wrote Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island.

The Whole Truth 2016

     This film is based on a book by David Baldacci published in 2008.  Loretta is married to Boone and they have a son Mike.  Boone and Mike have been looking at colleges together.  Boone is trying to convince Mike to go to the college Boone wants him to attend.  Mike is trying to get Boone to understand he would like to pick his college himself.  Boone is a wealthy and strong willed man.  He doesn’t mind telling Loretta what to do and that she is stupid.  Their neighbors took down the fence between their property and Boone’s so their boys could play together when they were younger.  They have become so disgusted with Boone’s treatment of Loretta that their family has severed the friendship.  Boone comes back from a trip and later he’s found dead with a knife in his chest?
     Mike confesses that he killed Boone and he won’t say anything at all to Richard Ramsay, his defense attorney.  Ramsay doesn’t have much to work with for his defense but he’s trying to keep Mike out of prison.  There are two twists to this film.  One is what Mikes says on the stand when he finally speaks.  The other is brought out in a flashback of additional information about the murder.  This film seems more like a Lifetime television movie than a movie released in theaters?  3* (This movie is OK)

93 min, Crime directed by Courtney Hunt with Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gabriel Basso, James Belushi, Jim Klock, Ritchie Montgomery, Christopher Berry, Lara Grice, Nicole Barre.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 29% critic 33% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 52 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.  Lupita Nyong’o auditioned for the role played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.  Daniel Craig was originally going to play Richard Ramsay but he pulled out four days before filming was scheduled.  Renee Zellweger hasn’t been in a film in six years.  Reeves also played a lawyer in the film The Devil’s Advocate of 1997.  There is another film with the same title from 1958 and a TV series with this title from 2010.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Space Between Us 2016

     A space shuttle leaves Earth on the first mission to colonize Mars.  Not long after takeoff, Sarah Elliott discovers she is pregnant.  As soon as they land, she has a son and he is the first human to be born on Mars.  Unfortunately, Sarah dies immediately after her baby is born.  Gardner lives on Mars with the 14 people he’s ever known.  When he is 16 years old, he begins an online friendship with Tulsa.  She is a girl his age in Colorado.  Gardner starts trying to learn everything he can about his parents and Earth.  He hopes to experience first hand what Earth is like.  There is a possibility his body may not be able to physically adapt to the conditions on earth. 
     I was interested in knowing what happened to Sarah after she gave birth to Gardner but nothing is said?  It’s possible she had post-delivery eclampsia because she had convulsions?  The time period on Earth is supposed to be 16 years ahead but a lot of physical items are not advanced but are older.  Dry erase boards in the classroom, old pickups and cars?  The actress in the role of Tulsa is about 10 years too old for her character?  She was 26 in 2016, the time of filming?  Asa Butterfield was 19 in 2016.  The premise for this film had a lot of potential but it plays out more like  Lifetime movie?  3* (This movie was OK)

120 min, Adventure directed by Peter Chelsom with Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, Janet Montgomerty, Trey Tucker, Scott Takeda, Sarah Minich, Ryan Jason Cook, BD Wong, Adande ‘Swoozie’ Thorne.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 17% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Rolling Stone 2 1/2* out of 4, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 144 reviews, Metacritic 33 out of 100 with 32 critics 4.4 out of 10 with 49 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Albuquerque, Truth or Consequences, Rio Rancho, Sierra County, Santa Fe, Belen, Los Lunas and To’hajiilee, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Utah, Colorado; Arizona; Malibu, California.  The original title of this film was Out of This World.  Highland High School in Albuquerque was used for some scenes.  Filming was during school hours and that caused some problems for the school administrators and the State Film commission.  There is another film with the same title from 2006.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Gold 2016

     This film is based on a magazine story but with many of the details changed or embellished.  Kenny Wells is a fourth-generation prospector.  When his father dies suddenly, the Wahoe Mining business begins to decline.  Kenny has a dream that he thinks will put him back in business and in the money again.  He sees mountains of brilliant and pure gold in the jungle of Indonesia.  Kenny flies to Indonesia and he meets Michael Acosta.  Kenny convinces Michael to become his partner and they will go into the jungle and find this gold.
     Matthew McConaughey shaved his head, gained 45 pounds and wore false teeth to become the least attractive he could be to play this character.  He ate cheeseburgers, drank beer and milk shakes to gain the weight.  His character is almost never without a cigarette or a glass of whiskey.  I expected him to keel over and die any minute!!  He does almost die from malaria in the jungle.  Wells and Acosta can smell the gold, they can taste the gold and they just need to find the gold.  Then the wild rides starts with everyone wanting to latch onto this sure thing moneymaker!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)      
120 min, Adventure directed by Stephen Gaghan with Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bill Camp, Joshua Harto, Timothy Simons, Craig T. Nelson, Macon Blair, Adam LeFevre, Frank Wood.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 43% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 185 reviews,
Special Note:  Filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Reno, Nevada; New York; Indonesia and Thailand.  McConaughey stated to ESPN that this was his favorite role.  Michelle Williams was cast in the role of Kay but she dropped out and Bryce Dallas Howard replaced her after filming had already started.  Gold is based on the Bre-X scandal about a Canadian company.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Toni Erdmann 2016

     Winfried lives in Germany, he is an unusual man, he has a dog but he passes away from old age.  He doesn’t get to see much of his daughter who lives in Bucharest, Romania.  She works as a corporate strategist.  Winfried pays her a surprise visit but it’s a bad time for her because she is working on a very important business deal.  Winfried is a practical joker and his daughter thinks he flew back to his home but he hasn’t?  He starts wearing a black wig and posing as his alter ego Toni Erdmann.  He barges into her work circle and causes disruption for everyone.  He also has fake teeth and he loves whoopee cushions!! 
     There were a LOT of times I didn’t think this was very funny!!!  I also think this film needed more concise editing because it’s too long.  The director said she didn't want to interrupt the pacing by the editing.  Maybe there is a cultural difference here but I understood more about this film from reading about it than watching it?  I thought it became a slog to get through and that is not entertainment.  2* (I didn't like this movie)  

164 min, Comedy directed by Maren Ade with Sandra Huller, Peter Simonischek, Micahel Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Putter, Ingrid Bisu, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Victoria Cocias, Jurg Low.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 92% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 44 reviews, Metacritic 93 out of 100 with 36 critics 7.1 out of 10 with 127 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Bucharest, Ploiesti, Romania and North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.  This film is loosely based on director Maren Ade’s father.  Her father likes to put fake teeth in his mouth to joke with people??  The style of the humor is also inspired by Andy Kaufman.  This was one of the best-reviewed and most popular films as the 69th Cannes International Film Festival.  Despite the good reviews, this film didn’t win any awards at the Festival.  The shooting took place in 56 days.  Maren Ade spent over a year in editing and she also gave birth to her second child during this time period.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Desierto 2016

     A group of men and women have paid to be escorted across the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Their vehicle breaks down and they need to proceed further on foot.  They have a guide and water but there is still a long way to go and it's a difficult journey.  To complicate matters, when a part of the group gets into an open area, someone starts killing them with a gun?  The remaining members of the group try to avoid being out in the open as much as they can.  They will also need to avoid the hunter’s German shepherd mix dog, Tracker.  The only way to escape Tracker is to be in territory high enough where he can’t climb the rocks to reach them.  He can climb some of the rocks and if they are out in the open, he will take them down. 
     Sam is the gunman and he believes the U.S. is his country and the people from across the border don’t belong here at all.  Sam is using a M1 Garand sniper rifle and Tracker has the perfect name because that’s what he does.  Neither one has any mercy for the people.  You can clearly tell how hot, deserted and unforgiving the desert area is.  There isn’t any way to disregard the fact that the people crossing the border are entering illegally but this is never voiced.  There isn’t any message in this film either, just struggle and murder?  The best part of this film is the scenery of this area.  2 ½* (This movie is just so-so)   
88 min, Drama directed by Jonas Cuaron with Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Catano, Marco Perez, David Peralta Arreola, Oscar Flores Guerrero, Erik Vazquez, Lew Temple.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 61% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 49 reviews, Amazon Video 3.5* out of 5* with 55 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Baja California and Sonora, Mexico.  All the scenes in this movie are filmed outside.  Desierto is Spanish for desert.  There is another film with close to the same title Desierto Adentro of 2008.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blood Father 2016

     This film is an adaptation of a novel by Peter Craig.  Link is out of prison, two years sober and on probation.  He lives in a trailer in the California desert and he makes a living as a tattoo artist.  His daughter Lydia gets mixed up with some very rough drug dealers.  She calls Link and asks him to bail her out of her jam.  She needs $2000, she’s on both drugs and alcohol.  She comes to stay with him for a while in the trailer but the dealers are not letting her off this easy.  They come to get both of them and anyone else inside the trailer. 
     This film reminded me of the Taken franchise with Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace.  In this case, Lydia walked into her problems without being taken.  There was a time when Gibson was personally doing everything possible to derail any kind of film career on both sides of the camera!!  I thought it was interesting in a scene with Lydia in a market.  She could buy boxes of bullets but she needed to be carded for a pack of Camel Lights?  There was also a complaint from one of the dealers about the missing cigarettes!!  There isn’t much new here but there are some good scenes and stunts.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

88 min, Action directed by Jean-Francois Richet with Mel Gibson, Erini Moriarty, Diego Luna, Michael Parks, William H. Macy, Miguel Sandoval, Dale Dickey, Richard Cabral, Daniel Moncada, Ryan Dorsey, Lucien Dale.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 88% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, 3.9* out of 5* with 1032 reviews, Metacritic 66 out of 100 with 16 critics 6.7 out of 10 with 77 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Belen and Laguna, New Mexico.  Originally, in 2008 Sylvester Stallone was planning to direct and star in this film.  In Lethal Weapon 2 of 1989, Mel Gibson also lives in a trailer and gets shot at by the bad guys.  Gibson was had a job as a tattoo artist in Fathers’ Day 1997 with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.  Richet also directed both Mockingjay films, The Town with Ben Affleck and the Mesrine epic.

Monday, July 31, 2017

All Nighter 2017

     Ginnie and Martin are dating.  Ginnie’s dad takes them to dinner and it’s very awkward because Martin is very nervous.  Mr. Gallo is a workaholic father and he travels a lot.  He’s divorced from Ginnie’s mother and she has remarried.  Six months later, Mr. Gallo is knocking on Martin’s door early in the morning?  He’s looking for Ginnie, he’s tried to contact Ginnie but her voicemail is full.  Martin tells Mr. Gallo that they broke up three months ago and Ginnie is living with friends.  They start asking Ginnie’s friends in West Hollywood if they know where she is.
     Martin is under pressure every minute from Mr. Gallo and nothing seems to be going well.  Martin and Mr. Gallo couldn’t be more opposite.  Mr. Gallo keeps asking Martin to call him by his first name but Martin cannot do even this simple thing.  I would call him Mr. Gallo, Sir!!  I was surprised by the very low reviews?  3* (This movie was OK)      

86 min, Comedy directed by Gavin Wiesen with Analeigh Tipton, Emile Hirsch, J.K. Simmons, Meta Golding, Jon Daly, Taran Killam, Kristen Schaal, Stephanie Allynne, Rebecca Drysdale, Connor Barrett, Blake Perlman.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 0% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 16 reviews, Metacritic 37 out of 100 with 4 critics 6.1 out of 10 with 7 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, California.  There was limited release of this film on March 17, 2017 and then it was released through video on demand on March 24, 2017.    

The Age of Shadows 2016

     The setting of this film is the late 1920’s in Japan.  A group of resistance fighters are trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to eliminate key Japanese facilities in Seoul, Korea.  The Japanese agents are trying to stop them.  A Korean-born Japanese police officer is leading the battle with the resistance fighters.  He tries to take the fighters in alive so they can be questioned.  Previously, this police officer was in the independence movement.
     Usually a film like this would have subtitles but it has been dubbed in English.  I think this one thing takes away a LOT from the movie.  I couldn’t keep interested and this would be required with subtitles to be able understand anything about the movie!!  It does make it easier to watch with English but it seems watered down and unimpressive.  I didn’t feel drawn by any of the characters and the run time is too long?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

140 min, Action directed by Jee-woon Kim with Byung-hun Lee, Yoo gong, Kang-ho Song, Ji-min Han, Hee-soon Park, Seong-rok Sin, Shingo Tsurumi.
Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 100% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 14 reviews, Metacritic 78 out of 100 with 14 critics no user score as yet.
Special Note:  Filmed in Seoul, South Korea.  This film was the official submission of South Korea for Best Foreign Language film for the 2017 Academy Awards.  The winner was The Salesman submitted by Iran.  This is the first Korean production by Warner Bros.