Thursday, August 31, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage 2017

     Xander Cage has been on self-imposed exile and thought to be dead.  He’s an extreme athlete and he’s now turned government operative.  Pandora’s Box is an unstoppable weapon that can take any satellite out of the sky.  Cage recruits a new crew of friends.  They set out to discover if there is a conspiracy involving the highest levels of governments and obtain Pandora's Box.   
     This film is all action with a small plot and terrible dialog?  Multicolored birds like peacocks could be on the screen with all the preening, muscle flexing and tattoo adoration??  There are a LOT of stunts that I’ve never seen before and some are fantastic, especially with motorcycles.  There is a LOT of CGI too.  I think this film is overload on everything!!  I don’t know if there is one quiet moment in the entire film??  Diesel is going to be fifty this year, he will need to add more installments and rake in as much money as he can before he ages out!!  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

107 min, Action directed by D.J. Caruso with Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube, Hermione Corfield.

Note:  Imdb 5.2 out of 10, 44% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 481 reviews, Metacritic 42 out of 100 with 25 critics 4.8 out of 10 with 216 reviews, Rollingstone 1*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Dominican Republic, Canada, Florida and the Philippines.  There is also xXx of 2002 and xXx: State of the Union (The Next Level) of 2005.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Book of Love 2016

     Henry Herschel is an architect and he’s married to Penny.  They are opposites in their personalities.  They are remodeling their home and they are expecting their first child.  They are very happy and Henry is working on a big project at work.  Penny sees Millie in front of their house and she's on the lookout for building materials.  Penny asks Henry if he knows anything about her but he doesn’t.  Penny and her baby are killed in a car accident.  Henry begins working with Millie and she saves Henry from his very deep grief. 
      I felt especially sad that both Penny and her baby were killed.  Penny brought life into Henry and without her he doesn’t know how he’s going to live.  I liked Millie’s little white dog Ahab with the black eye patch.  Millie has big ideas and dreams even though she's had an unfortunate childhood.  This film did tug at my softer side!!  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)  

106 min, Drama directed by Bill Purple with Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, Jessica Biel, Mary Steenburgen, Orlando Jones, Richard Robichaux, Paul Reiser, Bryan Batt, Jayson Warner Smith.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 9% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 63 reviews, Metacritic 27 out of 100 with 6 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Originally Chloe Grace Moretz was cast to play the role of Millie.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cast in the role of Henry but he left because of scheduling conflicts like Moretz.  Justin Timberlake, Biel’s husband, composed the music.  Jessica Biel’s date of birth is the same as Penny’s in the film.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

American Fable 2016

     The setting of this film is the rural Midwest in the 1980’s during the period when a lot of family farms were going under.  Gitty is 11 years old and she lives on her family’s farm in Wisconsin with her parents and her older brother Martin.  She has a pet chicken she named Happy that she cares about Happy very much.  A large corporation is buying up a lot of the farms in her area.  Gitty worries that this will happen to their farm.  Her father Abe has an accident when he is trying to change a light bulb on a tall ladder.  He falls and he’s taken to the hospital.  The family sets up a hospital bed in their home to take care of him.  They can’t afford for him to be taken care of in the hospital or by a private nurse.  Gitty finds there is a man named Jonathan down in the silo on their land.  She doesn’t understand what he’s doing there but they become friends.
     There were many times when I didn’t understand what was going on in this film?  There is a lot of imagery and it must be the imagination of Gitty?  There were surprising moments and events I didn’t expect?  I didn’t like the cruel way Martin treats Gitty, not like a brother but like a bully.  Just because they have different personalities doesn’t mean he should get away with this behavior.   2* (I didn’t like this movie)
96 min, drama directed by Anne Hamilton with Peyton Kennedy, Richard Schiff, Kip Pardue, Marci Miller, Gavin MacIntosh, Zuleikha Robinson, Charlie Babbo, Spencer Moss, Rusty Schwimmer, Megan Renner Reick.
Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 69% critic 39% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 2.9* out of 5* with 49 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Spring Green, Blanchardville and Pearl City, Wisconsin; Kent, Pecatonica, Stockton and Freeport, Illinois.  Gitty is short for Gertrude and she doesn’t like her name.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fantastic Bests and Where to Find Them 2016

     Newt Scamander travels from England to visit New York.  He has only one suitcase but inside are many magical creatures.  They normally exist among us but usually we can’t see them.  The time period is the middle of the roaring 1920’s.  There is a fragile curtain between the unseen world and the world of regular people.  People opposed to wizardry are becoming very vocal with daily protests.  Mysteriously, Newt’s suitcase becomes switched with another case belonging to baker Jacob Kowalski?  His case is filled with his excellent and very special donuts.
     Where would this film be without CGI?  I did like the cars, city and dress of this period.  I think it’s better to ignore scenes you don’t understand and just roll with the action!!  You also don’t need to have seen any or all the Harry Potter films or be an expert in all things Potter!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

133 min, Adventure directed by David Yates with Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 73% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 9860 reviews, Metacritic 66 out of 100 with 50 critics 7.3 out of 10 with 881 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Merseyside, Liverpool, Herfordshire, Bedfordshire, England, UK.  Eddie Redmayne had worked out in anticipation of one scene where he is shown shirtless.  Despite all his efforts in building up his physical body, this scene was deleted.  Originally, this film was going to be a trilogy but that has been changed and now there will be a five part series.  J.K. Rowling has said that this film is not a prequel or a sequel to the Harry Potter series.  It is an extension of the wizard world.  This is J.K. Rowling’s first effort as a screenwriter.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Growing up Smith 2015

     Smith Bhatnagar is a 10 year-old boy from India and he lives in a small town outside of New York in 1979.  Smith wants to embrace the American Dream but his parents want to preserve their heritage and rituals from India.  Barbecues are difficult since the family is vegetarian.  Halloween is another custom not celebrated in India.  Smith likes the girl next door Amy and her father is a cowboy with an Indian motorcycle.  There are many differences between the families. 
     This is funny in many instances.  Smith’s mother makes him a Halloween costume representing one of the gods worshiped in India.  None of the Americans recognize the costume?  Smith’s father agrees that he can go hunting with Amy’s father.  Later, his parents try to find them because Smith’s father realizes after the fact what hunting really is?  3* (This movie was OK)

102 min, Comedy directed by Frank Lotito with JasonLee, Anjul Nigam, Brighton Sharbino, Hilarie Burton, Roni Akurati, Poorna Jagannathan, Samrat Chakrabarti, Shoba Narayan, Jake Busey, Tim Guinee, Alison Wright.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 70% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 29 reviews, Accessbollywood 3* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kingston, New York.  The premiere was held in Kirkland, Washington as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Lost City of Z 2016

     British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon at the beginning of the 20th century.  He discovers evidence that an advanced civilization may have inhabited this region.  The scientific community deems the indigenous people to be savages.  This means that they are not worthy of discovery.  Fawcett returns many times to the jungle attempting to prove his case that the people are unknown but worthy of study.
     Fawcett was determined to prove that the current racist attitudes of the British were wrong.  He believed that certain nonwhite civilizations were more advanced than any in western society in existence at the same time.  He also felt the need to prove himself as a respectable Englishman.  His father’s Army career was reduced due to constant alcoholism.  Nina thinks of herself as a feminist but her life is the role of wife and raising her children instead of pursuing any of her own dreams?  I wondered about Fawcett leaving his family for so long that his first son asked him if he was his father?  The character played by Robert Pattinson states he now has a wife and child.  He will not be going on the next planned trip to the jungle.  Why could Fawcett not see this course for his own life and family?  Personally, the jungle isn’t for me and a lot of scenes are at night so details can be skipped!!  2 1/2* (This movie was OK)

141 min, Adventure directed by James Gray with Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid, Clive Francis, Pedro Coello, Matthew Sunderland. 

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 87% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 309 reviews, Metacritic 78 out of 100 with 44 critics 6.9 out of 10 with 150 reviews.

Special Note:  Filmed in Magdalena, Colombia; County Antrim, Belfast, County Down, Northern Ireland, UK.  Director James Gray wrote to Francis Ford Coppola asking for advice about shooting in the jungle.  Coppola directed Apocalypse Now of 1979 and his advice was “Don’t go!”  Coppola received the same advice from Roger Corman and he directed Piranhaconda of 2012.  Hunnam was awakened by a sound like a drill in his ear.  He found that an insect had burrowed into his ear and hit the eardrum.  It kept trying to burrow further!!  Holland went swimming with the local children and the next day he found out black caimans were in the water.  They are like mean looking big crocodiles but docile and usually don’t attack people.  The film was shot on 35mm and computers could not work in the jungle humidity.  During shooting, the villagers shouted that the river was about to rise.  Six minutes later the entire set was flooded and totally under water in 45 seconds.

Friday, August 25, 2017

My King (Mon Roi) 2015

     Marie-Antoinette Jezequel also known as Tony begins a stay at a rehabilitation center.  She has a broken leg from a very serious skiing accident.  While she is completing therapy, she takes time to also look back at her turbulent relationship with Georgio.  Why did they love each other but they couldn’t get along with each other?  How did she allow herself to disappear into the relationship?  Why did she need to turn to prescription medications to endure? 
     I was surprised to see that only two people have reviewed this film on Amazon?  It’s not easy to tell the timeline of events in this film.  The present time is at the rehab center.  The past is her relationship.  Tony’s therapist tells her that the skiing accident was caused by her reaction to the trauma in her past.  It was her previous mental and physical experience resulting in the trauma to her body.  Love can be joyous and it also leads to despair?  3* (This movie is OK)

124 min, Drama directed by Maiwenn with Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Bercot, Louis Garrel, Isild Le Besco, Chrystele Saint Louis Augustin, Patrick Raynal, Yann Goven, Paul Hamy Djemel Barek, Slim El Hedli.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 71% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 2 reviews, Metacritic 68% out of 100 with 18 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Seine-et-Marne, Landes, Paris, Calvados; Valais, Switzerland.  This film is loosely inspired by writer-director Maiwenn’s marriage to Jean-Yves Le Fur.  At the 68th Film Festival de Cannes in 2015, Emmanuelle Bercot and Rooney Mara shared the Best Actress Award.  Mara won for the 2015 film Carol.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mine 2016

     Marine sniper Sergeant Mike Stevens and his spotter Tommy Maidons are out in the desert.  Their mission is to take out the leader of a terrorist cell.  They have eyes on the leader but he is standing next to the groom in a wedding party.  Mike doesn't want to shoot during the wedding and he doesn't want to shoot the groom.  The mission is aborted and they hastily make a quick exit.  As soon as they leave their position, find themselves in a dangerous location.  They are an in area filled with 33 million blast mines scattered in every direction.  Tommy steps on one of the mines and Mike is standing on one with one foot.  The conditions for life could not be more unfavorable!!  Many undetected mines, scalding heat in the day, limited water and freezing cold in the night.
     OKAY!!  There is just one Marine out in the endless dessert for most of this movie?  He gets rougher looking as each day goes by?  I kept wondering if Mike was really standing on a mine?  Would it be possible for him to leap away from the mine quickly enough to be uninjured?  There must be some kind of alternative to standing on the mine??  I had a lot of questions to occupy my mind so I didn't have to listen to the soundtrack!!  2 /12* (This movie is so-so)

106 min, War directed by Fabio Guaglione with Armie Hammer, Annabell Wallis, Tom Cullen, Cling Dyer, Geoff Bell, Juliet Aubrey, Ines Pinar Mille, Luka Peros, Daniel Sandoval, Agustin Rodriguez, Manuel Medero.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 16% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 2.9* out of 5* with 54 reviews, Metacritic 40 out of 100 with 10 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Canary Islands and Barcelona, Spain.  Because of concerns about piracy, the original English language version was not released in Italy until May 2017.  Wider distribution was April 2017.  There are a lot of mistakes with the radio.  It can’t be charged from the cell phone solar charger and it doesn’t have a USB input.  The power switch doesn’t illuminate and the radio doesn’t transmit on the displayed frequency.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Benefactor 2015

     Francis L. Watts also known as Franny is a wealthy philanthropist and he's traveling in a car with his friends Bobby and Mia.  Suddenly, they have an accident and Bobby and Mia are dead but Franny is alive.  The accident was Franny’s fault, he feels tremendous survivor guilt and he thinks he should’ve died instead.  Time passes and Franny is nearly a recluse.  He does visit the hospital he founded to visit the children on their ward.  Bobby and Mia had a daughter and her name is Olivia but Franny calls her Poodle.  Five years later after the accident, Olivia has married Luke and they are expecting a baby.  Olivia contacts Franny because she would like him to be a part of their baby’s life.  Franny begins to insert himself into every aspect of their family life.
     Richard Gere is a good actor but even he can’t carry this film!!  I didn’t understand the purpose for making this movie?  There needs to be one story instead of two.  There is the story of Olivia, her husband, a soon to be born baby and Franny.  There is also another story, about Franny and the guilt he carries plus the injuries he sustained in the car accident.  Together the stories don’t mix?  Franny is also a lot to take as one character.  Just because you're wealthy doesn’t mean you can do anything you want all the time??  How can we have empathy for Franny when he’s so difficult??     

93 min, Drama directed by Andrew Renzi with Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James, Dylan Baker, Cheryl Hines, Brian Anthony Wilson, Tibor Feldman, Justin Goncalves, Dennisha Pratt, Matthew Daisher. 

Note:  Imdb 5.1 out of 10, 25% critic 23% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3* out of 5* with 245 reviews, Metacritic 40 out of 100 with 19 critics 5.1 out of 10 with 14 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The original title of this film was Franny.  There is a mistake by a physician about the name of the medication Franny is taking.        

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Correspondence 2016

     Ed is an astrophysics professor and he is in love with PHD student, Amy Ryan.  They met at Ed’s conference 6 years earlier and she loved his way of talking about astrophysics.  Amy works as a stunt woman and her scenes are often very dangerous.  Amy and Ed are together and Ed leaves for the airport.  He hopes to see Amy again at his next conference at her University.  The couple communicates by phone, video chat, emails and packages.  Amy receives some emails from Ed but she realizes he’s not answering his mobile phone?  Amy attends Ed’s conference and she learns he died in Edinburgh several days earlier.  Despite this news, she continues to receive email messages and packages?
     Amy to traveled to Edinburgh to learn first hand what has happened to Ed but she felt uncomfortable contacting his family?  I wondered if the continuing messages and packages lengthen her grieving and impede recovery from her loss?  The film presents the continuing of contact but the viewer could imagine how this film would've progressed if the contact had stopped?  I also turned this film around, what if Ed was a woman and Amy was a man?  Unless there was a LOT of money involved, I don’t see this scenario happening?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

116 min, Drama directed by Giuseppe Tornatore with Jeremy Irons, Olga Kurylenko, Simon Johns, James Warren, Shauna Macdonald, Oscar Sanders, Paolo Calabresi, Anna Savva, Irina Kara, Sammy Moreno, Marc Forde.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 17% critic 23% audience, Amazon 3* out of 5* with 2 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Piemonte, Trentio Alto Adige, Lazio, Italy; Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Yorkshire, England, UK.  Ed’s house in Italy is on lake of Orta close to the town of Orta San Guilio.  For the film, the island is called Borgoventoso and that means windy town.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Patriots Day 2016

     The Boston Marathon of 2013 was held on April 15.  This race is held every year and there are many participants.  There are also many police officers along the path of the race.  The Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan have made two bombs using pressure cookers.  They place the bombs on the ground near the finish line.  The bombs cause the most damage to the legs and feet of the nearby victims.  There is even a bomb close to the stroller of a three year-old boy.  Later, he is separated from his parents for a time.  All city officials and all ambulances and medical personnel are called to the scene to tend to the injured and investigate.   
     Originally, I didn’t want to watch this film because I didn’t want to visually relive the bombings and injuries.  I thought it was better than I expected because the focus is more on catching the bombers.  Three people were killed and hundreds were wounded.  There is one fact that the Tsarnaev brothers may have overlooked in their plans.  The stores along the race path have security cameras.  A task force is set up quickly to view the footage and isolate the identities of the bombers.  Speed is of the essence because the brothers will probably try to get as far away from Boston as they can.  Unusually, the authorities allowed TV stations to air pictures of the brothers so they can get their identities right away.  The city of Boston is placed on lock down and everyone is asked to stay off the streets, sidewalks and remain in their homes with doors and windows locked.  There is a very BIG battle between the police and bombers in the ending scenes.  Some of the real victims are shown as they are now in the final scenes.  4* (I really liked this movie)

133 min, Crime directed by Peter Berg with Mark Whalberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, Dicky Eklund Jr., Michael Marchand, Rhet Kidd, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Rachel Brosnahan, Christopher O’Shea.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 81% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon Video 4.4* out of 5* with 711 reviews, Metacritic 69 out of 100 with 42 critics 7.2 out of 10 with 103 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Boston, Quincy, Cambridge, Malden, Peabody, Weymouth, Farmingham, Somerville, Newton, Watertown, Massachusetts.  Two scripts were merged to create the screenplay, Boston Strong and Patriots Day.  Strong was more of the action thriller side of the story and Day was more factually correct.  A casting call resulted in a line stretching the entire quarter-mile length of Braintree Street in Alston.  Katherine Russell, the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev is shown a photo of him and it’s the actual photo that was later leaked to the public.  The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 and the game was played the same day as the marathon.  The character played by Mark Walberg is fictional and created for the film.  He is a composite of many Boston policemen who worked the marathon.  Walberg didn’t need to practice his Boston accent, he is a Boston native and he lived in Dorchester.  Military police shown in the movie are actual Mps from the National Guard and some were the actual responders.  There is another film with the same title from 2004. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Broadchurch Season 3 2017

     The setting of this Season is three years after Season 2.  Jim and Cath Atwood have a party for Cath’s birthday at Axehampton House in the fictional town of Broadchurch in Dorset, England.  Several days later, Trish Winterman contacts DS Ellie Miller and Di Alec Hardy.  She reports that she was raped after the party on the grounds near the hall.  She was hit on the head from behind with something and knocked unconscious.  Her hands were bound with blue plastic twine and an athletic sock was stuffed in her mouth.  Miller and Hardy focus on the samples of twine and taking DNA samples from the men at the party.  Ellie asks Beth Latimer to work with Trish because she is now working as a social services agent.  Beth Latimer’s son was murdered in Season 1.  As the investigation continues, Ellie and Alec discover there are other attacks with the same circumstances.  They are worried that a serial rapist may be on the loose.  Time will be of the essence to prevent other attacks.
     All three seasons of Broadchurch are very good.  This will be the last season since it hasn’t been renewed.  There are many complications in the cases and many suspects.  The main object will be to narrow down the possible suspects.  They will also need to sort out the lies from the truth.  There were instances where I couldn't understand the dialog spoken by David Tennant.  He has a heavy Scottish accent.  4* (I really liked this series)   

48 min each episode with 8 episodes, TV series, Crime created by Chris Chibnall with David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Carolyn Pickles, Arthur Davill, Charlotte Beaumont, Adam Wilson, Matthew Gravelle, Joe Sims, Steve Bennett, Benji Yapp, Julie Hesmondhaigh. 

Note:  Imdb 8.4 out of 10, 92% critic 94% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon Video 4.2* out of 5* with 88 reviews, 85 out of 100 with 14 critics 7.5 out of 10 with 28 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, England, UK. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pet Sematary II 1992

     The setting of this film is three years after the first Pet Sematary and after the death of the Creed family.  Jeff and Chase Matthews have moved to a new home and town in Ludlow, Maine.  Jeff’s mother, Renee passed away in an accident while filming a movie in Hollywood.  Ludow was Renee’s hometown.  Jeff is feeling very sad but he makes friends with Drew Gilbert and he struggles with an abusive stepfather.  Jeff and Drew get a lot of bullying from Clyde Parker and his pals.  He likes to punch them and beat them up plus he tells them the story of the Creed family. He makes it even more scary than it really was.
     This may be one the worst movie I’ve ever seen??  I thought Manos: The Hands of Fate of 1966 was the worst movie and I think this may be next in line!!  Imdb gives Manos 1.9 out of 10 but Sematary II 4.8 out of 10.  There is a LOT of dying and being brought back but returning not quite the same as when alive.  People don’t seem to notice that they are LOT different when they come back??  Maybe this is really a comedy??  As a child, I didn't watch films like this, I thought they were too scary.  They are much milder as an adult!!  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

100 min, Fantasy directed by Mary Lambert with Edward Furlong, Anthony Edwards, Clancy Brown, Jaren Rushton, Darlanne Fluegel, Jason McGuire, Sarah Trigger, Lisa Waltz, Jim Peck, Len Hunt, Reid Binion, David Ratajczak.

Note:  Imdb 4.8 out of 10, 26% critic 30% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 198 reviews, TV Guide 1* out of 4*,
Special Note:  Filmed in Peachtree City, Senoia, Coweta County, Georgia.  Jason McGuire as the character  Drew Gilbert was very shy and timid at the beginning of filming.  He had only done elementary school plays and he had no acting experience.  After he met Edward Furlong in the role of Jeff Matthews, they became best friends and Edward mentored Jason.  Anthony Edwards met his wife Jeanine Lobell on this set.  Pet Sematary was filmed in Maine but this film was moved to Georgia.  Filming began in January 1992 and the winter weather in Maine could have caused costly delays. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Criminal 2016

     Bill Pope is a CIA agent tracking down a hacker with the nickname The Dutchman in London. The Dutchman has a wormhole program with codes that will launch ICBM’s and start WWIII.  Pope has a bag with $10 million to give to The Dutchman but before he can make the handoff, Xavier Heimdahl captures him.  Heimdahl is a Spanish businessman-turned-anarchist and he is also seeking The Dutchman.  Pope is tortured but he doesn’t give up the information.  The FBI is desperate to find out where the payoff money is located and how to find The Dutchman.  They have kept Pope’s brain neurons firing artificially.  Dr. Franks is working on transferring brain information from one mouse to another.  He’s a long way from human trials but the FBI needs his expertise now.  Jerico Stewart is a sociopath with a childhood injury to his frontal lobes.  He’s released from prison and Dr. Franks transfers the information from Pope’s brain to Stewart.
     This film has a strong cast but they are working with far fetched material??  The scope of the characters doesn’t give them enough to work with either?  There are a LOT of chases, captures, explosions and running.  Is it possible that Nicholas Cage passed on this film because there wasn’t enough content even for him??  One positive with this film is you don’t have to think or worry that you missed something from the scenes!!  They will just keep moving along anyway!!  2 1/2* This movie is so-so)

113 min, Action directed by Ariel Vromen with Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Jordi Molla, Michael Pitt, Amaury Nolasco, Alice Eve, Antje Traue.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 30% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 962 reviews, The Guardian 1* out of 5*
Special Note:  Filmed in London, Surrey, Hampshire, East Sussex, England, UK and Sofia, Bulgaria.  During the memory transfer operation, it’s not Ryan Reynolds but a doll/dummy made to resemble him from prosthetic special effects.  This method was cheaper than contracting Reynolds for two days of work.  It also would’ve been tiresome for him to sit in an operating dentist-like chair for two days!!  Kevin Costner directed the underwater sequence shot in a water tank because of scheduling conflicts for Ariel Vroman.  Originally, Nicolas Cage was selected for a lead role.  The nickname The Dutchman was selected when filming was planned for Amsterdam Netherlands but the budget didn't have enough money.  Ryan Reynolds had a break in his schedule while filming Deadpool of 2016 and he worked four days on this film.  There is another film with the same title from 2004.

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.