Archive for the ‘MOVIES’ Category

“BPM”–a MUST SEE 2018 Oscar contender movie review   Leave a comment

“BPM” (Beats Per Minute) has a very moving love story surrounded with a dramatic and (don’t let this word scare you!) educational film about the very effective organization ACT UP, that was founded by Larry Kramer in New York in 1987. Two years later the French version of the ACT UP organization opened in 1989.

The main purpose of ACT UP was to take direct action to end the AIDS crisis and demonstrating for greater, faster access to experimental drugs.

The film opens with a demonstration at a drug company and leads into a local ACT UP meeting where the rules are explained to four newcomers such as snapping fingers instead of clapping or saving all debating for the meeting room, not in the hall where they go to have a cigarette. The meetings are attended by males, females, some being HIV+ and others negative, straights, gays, drug users, who have full blown AIDS.

The horror of what the government didn’t do for many years and the horror of watching vibrant people being decimated by a disease that is still killing people over 35 years later is shown with fingers being pointed at all, even with their infighting at meetings.

Intermingled with facts, figures, marches, condom and needle distributions, walls splattered with fake blood, a mother’s horror finding that she has been injecting her son, a hemophiliac, with infected bold provided by a hospital is a love story.

At that first meeting, where we observe the ACT UP group, one of the newcomers, Nathan, played by Arnaud Valois, HIV- negative, zeros in on Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) a firebrand, militant leader who has AIDS.  (An aside: as Nathan tells Sean about his first love the lover’s name is Arnaud!) We follow them as they at first fall in love and then dealing with Sean’s illness.

Most of the actors are new faces, such as Biscayart and Valois, which adds a little confusion at the beginning and it may take some time to realize that Marco, the hemophiliac, played by Theophile Ray, is the son of Helene, Catherine Vinatier. We meet Jeremie, Ariel Borenstein, ACT UP president Thibault, Antoine Reinartz, and other ACT UP members, plus a drug company CEO Samuel Churin, Sean’s mother Saadia Ben Taieb among a strong supporting cast.

The film, directed by Robin Campillo, who also co-wrote it with Philippe Mangeot, based up the former’s experiences as an ACT UP participant, is the French Oscar contender for the 2018 Best Foreign Language  film.

“BPM” is one the best films ever made about AIDS but has a few minor faults and one major fault. The latter is the 2 hours and 44 minutes running time along with faulty editing and slow pace.

Being a French film the two sex scenes are vivid while the last twenty minutes are very moving. The problem is that there are too many unnecessary scenes such as 3 disco scenes when one would have sufficed, one too many marches, a beach scene that adds nothing to the love story and so on, taking away from getting to know some of the characters better.

“BMP” is a must see movie even though it may be hard to watch at times and the love story is completely believable!

 Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVAw7JfTqBU

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“Lady Bird”–a movie review   Leave a comment

I base whether I like a movie or not on: 1) if I would like to see it again 2) the acting 3) if the story gets me involved with the characters and 4) if I get emotionally involved to the point of tears and/or laughter.

“Lady Bird” is not a movie I would want to see again yet the acting was topnotch. On the other hand there were only moments of the 1 hour and 33 minutes of the movie that I was emotionally involved except for being bored through most of it.

I didn’t identify with what all the teenagers went through because I lived a completely different teenage life than they do. I don’t remember if I went to a prom or when/how I lost my virginity, having special friends at school, etc., so I sort of kept thinking, “Come on—let’s get on with the story!” A lot of what the self named Lady Bird was foreign to me or I just don’t remember feeling a lot of what she or the rest of the kids felt.

I became aware of Saorise Ronan, who at 23 plays the 17, 18 year old Lady Bird, when 2 years ago she was in “Brooklyn” getting the best actress nomination. She had made some ‘noise’ in a couple of other movies but I don’t remember her or them. This movie makes a bona fide A listactress of her. 

Laurie Metcalf was primarily known for her work as Roseanne’s sister on the television show of the same name receiving 10 Emmy nominations winning 3 for that role and currently as Sheldon’s mother on “The Big Ban” and also winning 2 Tony awards for her theatre work. There is no doubt that she will get an Oscar nomination for this mother as the mother you want to hate but won’t.

Tracy Letts, as the father, is mainly known for winning the 2008 Pulitzer prize and a Tony award for writing “August: Osage County” and for his performance on “Homeland”. He won a Tony award for acting and has recently done more acting in television and movies. The relationship between him and Lady Bird is the sweetest part of the film and his fight against depression is affecting.

The rest of the supporting cast from Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet as boyfriends, Beanie Feldstein and Odeya Rush as girl friendsalong with Lois Smith as a nun at the Catholic school Christine, Lady Bird’s given name, and Jordon Rodrigues as Lady Bird’s older, adopted brother plus others give solid support.

The movie was written and directed by Greta Gerwig who does a better job directing than the writing.

“Lady Bird” is not a movie I want to see again and though I got involved now and then with the characters, at times shedding a tear or two, there is no faulting the acting and will probably see their names nominated for awards.

Movie trailer

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbhdyOKcYC0

“Murder on the Orient Express”–movie review   Leave a comment

When was the last time you saw a remake that was better than the original? Long time, if ever, right?  “Murder on the Orient Express”, which opened last week, is a remake of the same film, based on Agatha Christie’s book, that was made in 1974 and directed by Sidney Lumet. This new rendition is directed by Kenneth Branagh who also stars in the film along with his elaborate mustache.

Both versions have an all star cast and which is more famous will be in the eyes of the viewer. Ingrid Bergman won a best supporting Oscar for her role which she thought, and expressed, as a mistake. With the exception of Branagh, and that mustache, the only one who has a chance to show off is Michelle Pfeiffer and, by the way, stay for the end credits to hear her sing. Judi Dench is wasted in what is more of a cameo than a supporting role. Also in the film are Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, William Dafoe along with newer names such as Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman and Leslie Odom Jr., none really shining but none embarrassing themselves.

The main difference, to me, is that the scenery in the latest version is plusher, visually breathtaking whether shot on location or in a studio.

The ‘hook’ of “Murder on the Orient Express” is the solution to the crime that takes place which, at points, can be confusing but the major point of who did it, and why, is obvious enough.

There is nothing wrong with this 2017 version with the hour and fifty-four going by at a relaxing time and the sets, costumes, lighting and all of the production aspects are firstrate. The question is whether this was really worth a remake and if you should pay to see it or watch the 1974 version for free on youtube.

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq4m3yAoW8E

“Only the Brave”–a movie review   Leave a comment

“Only the Brave” is not the sort of movie I would go to see but I did and I will tell all others who wouldn’t go see a picture like this go for it and those who are into films like this you got a winner!

Aside from being pure entertainment, along with suspense and based on a true story, this is also educational in many ways regarding fires and fighting them. It certainly was for me and far from being boring.

Though Josh Brolin almost always gets excellent reviews he doesn’t seem to be able to get to the highest level of stardom and he deserves to as his role as the real Eric Marsh shows that he does.

“Only the Brave” is the true story of the ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’ who fought a fire in Arizona in 2013 that killed more firefighters at one time except for 9/11.

With a team of 20 men plus spouses, kids, in-laws, friends, it is pretty hard to get to know everyone in this 2 hours plus film but we met enough of the men and their interactions plus a few of the ‘civilians’ that draw you into every moment of the film and the people involved.

Yes there is a Hollywood cliché here and there but even they ring true. The fire scenes and how quickly a fire can overtake acres of land and the many ways firefighters end, or at least delay, the destruction fire can do are totally.

Just watching this film as the California fires rage on taking everything in its way makes this a must see film to understand what is happening there.

I knew very little about the real story this is based on but the screenplay by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, along with the directing by Joseph Kosinski and the production values, especially the fire scenes, along with the excellent cast, makes it all real.

“Only the Brave” is such a good movie that not a person left the auditorium during the end credits even after they showed the real firefighters and who played them.

Be sure to see this film on a movie screen to get the full effect of the firefighters, the fires and what made these men so brave!

Cast: Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Mills Tyler, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Screenwriters: Ken Nolan, Eric Warren Singer

PG-13 2 hours 13 minutes

 

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQj4BkYf-HM

“The Florida Project”–a movie review   Leave a comment

A review in one word AWFUL! But since when do I use one word when I can use 10?!

To quote Allen, “Thor would have to be better than this!”

I came home and read the reviews by A. O. Scott of the NY Times, Douglas Markowitz of New Times, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Peter Travers, all who raved about the movie! Did they see the same movie I did? Or don’t they know about the seedy strip not to far from DisneyWorld? (I did learn from a review that The Florida Project was the name for DisneyWorld in its planning stages!) Or are they unaware of the ‘hidden homeless’ in the United States?

As I use 10 words when I can use one director and co-writer Sean Baker, with Chris Bergoch, uses 5 scenes when 1 tells the same thing. 

There is no faulting the acting which includes William Dafoe as the manager of the purple motel where 22-year-old single mother Halley, played by Bria Vinate, and her 6-year-old daughter Moonie, played by 6-year-old Brooklynn Prince, live. Moonie’s friends Scooty, played by Christopher Rivera, and Jancey, played by Valeria Cotto, among others are typical kids doing things, both bad and good, kids do and are mostly natural in their scenes.

After a very boring, ‘where is this film going’ 1hour and 50 minutes, we finally get the payoff in the last 5 minutes and all I can say is save your money and use your time for something else or go see a good movie like “Marshall” or “Professor Marston and his Wonder Women”.

 

The Florida Project movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVtJw389BXM

Posted October 20, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

“Marshall”–a movie review   Leave a comment

           The theme of “Marshall” is a familiar one with a Black man being held a prisoner for the raping, beating and then kidnapping a wealthy White woman he works for to cover up the crime. It takes place in Connecticut in 1941.

            Thurgood Marshall is at the beginning of his career and is representing the man Joseph Spell and also the NAACP in a fight for justice at a very racist time. It is due to the racism of the Judge that forces Marshall to hire a White Jewish man to lead the council making the former the second chair in the trial and not allowed to speak to the court in defense of the man.

           A local Jewish lawyer, who faces his own discrimination because of his religion, Sam Friedman who is not a criminal lawyer having handled only insurance and accident cases.

           If the movie had been called “Sam” it would be the same story but not hold the cache that the name Thurgood Marshall does. Without knowing a thing about this man you could write the screenplay or, at the least, know what is going to happen.

           What makes “Marshall” different is that the story, no matter how many times you see/read/hear about it the horror of what happens and how it happens comes up and you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief or gasping and not wanting to believe things like that happened in the USA and still do!

            The movie is lifted above the run of the mill because it does involve the career of a man who would one day sit on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States as the first Black Judge.

            It is also lifted by the performances by the cast starting with Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall bringing the force of the man who would bring much change to our country. Josh Gad as the Jewish lawyer Sam Friedman is Boseman’s equal in acting even if cheated by the screenplay in filling out his character.

            Sterling K. Brown as the possible rapist Joseph Spell who is not exactly as he may seem to be and the accuser Eleanor Strubing played by Kate Hudson may have secrets of her own to hide and both ace their performances.

           What sets this ‘seen it before’ trial on a different level are the odd coupling of the lawyers defending the suspect but even more so the judge played by James Cromwell refusing the defense team the basic courtesies of a courtroom because of his own racism.

            In this small snippet of Thurgood Marshall’s lifewe do see what made the man he would become but we are also shown the racism and anti-Semitism that was so prevalent in the North in the 1940s.

           Based on a true story staying for the end credits gives an interesting history of what happened to the people involved though I don’t recall any reference to Strubing and Spell and am interested enough to see if anything more is written of them.

           “Marshall” is a good movie on many levels starting with the involved courtroom drama, extending to the high performances by all involved plus the history of a man many may not know in addition to another man almost never heard of since this trial and what he dealt with and was to become of this one case he lead, first as a frontman than as the leader.

           The screenplay by Michael and Jacob Koskoff, the former a veteran civil rights lawyer, the latter his son, hold the audiences interest as far as the courtroom case, the accused and accuser and all involved concerned while the director Reginald Hudlin does a workingman’s job smartly giving the actors the leeway to be their characters.

            Would “Marshall” be as good a movie without that name and not being about that person? I think so but his name adds the gravitas to separate it from being just another movie.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_bfOWof0Sg

Posted October 18, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” A Must See Movie   Leave a comment

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is a smart, quiet, beautiful, exciting and, in many ways, educational in a good way movie.

I never heard of William Marston before seeing this movie and I learned that not only did he and his wife Elizabeth discover the early prototype of the lie detector but they also created the systolic blood pressure test. She was a graduate of Harvard, his equal in every way. Professor Marston was not only a psychiatrist but he would eventually become the comic book writer and originator of Wonder Woman. Marston, along with research by Elizabeth, come up with the theory of DISC that stated all human behavior can be either dominance, inducement, submission or compliance, either each by themselves or variations, combinations of all 4.

Actually with all this that is not what the film is really about but about a student in in the class he teaches at Radcliffe where his wife is an observer. As soon as he sees a new student, Olive Bryne, whose aunt is Margaret Sanger and her mother left her in a convent school to devote her life fighting for women’s suffrage, becomes infatuated with her. She becomes the husband and wife’s graduate assistant with Elizabeth and William falling in love with her and she falling in love with them.

To say any more than that they start a life together would give away too much of the film. They are all strong, independent thinkers who look at all aspects of their relationship to make a success of the life they want to lead under the eyes of the society of the 1930s and 1940s let alone for years after. In today’s worldthey would be just as vilified if found out.

The film opens with children and their parents burning copies of Wonder Woman comics and then segues into Marston being interrogated by psychologist Josette Frank of the Child Study Association of America not only about his living conditions but about all the perversion in the Wonder Women series from B & D, S & M, homosexuality between women to use of ropes, leather and other accruements of the sexual world.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is rated R for strong sexual content including language and brief graphic images. If you are expecting a porno film, sorry but this is not it. The brief images last about 2-3 minutes showing William, Elizabeth and Olive experiencing the sexual aspect of their love with very little nudity and not any frontal nudity. Yes, there is a scene in a Greenwich Village specialty shop that delves into various possibilities of how people can experience love and or sex.

The Director-screenwriter Angela Robinson does superb work in both categories and certainly deserves recognition when award time rolls around.

Talking about awards Rebecca Hall, as Elizabeth Marston, can give a look or say a word that would stop anyone in their tracks and gives a not to be forgotten performance. Bella Heathcote, as the young, sparkling, bright, blond student equals Hall’s performance in a different way. Luke Evans, as Professor Marston, has to work hard to keep up with the women and he does. All 3 give indelible performances.

In supporting roles Connie Britton as Josette Frank, JJFeild as the owner of the specialty shop along with Oliver Platt as Marston’s editor hold their own in a movie filled with excellent performances all around.

Angela Robinson’s screenplay covers a lot of territory including many unconventional subjects without demeaning the characters, the story or the audience.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is a must see movie which, in many ways, is as relevant today as it was at the time the picture takes place.

 

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r991pr4Fohk

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