Thursday, March 23, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now

One movie broke box office records, and one is just broke. Check out this weeks flicks here.

Beauty And The Beast

This movie is very interesting, as it has not been received as well from the national critics as I would have thought. This does have some problems, and makes a couple of strange decisions, but this is very good movie making.  In fact the making of this, is the star as it is the marriage of many different kinds of movies rolled into one.

First the problems.  Emma Watson as Belle. OK, she's not as good of a singer as the written music here, but who you gonna get?  Who can sing this incredible music, and still be a box office draw at this young age that is required?  She makes it through, in a no-win situation for her.  She's fine, not great, but not a deal breaker.  Also, this is a bit too long, with too many far too long  scenes that do wear out their welcome.  And some of this is a bit over the top.

But this does have some real nice moments.  Its old school musical format is fun to see.  The CG effects are incredible, and the sets, costuming and overall feel is certainly what they were going for.  Makeup is terrific, and music same.  And some of the techniques used here are simply breathtaking when the non human characters come to life. 

Perfect? No.  But highly enjoyable for you and your family.


The Belko Experiment

OK, this is a really, really good idea that they just fumble through, and that's too bad.  This story had the chance to be something original, but they went for simply violent instead.

This fictional American company called Belko, is taken over by some entity that delivers this ultimatum to the 6 employees inside.  They must kill 2/3 of the employees themselves in few hours, or  "they"  will kill them all by a means ...you don't want to know here.  It all is in the name of an "experiment."  Sad part is, after about 90 minutes of blood, guts and violence, you never really find out why, or who "they" are to any real satisfaction. 

That was the whole thing here. That fact alone, was the star of this movie. Too bad the makers didn't know that. They sell out to big violence and straight out killing instead of a decent story. 

Good and original idea, flushed away



Monday, March 13, 2017

Sleep The Snow Away

Today is National Napping Day, and being honest I just woke up from one Felt great!

Naps are a funny thing. Is there anything we have such a different opinion on in different stages of  life than naps.  As a kid you fight tooth and nail NOT to take a nap. You cry, moan, throw a fit and simply are afraid to miss out on anything.  For me, being the youngest, I always played the "not fair" card as my brother and sister had outgrown the peaceful practice of the nap. 

But as adults, we can't wait to take a nap.  Oh my gosh, laying down on the couch with something bad on TV, and just dozing off for a while in the middle of the day - heaven.  If you can, you do. If you can't,  you wish you could. That's just the reality of the nap.

Snow days are the only thing I think that compare with naps in our change of perception.  As a kid, the idea of not going to school on short notice was simply amazing.  Remember just sitting there wondering if we would get enough snow not to go?  Waiting to see your school on TV, or hear it on the radio. It was the best feeling on earth!  NO School!!  It was like a gift.  An Amazon box that was for you, that you didn't know was on the way!

As a responsible adult?  Is there anything more disheartening?  Driving in it, shopping in it, shoveling, or snow blowing it.  The morons in their first 4 wheel drive who think they can drive 80. The cancelled flights, the delayed flights, the slipping, sliding, and falling.  Walking the dog..the list goes on.  It really is a stunning metamorphosis.  From giddy, to grumpy with snow.

Look, on some nice weekend night, when you are at home and there's no reason to go out, and strong blast of snow can be nice. Looks good, and you are inside safe and warm.  But when it's during the week, like this week?

I think I'll take a nap. Wake me up when it's time to get up and drive in for the show -  in the snow.

See you in the morning. 


MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters This Week

A nice array of movies in the houses this week, let's take a quick look.


Kong Skull Island

Here comes King Kong yet again, rebooted and good to go with an all star cast to back him up.  This stars John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larsen, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Rielly and many more in this story of discovering Kong deep in the South Pacific on Skull Island.

Kong looks to be in good shape, and that's saying something after 84 years have passed since his big screen debut.  This is simply escapism.  Kong is discovered, and he still basically wants to be left alone, except man, keeps butting in.  Kong is still a sympathetic character with emotions, as well as strength, and boy does he have strength.   Kong is bigger and better than ever. The CG is terrific here, and there is planty of action, and yes, there is plenty of Kong.

This is available to you in various formats, including IMAX, and 3D.  I saw it in 3D,  and being honest I'm not sure it added to the experience. But you can be the judge for yourself.

Kong, clearly he's been working out and has accepted his role again as one of cinemas most enduring characters.  Kong Skull Island, simply fun.


The Shack 

This was a gigantic book, and now it's movie, and a spiritual one at that.  Perfect and I mean perfect example of a movie critics will hate and patrons will love.  Are there better movies? Absolutely!  But this is getting a bad national rap.

This is the story of Mac, who suffers unimaginable loss in life, and he loses his way with himself, his wife, and family.  He then decides to go on a solo journey back to the scene that is the source of all of his pain, a place called, The Shack.  While there, he has a weekend long encounter with God, and Jesus - themselves in person.    Their goal is to heal Mac, and mend his life and family.

Flat out, this will be far too spiritual for some.  This does get off to a slow start, and makes a few silly flubs, but it does gather itself.  This is far too long at 2:15.  But it does offer a Mac's look inside of his own belief system, and will bring comfort to some who may struggle in every day life.  It is a bit too much like a sermon at times, but is not a deal deal breaker.

The Shack.  Great? No.  But not the tanker national critics want you to think.


Before I Fall 

This is a pretty interesting movie that dares to ask questions about not only what happens to you when you die, but what can happen before you die that matters.

This is the story of four high school girls who seem to live typical modern teen lives. Samantha, (Zoey Deutch) is our main character, and she lives through a typical day, that does not end typically.  As a result, she starts to re-live that same day over and over again, ala Groundhog Day.  But this is not a comedy, this is teen drama.

What this is, is a young girl given the chance time and time again to grow up before it's too late.  It's about coming of age, and doing the right thing that is in your heart, and not succumbing to the pressures of being a teen.  This, is overall interesting enough to hold your attention, but this does have the view that these teens aren't as average as the writer would like you to believe. I would have preferred to see teens not from such affluence showcased here.

Deutch was terrific, supporting cast decent, overall an interesting flick that teens and tweens will love as it may look like them.  For the rest of us, especially parents could be a great learning tool.


Moonlight

After its big Oscar win for Best Picture, Moonlight has gone wide release to about 1,500 screens this week.  This movie is a very powerful flick that is daring to take us to places seldom gone to at the movies.

This is the story of a young African American boy from his childhood, to his adulthood beginning in the worst part of the inner city.  This movie chronicles the amazingly complicated and difficult life in the projects, and the fight, or not, to break away from it.  And here, they also wrote in some ancillary life situations that add to the struggle.  This is written bravely and skillfully with a totally original story that none of us has ever seen told this way before.

Great performances, a great script, and filmed wonderfully, Moonlight is a true original. This is certainly a trip to the movies you have not taken before.  Well, well done.





Sunday, March 12, 2017

Give Them A Trophy~!

As this is being written, many will say this is a silly idea.  But if you really think about this honestly, it starts to make sense.

As a movie buff all my life I will stand behind this statement, that the time has come to finally give King Kong and GodzillaHONORARY Oscars.  Not acting Oscars clearly but for lifetime achievements.  The continued success of both of these characters is nothing short of amazing and unmatched.  Kong did it again this week, raking in another 100 million or so.   And to those of the "elite set"  in Hollywood that would think this to be below them, or undignified, I say the following.  Get over yourself.  Here's the case for each.

They have been making Kong movies for 84 years!   Godzilla for 63, for aombined for 147 years!  Think about that.  Godzilla has appeared in more movies that any other character in movie history. Kong brings throngs to theaters, and will keep doing so when he and Godzilla team up in the same movie in 2020.  Look, I know that they are characters, but the Oscars would be an amazing tribute to the countless people over many decades and generations who brought those characters to life. From clay-mation, to the guy in the suit, to the incredible CG of today.  

Kong and Godzilla have been enough of an inspiration to thousands, within Hollywood to be all they can be.  From directors, to producers, to the special effects guys, to the long list of popular actors over the years who line up to star alongside them, to the studios who put up the money bring them back to life.

Both too are wonderful characters. Kong of course, is the lonely, sympathetic giant that only wants to be left alone, protect what is his, as he is the last of his kind.  Virtually every successful "monster movie" and many other tragic movies, have drawn inspiration from the original King Kong from 1933.  Kong died for what he thought was important as he was a victim of man's greed.  You felt amazingly sorry for him.

Godzilla was created from man's testing of Nuclear Weaponry in post war WWII.  He was the first of his kind and now wants to keep the balance that the world seems to need.  The original Godzilla was absolutely an anti-nuclear weapon movie as it was made just a few years after Hiroshima, and takes place in Japan.  He is a victim again, of man's encroachment on his environment.  Also Godzilla's iconic roar, is considered to be the most famous sound effect in movie history.

Somehow these two characters have endured a century and half of movie making. From the originals, to the silly ones with the guys in the suits, to the incredible CG of today. Kong and Godzilla still captivate new generations of movie goers well into this century.

And to the "elites" that may claim this undignified?  Each individually have made more movies than them over a far longer period of time. They look better now than 50 years ago, (can they say the same?).  They have been seen by FAR more patrons, and have made infinitely more money than them.  And being more than honest, are probably far more loved, and have portrayed characters as, or more substantive than them.

Would be a cool thing to do. The time has come.   I think that 147 years of successful movie making is long enough to wait.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fowlerville

I love learning new things. I feel life is a quest, and we are all on it.  And when you stop being willing to learn new things, the quest is over.  If you know it all, or all you need to know, that's sad to me.

As I see news story's, especially local news items, I like you, wonder what were these people thinking?  Understanding that life is not a "one size fits all proposition" still some decisions I see do confound me.  Today, that reminded me of a lesson I learned years ago that was from as unlikely a source as I could have ever, ever imagined.  But it stays with me today 20 some years later.

When I lived in Florida, I played a lot of golf with my great friend Ray at a place called the Bartow Golf Course, in the town of Bartow.  Ray was the superintendent of the course.  One day, we played golf with a local legend of that place, a long lanky guy named, Fowler.  I can't even remember his first name, just Fowler.  I'm sure he had one, I just never heard anyone call him that.  Ray and I were good players, Fowler was a really good player.  He would hit the ball so long and so straight, where his drives ended up in the fairway became known as "Fowlerville" as no one else could hit it nearly that far.  As the round went on he noticed something about my game and shared this. 

"Scott, you would score a lot better if you made some different decisions on the course.  You hit, and putt the ball fine, but you manage the course wrong sometimes."  Fowler then went on to advise me this.  "The next time you are thinking about a really hard shot, say it out loud and see how it sounds.  Saying out loud makes it real and you may make a different choice."  So I tried it.  "OK, I have to hit it 250 yards, straight, over the water, uphill, left of the Oak, over the sand trap, onto the raised green."  

For heavens sake, my chances of doing that are almost none.  But what I can do, is make two shorter easier shots, and maybe putt for birdie.  Sage advice.  All the while, not losing sight of the fact that some risks are worth taking, but they would be the exception, and not the general way of doing things.

My game got better, and still is, as I still do this on the course.  But over time I began to realize this was easily transferable to every day life.  So when I have a big decision to make or even a moderate one, I say it out loud to see how it sounds.  It makes it real.  And if it sounds ridiculous, then it more than likely is and I move on to a more reasonable option.  To be honest, it has made my life better, less stressful, and with better decisions made overall. 

Just thought I'd share, and maybe, just maybe this will help someone you know manage the course better when needed.  And who doesn't need that sometimes. Who knew such wisdom would come to me, on a simple cart ride to a place called, of all things, Fowlerville.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Half Court Healing

Over the past couple of years I've been watching a situation in my neighborhood, simply from a drive by perspective.  And it quite frankly, has been fascinating to watch it unfurl.

It starts out sad.  A couple years ago, an elderly couple that lived about a mile from my house, that I never knew, had a early morning terrible house fire one winter day.  They did not make it out.  The house, that was a nice one, in a desirable area then stood there for a while empty.  It was one of those situations where the house looked abandoned, but you really couldn't tell casually from a drive by, that it was more than likely completely destroyed inside.

Time went by and I always wondered what really happened there, and what was going to happen there.  There was not a time I drove by, I didn't think about these people I didn't know.  Over the months there was little change.  Then one day, I noticed the home was being torn down totally.  Again, this didn't seem surprising  -  on my levels.  Then I noticed the basement had been filled in, and grass had been planted.  That to me was surprising.  A nice piece of land in a nice area, between two other nice houses sitting empty.  The land, quite valuable.

Then, the biggest surprise of all.  The other day,  I noticed right in the middle of this really big empty house lot, was a new basketball hoop, with a mold being prepared for a level concrete half court to be poured.  I was almost stunned, and I smiled.  Full disclosure, I didn't know these people, their family, or anything about this whole thing other than what I just told you.

But I know this. It is incredibly refreshing to see that someone is clearly honoring someone's wishes, or giving a loved one a lasting legacy.  I don't know if this is the family, or the city, or one of their neighbors.  But it's wonderful to see that someone is gentle enough to deem this a worthy idea.

This has taught me that hallowed ground is not strictly limited to the deserved National Monuments that we all know and respect.  But it can be more than powerful, when it's placed in the care and memory of neighborly perished souls who met and end that none of us can imagine.

This moved me.  Well done.

Friday, March 3, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - New In Theaters Now

This is traditionally the time they toss all the movies in theaters that, well have no place else to go Let's see if that's the case this week.

Logan

This is a good example of a series that from a movie standpoint is starting to wear thin.  And it appears the end is near, and that's all I will say.  Even Patrick Stewart is saying he is done.

I have to admit, expectations from me were low, as I have become fatigued on this whole Wolverine thing. But, I was reminded by Hugh Jackman that he is a fine actor, and has done a lot with this character over the past number of years.  This may be a bit too long at 2 hours 15, but I was captured and entertained.  And that's what these movies do, and  for the most part do well.

Jackman and a solid script and a slick adaptation make this a late winter winner.

 

Get Out

What a surprise hit!  And this is totally worth a ticket or two.  This is as original of a script as we have seen in a long time.  A thriller with serious racial overtones that was handled beautifully.

This is the story of a interracial couple who go home to meet mom and dad.  The woman is white and her boyfriend is black.  The parents clearly are messed up, but we don' exactly know how, but boy do we find out.  This is a compelling story, that moves along fast, and handles a touchy topic exceedingly well.

This doesn't wear out its welcome either.  It says what it needs to and moves on. Get Out is strong, original and flat out good.


Fist Fight

This Ice Cube, Charlie Day "comedy" is new this week. Um, where to begin on this one.  This story is set in a modern day high school and the place is a zoo.  And two teachers (Cube and Day) cross paths on the last day of school, and that leads to the two the THEM having a fist fight.

This is a really harsh, vile, foul language filled, drug glorifying "lampoon" of sort, on today's high school experience.  This is also one of those comedy's that is essentially improvisational, where the actors really have no script and just try to be funny for 90 minutes.  Truth is, this is not funny for even nine of it.

This could also be the most irritating movie of this year or any year.  Would someone please shut Charlie Day up and ask him to quit screaming all movie in that shrill, high voice of his?  And while your at it, ask the rest of the cast to do the same.  This just does not work and it sends a brutal example that is supposed to be parody, but ends of being a celebration of the dysfunction of many schools.

Fist Fight. Not good, not funny, not needed.