Past Movie Review: Flight


In all my years as an avid movie-goer, I dont think I have ever seen a movie with better airplane special effects than the movie “Flight”, starring Denzel Washington, released in 2012. This movie, and specifically this one scene when the pilot Whip Whitaker, played by Washington – is not for those who fear flying. After a major part failure on the plane, Whitaker had to make the airplane turn completely over on its back, to prevent a straight into the ground crash. This scene was amazing with both the special effects, and Washington’s expert-calm-acting where he prevented the crash, but not without 6 people dying out of the 106 onboard.

The real story of Flight is about alcoholism and drug abuse. It turns out that Whitaker is a very serious drug addict, who is very good at hiding his problem, for many years. Despite his brilliant flying to prevent a horrendous tragedy, the toxicology report showed that he had cocaine and a very high alcohol level in his system after the accident. After the accident this story is all about a massive coverup to kill the toxicology report and save Whitaker from a very long prison term that may even include life in prison. The point here is, it doesn’t matter that the pilot saved 100 lives, all that matters is that he was operating an Airline Jet while drunk. This movie might have been based on recent true stories about pilots who were flying under the influence that came out within a few years of the release of this film.

Flight is one of Denzel Washington’s best movie roles and performances, along with Don Cheadle who is Whitaker’s lawyer who will do anything to keep him out of prison, John Goodman who almost steals the movie as Whitaker’s drug hookup and Bruce Greenwood as Whitaker’s friend. All of the performances were outstanding in this very memorable film. The direction of Robert Zemeckis was also great.

There are many messages in this story, but for me the most important one is, when you are addict you never think you are addicted and you will continue to use, even if it might mean that as a result of your drinking and drug abuse you might kill many people even if you are an airline pilot.

Once again, the critics back in 2012 were wrong, this is not a 77% movie, its more in the 90% range and I highly recommend it.

Netflix Movie Review: Thunder Force


I have always wondered when a bad movie is released, how the people who spent 1-2 years writing and creating the production feel, when it gets very low ratings. One of the best examples of this is the movie “Gotti” released in 2018, which received a 0 total rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After all of of those years of hard work, writing and acting, and in the end, a bad movie is still made. Very often the people involved are not even aware that the movie is bad when they are making it. Critics are extremely cruel and Gotti was not a zero, but it was also not a very good movie. Gotti should have either not been made, or delayed until a good script was re-written. Very often due to budget concerns, or a deadline that just had to be met, becomes just another reason why a bad movie is made.

Melissa McCarthy is married to actor Ben Falcone, who both wrote and directed the new film “Thunder Force”, about high school friends who later become super heroes to fight off human mutants known as miscreants who were infected with cosmic radiation that affects each of them with dangerous super powers.

The idea behind this film, is an attempt by the screenwriter to cash in on the huge interest in Marvel Comics and Super Hero movies. In this case, Thunder Force is mostly a comedy, but unfortunately most of the comedy does not work. There was a good amount of money spent for special effects, with one of the highlights – “Melissa McCarthy who plays Lydia Berman throws a bus down a street”. One of the miscreants, a character called “The Crab”, played by Jason Bateman has lobster claws for hands. My assumption is that was idea was created entirely because they thought that having lobster claws for hands “looked funny”. It did not look funny.

Lydia Berman’s friend Emily Stanton is played by Octavia Spencer who is also best friends with Melissa McCarthy in real life, otherwise it is hard to understand why Spencer, who has won an Academy Award, decided to make this movie after reading the script. This production is a friendship collaboration that started with Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy coming up with this idea, writing the script and then hiring their two best friends to make the movie. I was surprised how few of the jokes were not funny in this story, visual or otherwise. Movie making is a long and arduous process and so many ideas that seemed so good at the beginning, fail either while trying to fix the script or on the cutting room floor. Melissa McCarthy is extremely likeable and funny, so hopefully this bad film will not do any damage to her career as a comedic actress.

I mostly agree with the very low 4.2 rating in IMDB and 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This one is a surprisingly big miss, unfortunately for everyone involved.

Movie Review: Godzilla vs Kong


For all movies like “Godzilla vs Kong”, with great special effects and a preposterous story, we all forego logic and common sense, in order to be entertained by great action scenes. Unfortunately for most movies special effects movies, almost without exception, there is no great and enjoyable underlying story. All that matters is the computer animation and special effects. Everybody respects the software developers who create great action scenes and in the case of the new movie “Godzilla vs Kong” fight scenes between Godzilla and King Kong are spectacular. However like always, there is no real story that makes much sense.

This time around we are told that there is a part of the planet earth that is called “hollow earth” where huge creatures like King Kong and Godzilla have come from. In most of the previous movies, the explanation had something to do with a nuclear accident that revived prehistoric creatures from millions of years ago. I would have preferred this idea instead of a bubble in the middle of the planet earth as would most fans of the Godzilla and King Kong movies. Both ideas are ridiculous, but less ridiculous is animals from millions of years ago being revived by nuclear power.

Returning to this new Godzilla movie are the 2 of the actors from the bad “Godzilla: King of the Monsters“, released in 2019 including Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler. New actors include: Rebecca Hall, Eiza Gonzalez and Brian Tyree Henry. There are at least 2 sub stories in this film, that seem to be mostly disconnected, all culminating in huge fight between Godzilla, King Kong and a giant robot Godzilla created by some evil company. Like so many movies like this, it seemed at time that whatever the screenplay might be about, the important thing was to create the special effects first, and then write a story around it.

The Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 80% is not correct, this movie is mostly in the 60% range, mostly because of the bad story. See this movie for the special effects and do not expect much more than that. I do not recommend Godzilla vs Kong.

Movie Review: Nobody


The start of the new movie “Nobody” shows a collage of the main character Hutch Mansell, played by Bob Odenkirk – getting up in the morning, drinking coffee, forgetting to put out the garbage, running after the garbage truck, sitting in a boring and depressing office inside of a rundown factory while living a typical, mundane and at times an infuriating life of a middle aged man in the United States. We all often wonder where all the time goes, with so many of us in the world, because of the money, living the same typical days hundreds and thousands of times over. This collage showed better than any other movie that I have seen, the reality of life and making a living for so many millions of us.

As this story continues Hutch Mansell’s family are robbed at gunpoint in their home and despite Mansell’s previous special ops training, he does not take any action against the two armed robbers, who we later learn are husband and wife – poor and desperate trying to raise an infant child.

Over time, Mansell’s regret over doing nothing (despite the fact that given this robbery his lack of action was the best choice) – starts to eat at him, and his boring meaningless job make his anger grow to a fever pitch. Eventually Hutch takes action and he becomes a vigilante starting with some amazingly well filmed violence on a bus against 5 other guys. Odenkirk certainly does not have the size or physique to be an action star, but throughout this entire movie, he pulls off some very well done fight scenes.

One of the best messages of the film is the great way it shows the slow burn that all of us have inside of us, until we eventually break, until we cannot take it anymore – a great line from “Network”, 1976. In some cases some of us arrive at an irrational point that can be at times, even out of proportion to the outrage we have experienced. The expression, “going postal” also comes to mind in many extreme cases have all heard about in the news.

The acting in this movie is all outstanding, starting with Odenkirk, Connie Neilson, who plays Mansell’s wife, Aleksey Serebryakov who almost steals this movie as an insane Russian mobster and 82 year old Christopher Lloyd who is great as Mansell’s father who lives in a nursing home, but never forgot his hand to hand combat skills.

I agree with the high ratings of 80% for Nobody on Rotten Tomatoes, my rating is closer to 85% – and I highly recommend this movie.

Movie Review: The Courier


The years prior to the Cuban Missile crisis that happened in 1962, were some of the highest tension and most dangerous times between the United States and the Soviet Union. The world was as close to extinction because of an impending nuclear war than it ever has been before or since, culimating in a Mexican Standoff between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. During this time there were spy’s who were desperately trying to prevent nuclear war by stealing information from Russia. One of the most important spies was Greville Wynne who worked for MI6 and Oleg Penkovsky who was a Russian citizen who gave information to Wynne for years. These two collaborated for several years eventually becoming close friends – and this turned out to be one of the best aspects of this true story.

One can only but admire the incredible courage of Wynne and Penkovsky in the new movie “The Courier”  who not only risked their own lives but the lives of their wives and children during years of espionage. The upside of spying on Russia during the most high stress periods between Russian and the United States was the possibility of saving the world. The downside was lifelong imprisonment or death. Brave people like Wynne and Penkovsky sometimes stuck out their necks for too long and paid a huge price.

Wynne was played extremely well by Benedict Cumberbatch, in another great role that rivals his performance The Imitation Game, released in early 2015.  Most impressive with this role is his extreme weight loss that was required to show his years in a Russian prison.  His weight loss in this film rivals Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, or the all time champion Christian Bale who lost a life threatening amount of weight 3 times in “The Fighter”, 2010, “The Machinist”, 2004, and “Rescue Dawn”, 2006.  For those who think they could be a great actor, how many would ever even consider losing a large percentage of their body weight over months, just to make a movie. This practice is very dangerous to anyone’s health and considering the huge advancements in film technology, hopefully one day this practice will eventually fade away – along with smoking in movies.  Unfortunately this movie also has way too much smoking, but considering the years involved, 1960-1962 smoking makes more sense this time around.  The acting in this film is outstanding, including Rachel Brosnahan who plays one of the high level MI6 operatives.

I mostly agree with the high 84% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and I do recommend The Courier.

Oscar Nominations 2020


BEST PICTURE

“The Father”
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7″

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
Olivia Colman, “The Father”
Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”
Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

“Another Round” – Denmark
“Better Days” – Hong Kong
“Collective” – Romania
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” – Tunisia
Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“Colette”
“A Concerto Is a Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“Hunger Ward”
“A Love Song For Latasha”

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Collective”
“Crip Camp”
“The Mole Agent”
“My Octopus Teacher”
“Time”

ORIGINAL SONG

“Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
“Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
“lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
“Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“Onward”
“Over the Moon”
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
“Soul”
“Wolfwalkers”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Borat Subsequent MovieFilm”
“The Father”
“Nomadland”
“One Night in Miami”
“The White Tiger”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Judas and the Black Messiah”
“Minari”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
Gary Oldman, “Mank”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
Francis McDormand, “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

DIRECTOR

Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”
David Fincher, “Mank”
Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“The Father”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Tenet”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Sean Bobbitt, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”
Dariusz Wolski, “News of the World”
Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”
Phedon Papamichael , “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

COSTUME DESIGN

“Emma”
“Ma Rainey’s Blackbottom”
“Mank”
“Mulan”
“Pinocchio”

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

“Greyhound”
“Mank”
“News of the World”
“Soul”
“Sound of Metal”

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Burrow”
“Genius Loci”
“If Anything Happens I Love You”
“Opera”
“Yes-People”

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Feeling Through”
“The Letter Room”
“The Present”
“Two Distant Strangers”
“White Eye”

ORIGINAL SCORE

“Da 5 Bloods”
“Mank”
“Minari”
“News of the World”
“Soul”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Love and Monsters”
“The Midnight Sky”
“Mulan”
“The One and Only Ivan”
“Tenet”

FILM EDITING

“The Father”
“Nomadland”
“Promising Young Woman”
“Sound of Metal”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Emma”
“Hillbilly Elegy”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Mank”
“Pinocchio”

Movie Review: Boogie


There have been many films about young basketball players over the years, with main characters wondering if they can ever make it to the NBA, or even a college team. Nothing is easy for athletes in high school, there is only so much time in a day, to do homework, and attend class all day and then after school practice with the team. For the few who are very good, the pressure can be overwhelming. One bad game, one missed shot or one career ending injury. The odds are very long for Football and Basketball, maybe 1 in 10,000 great high school players will ever make it to the NBA or NFL.

The new movie “Boogie” is highly unusual because its about a very good Chinese Basketball player who has to overcome the rarity of any Asian making it to the NBA, or any major organized sport. During this film I was thinking about Jeremy Lin who had a miracle season with the New York Knicks some 10 years ago and even attended Harvard, creating an extremely rare sports sensation that may never be seen again. Lin lasted a few more years in the NBA, then went to the China and now is back in the G league trying to make it back to the NBA again. Everyone has to admire an athlete like Jeremy Lin who is doing his best with the highs and lows of being a professional athlete.

The problem with Boogie is that the story is not strong enough and there are not nearly enough impressive basketball scenes, making the movie mostly boring. There is some controversy over Alfred ‘Boogie’ Chin, played by Taylor Takahashi – possibly going to China for a $750,000 contract rather than taking a college scholarship that is somewhat interesting, as is his relationship with his girlfriend Eleanor played by Taylour Paige – but not nearly enough to save this film.

I agree with the low 47% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and do not recommend this movie.

Amazon Prime Movie Review: Coming 2 America


Available on Amazon Prime, the sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America”, “Coming 2 America” has been released. Unfortunately this story committed the #1 cardinal sin of any comedy movie – it is just plain not funny. Not only is this film surprisingly unfunny, considering the first movie and the cast, it is also too long and very boring in too many areas. One would have thought after almost 33 years since the first film was released, that a better story idea would have been created and a much better screenplay would have been written. This is nothing more than a bad movie, highly unfortunate considering the cast and the quality of the first movie.

The cast is mostly the same, with the addition of Leslie Jones who plays Mary Junson who had a son with Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy) 33 years earlier, during a drunken evening in Queens New York. Wesley Snipes plays the leader of another African nation that is threatening war with Prince Akeem’s country if one of his daughters or new son do not marry into this family. Other than these 2 new characters, there is nothing new here and definitely nothing funny, during the entire 2 hours. I actually remember feeling amazed at how boring and unfunny this movie was, with no surprises or new ideas during the entire run.

Amazon spared no expense with the sets and wardrobe with this lavish film, but unfortunately they raced through and commissioned a bad script, skipping over the obvious re-writes and creation of a better story that actually had some laughs or anything interesting. This movie was a slow moving nightmare to sit through and I was very happy when it was finally over. Odds are high that this sequel will ruin this franchise for good and I doubt there will be another sequel after this one.

I agree with all the very low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes – 47%. and IMDB 5.6 and do not recommend this mostly bad movie.

Our Lost Year


A year has past since the start of one of the worst events that has ever happened to the world. Towards the end of January 2020, we were all in a state of disbelief over what happened to Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and 7 other people in a horrendous Helicopter crash. Most thought, this is just about the worst thing that has ever happened. Recently after an intensive investigation, it was discovered that the Helicopter pilot was not qualified to fly in fog or at night – a tragic similarity to the death of JFK Jr in 1999 along with his wife and her sister.

In an unknown city in China called Wuhan, a virus started to mutate around this time, and it was at first reported as mostly a minor news story. Slowly the news of this new Corona virus grew until it reached the United States on February 29th when someone died near Seattle. Even after this, Corona virus was considered a minor news story, mainly because the world thought that the WHO (World Health Organization) would have everything under control. We all believed; our scientific breakthroughs would make the world far better prepared for something like this than 1918 when the last major World Pandemic occurred. Unfortunately, the WHO could do nothing to prevent this disease or stop its rapid spreading around the world.

Most shocking to the world was how fast this new virus spread, shutting down, country after country and causing mass unemployment in the United States, along with a stock market disaster even worse than 1929. The United States has been over the past year, the most inept in preventing the spread of this disease for many reasons, but mostly because there are just too many people who just do not want to follow the rules of social distancing and wearing a mask. The mistakes from those in charge have been many, including initially telling us a year ago that masks do not help, and then doubling back to say that yes, masks do help. This kind of mistake added to the mistrust of too many thousands who thought that those in charge just did not know what they were doing.

The hundreds of protests around this country starting last May led to too many people who were in huge crowds, rightfully angry about the horrendous incidents that started with George Floyd but forgetting that there was a virus killing thousands of people that had to be respected. They did not keep a safe distance and far too many did not wear a mask. Too many did not listen when they were told to stay out of crowds and not to travel during the passing Holidays. The news for a solid year has been all about overwhelming death, night after night. As depressing as it has been unbelievable. Like nothing the world has ever seen before. At its worst over 4000 people a day were dying in the United States. When 500,000 deaths were reached, we realized that this is more people than died in World War I, II and the Vietnam War combined. In recent weeks the numbers have improved, and we do have 3 vaccines, but we also have at least 3 new variants of this disease. Most recently the numbers have been leveling off, rather than going down further. We can now only hope that we have seen the worst of this, and because of the vaccines the end may be in sight.

So now what? Could something this shocking and horrendous ever happen again? Will the WHO improve to be an organization that does a far better job rooting out and preventing another world Pandemic? There is now no more important an organization in the world that the WHO, because we have lived through one year of non-stop misery. Every country in the world cannot afford anything close to this bad again, considering the extreme financial and human loss. The world now knows what can end humanity, so any amount of research and money to prevent another Pandemic is worth it.

One good thing did happen during this horrible year. Working from home is now the norm for most companies and should be in the future. This will end bad commutes for many millions of people around the world, reducing the world-wide carbon footprint of commuting. It will reduce stress and car accidents. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, enabling high speed videos to communicate, people can stay in their own homes and be more productive. Its too bad it took a Pandemic to make the world realize what it already should have known for a long time.

Netflix Movie Review: I Care A Lot


Number one on Netflix today is the new movie “I Care A Lot”. A highly unusual title for a film about a crime that is far too common in this country – criminals preying on older people to steal their money. Marla Grayson played by Rosamund Pike is a swindler who poses as a legal guardian along with her partner Fran played by Eiza González within an elaborate scheme that involves a corrupt nursing home and an incompetent judge who OK’s Marla’s legal guardianship of many older people. Most of these senior citizens are put in the corrupt nursing home, even though they are capable of taking care of themselves. Their cell phones are taken away and they are given drugs to keep them quiet while their life savings are being stolen from them.

Unfortunately for Marla, one older woman, Jennifer Peterson played by Diane Weist has a son – Roman Lunyov, played by Peter Dinklage who is a gangster in the Russian Mob. This is a satisfying story idea, because all of us love to see horrible people get what they deserve, especially those who have no decency or conscience while they steal millions from the retirement savings of older people. Many of us go to the movies because we love to see justice done, in a highly unjust real world.

One huge flaw I found in this movie is that when you use criminals like the Russian Mob in a screenplay, you have to be realistic. Murdering criminal members of the Russian Mob just kill people immediately by shooting them in the head or some other part of the body that guarantees death. Rather annoyingly, far too often in this film, the victim is not killed immediately which is not realistic, because it allows the person to stage a miraculous comeback. This might be good for an elaborate and longer lasting story twist or a James Bond movie, but this has nothing to do with real life. I thought the ending was very well done and highly ironic with a satisfying conclusion, especially for those who believe in Karma.

The acting in this movie is outstanding, especially with the 3 main characters played by Pike, Gonzalez and Dinklage. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is a very solid 81% and I agree with this rating and recommend this movie.