Movie Review: High Life

For the hundreds of people who years ago signed up for a trip to Mars, where they will never return to Earth, “High Life” is the recruiting film for all of you. After seeing this depressing, bleak, nightmare of a film that shows that any group of people in space for a long period of time will never survive without going insane, anyone would change their mind about wanting to go to Mars, or anywhere else in space. Something like this might sound exciting and scientific at first, but 2 years after making a decision this stupid and reality will set in big time.

While sitting through this horrific two hours of tedious depression, I wondered why two bankable actors at the level of Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche would ever take on this movie after reading a script that is all over the place with backwards story telling and very limited dialogue.

Within the first 10 minutes of this mess, everybody already knows that space travel for many years would be a nightmare for anyone, due to the tedium, boredom and lack of contact with any level of a normal environment. Given that obvious fact, why drag on the story for two hours?

The premise here is that the entire crew are prisoners who committed violent crimes and some of them were on death row. This part makes some sense because showing where they are living and dying on this run down spaceship would be a just punishment for a capital crime.

I found this movie very long, depressing and boring and I cannot believe it was even made in the first place. This is one art house type movie that is all just that bad.

Movie Review: Breakthrough

The new movie “Breakthrough” is one of those films that would never have a chance to be a good idea for a movie, unless it really happened. The story of a young 14 year old boy who fell through the ice near St. Louis Missouri in 2015 with his 2 friends and then survived after being dead for 45 minutes is nothing short of a miracle. This miracle is the reason this movie was made, with very religious undertones that in recent years appear in about 2 movies; all released around this time of year. As this type of religious movie goes, this was was one of the better I have seen since this new trend has started.

Breakthrough stars Chrissy Metz as Joyce Smith, the adopted mother of the boy who almost died. Metz has had a remarkable career resurgence in the last few years when she was hired for one of the starring roles in “This is Us”, arguably the best drama on television. Josh Lucas stars as the boy’s father and given Metz very obese status, the casting of Lucas did not seem to make much sense. Topher Grace plays the pastor of the local church and the conflicts between him and Joyce Smith were very well acted.

Most surprising was the fact that basketball player, Stephen Curry produced this movie, following Lebron James into movies and television production. I give a solid recommendation to Breakthrough for its acting and positive message.

Movie Review: Pet Sematary

The new movie “Pet Sematary” is a remake of the 1989 version and once again one of those “why was this average movie remade” mysteries? I thought this new version was very predictably disturbing and what I found annoying is, there were too many scenes where the characters would never do what they do in the story. This is about a family, where the father is a doctor and the family moves into a rundown barn-like house. Why would any doctor move into a dump like the one in this movie? In the road outside the house, there are huge tractor trailers that speed by. Any normal parents would never buy that house or at the very least, surround the house with a huge fence to protect their two children and pets. Once again, screenwriting is such a difficult art form because not only does the story have to be good, but it also has to make sense and people have to act logically or at least have half a brain.

The book “Pet Sematary” was written by the prolific author Steven King, and he wrote this book many years ago to be a scary story about the un-dead, but unfortunately this movie is much more disgusting and disturbing than scary and for that reason, I cannot recommend it.

This film stars Jason Clarke as the father, and John Lithgow as the neighbor and I was surprised to see Lithgow in this below average horror movie. Pet Sematary should be skipped by all in favor of seeing any other horror movie.

Movie Review: After

The Rotten Tomatoes review of the new movie “After” is only 13%. The critics are 100% dead wrong, completely missing the point of this film.

This story of After is about young love found in college and the screenwriter did an outstanding job of showing both the ecstasy and unbearable pain that can happen when you find love. The main character in this movie Tessa Young, played by Josephine Langford, who has a face so extraordinarily beautiful it would be tragic for her to do anything except for appearing in movies. Her presence in this film makes the pain during the emotional roller coaster of this story even more difficult to experience than it would be with any other young actress. The roller coaster includes the full gamut of emotions of jealousy, anger, avoidance, fear, love, hate and even friends who try and sabotage the relationship. Much of this was very difficult to watch.

The young man in this story Hardin Scott, is played very well by newcomer Hero Fiennes Tiffin. Actress Selma Blair plays Tessa’s mother and it was impressive to see her in a movie despite her recent MS diagnosis. Jennifer Beals also has a small part in this movie as Hardin’s mother along with actor Peter Gallagher as his father.

It has been rare when I have seen movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes that are this far off, but critics will be critics and they are very often, very wrong. I give a strong recommendation to After and I believe this will be the break through role for Josephine Langford, who should definitely have a very long career as a movie actress.

Movie Review: Diane

The art of screenwriting has never been like writing a Novel. Screenwriting is a story told with pictures and subtext, as the saying goes, “show don’t tell”. The new movie “Diane” portrays the art of showing as well as any movie that I have seen in a long time because the main character Diane, played very well by Mary Kay Place spends the entire film driving through the very lower class streets and horrible run down houses of her lower middle class life. She visits friends. a cousin who is dying of cancer, her son who is a drug addict disaster and still manages to find time to help feed the homeless. We have all seen houses in Diane’s neighborhood in our own life, run down, barely standing, the roads and highways always depressing and in disrepair. A harsh reality in this country for way to many millions of us, is the cost of everything has far exceeded the income Americans make for decades.

This movie is not for anyone who is looking for a lift, it is depressing and very real showing a stark reality about the worst part of a lonely existence that many of us face somewhere in life as we get older and relatives and friends slowly leave us. Nothing about this was easy to watch, despite the occasional attempts at humor, including Diane’s son who finds God with a religious sect after he reaches rock bottom with drug abuse.

The Rotten Tomatoes review for this movie is a very high 93% and I agree with this rating, despite the depressing story, mainly because of the acting of Mary Kay Place. Place is normally in lighter comedy movies and this is the first serious drama I have seen her in for a long time. She should receive an Academy Award nomination for Diane, despite the early 2019 release. I highly recommend Diane for its powerful portrayal of real life.

Movie Review: The Best of Enemies

All screenwriters learn early on that one of the best ideas for a good story is that when a main character transitions into something much better by the end of the screenplay. The new movie “The Best of Enemies” has one of the best transitions of a character that I have seen in a movie in a very long time about the leader of the Klu Klux Klan in North Carolina in 1971 who slowly over the course of this story, becomes a human being again.

This is a true story of C.P. Ellis, played by Sam Rockwell and Ann Atwater played by the prolific Traji P. Henson, who has made many movies in the last few years. The story introduces a word that most people have probably never heard before, “Charrette”, which is a special type of meeting where an agreement can be made within a large group of people by breaking them up into smaller groups. The Charrette was called in this story due to a fire in an all black elementary school and several decisions had to be made to deal with all the students that no longer had a school to go to. Within this story it was not made 100% clear that it was the Klan that started this fire.

Over the course of this film, through arguments and revelations during the many meetings and random acts of kindness by Ann Atwater who helps Ellis down syndrome child in a local hospital, Ellis slowly starts to wake up from his coma of hatred and stupidity that was passed down to him for generations. What this movie does as well as Spike Lee’s recent BlacKkKlansman, is that it shows the disgusting hatred and stupidity of all the lowlife members of the local Klan group that try to terrorize the members of the Charrette into voting their way. All movies like this, with the constant use of the “N” word are always hard to watch for anyone on the outside looking into this world of sickness. One can try and fail to understand the trait in so many people where they make themselves feel better about their lot in life, by trashing the life and livelihood of someone else. There is nothing gained from any life dedicated to something like this, and nothing but downside will follow.

Like just about everybody, its hard to not be impressed by the recent and prolific acting of Traji P. Henson, who has been great in so many movies the last few years. Unfortunately the critics are giving this movie ratings of only 50%, much to my surprise, and this will probably prevent her from receiving another Academy Award nomination. My rating for this movie is a solid 80% and I recommend this very good movie about the realities of bigotry in this country.

Movie Review: Shazam!

I was impressed with this latest DC Comic superhero movie “Shazam!”. It was different than most I have seen, mainly with the story and how it progressed during the two hours. The movie was never boring or dragged at any point and all of the characters were relatable. The only problem I had was with the Shazam costume worn by Zachary Levi that had to be hard to work in for all the months they were shooting this film. The costume looked ridiculous. Shazam was a very pleasant surprise and full credit should be given to the screenwriter for this movie, Henry Gayden.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie is a very high 91% and I agree with this assessment and highly recommend this movie.

Movie Review: The Mustang

In the American wild there still remain about 100,00 wild horses and at the beginning of the new film “The Mustang” we learn that one way this country deals with these wild horse is to give them to prisons around the country for training and eventual auction.

The Mustang is about several men in jail for committing a violent crime that came from short term rage that resulted in a long term prison term. There are many of us who have thought of violence as retribution for an extreme wrong that has been done to them, but it is the fear of prison that keeps most of us from acting on our most violent instincts.

This story is simple and centers on one prisoner who is in jail for a violent crime, and only due to what is called an “Inmate Wild Mustang program” is able to find both a purpose and some level of peace while coming to terms with what he did. The connection with the one horse assigned to the prisoner Roman, played very well by Matthias Schoenaerts, is long and arduous and at first his anger over why he is in prison is taken out on the horse because of his frustration on not being able to connect with the Mustang. Over time the connection between Roman and the horse is extremely moving and the best part of this film.

It was surprising to see actor Bruce Dern in this movie, considering he is almost 83 years old and still a very good actor. His performance in this movie could be worthy of Oscar consideration, even though this movie has come out early in the year.

The Rotten Tomatoes review for The Mustang are an extremely high 95% and I am giving this film a very solid 85% and I do recommend it for its overall quality and solid acting.

Movie Review: Hotel Mumbai

In terms of any film that has ever told a true story of a horrific terrorist attack, I have never seen a more intense, disturbing or hard to watch example than this one. The terrorist attacks that happened in Mumbai from November 26-29, 2008 claimed 166 lives not including 9 of the 10 terrorists. This horrific event involved ten terrorists who broke into 12 different buildings including the famous “Hotel Mumbai” and indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children as they ran for their lives.

Some critics have correctly written that this movie goes too far in showing this horrific terrorist attack, the point being – why depict the sick evil acts that animals like this perpetrated on so many innocent people at this level of evil inhumanity? I agree with this opinion and my thinking is that for this movie, the overwhelming scenes of so much death and the way people were killed went too far.

Hotel Mumbai stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs and Nazanin Boniadi and the acting throughout this story was real and well done. This movie is not not for the faint of heart or any children. The fear with all movies like this is that some sick person in the world might see it and be inspired by the extreme terrorism and non stop murder.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this film are 74% and I give it only 60% because it was just not necessary to make a film about a real terrorist attack that this was overwhelmingly violent and disturbing. I would recommend anyone read about this terrorist attack that happened in 2008 instead of seeing this movie.

Movie Review: Us

For the movie “Get Out”, released in 2017, Jordan Peele won the Oscar for best original screenplay. His new movie Us, is very similar in design to Get Out in that he combines horror, strange, crazy and weird into what could be argued a completely new genre of film. Like Get Out the ratings for Us are extremely high, but for me, crazy, strange and weird is not scary. Crazy and strange is just strange, not terrifying. It is no surprise that Peele, who is being called the new Alfred Hitchcock, has made a second horror movie right after Get Out and you have to admire the effort to think of another strange idea like Us.

The story of Us, starts in 1986 around the time of the “Hands Across America” event of all things, where a young girl sees her exact counterpart in a haunted house on the beach. After many years she returns to this exact same beach with her husband, daughter and son, and the existence of these counterparts explodes into something that resembles a zombie movie. Us has only one known actor, Lupita Nyong’o and her acting in this movie holds your attention throughout.

I only recommend Us for those who enjoy a strange horror zombie movies and for the rest of us, this one should be skipped.