Movie Review: Call of the Wild


For the new movie “Call of the Wild” starring Harrison Ford and a CGI dog, the first hurdle is to make sure that the CGI of the dog and especially the facial expressions of the dog are as perfect as possible. For the most part the technology for the dog and the special effects works, but there were several times when the CGI did look fake, especially with some of the dog’s facial expressions. I was surprised to realize that Harrison Ford is only in the last half of this movie, with the first half involving a dog (named Buck) and his life pulling a sled along a mail route in Alaska.

I thought the story was simple but effective like most Disney movies that are about animals. My guess is that the low Rotten Tomatoes ratings of only 64% are mostly because of the story, and the belief that most viewers are going to expect something stronger. The special effects are very well done, with the several dogs in the story as well as a very large brown bear. This is also a very good movie for dog lovers, showing the intelligence and loyalty of mans best friend.

My rating for this movie is a about 72%, a bit higher than the Rotten Tomatoes consensus and I do recommend For the new movie “Call of the Wild” starring Harrison Ford and a CGI dog, the first hurdle is to make sure that the CGI of the dog and especially the facial expressions of the dog are as perfect as possible. For the most part the technology for the dog and the special effects works, but there were several times when the CGI did look fake, especially with some of the dog’s facial expressions. I was surprised to realize that Harrison Ford is only in the last half of this movie, with the first half involving the dog (named Buck) and his life pulling a sled along a mail route in Alaska.

I thought the story was simple but effective like most Disney movies that are about animals. My guess is that the low Rotten Tomatoes ratings of only 64% are mostly because of the story, and the belief that most viewers are going to expect something stronger. The special effects are very well done, with the several dogs in the story as well as a very large brown bear. This is also a very good movie for dog lovers, showing the intelligence and loyalty of mans best friend.

My rating for this movie is a about 72%, a bit higher than the Rotten Tomatoes consensus and I do recommend Call of the Wild as a good but not great, family movie.

as a good but not great, family movie.

Movie Review: Brahms: The Boy II


There are many reasons why very bad movies are made and released to the world. In my opinion, it is never enough to just have a bad script that someone thinks should be made into a movie. Its also when a named actor, in this case Katie Holmes reads an extremely bad script and for some reason, decides to take the role.

Why or how could anyone, read something as bad as “Brahms: The Boy II” and then decide to take the part? When the TV show Dawson’s Creek ended its run in 2003, most people probably thought that the break out star would be Katie Holmes, but instead Michelle Williams has been by far the most successful in the entire cast. The reason for this is, she never took any role for money, only for quality. She took many low paying Independent film roles that were all about the quality of the part and in the last 17 years these decisions have paid off with a very large number of acting nominations and wins. Unfortunately, none of the other cast members of Dawson’s Creek have been nearly as successful as Michelle Williams and this is all a result of bad decision making.

Brahms: The Boy II is the sequel to a movie I did not see, “The Boy”, released in 2016 and both of these movies are about a doll that is alive and has evil powers. Why have so many movies about evil dolls that come alive been made? I for one, have no idea. There are many reasons why this film is so bad, but the most important reason is, at no point did anything scary happen. There was nothing about this story that only at times seemed like it was a horror movie. This entire idea, where a woman’s son finds a doll in the woods and brings it home is contrived and makes little sense. This film is bad across the board and one of the worst horror movies ever made.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a shocking but accurate 0%. Hopefully Katie Holmes career can survive this movie, but over time, too many bad acting parts will destroy any career. Run from this extremely bad movie.

Movie Review: The Assistant


The movie “The Assistant” is very unusual because of its extreme simplicity, at times known as a “minimalist approach” to story telling.

This entire film plays more like a documentary is nothing more than showing a long series of tasks during a workday, that demonstrate the harsh reality of a young movie production assistant named Jane played by very well by Julia Garner. Jane’s life is getting up very early in the morning and then handling every task in her office, from the complex, to the trivial and even the extremely menial. Jane is the only woman in her office area that is shared by two other men. Her job is at times hard to watch, and this includes rampant disrespect from her co-workers, back stabbing and constant stress and paranoia due to the possible hire of another younger and very attractive assistant. Even when she complains about this other new assistant and possible sexual harassment, her concerns are arbitrarily dismissed.

There is nothing easy for any of us of when we are young and trying to learn the high stress life of making money and working for and with other people – both good and bad. For all that Jane has to endure to make a living, the message always is; this is the price you pay for being young and trying to break into the movie business. The question is, how much disrespect and suffering is worth a certain amount of money or realizing any lifelong dream? This is the question all of us face when we work for other people and try to keep a roof over our heads.

The subtle real life acting in this film is outstanding, starting with Julia Garner and everyone else in this cast. I agree with the high marks from Rotten Tomatoes of 89% and highly recommend this great film that is about what almost all of us can relate to, when we hold a job.

 

Movie Review: The Photograph


The new movie “The Photograph” is about life’s many trade-offs. Do I take that risky job that may not work out, to realize my life long dream or take the safer route and be happy in my personal life but miserable in my professional life. If I get married now, what will this mean to my professional future and perhaps being able to retire young, much later in life or maybe never. All of us face these questions, challenges and decisions about what direction we are going, every day. Life is not an Excel spreadsheet where we can do “what-if” analysis and instantly know if that decision is ultimately the correct one. Life is a crap shoot for most of us and we all hope that the decisions we make will ultimately make us happy in the long term.

The Photograph is one of the few movies I have seen that is entirely about the consequences of life decisions within 2 stories about a woman who meets a man she eventually dates in the present day. Versus her mother 30 years earlier who falls in love but decides to make entirely different life choices based on her dream of being a Photographer in New York. This very well written story teaches us that at a minimum we can learn from the life decisions of our parents or other people to help us decide what is the right choice to make in our own lives..

The Photograph stars newcomers LaKeith Stanfield and Issa Rae who both do an outstanding job with this very well written screenplay. The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a solid 76% and I agree with this rating and recommend this film.

Movie Review: Downhill


What I disliked the most about the new film “Downhill” starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louise Dreyfus is the blatant trickery involved. In every trailer and talk show appearance, this movie marketed as a comedy, but it is a serious drama. Understanding that this is a serious drama, why did the producers market this film as a comedy? Why did the producers hire two very well known comedy actors to appear in this movie? My guess is that they knew this was a bad script and thought they could rescue this production by hiring and maybe even begging two famous comedy actors to star in this very bad movie. Ultimately, the marketing of this movie is nothing more than an example of false advertising.

This entire story, which is a remake of the Swedish film “Force Majeure”, released in 2014 has one of the strangest story ideas I have ever seen. While in a vacation at a ski resort a family consisting of a husband, wife and 2 boys, is sitting at an outdoor patio and is almost hit by an oncoming avalanche. This avalanche is triggered purposefully by the resort to prevent a major avalanche. The father, played by Will Ferrell, grabs his cell phone and runs away, leaving his wife and two boys behind. The rest of this story, is mostly about his family trying to adjust and understand why he ran away, rather than protect his family. Believe it or not, this is the entire idea behind this very strange film. The tragedy here is that this story could have been re-written to make it a real comedy, rather than a drama. As a comedy, considering the talents of both Dreyfus and Ferrell, perhaps this bad idea for a movie could have been saved, but instead the producers decided to trick the audience into believing that this is a comedy, to try and make this bad film profitable.

Will Ferrell has made many bad choices over the years with many of the movies he has been in, and this is a shame because he is one of the most natural comedic talents. With Ferrell, he can get a laugh with his eyes, or with just a subtle look or remark, but other than two or three movies over the years, he has yet to make a movie worthy of his talents. I hope this pattern of bad movie choices changes, because Ferrell can be extremely funny with the right script.

The reviews of this movie on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB are very low 41% and 4.3 respectively. I agree with both of these very low marks and recommend that this film is skipped by everyone.

Movie Review: Incitement


The movie “Incitement” is about the year leading up to the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, from the point of view of the assassin. This film has subtitles and seems to be half a documentary and half a movie, with not much of a real story. The problem with this film is that most if not all of the events that lead up to this assassination are too boring to hold anyone’s attention for very long. I was thinking of leaving this movie early many times during the two hours along with the constant checking of my watch.

As far as the very high ratings of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes I have no idea why the critics liked this movie that much. More in line are the average ratings on IMDB of only 7.3. My rating is about 60% and I do not recommend this movie, mainly because it is too long and too boring. The only thing I found interesting about this story, was that main character who assassinated Rabin in 1995, Yehuda Nahari, only spent 16 years in jail for murdering the Israeli Prime Minister – which makes absolutely no sense. The reason why his sentence was only 16 years was never explained.

Oscar Winners 2020


I disagree with Parasite being the best picture this year.  The Irishman, that did not win any of the 10 nominations was the best picture, followed by Marriage Story. 

Performance by an actor in a leading role nominees:

Antonio Banderas in PAIN AND GLORY

Leonardo DiCaprio in ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Adam Driver in MARRIAGE STORY

Joaquin Phoenix in JOKER – WINNER

Jonathan Pryce in THE TWO POPES

Performance by an actor in a supporting role nominees:

Tom Hanks in A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Anthony Hopkins in THE TWO POPES

Al Pacino in THE IRISHMAN

Joe Pesci in THE IRISHMAN

Brad Pitt in ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD – WINNER

Performance by an actress in a leading role nominees:

Cynthia Erivo in HARRIET

Scarlett Johansson in MARRIAGE STORY

Saoirse Ronan in LITTLE WOMEN

Charlize Theron in BOMBSHELL

Renée Zellweger in JUDY – WINNER

Performance by an actress in a supporting role nominees:

Kathy Bates in RICHARD JEWELL

Laura Dern in MARRIAGE STORY – WINNER

Scarlett Johansson in JOJO RABBIT

Florence Pugh in LITTLE WOMEN

Margot Robbie in BOMBSHELL

Best motion picture of the year nominees:

FORD V FERRARI

THE IRISHMAN

JOJO RABBIT

JOKER

LITTLE WOMEN

MARRIAGE STORY

1917

ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

PARASITE – WINNER

Movie Review: Birds of Prey


The new movie “Birds of Prey” is unusual for several basic reasons. First of all the title of this movie – “Bird of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn), has to be the longest title in movie history . Secondly, this film is a sub-sequel to the very bad movie “Suicide Squad”, released in 2016 starring Will Smith and Margo Robbie. Why is there a sequel to a bad movie released almost 4 years ago? There should be an unwritten law to make sure that sequels are only made from previous good movies, never bad ones.

The big problem with this new film is that it has a weirdness that will remind everyone of Suicide Squad – not a good thing. The other problem is that this movie is weird bad, never weird good or ever entertaining. Considering that Margo Robbie’s acting career in Hollywood is going so well, it is surprising, despite the money she was paid, that she would agree to once again play this strange insane character. Hopefully this will be the last Bird of Prey movie. There is nothing new in this story, its the same violent Karate scenes that we have all seen many times before. Weirdness and craziness does not give a new angle on a very tired retread action movie.  

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this film are in the high 80% range, and the critics are dead wrong. My rating is about 45% and I do not recommend this movie.

 

Camila Cabello: First Man


Adding a music video like this is way outside the bounds of this movie review blog. However, in light of the horrendous and heart breaking death of 9 people in a Helicopter crash, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter on the same day as this Grammy telecast; I thought that adding this emotional song that Camila sang to her own father was something that I had to include in this website.

 

 

Movie Review: The Rhythm Section


The new movie “The Rhythm Section”, invokes many questions from any viewer. Is this movie some kind of a back ended attempt to remake the Bridge Fonda film, “Point of No Return”, from 1993 – which is a much better movie? Did any of the 3 well known actors who agreed to appear in this movie, Blake Lively, Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown also read the script? Why would anyone decide to name this convoluted and pretty bad story, The Rhythm Section? This title makes even less sense than the decision to make this movie in the first place.

The Logline for this story is, a young woman loses her entire family in plane crash, then finds out through an self employed journalist that there was a bomb planted on their plane by a terrorist.  Unfortunately the disjointed story that follows jumps from this down and out woman, who is working as a hooker to running into this journalist, to suddenly – without any explanation, being trained by some secret agent, played by Jude Law.

This entire story was very poorly told, and not only does not make much sense, but was boring in way too many places.  I was surprised to see the great actor Sterling K. Brown from “This Is Us” in this bad movie because this makes about 4 films in a row where he has tried to parlay his television success into film. At this rate, after making four bad movies in a row, he should probably just stay an outstanding television actor.

I agree with the very low ratings of 33% for The Rhythm Section that amounts to another very good example of “January Junk”.  This movie should be skipped.