Movie Review: Three Identical Strangers

This movie is a documentary about a story that is so unlikely that if it was pitched as a movie, no studio would buy it – because nobody would believe it could happen.

The good news here is that this 2 hour documentary does hold your attention and the story is told in such a way that new and in some cases very surprising things happen that come out of nowhere and this even involves a government study that under the circumstances should have been prevented because it is illegal.

The three men who are subject if this film are identical triplets who were born on July 12, 1961 and later adopted about 6 months after they were born. How they discover each other is how the movie starts and is a very unlikely story. Soon after they find each other, they become Nationally famous, especially in the New York area – appearing on many talk shows – although I do not remember them from 30 years ago when this first happened.

This documentary has very high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes – 95%, and despite the very interesting story I thought this movie would have been better suited as a cable TV movie rather than a mainstream release.

Three Identical Strangers is a very well done documentary and I do recommend it.


Future Movie Review: Bad Blood

About 2 months ago it was revealed that the medical device company Theranos, founded by entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes – was nothing more than company that scammed billions of dollars from very wealthy investors for years. A few days ago, I found that there has been a book written about this and there is already a movie that is planned starring Jennifer Lawrence – and directed by Adam McKay.

From the first day I heard about this amazing story of deception, I knew it would be a great subject for a major film – but I was very surprised at how quickly that story has been bought and is already in the planning stages and will be developed into a movie. A few days ago, I bought the book on Amazon. Here is the link for those who are interested:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

The link to the movie – now in the planning stages:

Bad Blood – IMDB

Movie Review: Leave No Trace

There have been a number of movies I have seen over recent years with the same general theme of the new movie “Leave No Trace”. There are adults in a family who decide to live in the woods or homeless and they do this despite the fact that they have a child or several children. Leave No Trace is a true story of a war Veteran who decides he would rather live in an Oregon forest near a city and he takes his 15 year old daughter along for the ride. As I have said before in this blog, if you’re an adult and want to live homeless or in the woods, then that is the decision you have made in your life. If you also have a child you either forego your idea of wilderness life or give up your child for adoption. Its that simple. Its just unfair to the life of the child.

The reality of this story is that despite living in the woods for much of her life the teenage daughter – strangely named Tom – has been extremely well educated by her father. Tom is played extremely well by Thomasin McKenzie and there is talk of an Academy Award nomination for her because of this role – an opinion I agree with due to her natural acting ability. Her father Will, played very well by Ben Foster seems to be in a depressed coma for much of this film – and what bothered me is why he decided to live in the woods like this with his daughter. I thought this was a question that needed to be asked, especially given that there were so many opportunities to ask him why he wants to live in the woods. I consider this a major flaw in the movie.

The Rotten Tomatoes review for this movie are an extremely high 100% – but for me I thought this movie was at best a 75%, due to parts that dragged on too long and a story that while interesting, mostly because it is true, was rather depressing.

Overall I do recommend Leave No Trace.

Movie Review: Skyscraper

44 years ago, The Towering Inferno was released and this is the last time I can remember a major blockbuster type of movie was released about a very tall building that catches on fire. The reason why the Towering Inferno is a much better movie about a tall building disaster than Skyscraper is because The Towering Inferno had a much better story. The problem with Skyscraper is that the entire story behind how the building catches on fire is absolutely ridiculous. The producers probably thought that if they came up with a feasible and understandable story about how an extremely tall building caught on fire than it might be compared to the Towering Inferno. Considering the inane story for this film, taking a risk that this story could compare to a very good movie in the 70’s about a tall building would be worth the risk.

The star of this film is once again Dwayne Johnson, who seemed to be in just about all the big blockbuster movies made today and he has one of the biggest movie careers going right now of all time. It was good to see actress Neve Campbell in a big movie like this and this is probably the first in her entire acting career for a a summer release like this – with the possible exception of the Scream movies from many years ago.

This movie should be seen by all fans of Johnson and for those who like special effects, but for those who like a decent story this movie should be missed.

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Movie Review: Boundaries

There are so many reasons why screenwriting is such a difficult art form and this all starts with the fact that a great movie has both great dialogue and a great story. The problem with Boundaries, that stars Christopher Plummer and Veera Farmiga is that it has good acting and dialogue but an extremely boring story. Watching this movie twice in a row can put a person into a coma and I almost fell into one before the two hours were up. The two hours dragged on like it was four hours and I remember looking at my watch way too many times.

The Rotten Tomatoes score for this film is around 50% and the IMDB number is a very low 3.2. I am surprised that someone of the stature of Christopher Plummer and Veera Farmiga read this anemic script and still decided to do this movie. The actor Peter Fonda along with Christopher Lloyd are also in this movie – demonstrating all too well how few good parts in good or great projects come along in an acting career.

I have seen worse movies than Boundaries and movies that are more boring, but this one just has to be skipped because of the long two hours of meaningless road trip story and boredom.

Movie Review: Whitney

Most of us have heard the saying “God never gives us more than we can handle”. Anyone who sees the new documentary about Whitney Houston “Whitney” will realize that God gave Whitney Houston far more than she could handle. Whitney’s incredible singing talent came directly from God and her DNA, (her mother was Cissy Houston and her first cousin was Dionne Warwick). She was born with a one in a billion gift of having arguably the greatest singing voice in human history. Whitney had all of the talent, but you need far more than talent to survive a life within a world spotlight as bright as she lived through starting when she was only 19 years old. Whitney needed the skin of a rhinoceros to survive the hateful and stupid comments so many cruel critics said about her – including even Al Sharpton, who said that her songs were “too white” and he stupidly tried to have her songs boycotted. All of this badly hurt the delicate and nice person that Whitney was and eventually turned her into a harsh looking drunken drug addict in the end.

Whitney needed a very strong financial mentor to take complete control of her money and make sure she lived well below her means and did not give so much money to her entire family just because they were part of her family. Very depressingly in the end, all of Whitney Houston’s money was gone and she was about to become homeless because of years of paying for drugs, paying her entourage, failing to stop the criminals around her from stealing her money and outrageous levels of financial mismanagement. Whitney also needed the strength to know when to stop being Whitney Houston and retire. She needed to realize that the most important thing in your life is your health and that its all just about singing, it is not curing cancer. This is also true of other people who have followed the same path as Whitney Houston – Micheal Jackson and Elvis Presley and so many others who completely lost all perspective and common sense and died way too soon. People like this think they can spend money indiscriminately because all they have to do is turn out another album or go on another tour – and it just doesn’t work that way.

While watching this very well done, but depressing documentary about Whitney Houston I remember wondering if Whitney Houston could have been saved from her horrible end. If she had a chance to do her life over all over again, could she now be a 54 year old billionaire living in a farm in Georgia, raising horses and working for charities? Could there ever have been a mentor strong enough to save Whitney Houston from herself, or could only Whitney save herself if she could live her life over again? From making so many mistakes, including marrying the wrong man, doing drugs with her 2 brothers and spending money like it was water. I wondered so often while watching this film, where were Whitney Houston’s parents when everything was going down the drain? Why didn’t they do something drastic long before it was too late? In my opinion, what Whitney should have done was retire in 1992 after the Bodyguard was released along with the album. In 1992, Whitney was at her career peak after the Bodyguard and her incredible performance in Super Bowl 25 (see attached video). In my opinion Whitney Houston’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner is the greatest singing performance of all time. After 1992 things started to go downhill because of her bad marriage to a jealous Bobby Brown and her trying to chase a peaking career that had reached a level that was impossible to maintain. Whitney could have retired very wealthy and only performed as an actress or singer sporadically – saving herself from the pain of the spotlight that she so clearly could not handle. Based one what this documentary points out so well, 1992 should have been the year when Whitney Houston retired or semi-retired. So obvious to everyone except Whitney Houston, at the end of 1992 she had nothing more to prove.

This documentary brought out many things that most people never knew about Whitney Houston’s life and this included the fact that it was Whitney’s two brothers who introduced to to drugs at an early age and not her husband Bobby Brown – which is what most people thought, including me. Whitney was also molested by Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick’s sister at a young age, along with her two brothers. Despite the famous singers in the family, Whitney’s early life in Newark New Jersey was in poverty and her mother Cissy was never home, trying to pursue a singing career. Her father John, who managed Whitney’s singing career for years, in the end tried to sue his own daughter for 100 million dollars and over the years, like others in Whitney’s life – stole her money.

The other victim in all of this is Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobby Christina Brown who died face down in a bathtub like her mother from a combination of drugs and alcohol at only 22 years old. From this documentary we learn that her two parents were drunken drug addicts and were almost never parents to Christina – taking their child along for their long ride into drug addiction. One can only imagine what this poor child had to witness and live through during her entire young life.

Whitney Houston’s rise to super stardom should be considered the all time perfect example of how not to be rich and famous. Houston’s rise and fall is an American tragedy, one of the worst in the history of celebrity. For many reasons, this documentary was very hard to watch, but for me it was the most depressing because so much of what happened could have and should have been prevented.

There is a video from Whitney’s first TV appearance in 1983 on the Merv Griffin shown in this documentary (see attached video) that like her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in 1991 is one of the greatest singing performances of all time.

I highly recommend Whitney as one of the best documentaries about a major celebrity who left us far too soon, that I have ever seen.

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

The movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a great improvement over the original Ant Man that was released in 2015. In this sequel, there is a very good story, although the science is outlandish, and there is some very smart writing and good humor throughout the film. Paul Rudd once again plays Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly who plays the Wasp. Michael Douglass reprises his role as a scientist and after all these years if takes some adjustment to believe Douglass is a scientist. I thought all 3 actors were very good in their roles.

I liked the writing for this sequel because the science of people and objects transforming as tiny as a molecule or as large as a giant is never taken seriously. In many areas throughout this screenplay the dialogue is smart and very funny and there were some big laughs in the audience I was in. I thought the original Ant-Man was bad enough to perhaps end this franchise, but this second movie rescues Ant-Man and I expect more movies that hopefully are as good as this one over the next few years.

I highly recommend Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Movie Review: First Reformed

The logline for the new movie “First Reformed” goes something like this. “A man about to have a baby is extremely concerned about the environment and global warming, worried that in the year 2050, when his child is 33 years old the planet Earth may no longer be a viable place to live”. The man consults a priest, who himself is having major problems including his health. From this point the quality of this movie is overall very well done, receiving a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The acting of the 3 main actors, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and of all people Cedric the Entertainer in the first serious role I have ever seen him in – are all outstanding in their roles. The problems with this movie – like many movies that are made today is that in some instances, it is trying too hard to be different and because of this, some parts of the movie just do not make sense. This includes one scene that actually involves levitation – coming out of nowhere. This movie also has one of those endings that will confuse and infuriate many viewers, for me it was just OK, although part of the ending did not make sense. Somewhere along the line, people have to react and behave in ways that make sense to a normal person. In many cases when it comes to a good solid story idea, less is more.

This movie is very low budget and was made for only 2.5 million dollars and shot in 20 days. Its also rather dark and depressing when you consider the possible end of the world scenario’s discussed. Despite the 95% recommendation on Rotten Tomatoes I give First Reformed only a mild recommendation.

Movie Review: The First Purge

This is the 6th Purge movie in one of the worst long running movie franchises of all time. Apparently they all made enough money to justify another one and considering each movie is about the same thing “crime gets a holiday for one day”, its amazing that these bad movies get the audience they do. Even more amazing for me is that this movie has Marisa Tomei in this film and she plays a scientist who is studying the end results of letting crime have one day off. There is no better example of how difficult a field acting is when you see an actress who is the caliber of Tomei in a bad movie franchise. I can only guess that she did it as a favor for a friend or needed the money.

This is a bad movie about nothing but violence and like all the other movies in the franchise it should be skipped by everyone – including me, who only saw this garbage because of this blog. Hopefully they will make “The LAST Purge” very soon and put an end to this long list of bad movies.

Movie Review: Uncle Drew

As far as movies I have seen about basketball over the years, the best one by far has always been “White Men Can’t Jump”, released in 1992. White Men Can’t Jump hit all the marks, including great basketball action and a very funny and good story. Its impossible to believe that its been 26 years since this very good movie was released.

As far as the new movie “Uncle Drew”, I was impressed with most of the basketball scenes, but the story had too many road trip diversions and not enough good story and basketball. I was most impressed with the acting of NBA star Kyrie Irving who showed not only his incredible ball handling skills and the fact that he can act too. By far the best line in the movie was when Kyrie said twice “You will miss 100% of the time, if you never take a shot”. The actress Tiffany Haddish is also in this movie – and her career is exploding lately. Considering she was living in her car trying to make it in show business, she is a very lucky person. I thought this film was a good family movie with an average story and some humor but could have been more memorable. I give Uncle Drew a marginal recommendation.