Movie Review: The Last Full Measure


The most impressive thing about the new film “The Last Full Measure” is the unusually large number of named actors that are in this above average war story. Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer, Bradley Whitford, William Hurt, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, John Savage, Sebastian Stan and the late Peter Fonda in his last movie role. The acting is also outstanding from all of the named actors, especially William Hurt. The Last Full Measure reminds all of us that very often the worst thing about war is the psychological damage it does to so many millions of people, long after the war is over.

The subject of this war story, is mostly told through flashbacks of one of the most bloody battles of the Vietnam war –  Operation Abilene. Air force medic  William H. Pitsenbarger saved over 60 men during this battle and entirely because of military politics, his congressional medal of honor was taken away after he was killed during this battle. Considering the extraordinary heroism of Pitsenbarger, saving 60 lives during one of the worst battles of the Vietnam War, it is a tragedy that politics prevented him being honored for so many years. I thought it was also interesting to find out that out of the almost 3500 Congressional Medals awarded, only 18 are with the Air Force and only 3 of those were enlisted men. One of those went to Pitsenbarger.

The problem with this movie are the large amounts of time devoted to Pentagon employee Scott Huffman interviewing the many witnesses to Operation Abilene, which makes this movie unnecessarily slow in too many places and does account to the relatively low 60% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. I agree with mostly low ratings and despite the very good acting and well shot war scenes I cannot recommend this film.

 

Movie Review: A Fall from Grace


The new Tyler Perry Netflix movie, “A Fall from Grace” tries very hard to not only be different, but to also provide the most unexpected ending ever produced in any film. Unfortunately the price for creating a story so different that shocks the audience, the ending is one of the most absurd and insulting that I have ever seen in all my years of as an avid movie goer. A great example of an unexpected and shocking ending to a movie is “The Sixth Sense” that was released in 1999. There was nothing far fetched or ridiculous about the ending of the Sixth Sense. As a viewer, you never felt cheated or insulted by this conclusion, because in the end, the story fit together perfectly and ultimately it all made sense.

There is no way to give more detail about the ending of this ridiculous movie, that was both written and directed by Tyler Perry, without giving away too much information. In short, this film has to be seen to be believed. A Fall from Grace was shot in 5 days and I wonder how long it took Perry to write this script. It is always a great ambition to be different, and cover new ground with any new production – but when this insults the intelligence of the audience, enough said.

I agree with the very low 36% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for this film and recommend it only for those who are curious to see how insane the ending is.

Movie Review: Like a Boss


How a movie as bad as”Like a Boss” gets made in Hollywood can only be explained by collaborative favors and named actors more interested in staying active and “current” in their profession. There is no way that Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek or Rose Byrne could have read the script for this movie, and then all agreed to make it, because it was funny or had any level of quality.

There is a scene where Haddish’s character eats hot peppers, and then drinks goats milk, only to spit it up all over one of her friends. This was not funny. Haddish also dangles off of a banner, many stories high inside the atrium of a building and almost falls to her death. This was also not funny. This entire story is about two very close friends, played by Byrne and Haddish who are tricked by a very rich owner of a makeup company into selling away their failing company that is 500 thousand dollars in debt. There was nothing funny or even remotely entertaining about this part of the story. The only good thing about this entire movie is that it was a relatively short 83 minutes, sparing the audience another 40 minutes of this horrendous waste of time.

There are actors in the movie business who refuse to ever act in any low quality project, realizing that quality is always more important than money. The majority of other actors have to constantly make movies, either because they are not financially independent enough to turn down the bad roles or are afraid that if they wait for something good or great, it may never happen. If they wait too long, they are afraid that producers will forget about them, so they agree to act in whatever is thrown their way, regardless of how bad it is.

One has to admire Tiffany Haddish because of the long and incredibly hard road she lived through to get where she is now. Her hard life trek included being homeless and even living in a very small GEO Metro car for a long period of time. However at some point, making too many bad movies might completely ruin her career in the movie business, even before it really begins. Haddish is a good comedic actress, but she has yet to make a comedy movie that is worthy of her talents.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Like a Boss are an accurate 20% and I agree with this rating and do not recommend this film.

Commentaries: Recent bad Movies


Due to the recent very poorly reviewed films, “Cats” and “Doolittle”, I have decided to not review either of these movies. Instead I will include some of the recent comments from several online publications. The movie Cats was so bad, when it was released a month ago, that changes were made and new copies to sent to theaters. This has never happened before, in the entire history of the film industry.

Robert Downey Jr. went on every talk show and even hosted Ellen to promote Dolittle. Never a good sign for any movie. It is always hard to believe that a huge budget, in this case 175 million for Dolittle, can be spent to create a movie so bad. The original release date for this movie was spring 2019, but it was so bad that numerous script rewrites were necessary to try and fix this film.

Cats:

It’s just baffling and yet it must be seen… It’s bad, but you’ve got to experience it. – Christy Lemire

Mostly, “Cats” is a confusing litter box of intentions, from its crushed-velour aesthetic to its strip-bar sensuality to its musical cluelessness. – John Anderson

“This disastrous attempt to bring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical to the screen shouldn’t happen to a dog.” – Peter Travers

Oh God, my eyes – Ty Burr

The worst thing to happen to Cats since Dogs – Edward Douglass

Dolittle:

If the muddled plot and aethetic chaos of Dolittle leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, seek the antidote – an episode of Planet Earth. – Laura Zarum

Dolittle is a not a film. Dolittle is a crime scene in need of forensic analysis. Something happened here. Something terrible. Something inexplicable. – Scott Tobias

It’s impossible to believe that Dolittle can be enjoyed by anyone whose age is measured by double rather than single digits. – Matt Brunson

Movie Review: Bad Boys for Life


“Bad Boys for Life” is another movie franchise that was suggested many times during this film, has reached its end. Considering that this is the end of a major movie franchise that started in 1995 and 2003 with the sequel, it had to be important for everybody involved to come up with a great script before making the third movie. I thought the story was not great, only above average. I was expecting much more humor, especially considering the comedic skills of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, although the action was on a par with the previous two Bad Boys movies. The remaining cast includes only Vanessa Hudgens as the only other named actor and she seemed miscast in this role as a member of a special task force.

What surprised me the most about this movie was that this sequel will not be the last one. At the end of this film, there is a meeting with Will Smith’s character and another character in prison, suggesting that there will definitely be another movie. On IMDB.com, there is now a “Bad Boys 4” movie in pre-production with no set released date.

I mostly agree with the 78% ratings for this film and although I was hoping for something stronger, I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Underwater


Whenever there is a movie about a group of scientists who are working miles under the ocean, two things will always happen. There will be problems with extreme water pressure, crushing parts or all of the structure the scientists live in. There will be new and horrendous deep sea creatures that come out of the deep to terrorize and kill whoever is in their way. This time around, one of the scientists is played by actress Kristen Stewart, and what is most unusual about this film is how quickly things go wrong. Within the first 5 minutes, there is a small leak and soon after, people are running for their lives – within tunnels that are 7 miles under the Sea.

Other actors in this film are Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr, Vincent Cassel and T.J. Miller as the only other well known actor. Regardless of anyone’s rating or opinion about this movie, you have to admire some of the special effects and risks within extremely claustrophobic conditions the actors had to live in work in for months. This movie was actually made in 2017 and probably due to the low audience testing results, it has been on the shelf for 2 years. Not a good sign for any film.

I mostly agree with the relatively low ratings of about 50% for this movie and cannot recommend it, because there are not enough new things we all have not already seen in other similar films.

Oscar Nominations 2020


In my opinion, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was a below average movie with no real story and Jojo Rabbit was a bad movie. Robert Deniro received no award nominations for this 3 hour performance in “The Irishman”, and this makes no sense. Neither did Adam Sandler, who was great in “Uncut Gems”. The Joker received 11 Oscar nominations, despite the relatively low critical ratings. The Joker also made over a billion dollars world-wide and is now the highest grossing R rated movie of all time.

Best picture

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman” “Parasite”

“1917”

“Marriage Story”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Ford v Ferrari”

Best actress in a leading role

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

Best actor in a leading role

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”

Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

Best director

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”

Sam Mendes, “1917”

Todd Phillips, “Joker”

Best actor in a supporting role

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

Best actress in a supporting role

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

Best international feature film

South Korea, “Parasite”

Spain, “Pain and Glory”

France, “Les Misérables”

North Macedonia, “Honeyland”

Poland, “Corpus Christi”

Best adapted screenplay

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women”

“The Two Popes”

“Joker”

Best original screenplay

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Parasite”

“Knives Out”

“1917”

Movie Review: Just Mercy


“Just Mercy” is a film about another true story that could never work if it was a work of fiction, because nobody would believe that in this country, the legal system could be as bad as it was in Alabama in 1987. This story would be more believable in a 3rd world country, or in this country long before any standard of legal justice or common sense rules were established.

This unbelievable true story involves a corrupt Sheriff and Prosecutor who used the death penalty to force a witness to lie on the stand to convict Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx. They sent McMillan to death row, even before his trial began! This all happened in the United States, in the year 1987. Without the help of a Harvard educated lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, played by Micheal B. Jordan, McMillan and many other innocent prisoners would have put to death in the electric chair. At the end of this movie, it was stated that the error rate for death row prisoners in this country who are innocent and killed is an incredible 1 out of 9.  Throughout this horrendous real life story, the callousness of the Prosecutor and Sheriff was hard to watch. All they cared about was killing an innocent man to protect their reputations and careers, despite the huge holes with all the evidence uncovered during the trial and despite the fact that an innocent man was about to be killed in an electric chair.

The acting throughout this movie is outstanding, including Brie Larson, who plays the legal aid to Stevenson, Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillan and Micheal B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson. This film is a must see for everyone, if for no other reason than to experience the overwhelming disbelief that the events of this story could ever have happened in this country, at any time. McMillan spent 6 years on death row even though never in his life was he in the town where the murder of a young white woman happened. So many other poor people, are thrown into jail just because they are poor and black and the public defenders are more interested in expediency than defending anyone who might in fact be innocent. Even after overwhelming evidence was uncovered to free McMillan, a corrupt judge decided to keep him on death row, and for me this was one of the most outrageous events in this story. During one of the last trials in this film, Stevenson said that justice in this country must exist for all of us, not just the rich, the most important message in this great movie.

Bryan Stevenson is a great lawyer and human being, who has dedicated his entire career to helping the poor escape the horrendous legal injustice that exists in this country. His organization “The Equal Justice Initiative” is a non profit organization that helps falsely convicted and condemned poor people who don’t have the means to defend themselves.  His organization has saved 140 innocent people from being put to death, while freeing many more innocent people from prison. Stevenson’s has also written a book about his legal career, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Surprisingly this movie has only received ratings that are only in the low 80% range. My rating is a solid 95% for the story, the acting and the importance of this movie. I highly recommend Just Mercy as one of the best pictures about the legal system in this country that I have ever seen.

Movie Review: 1917


The movie “1917”, directed by Sam Mendes, is inspired by true stories that his grandfather told him about World War 1. During World War 1, Lance Corporal Alfred H. Mendes was a message runner and my first thought at the beginning of this film was; if 1600 lives were at stake to prevent an attack on a German position, then why did a General only send two men? Considering 1600 lives, I would expect that a General would send an entire platoon to prevent an attack that would have been a trap for 1600 British soldiers.

1917 is unlike most other war movies that have been made, because there is very little actual war action and much more about the trek of two solders trying to deliver an important message to a Major to prevent a German Trap. This trap was a German plan that was months in the making and only due to a lucky aerial photo, the greatly reinforced German position was uncovered. As these two young men walk through horrendous war zones, it reminds the viewer that war is about much more than two armies trying to kill the other side. War is about hundreds and thousands of dead bodies, and in the case of World War 1, huge trenches surrounded by sand bags, mud, trench foot, dead horses, land minds, bombs exploding, bullets flying and the realization that your life could end at any time,  just by walking around a war zone. I though that the most impressive thing about this movie, were the huge and lengthy trenches that were dug, and the thousands of sand bags that lined all of the walls.

I did expect more here, and in a way something more substantial in terms of a war movie that would include more war action.  However, I mostly agree with the 85%

Movie Review: Parasite


What will make many people want to miss “Parasite” is the fact that it was produced in South Korea and it has subtitles. This is the reason why I waited so long to see this movie after it was released over a month ago. Mainly due to the critics ratings, as high as 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, have eventually made seeing this foreign film mandatory.

The dominant idea behind Parasite is about being rich and being poor. Does being extremely rich make you evil, or does being extremely poor make you evil, because of your desperation to no longer be poor? The story of Parasite is about a family who is so poor, the only way they can make any income is by assembling of all things, pizza boxes for a local delivery service. The four of them live in a hellish ground floor apartment in one of the poorest sections of South Korea, within a grim reality that is at times, hard to watch. Through a series of strange events, the teenage son in this family gets a job with a rich family tutoring their teenage daughter. Following a series of manipulations, lies and evil actions that drive out the the maid and driver the rich family employ; this grifter family slowly infiltrates their way into this rich family taking over all the jobs by driving out their other employees.

The theme of this entire story is the contrast between rich people and poor people and the way rich people look down upon people who have nothing; and the way poor people are so envious of the privileged lives of the rich. There are at least 4 incidents in this story, where the rich family complain about the smell of the people they have hired, and we find out later during a flood about the poor sewage in the poor section where they live. The resentment of the poor family, despite their criminal actions of lying their way into four jobs, eventually becomes unbearable and contributes to the dramatic ending.

The quality of the acting and the story of this film was strong enough to get used to the subtitles within the first 30 minutes and I though the ending was about as unexpected and insane as any ending I have seen in a long time.

I agree with the 99% rating for Parasite and I do recommend this movie.