Movie Review: The Hateful 8

There are many things to like about Quentin Tarantino’s 8th movie. His sharp dialog is there in a big way and very often strange, unique and funny. The way he tells a story is still there and this movie is kind of like Pulp Fiction which came out in 1994 in that the story is told in a circular fashion although his method in this movie is different than Pulp Fiction.

The problems with this movie will be immediately obvious to everyone who sees it. The repeated and constant use of the “N” word which caused great controversy in Tarantino’s last movie “Django Unchained” and even caused Spike Lee to come out and object to the constant use of this most horrible word. This movie uses the “N” word so much its almost as if Tarantino is trying to snub his nose at Spike Lee for objecting to his use of the word in his last movie. The point of all this is very obvious. How much is too much? The “N” word is probably the most horrible and hateful word in the English language and even though it was definitely used in the 1850-1900’s in this country much more than it is now, especially in the West and the South; but at a certain point you have to realize that the word is being overused and perhaps being used only for the sake of using it. I estimate that during this almost 3 hour movie that the “N” word might have been used as many as 150 times, which is way too much.

Other issues with this movie include the incredible gore and grotesque scenes of death and violence and murder which are very typical of all Tarantino movies but this one may have gone a little too far in some scenes. The only woman in this movie played by Jennifer Jason Leigh is beaten up mercilessly by her captor played by Kurt Russel almost from the beginning of the movie. Jennifer’s character, Daisy Domergue is beaten repeatedly in the head and face more than any woman has ever been beaten up in probably any movie. There are scenes of blood on two occasions being sprayed over her face, which for most would also probably be considered way over the top and too disgusting than is necesary. So how much is too much? In the Hateful 8, Tarrantino seems to be trying to find out where the boundaries are and exactly how far any movie can go without being censored. If that is not enough there is a scene of male frontal nudity followed by oral sex between two men that I cannot remember ever seeing in any movie. If there was ever a point that I thought was way over the top in any R rated movie, this was it. There is a chance that Tarrantino had to fight to keep this movie from being rated X mainly because of this one scene.

The majority of this movie, perhaps as much as 90% are played out in an old huge log cabin where the 9 inhabitants are snowed in because of a blizzard outside. From this point on, the movie is carried by biting and very well written Tarrantino dialogue as the 9 inhabitants, not 8 as is the title of the movie, argue and talk back and forth and invoke anger and eventual violence. The actor with by far the best and most dialogue in this movie is Samuel L. Jackson who was also the star of Pulp Fiction. Some of his lines in this movie surpass his performance in Pulp Fiction and he steals this movie with his acting and speaking ability, reciting some of Tarrantino’s best lines.

For fans of Quentin Tarrantino movies this one is must see. For people who hate violence this movie should definitely be avoided. For people who hate the overuse of the N-word this movie should definitely be avoided because its clear that this word was way overused in this movie.  For me I recommend this movie, but mostly because of my respect for the writing ability and hard work of Tarrantino and dialogue in this movie which is excellent. Also prepare yourself for a long movie as this one runs almost 3 hours.


The Hateful 8 IMDB

Movie Review: The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne should win the best actor Oscar this year just as he did last year for the “Theory Of Everything”. Right how he is the only actor that could have pulled off this role as a man who is married to a woman and over a period of years, decides he has to become a woman. He has the perfect physique for the role and is able to pull off an effeminate look and is very believable in the role. What is the most compelling about this story is that a sex change operation of this magnitude in 1926 had never been done before and because of this the risk involved was extremely dangerous. In 1926 Copenhagen Denmark when this movie began, a sex change operation involved 2 procedures. The first was to remove the male organs and the second was to give the patient a vagina. Either one of these operations could kill you. The main character in this role was Einar Wegener as a man and Lili Elbe as a woman. Through a series of events involving modeling for paintings, at times wearing women’s clothing, because the couple were both painters, it became a revelation that Einar’s true identity was as a woman.

At times this movie was rather slow and plodding as Einar very slowly discovered at first his preferences for wearing women’s clothing and then after a period of time his desire to become a woman, despite his very attractive wife. The love story between the two of them was always constant and at the forefront of this movie and never waned even when Einar became Lili. This was the best part of this movie.

There is significant nudity in this movie for both main characters and one scene with Einar which involved male frontal nudity which gave you a certain amount of respect for Eddie Redmayne taking a role like this in the first place. In the end the story of the first sex change pioneer was well done and well acted by both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander , who has starred in 4 movies this year and nominated for 2 Golden Globes, the first being the movie Ex Machina, which is also reviewed in this blog. Its very obvious that Alicia has a very promising future in the movies.

This is a good movie and i do recommend it.


The Danish Girl: A Novel (Movie Tie-In)

Movie Review: Joy

“Joy” is a true story based on the life of Joy Mangano, but the story is only loosely based on her life and career as an inventor of household products, which all started with the miracle mop.

What is the essence of a great movie? Why do so many movies fail at being great or even good? I go to the movies as often as I do because the 10% payoff of seeing that one great movie is so compelling and unfortunately rare that its worth sitting through the 90% of the average and bad ones. The movie Joy is a great movie because it captured the essence of what lower middle class squalor feels like. What desperation looks like. What a lifetime of never having your fair share and the lifelong injustice of what this represents can mean to an entire family who are just barely scraping by. This movie pulls off the very rare movie experience of providing an escape from the mundane reality of life by visiting the harsh reality of life at the same time. I cannot remember the last time I have ever experienced something like this in any movie.

The movie “Joy” starts with a scene from a very strange and badly acted soap opera where even Susan Lucci makes an appearance. The apparent point of this was to show that life can sometimes be a strange soap opera and this is opening scene is tied to the fact that the main character in this movie, Joy, had a mother that did nothing all day but watch soap opera’s but despite all of this, the opening scene of this movie was completely unexpected and unusual which was just another reason why this movie was so superior and different than anything we have seen before.

Joy is Joy Mangano who is a person that despite her her broken family; her father was married and divorced 3 times, she herself is divorced with 3 kids, managed to somehow break out of a lifetime of misery to invent a miracle mop with after many trials and bad times was a huge success. Joy took incredible financial risks and through the a contact she got through QVC via her x-husband, managed through a series of unlikely events to become a QVC star and the inventor of many new products .

What makes this movie so great is that it does not show any clear or “Hollywood-like” path to miracle success; instead what is shown, are the very harsh realities of what its like to pull off a new business of manufacturing mops in your fathers car repair garage, and the fighting with investors; the main one being her fathers current wealthy girlfriend (played by Isabelle Rosellini ) who he met through a dating service. Joy also had to fight with the criminals who were constantly raising the prices of the plastic parts that were the components of the miracle mop she was trying so desperately to sell for a profit. Just like real life, even when Joy thought that her dreams were realized by a miracle presentation on QVC that started out so badly, the criminals who were trying to ruin her revealed themselves again and then her jealous half-sister made matters worse by getting involved in a business that was not hers and she had no knowledge of. The point of all this is that real life is hard and breaking out of a bad reality is even harder. Very few people are able to create and sell a product that they invented and start their own business, no matter how great the idea. The enormous pitfalls and financial risks are depicted perfectly in this movie and I was so impressed with how well this story was told and the reality of life and business that was always at the forefront of this story. The question was asked to the audience, “could you do this”? Could you take out second mortgage out on your house and risk permanent financial ruin to follow your dream even if it meant putting your entire family in even a worse financial condition? Most people would answer no to this question.

One scene that stands out the most in this movie was a great speech by Joy’s father, played by Robert Deniro . After it appeared that Joy’s business had failed and she would lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy, Joy’s father tells her that it was all his fault. He never should have allowed her to believe that she was anything but average or below average. That she should never aspire to achieve anything great and that essentially she was like everybody else in the family, destined to never achieve anything. This speech represents what is perhaps the biggest and constant obstacle for anyone trying to break out of a bad situation; overcoming the people around you, who want you to fail because if you succeed, they would feel less about themselves.

This movie consists of many of the same actors and director of the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” and receives my highest recommendation. This movie is a must see one of a kind revelation. Jennifer Lawrence has never been better and deserves to win her 3rd Academy Award for best actress and if she does not win its only because she won 2 awards already. The rest of the cast is also outstanding and this movie will be nominated for best picture.

Joy: The Unofficial Biography of Miracle Mop Inventor, Joy Mangano
Joy Magnago is available on Amazon.

Joy – IMDB

Movie Review: Concussion

For anyone over 30 years old, NFL Football is probably considered the greatest and most exciting sport in the United States. Most people can agree that the highlights in football are the most exciting, the most spectacular and invoke the most respect and awe for the skills of a great athlete than any other major sport. Unfortunately equal to the great highlights there are some great low-lights of some unfortunate player taking a very bad hit, perhaps breaking a leg, a knee, or suffering a concussion, which is one of the most common injuries in this league. For as long as the NFL has been around nobody ever heard of or talked about the long term effects of being a player this very violent sport. Then on September 24, 2002 the news that Mike Webster the NFL Center for 18 years with the Pittsburgh Steeler’s died at only age 50 and then everything changed.

At the end of Webster’s life he was in a state of financial and personal ruin and was having massive cognitive dysfunction, which was later diagnosed as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy by a pathologist in Pittsburgh Dr. Bennet Omalu . This new disease, known as CTE was discovered by Dr Omalu as the direct cause of constant head trauma that can only happen while playing football. For years prior to this discovery, the NFL routinely dismissed the many incidents of NFL players either going insane, dying young or having dementia as the result of premature Alzheimer’s, which considering the age of these men and the statistics was an implausible reason for these medical problems.

After Webster’s death, several other NFL players starting showing symptoms of this disease and 4 of them (Andre Waters , Dave Duerson , Junior Seau and Terry Long ) committed suicide. Duerson and Seau committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest to enable doctors examine their brains after they killed themselves and Terry Long committed suicide by drinking a gallon of anti-freeze. CTE caused not only dementia but also violent behavior which in some cases even resulted in murder. What is very obvious from this story is that this discovery of CTE is not something that has happened recently, but it has been in fact part of the medical history of all NFL players after they retire. What was suggested in this movie is that the NFL has been covering up this problem for many years and even conducting tests to prove that concussions were not that important of a medical issue. At the end of the movie it was stated that 28% of all NFL players currently have some form of CTE, but you are made to believe that just about all of them have some form of the disease.

This movie was extremely well done and well acted, not only by Will Smith who played Dr. Omalu but also by Alec Baldwin who was great in his role as a former NFL neurologist and Albert Brooks who played the boss of Dr. Omalu at the Pittsburgh coroners office. It was no surprise that after the discovery of CTE was made, that the NFL not only denied that it was true, but threatened Dr Omalu and his boss with a Federal investigation that was later dropped and even had people following Dr Omalu’s wife around in her car and causing her enough stress that could have cost them their first child during a miscarriage.

So what is next for the NFL and this big problem with concussions and long term brain damage? I for one have always been surprised that the helmets the players wear provide such inadequate protection over so many years and so much technology. Perhaps there is no solution to this problem through the creation of much better helmets. Several rule changes have been made, and there have been improvements, but as is said in the movie, if just 10% of all parents forbid their son to play football then its likely that eventually the entire sport will fade away. The bottom line here really is, what is the point of great fame, exciting highlights and potentially great wealth when you might be so brain damaged and insane that you might kill someone in your family or take your own life? At the end of this movie, Dr Omalu is watching a high school football game and the movie ends with a huge collision between two young players. This is where we stand now in the NFL, inadequate head protection and where do we go from here?

I give this movie my highest recommendation and predict that it will be one of the 10 movies up for best pictures in the Academy Awards this year. The story behind this movie is also available on Amazon and is entitled Concussion.


Concussion IMDB

The 2008 financial crisis and the plight of 20 year old’s

As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, which is the subject of the movie The Big Short, reviewed in this blog, many 20 year old’s have had their potential lives either put on hold for a long time or ruined outright. Due to the greed of already rich individuals who wanted more money at the cost of ruining or completely destroying the world wide economy, the end result is that many young people just trying to start out in their careers have been badly hurt and their futures compromised. After college with huge student loan debt, many young people cannot even get a decent first job and this will affect their financial futures for the rest of their lives. This is unfortunate and was completely avoidable if the disaster of the 2008 Financial crisis in this country was prevented or never happened in the first place.

Movie Review: The Big Short

Most if not all of us who lived through the 2008 financial crisis would rather forget about what happened, instead of reliving how bad it all was and our fear that the end of the financial world had arrived. This movie not only reminds you how bad it was, but educates you to the fact that it was far worse than we all knew at the time. Everything about this movie; the acting, the story telling and the teaching of all the complex concepts in this financial crisis by using the actor talking to the audience or several cameo appearances that included Selena Gomez and Margo Robbie are all extremely well done throughout. In my opinion, this movie will definitely be nominated for a best picture Oscar. This movie is based on the book “The Big Short” , by Michael Lewis.

The concept of Deregulation of financial institutions which allows companies on Wall Street to do whatever they want to make profits with no government regulation is essentially what caused a financial disaster in the housing market and the associated “Las Vegas” like gambling that went on where bets were placed on CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations) which are essentially baskets of both good and very bad mortgage loans but also on what are called “synthetic CDO’s” which are peripheral bets on the original loans, which created outlandish and extremely high levels of risk. This combination of insanity is what resulted in a financial crisis that almost brought down the economy of the entire world. It was all allowed to go on because the government officials who were suppose to monitor what was going on and rank mortgage securities accurately just looked the other way.

Many things about the 2008 housing bubble, which really started in 2007 are infuriating, but what is most outrageous about all the debt, panic and misery this causes is that it was even allowed to happen in the first place. From the beginning of this tenure as the Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan was calling for financial deregulation and when he finally got what he wanted, based on the decision of a very weak president in 2002; the ability of financial institutions to run free and do whatever they wanted became possible. The people involved did not care that their obscene greed would cause a generation of pain for millions of Americans in their 20’s and early 30’s and so many people who lost jobs and homes. All these criminals cared about was getting even more rich as easily as possible and worse than this was when all the smoke had finally cleared, nobody went to jail except for one wall street employee; although his sentence was not disclosed at the end of the movie. What was disclosed when this movie ended was that 8 million people lost their jobs, 6 million people lost their homes and 5 trillion in wealth was wiped out in a about 2 years. For me the fact that was mentioned in this movie that stood out the most was that for every 1 percent of unemployment in the Unites States, as many as 40,000 can die due to the stress, homelessness and misery of not being able to make a living in this country .

March 2009 is now known as the “generational low” in the stock market and after that incredible low of 6400 on the Dow and about 1100 on the Nasdaq, things slowly started to normalize and now the market seems to be back to where it should have been anyway, even if the financial crisis never happened. But in the back of everybody’s mind is the fact that something like this could happen again or perhaps the bail out that occurred at the end of 2008 is just a temporary band aid that really did not fix the real underlying problem that was caused by the sick greed of a few already rich individuals who right now should be in jail. Then we all remember that because of this crisis and some bad decisions and a very bad war in IRAQ, this country is now close to 21 trillion dollars in debt. After Bill Clinton left office, we were only 5 trillion in debt. Yes, most of the bailouts were necessary, especially Obama’s decision to bail out the car companies, but its very tragic that because of some very stupid decisions by some very greedy people, this country may never be financially healthy again.

This movie is about the 2007-2008 Housing bubble and financial crises as told through the experiences of 3 groups of individuals who had the foresight and courage to realize that the mortgage bond securities that were being sold as high quality investments to institutions around the world were not only mostly garbage, but also fraudulent. Their plan was to short these mortgage bonds known as CDOs or (Collateralized Debt Obligations) but the ability to even short these bonds that were considered so safe and high quality was not even possible at the time, so the method to short them called CDS (Credit Default Swaps) had to be invented by the financial institutions to make shorting possible. These individuals were actually laughed at by the employees of the companies where they attempted to buy these CDO’s because they were so sure of the safety and integrity of the housing market. All of these investors were so sure that they were right about the impending housing disaster that they bet billions of dollars that the entire housing and mortgage industry in the United States would collapse. What they didn’t realize was that they would be so right about these bets that they would have a great deal of trouble collecting their money because so many of the institutions who sold these CDO’s would become bankrupt. The acting in this movie by the 4 main actors, Steve Carrel, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gossling and Christian Bale is outstanding throughout and I would guess that several of these actors might receive Academy Award nominations. This movie is a 100% must see and I give it my highest recommendation.


The Big Short on IMBD

Movie Review: Sisters

The main question you ask yourself towards the end of watching this movie is, “is being raunchy funny?”. Is raunchy disgusting humor always funny in a movie, is this something that always works? It worked in Animal House in 1979 but is this something that is a 100% guaranteed home run? Of course the answer to this is no. This movie tries hard to be funny but unfortunately for every 5 attempts at verbal or visual humor, maybe 1 out of worked and that is stretching it. During the entire two hours this movie was on screen I heard maybe 5 laughs and I only laughed once. The cardinal sin for any comedy movie is that if its not funny then the movie failed and for the most part this movie failed at being a funny comedy movie.

Many Saturday Night Live alums were in this movie but the only one that got any real time on screen was Bobby Moynahan and overall he could be considered the funniest one in this mostly unfunny movie. Kate McKinnon was also in this movie and she got maybe 2 minutes of screen time which is not nearly enough considering her talent.

This very simple story is about 2 sisters who visit their parents home in Orlando only to find out that their childhood house is being sold, so they decide to have one last party at the house that very soon gets way out of control and eventually the house gets trashed. The majority of the movie is about what goes on at this party and this becomes rather repetitive pretty quickly. There are scenes of people falling through ceilings, paint being injected into an outdoor pool, many scenes of drugged out and drunk behavior and finally a scene of a giant sink hole that drops the pool into the ground. Many of the scenes during this party including the dialogue falls flat and the screenplay, written by a former SNL writer Paula Pell mostly fails at its number one goal, making the audience laugh.

Despite the occasional upsides of this movie and very few laughs, it fails on too many levels to recommend.


Sisters IMDB

Movie Review: Star Wars the Force Awakens

Its impossible to believe that in 1977 the first Star Wars movie was released and when it came out many thought at first that this was some average B movie and not a movie that anyone would have considered would be a new form of art or even a new idea that would change the world of movie making. After this first block buster hit in 1977 there were two more Star Wars movies in 1980 and 1983 and then George Lucas the director and creator of this franchise decided to not make any more Star Wars movies for 16 years and then starting in 1999 he made 3 prequels. Most people thought that the 3 prequel Star Wars movies were great with special effects but overall the stories were not up to the quality of the first 3 movies. The first prequel in 1999 had a duck-like character called Jar Jar Binks that many thought was by far the worst idea of the whole series.

After the last Star Wars movie in 2005 “Revenge of the Sith”, George Lucas announced that there would “never be another Star Wars movie”. This was before he sold the franchise to Disney for 4 billion dollars in 2012. (see the other entry about this in this blog).

Now that Disney has Star Wars, many more movies will follow because the story and the money is just too compelling. Human beings all want to believe that there is a great future for humanity in space and ideas like Star Trek and Star Wars enhance this desire to travel to different parts of the universe at “light speed”.

This movie was both directed and written by JJ Abrams and is a very good movie but I thought given the importance of this movie and the return of the Star Wars franchise after 10 long years, this movie could have been better. The story was very good, but not great, the special effects were very good but not great or anything we have not seen before. I also did not agree at all with the decision about one of the characters in this movie which I considered to be short sighted and too tragic for many of the young people who will be seeing this movie. Considering the very young children who will see this latest Star Wars, there is probably too many scenes of violent death, many of which were not necessary. There is a new droid in this 7th movie in the Star Wars series that is essentially two globes that rub together and this robot is far cuter that R2D2, who does make a small cameo appearance towards the end of this movie. This new robot is already a toy available in almost all toy stores and is a major source of comedy relieve in this 2 1/2 hours of action and warring factions of good and evil.

All of the original Star Wars characters from the original series made appearances in this new story except for Yoda, who I am sure will be making an appearance in the next movie as the ending left the door way open for many new releases of Star Wars movies for many more years to come. You had to be in awe of the 2 young starts of this movie Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who won the lottery with this last Star Wars release and the 3 to 5 more films that will follow over the next 10 years. They are as fortunate as the young actors in the Harry Potter series, who will make millions from their salaries and back ended profits from these movies.

This 7th Star Wars movie is a must see for all big fans of Star Wars and all people who just want to see a well made action/adventure movie. Due to the Disney deal with George Lucas the future of the Star Wars story is in good hands and we all can look forward to many movies like this in the future. Hopefully, all the movies will be up to a very high standard which this movie for the most part attains.


Star Wars the Force Awakens IMDB

George Lucas 4 Billion Dollar Disney deal

I was actually surprised when George Lucas accepted a deal with Disney to give away the entire Star Wars franchise in October 2012. I guess everyone has a price, but perhaps Lucas didn’t think through what it was going to be like to see all the things that Disney will do with Star Wars. He might hate the story ideas, or the story arc or even the toys that Disney might sell. Of course the only company in the world that he would sell to would be Disney, but once you sign on the dotted line, your idea that has been yours for 40 years is gone forever.

Everyone is hoping that the new 7th Star Wars movie that opens on December 18, 2015 is going to be an exceptional movie and definitely all owners of Disney stock are hoping for this as well. JJ Abrams, the writer and director of this movie is under a tremendous amount of pressure for this new movie to not only be great and make huge amounts of money, but for him to really succeed this movie has to set all time box office records. From the trailers I have seen it certainly looks like a great movie but the main issue is the story. If This movie has great special effects and a great story, then it will break those box office records. Otherwise it will fall short of what Disney will need to recover that 4 billion dollar deal with Lucas.

George Lucas Disney Deal

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea

The book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a book about a true story about a very large white whale that destroyed a whaling ship in 1821 and is the story that lead to the novel Moby Dick, which was a fictional accounting of this incident that was released in 1850 and written by Herman Melville.  Many people who are going to see this new Ron Howard movie are probably going to think that this is a movie about the novel Moby Dick and they will be disappointed because this story is completely different the original Moby Dick novel and 1956 movie starring Gregory Peck.

At times I found parts of this movie rather boring, especially when the remaining crew was stranded at sea for over 90 days and I thought that there was no need to drag on this part of the story for about 2 thirds of the entire movie to watch the crew slowly dying of starvation and exposure.  The special effects were good but did not do a great job showing the whale destroying the boat and some of the smaller boats and killing many of the men in the crew. I actually thought that the original movie Moby Dick with Gregory Peck was a much better movie and had better special effects even though this movie was made in 1956 and fictional Moby Dick story is more interesting than this depressing true story.

Additional thoughts concerning this movie include several of the actors, especially the lead actor Chris Hemsworth, who lost over 30 pounds, living on 500 calories a day to make their survival at sea more believable. Clearly the fact that this is only a movie never occurred to these actors who risked their long term health for a long period of time just to make a movie. I have never understood why actors in Hollywood take risks like this just to make a movie.

In conclusion I expected a great movie here and only got a marginally good one. If you are fan of movies at sea this the movie for you, otherwise this one can be missed.

In the heart of the sea


Ron Howard Credits IMDB