Past Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally

I the history of the Academy Awards, only one movie has won best picture as a comedy and that was Annie Hall which came out in 1977. As a screenwriter, I recognized when I first saw it that the flow, moments, timing and comedy brilliance of this great film was flawless throughout. There many great moments in this film but some that stand out include the “meeting of the teamsters” outside of a theater when Woody Allen is being harassed for being famous. His comment to Annie Hall played by Diane Keaton when she arrives about “2 guys named Cheech” harassing him was one great moment. The timing of the scene where Woody Allen tells the insane relative of Annie Hall, played by Christopher Walken that he is “due back on the Planet Earth” was a funny moment followed by the scene where Allen is in the car with Walken realizing that Walken’s character just admitted that he had fantasies of commuting suicide by driving into oncoming traffic. Allen’s crouched down look to the left at Walken is another priceless moment. As stand-up comedian Alvie Singer, Allen has several great lines in this movie including one where while being drafted, he was categorized as 4-F, which meant that in the “event of war, I’m a hostage”.

This movie above all else is about relationships and the difficulty in finding and keeping one and Allen’s character struggles throughout with several woman and ultimately with Annie Hall. Great lines include “if a Shark stops moving forward it will die and I think our relationship is a dead shark” and the line where I don’t​ like chickens, meaning relationships​, but I “need the eggs”, which is another great moment among​ so many in this great film.

Annie Hall won for best picture in 1978, Woody Allen won for best director and Diane Keaton won for best actress. Allen also won for best original screenplay and as awards and accolades​ go for any movie, this is about as good as it gets.

Annie Hall is probably the best comedy in the last 50 years and movies this funny and well done are very rare.

One irony in this movie is Alvie Singers philosophy​ of life and the “horrible and the miserable”, where people are in two categories either horrible or miserable. Horrible are people who are blind, crippled or terminally ill and the miserable is everyone else. So be thankful that you are miserable. This line in Annie Hall is very ironic because it makes you wonder if this has helped Woody Allen get past the child molestation charges that first started in 1992 and have continued every time he received an award or is honored, most recently at the Cannes Film Festival. Woody Allen will be 81 this year and he has a body of great work that is the envy of any writer or director in movie history. To have accusations like this happen after so many great years of success has to be devastating​ and probably half the people in the world think he is guilty and the other half mostly don’t​ believe the charges. Woody’s own children are the ones coming out against him even 24 years after the original accusations were revealed and that has to be even more painful for Woody Allen and his legacy. All of this reminds me of Gilda Radner’s famous line from her book which came out in 1989, It’s Always Something.


Annie Hall – IMDB

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Movie Review: The Lobster

This movie opens up with a woman in her car looking at 3 Donkeys grazing. She gets out of her car and shoots one of the Donkeys and then gets back into her car and watches as one of the Donkeys goes over to look at the dead Donkey that the woman just shot. As you get into the rest of this horrible movie you realize that the Donkey assassination at the start of this film was the screenwriters attempt at summarizing the point of this mess of a story. Namely, that the message is that if you are not paired up with someone then you should be dead and society should have you killed. More amazingly this movie suggests that you should be killed and then come back as another animal of your choosing where perhaps you can pair up with another animal of your chosen new species. This society of some alternate universe or future at least has the decency to give you 45 days to live in a dating camp where you have your last shot at finding someone to love and if you don’t, then you will be killed and turned into the animal of your choosing. It doesn’t seem to matter that medically this is not possible or that this is barbaric, what matters here is the message above all else.

This middle of this movie establishes the law that this strange society has mandatory mating because the main character played by Colin Farrel is approached by a law enforcement officer who demands to see his spouse who he says is in a store with their appropriate marriage forms. Rachel Weisz plays Farrel’s girlfriend in this movie and its hard to fathom why either one of these respected actors would ever agree to be in this disaster of a production.

Given the difficulty of coming up with new movie ideas, it’s understandable that a screenwriter and director would want to do something never been done before with a big message that is an “art house” type of movie, but this film is so disgusting, horrible, weird and bad that any message that is trying to be conveyed would be lost in nausea that makes up the majority of this messed up 2 hours.

Other insane scenes include Farrel’s girlfriend killing his dog off camera to prove that Colin Farrel is a sensitive and caring person so they are not really compatible. Another man slamming his head against a table so he has a bloody nose like a woman he wants to be with. The message here is I guess that people at times would do anything to not be alone, including lying to themselves and other people to be something or someone that they are not. If this is in fact, the message then why did the writer and director think that it was necessary to convey that message with death and violence at this level? Other scenes include some of the members of this dating camp going out and hunting the other single people who “did not make it”, or did not find a suitable love mate in the 45-day time limit. These people are hunted humanely with tranquilizer darts, only to later be dismembered, their organs and blood sent to hospitals and then converted into animals of their choosing, and in Farrel’s case a Lobster – supposedly because Farrel’s character believes that they live as much as 100 years.

I went to see this movie only because some of the reviews I saw on the internet were very positive. My guess is that whoever reviewed a movie this weird, disgusting and bad movie positively must be on Heroin because sitting through 2 hours of this horror seemed like what a drug overdose should feel like. It’s insane that a movie like this was even made and even more insane that 2 quality and famous actors agreed to make it. Colin Farrel even gained about 40 pounds to make this disaster and you just have to wonder what he was thinking. The last time I saw a movie that had this level of weird behind it was The Beaver which was directed by Jodie Foster and a disgraced Mel Gibson and came out in 2011. Another movie to never see.

My recommendation is to run from this disaster.


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Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse

As I was sitting through the movie “X-Men Apocalypse” I was thinking about previous Marvel or other action movies I have seen in the past that have both a great story and script and great special effects. The second Spider-Man movie of a number of years ago comes to mind, but not many others. My theory on movies like this remains the same. Because of the huge size, budget and number of people involved with movies like this, it’s probably not possible to do anywhere near everything right and that starts with a great screenplay. The pressure to get things done within a certain period of time does not fit well with the extreme difficulty of coming up with a great story and screenplay. The computer graphics involved with a movie like this is always first and foremost, after that a great story will always be a secondary concern. As a great story idea, why not show why the antagonist in a film like this has the motivation to want to destroy the world, rather than showing him trying to destroy the world.

Jennifer Lawrence is in this X-Men movie and keeping her incredible streak alive of not only winning 2 Academy Awards by age 24 but also making a huge fortune starring in blockbusters like this one and the Hunger Games series and probably getting a percentage of the profits which for this movie will be a great deal of money. She has to be just about the most fortunate actresses at the youngest age of all time. Hugh Jackman also had a very small role in this film without one single line of dialogue as the Wolverine.

This movie is certainly better than the recent Superman Vs Batman movie that came out in April and Captain America Civil War of a few weeks ago and there are times of humor and great action sequences. However, due to the run of the mill nature of this movie that is so much like other X-Men movies with nothing really new, my recommendation is marginal at best.


Me Before You: A Novel (Movie Tie-In)

Movie Review: Love and Friendship

The trailers for the movie “Love and Friendship” were on TV frequently the last few weeks and considering this is a relatively small movie and one of the first to come out of Amazon Studios, the many advertisements I have seen in the past few weeks was surprising. Even more surprising was how bad I thought this movie was. The story was all over the place, and nothing more than a series of disjointed conversations with many different characters, so many in fact that when they were first introduced there was a caption underneath a still of their face telling their name and their relationships to other characters in the film. This movie was also supposed to be a comedy, but I saw nothing funny in this movie and nobody in the crowded theater I was in laughed, not even once. What is even more surprising here is that most of the reviews of this movie I have seen so far seem to be positive although one I found did admit that you would need a road map to follow the plot.

What is the good of creating a plot and so many characters and a story that is so hard to follow? On top of this, the 1800’s old English fast pace talking is very hard to hear much less understand. For the first time in a long time, I actually left this movie early, because I just could not stand to watch disjointed scene after scene any longer. About the only good line in the movie was from Kate Beckinsale when she responded about marriage lasting forever was “not in her experience”, which seemed like a reference to her latest impending divorce from director Len Wiseman . The rest of this movie is a total mess that is almost impossible to follow and annoying when you try to figure out what people are saying or why they are doing what they are doing, or who are the many new characters being introduced in every scene.

Do yourself a favor and run from this movie.


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Past Movie Review: Erin Brockovich

There is nothing better than a great movie that is based on a great real life story. In all my years of movie going, I cannot remember a better story than the movie “Erin Brockovich” which came out in the year 2000. The story behind the life of the woman Erin Brockovich , who was a divorced single mother barely hanging on financially is an amazing Rocky – real life story.

The reality of an energy company , Pacific Gas and Electric poisoning the ground water of citizens in Hinkley California, then lying about it and then telling the people in Hinkley that the poison chromium is actually good for you, is an outrage and a crime that is unbelievable in the pursuit of greed and profits in the history of the United States. The resultant litigation and judgment of 333 million dollars was at the time the largest in US history and at the end of this movie, even though it was not disclosed, you just had to hope that every executive in that company went to jail for a very long period of time. I for one wondered while watching this great movie how people could sit in a conference room and care more about their paychecks and company profits than the health of so many people who lived in Hinkley. These people not only did not care, but they then lied to these people for years without any regard to the fact that many of these people and their children would die of any number of cancers and would also suffer birth defects.

Julia Roberts won the Oscar for best actress for this movie and it is by far the best role of her career. This entire movie was very well acted and the story extremely well told. If you have never seen the movie Erin Brockovich, you owe to yourself to see it.


Erin Brockovich – IMDB

The Life We Bury

Movie Review: Neighbors 2

Hopefully one day there is some course in UCLA film school that examines how writers and directors like Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler are able to continue to make very bad and horrible movies over and over again and become not only prolific but also very wealthy creating garbage. There is no other profession in the world other than movie making where you can create a very low-quality product at this level and still be rich and successful and then make many more of the same low-quality product. None of this makes any sense of course and we all know that life is unfair but at some point, there has to be a movie industry that makes sense. Quality first, and garbage is discarded and this should be the #1 rule of the movie industry but it’s not. The movie Neighbors 2 is the sequel to an equally bad movie Neighbors which came out 2 years ago this month. The fact that Neighbors 2 is a sequel is even more insane because now very bad movies are being made into multiple versions. I went to see this movie mostly because I was curious about how bad it was going to be, which is probably the reason why anyone saw the first Neighbors and will see this version.

The movie Neighbors 2 opens with Seth Rogen’s wife played by Rose Byrne , vomiting on him. To some people, who are perhaps in prison, this could be funny but to the rest of us, this is just disgusting. During this horrible mess of a movie, there were many raunchy and disgusting scenes like this and in the small audience I was in, nobody laughed at anything, not even once. Raunchy worked at times during a classic movie like Animal House , only because it was well done and well written. For this movie, nothing worked, not the raunchy disgusting scenes and not the ridiculous word-play that Rogan and several other screenwriters tried to squeeze in this almost 2 hours of garbage. Another scene included the use of car airbags and like the first Neighbors, Rogen seems to think it’s funny for people to explode in the air and hit their heads on the ceiling and crash to the floor. You have to worry about some stupid kids out in the world who might try this themselves and cause themselves or someone else some very serious injury or death. Aside from this obvious observation, flying in the air after being catapulted by an air bag, is simply not funny.

I was not surprised to see Zac Efron in this movie and he was in the previous Neighbors movie but I was surprised to see Chloe Grace Moretz because this movie has to be way below her normal standards. Perhaps there was some kind of a pre-deal with a production company that was made some years ago or some other promise or friendship that had her take this role which was a mistake. Fans of Zac Efron now have to really start to worry about his movie career as he has made so many bad movies for a number of years now. Each bad movie has to lower his clout in Hollywood.

This movie is about as bad as any movie of its kind has ever been and should be avoided at all costs.



Movie Review: The Nice Guys

It is said that screenwriting is the world’s most difficult art form in the world. One of the reasons for this is that so many movies have been made and stories told that being original and having an original idea is close to impossible. To be really original, one of the first things you have to do with a script is to create very original dialogue, but the problem with this is walking a fine line between what is called “on the nose dialogue” and witty subtext that is both different and not downright strange at the same time. Shane Black , who came to fame in 1987 at age 26 with the movie “Lethal Weapon”, both wrote and directed this movie and once again he attempts to be unusual and different which can at times seem to be too much of a good thing.

The movie “The Nice Guys” tries to walk a tightrope between being a private eye caper in the city of Los Angeles that is somewhat like the movie LA Confidential – 1997 also starring Kim Basinger and at times a very weird movie. One example of this weirdness is a scene where Ryan Gosling’s character is driving a car and then suddenly realizes that in the back seat there is a giant Bee and the car drives itself. This insanity is then explained as a dream sequence where Gosling’s character fell asleep while driving the car. Another scene has Gosling seeing a dead body and repeating the same exact fear reactions from Lou Costello in just about every Abbot and Costello movie and this came off as more embarrassing than funny. There is a speech by Russel Crowe where he talks about the last person you may see before you die is of all people, Richard Nixon. Crazy lines like this are all over this movie and at times this kind of thing works and at other times, it all falls flat.

At the start, the story involving of all things a mother-daughter feud, a porn movie, and a major Automobile manufacturer is all over the place and then comes together at the end after a good deal of unnecessary confusion. Some of the dialogue is funny and some of it just doesn’t work at all. There is a good deal of violence and death in this movie, some of it over the top and unnecessary but nothing more than we have all seen in movies for many years. Gosling’s character smokes in this movie non-stop which I for one always find to be very annoying and should not be allowed in any movie.

Russel Crowe, who plays the lead private investigator in this movie for some reason thought it necessary to gain a great deal of weight for this role. You had to wonder if this huge weight gain was really necessary for a role like this in the first place, especially considering the danger you can put on your overall health to gain an lose extreme amounts of weight. For me, it would have made no difference whether Crowe was normal weight or 40 pounds overweight to play this part.

The role of Gossling’s daughter is played extremely well by Angourie Rice and she almost steals the whole movie with her acting ability and young movie star looks. This young woman probably has launched a great acting career with this movie.

At the end, it was very obvious that this film may be the first in a continuing series of “Nice Guy” movies with Crowe and Gossling. If this movie makes a great deal of money there is no doubt that there will be one or perhaps many more sequels.

I thought this movie was good enough to recommend, despite the confused story and at times insane situations and dialogue.

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The Nice Guys – IMDB

Movie Review: The Medler

This movie is mostly about one thing: loneliness​ and adjusting after a spouse dies. I can’t​ remember ever seeing any movie that is entirely about this one issue, but this one handles this subject every well.

“The Medler” approaches the inevitable life of grief and death expertly, suggesting that the main character, played very well by Susan Sarandon​, is trying to distract herself from fully realizing her grief after her husband dies by constantly calling their only daughter, played very well by Rose Byrne, meddling into her business and driving her crazy. It’s quite believable​ that a person would do something like this, I​ definitely would, because sitting alone in a house and thinking about your grief would be an unbearable alternative​. Trying to distract yourself with other people and activities is certainly a healthy thing to do but can also make the people’s lives around you quite miserable​.

Once Sarandon’s​ daughter leaves to New York to shoot a TV pilot she replaces her daughter by helping her friend’s gay friend’s wedding, which also includes paying for it and handling all the details. Sarandon’s character it seems has a great deal of money after her husband has died and her therapist suggests that perhaps she is giving so much of it away because of her guilt of inheriting the money in the first place. In my opinion, her money was just another way of distracting herself from facing her grief. On an airplane, on the way home after visiting her daughter, Sarandon’s character had a moment of realization​ and grief that it seemed she was trying to avoid for the whole story. The acting at this point in the movie was both subtle and very well done.

There is a possible future love story that develops for Sarandon’s character towards the end of the movie and her boyfriend is played very well by
J.K Simmons
who is in many more movies lately after his groundbreaking performance in the movie Whiplash where he won a best supporting actor Oscar in 2014. The list of Simmon’s recent credits is amazing as he is trying to cash in on his Oscar before it all dries up. I have no idea how one actor can be in so many movies over such a short period of time.

This movie is a good one and the subject matter is very relatable. All of the acting performances are very good. I do recommend this movie.

Past Movie Review: Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is one of those movies that within the first few minutes you knew was something special. The idea behind this movie is a great one; a super genius without any formal education has mathematical skills far beyond anyone else in the world. This story came from real life, from an Indian math genius of the 1920’s named Ramanujan who was poor, never formerly educated and changed the world with new mathematical formula’s that nobody had previously been able to solve. This movie is also reviewed in this blog: The Man Who Knew Infinity

Good Will Hunting was nominated for best Picture in 1997 and won best original Screenplay. Robin Williams played the therapist who befriends Will Hunting in without any doubt the best acting role he ever had; for this role he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The lead character of Will Hunting was played by Matt Damon , who also co-wrote the screenplay with his co-star Ben Affleck . There were several reasons why Good Will Hunting was such a great movie: the unique story about a one of a kind math genius, the scenes discussing math with the MIT math professor and his colleagues, the acting and mostly the relationship between Robin Williams and Will Hunting which grows over the 2 hour movie to a great friendship ending in a scene where Willams character has a breakthrough with Will while discussing Hunting’s years of a very abusive childhood as a foster child. The resultant break through following Williams repeating the line “it’s not your fault” is one of the best and most emotional scenes I have ever seen in any movie (see video below). Like many actors who make movies, Robin Williams never achieved the heights he achieved in Good Will Hunting ever again and considering how good he was in this one role, that is a shame.

There is a love story in Good Will Hunting involving actress Minnie Driver and It thought that this was a good side story with the ups and downs of this relationship greatly affected by Will Huntings very bad childhood. Its been 19 years since this movie was released and if you have not see it already, you owe it to yourself to see this great movie.


Movie Review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

Srinivasa Ramanujan is one of the geniuses in this world that through the bad luck of being poor and living in a poor country like India and dying at a young age, never got the recognition he deserved for being one of the greatest and most brilliant mathematicians of all time. Ramanujan was mentioned in the movie Good Will Hunting and perhaps was the inspiration for that movie, because the main character was also not formerly educated and obtained great mathematical ability through talents that were born through sheer brain power and genius given by his own DNA or perhaps some fluke of nature. This is also true of brilliant giants of the past like Einstein and Issac Newton who were far ahead of other scientists and greatly advanced human knowledge during their time.

The movie The Main Who knew Infinity is about the short life os Srinivasa Ramanujan and his plight to find work in a poor Indian village through the use of his mathematical notebooks which contained hundreds of pages of original ideas that had never before been solved. From these notebooks Ramanujan was invited to Trinity College in Cambridge and collaborated for years with professor G.H Hardy , portrayed very well by Jeremy Irons . Another professor who also helped mentor Ramanujan was John Littlewood who was almost as brilliant as Ramanujam. This story also includes a love story with Ramanujan and his girlfriend at home whom he had to leave to travel to England and hopefully being published and once published their plan was to reunite. Numerous letters were exchanged by the couple until Ramanujan got sick with Tuberculosis but his girlfriend was never notified of this until right before he returned to her in India.

There is much talk of God in this movie and Ramanujan believed that God gave him all of these formulas to create but his mentor Professor Hardy did not believe in God and as he put it, “could never believe anything that he could not prove”. Proving the existence of God and “proofing” all of his formulas which were a prerequisite before getting published were a source of great conflict throughout this movie between Ramanujan and professor Hardy. Eventually, Ramanujan got the knack of writing proofs to prove every formula he created but despite this, the barriers he had to overcome because of the egos and prejudice of many of the professors at Cambridge were at times overwhelming.

One of the most interesting part of this movie was the attempt to prove the mathematical partition theory which counted the number of ways that a combination of numbers could be used to add up to another number. This theory was considered impossible for many years until Ramanujan devised a formula that solved this puzzle to .04% accuracy. What is not explained very well, is why solving complex problems like this one was considered so important.

If there is one flaw in this movie it was the constant chain smoking of Professor Hardy and you would think after so many years and so many lung cancer deaths we can find some kind of a middle ground towards not showing smoking at this level in any movie ever again. It seems that we are still a very long way from eliminating smoking in all movies.

This film is a very good one and I do recommend it for its cinematic​ quality and for its ability to teach unknown and important history.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity – IMDB

Ramanujan’s Notebooks