The new movie “Murder on the Orient Express” is a remake of the original made in 1974. I always ask myself, when there is a remake of a movie like this, why a remake? Was the movie important enough or memorable enough to make another one? Very often and including this time, the answer to that question is no. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most famous of all the Agatha Christie novels, but in my opinion the ending of this story is too unbelievable and convoluted to really believe possible and for that reason, and for the reason that the entire movie was quite boring, I cannot recommend this movie.
There are many known actors in this film, including Johnny Depp and
Michelle Pfeiffer, but their appearances are not enough to have any reason to recommend this film.
First off, I was pretty disgusted and shocked by the middle of the road estimates on Rotten Tomatoes for this very good movie. When I read some of the reviews, I wondered if some of these reviewers were in the wrong movie theater. Right from the start, I can state that Roman J. Isreal, ESQ. is one of the best movies of 2017.
“Roman J. Israel, ESQ. , played extremely well by Denzel Washington is about the conflict between idealism as a young lawyer starts out his career, and the desire and need for financial security that becomes more necessary as you get older.
As this movie explains very well, within the legal system today, prosecutors throw very severe maximum penalties at the accused in the hopes that they will accept a plea bargain, because if they fight the system and lose, their entire reason for living goes down the drain with their prison term. The only thing worse than going to prison is going to prison for something you didn’t do, or living through a prison term that is completely out of proportion to the one time mistake you made as a young kid. Your choice is to fight prosecution, lose all your savings and if you lose, getting the worst case scenario prison term. If your found innocent because of a mistake by a prosecutor or a lying witness, you don’t get a refund from the legal firm that charges you 500 dollars an hour to save your life. Your financially ruined for life and you did nothing wrong. These are the harsh realities of how the broken legal system in this country works for so many unfortunate people.
For me the most significant scene in this movie is towards the beginning, where Roman meets with a young 17 year old terrified kid, who is in prison waiting trial and while trying to negotiate a fair plea for this young man, who made a small mistake and to save his own life, wore a gang t-shirt. The female prosecutor made it very clear that she could care less about the life of this unfortunate poor 17 year old. She only cared about about her perfect batting average as a prosecutor as Roman desperately tried to plead for his life. This is what is wrong with the legal system in this country, humanity, common sense and decency takes a back seat to a batting average. Underlying all the complex and unfair laws are young human lives who either because being poor or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, face a horrible existence that is barely worth living, in prison, and far too often for something they didn’t even do.
Fighting for the innocent and not being about the money is what Roman Israel is all about. Mainly due to his idealism, he has been living alone in a run down apartment for the last 35 years. Israel is a legal savant with a photographic memory but unfortunately is slightly autistic, with perhaps a mild case of Asperger’s syndrome and because of that, just does legal research for a small firm that is very deeply in debt and then the owner of the firm has a heart attack, which is where this movie begins. Roman cares about helping the less fortunate so much that he has been preparing a huge legal brief for many years, in the hopes of cleaning up a system that just does not work and is grossly unfair to the less fortunate who get pushed through a system with plea bargains and sentences that are outrageously unfair.
I thought that Colin Farrell’s performance as a rich lawyer who hires Roman was one of the best performances of his career. Colin plays a lawyer who is the opposite of Roman, and mostly cares about money and almost never about helping people. This film has a great story, great back stories, and transitions as the main characters find themselves through mistakes and by learning from others. There are some scenes as Roman attends a meeting of young civil rights advocates that I thought was also outstanding and inspiring.
I thought that Roman J. Israel, ESQ. is one of the best films of 2017 and it receives my highest recommendation. Tragically, Denzel Washington should receive another Academy Award nomination, but probably will not because of the average reviews for this very good movie.
Aside from having one of the longest titles for a movie I have seen in a long time, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, is a story about grief and the loss of a child told in one of the most unusual ways I have ever seen. In order to make a movie today, considering just about every idea has been tried or tested, coming up with an idea this unusual is almost mandatory.
Surviving grief because of the loss of a child requires therapy, anti-depressant drugs and massive rationalization. Losing a child, especially one who was raped and murdered is just about impossible for anyone to ever recover from. The divorce rate for people who lose a child is understandably extremely high. Some people turn to drugs to cope with their grief and the constant reminders of what could have been, the opportunity lost, high school graduations, weddings, the birth of the first grandchild. But in this case of the story in this movie, some people get very angry, like the main character, played extremely well by Francis McDormand. Due to her frustration over the police never solving her daughters murder after 7 months, she decides to put put up 3 billboards to humiliate the police chief, played by Woody Harrelson. The billboards ask the police chief why nobody has been arrested for the crime of murdering her daughter after so many months. I thought that the 3 billboard idea in this story is not only very unusual and extreme but very believable when you get to know the main character played by Mcdormand who is tough, strong and takes no disrespect from anybody. There are very good side stories with the police officers in the town of Ebbing that include racial bigotry and the harsh reactions of the towns people towards this grieving mother because of her billboards, even despite her tragic loss that I thought was very well done.
The acting in this movie is outstanding enough to create several Academy Award nominations, starting with Francis Mcdormand with her best role since winning the Academy Award in 1996 for Fargo. I also think that this movie might also receive a nomination for best picture and it is one of the best films of 2017.