Movie Review: Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot

There are so many things bad about being an alcoholic – the list is almost endless. The new movie “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot” is a true story about just one of many scenario’s that happen to far too many people. The horrendous potential dangers of driving while drunk or in the case of this true story about Cartoonist John Callahan – getting into a car, at age 21 that is driven by someone who is seriously drunk. The result of the car accident was that Callahan was crippled for the rest of his life and wound up in a wheelchair and the driver walked away from the accident with a few scratches. This was despite the fact that the car he was driving was a Volkswagen Beetle and ran into a pole at 90 miles and hour. This movie is a survival story about a man who was an alcoholic most of his life and there are many scenes of Callahan attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and trying to get through a 12 step recovery program.

This low budget movie was written and directed by the great director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) and is based on a book written by John Callahan. The acting in this film that included Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black was outstanding and I have always been impressed at the career decision of Joaquin Phoenix to only make low budget high quality movies for far less money.

This story is about a very depressing list of subjects including alcoholism and trying to recover from losing your ability to walk and take care of yourself. One cannot help but put themselves into the position of John Callahan who knew at age 21 that he would never walk again. Many people would commit suicide when facing something this horrendous at such a young age. This story is about survival, rationalization, trying to heal and understand why someone drinks to escape unbearable pain – in this case of Callahan his mother abandoned him as a child. Much of this was difficult to watch, but in the end the story was extremely well told.

Throughout this film, some of Callahan’s cartoons were shown – some of the better ones were:

“Two Ku Klux Klansmen heading out at night in their white sheets. Says one: “Don’t you love it when they’re still warm from the dryer?”

“A beggar in the street wearing a sign that reads, “Please help me. I am blind and black, but not musical.”

“A sign in the window of a small, street-side restaurant says: “The Anorexic Cafe, Now Closed 24 Hours a Day!”

I thought this film was a high quality low budget movie worthy of a great director like Gus Van Sant and I recommend it.

Movie Review: Mission Impossible – Fallout

The only problem with an action movie that was this well made is the danger in making it so spectacular and the belief that in the next movie, dangerous stunts and action scenes can be made even more amazing than the previous film. It has been a forgone conclusion for many years now that there is no doubt that Tom Cruise is by far the best stuntman in the history of film making. For reasons that can only be attributed to some kind of a brain abnormality – Tom Cruise has no fear of anything. This one abnormality may one day kill Tom Cruise while making an action film. The thought of “Its only a movie” seems to not be part of Cruise’s thought process.

In the latest Mission Impossible, “Mission Impossible – Fallout”, Cruise sky dives out of a plane at 25,000 feet, he climbs up a rope to a Helicopter, only to fall and save himself on a giant ball the Helicopter is carrying. He rides a motorcycle through dangerous streets in Paris France with no helmet and then crashes into a car and flies over the car. He flies a Helicopter at very low altitudes and at top speed, and very dangerous stunt flying. In this movie he broke his ankle and considering all the risks he took making this movie and all the takes (the sky diving scene took 106 takes) he is very lucky to be alive. Many have said recently about this 6th Mission Impossible movie that Tom Cruise must have a death wish and after seeing this incredible film – I agree with this assessment. Tom Cruise is worth close to 600 million dollars and he will be 56 this month. He has nothing more to prove – so why he or anyone like him would take risks like this makes no sense. With today’s technology using computers can create extremely realistic special effects and any number of stunt men could have done most or all of the action sequences that Cruise insisted on doing himself in this movie. So the question is, why does Cruise insist on risking his life so many times? Its not just the strong possibility of dying while making a movie – what about being crippled for life or a paraplegic from the neck down – which for someone like Tom Cruise would be worse than getting killed. One can only wonder the cost of hiring an insurance company to insure a movie like this one when the main star insists on doing all the most dangerous stunts himself.

As far as this film, I thought it was the best of the 6 Mission Impossible movies right above Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol that was released in 2012 and in that movie Cruise ran down a rope on the tallest building in the world. This is the first Mission Impossible movie that has a direction continuation of the previous one and I thought the story, which at times was a little far fetched was extremely well done and kept my attention for the entire 2 1/2 hours. This movie probably contains more dangerous and impressive action scenes in the entire history of film making.

With the exception of Jeremy Renner who starred in the last two Mission Impossible films this new film has all the regular characters, played by Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Angela Basset, Michelle Monaghan and newcomer Henry Cavill and all were outstanding in their roles.

This film is one of the best, if not the best of the entire year and considering the work involved, the great directing and incredible action sequences – should be nominated for best picture, but probably will not be because its not the kind of a movie that the Academy nominates – unfortunately.

Mission Impossible – Fallout gets my highest recommendation.

Movie Review: Unfriended: Dark Web

The new movie “Unfriended: Dark Web” seems to be another part of a new trend in the movie industry – Social Media Horror Movie. I have seen another movie like this as well, where the entire film takes place online, within Facebook, Google Email, Skype and other social media sites. The concept with this movie is that there are criminals selling and buying snuff videos were people are being murdered and a group of friends in their mid-20’s somehow, through a laptop that was bought on Craigslist – get into a great deal of trouble.

Despite the fact that all the acting in this movie is 100% online and we only see the actors faces – I thought the acting was quite good, and the story while very convoluted and in some areas completely implausible was well written. The entire cast is composed of newcomers, all of whom hope that they have a career in Hollywood and we all have to start somewhere.

Overall, I give Unfriended, the Dark Web a marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: Equalizer 2

Most of us like movies like the Equalizer and the sequel “Equalizer 2” because we want real life to work out like the way fictional life plays out in movies like this one. The hero evens the score and makes sure that the lowlife, the murderers and kidnappers pay a price for who they are and what they do to good people. We like to see this because justice like this is more than often, not the way real life plays out. Far too often the lowlife and the criminals in the world escape retribution and do not pay a commensurate price for what they do to other people. Movies are an escape from reality but for two hours I thought Equalizer 2 was a well done escape into a world where the good guy makes the criminals pay dearly for what they have done.

The acting of Danzel Washington in this movie was outstanding and he is outstanding in everything that he does. I thought this movie was on a par with the original that was released in 2014 – and I was very surprised with the anemic score of only 51% on Rotten Tomatoes – I give this film a solid 80%. Some of the action scenes are rather far-fetched with the incredible speed that Washington’s character dispatches so many bad guys and at time the story was rather slow and predicatable, but overall I give Equalizer 2 a very solid positive recommendation.

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.