Movie Review: A Private War

This is a movie about the reality of war, but this reality is completely avoidable. In my opinion, there has never been any need to ever have any member of the press in harms way in the middle of any war zone in the world. Members of the press are not trained, do not have a weapon and everything that they do, including taking pictures, video and ultimately writing a story all can be replaced with simple common sense alternatives, that ultimately will save lives. The number of correspondents killed while covering wars over the years is staggering and completely unnecessary. A simple video camera on a tank, some pictures being taken by a soldier and in the end the same story, without putting a civilian in such a dangerous situation can be written with the reporter safe and sound in a hotel miles from the war.

The movie “A Private War” is about war correspondent Marie Colvin who spent her entire career reporting in war zones and ultimately lost her eye and in the end her life in Syria in February 2012 spending her last minutes in the most violent place on earth that she had no business being in.

There is a saying about having a “calling” for a particular profession, and this includes being a doctor or a dentist, a construction worker and as this story clearly proves – being a reporter; reporting in the most violent and dangerous places on earth because you just have to be a witness to history, you just have to get that story.

The acting in this movie is very good, starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Colvin but for me the non stop, constant and disgusting cigarette chain smoking in this movie was so prevalent, I cannot give a recommendation to this movie. Despite the very strong reviews, especially on Rotten Tomatoes at 89%, I still cannot recommend this film out of principle. It does not matter that Marie Colvin and her colleagues probably smoked, what matters in this film is the overwhelming and constant depiction of this horrendous risk to a person’s health that has no business being shown in any movie this frequently. Especially because some Tobacco company is investing money to help produce the film.

Movie Review: Green Book

Probably the most significant thing about the very good movie “Green Book” is finding out about what the Green Book was. The Green Book was a book that was published in the 50’s and 60’s that documented all the places in the Southern United States that was friendly to black people. The fact that a book like this had to be published so that black people could travel in peace in the South is tragic and represents a harsh reality of bigotry that has existed for far too many years in this country.

The real life story of Green Book is a great one, about a chauffeur who drives a highly talented black piano player Dr. Don Shirley to performance venues in the Midwest and then the deep South in 1962. As a black man having the courage to play shows in the deep south Shirley needed not only a driver but also a body guard so he hired Tony Lip to protect him from the expected bigotry and abuse he knew he would face performing as a black man in some of the most dangerous cities in this country. What is both amazing and depressing about this story is that even though Don Shirley was a greatly respected piano player who played shows to rich white people, he was not even allowed to use the bathroom, dine at the restaurant or even try on a suit jacket in a local clothing store.

Early in this story, we find out that Tony Lip is also a bigot even stooping to throwing out drinking glasses in his house because two black repairmen drank from them. The point of this story is all about the transition from bigotry to humanity and it reminded me of the great movie released in 2000, “Remember the Titans”, starring Denzel Washington who was the coach of a racially divided high school football team. The message here is that bigotry exists because of stupidity, fear and prejudice born out of habit. When people are put together as people then all that remains is that we are all just human beings first and foremost, and the color of our skin has never been relevant. Its always been the most tragic that a concept this basic and obvious has been so unreachable to so many people.

The acting in Green Book is outstanding with Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip and Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley. This film should definitely receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture with possible nominations for both Mortensen and Ali. I highly recommend Green Book as one of the very best movies of 2018.

Movie Review: The Front Runner

I could not help but wonder what Gary Hart must have been thinking in 2016 when he saw Donald Trump win the election for President despite the myriad of things he had done and said about women for years compared to what he did in 1988. Within a few days Hart’s career as a politician was destroyed along with his Presidential campaign. There is no comparison to what Gary Hart did in 1988 to what Trump has said and done for so many years and after he was elected. The only reason why Gary Hart was ruined by his relatively minor one time mistake and Trump was elected is because people view everything about Donald Trump differently and say to themselves, “Oh that’s just Trump, who cares”. Despite all of this, the irony is quite amazing considering all that has happened during the last 2 years, including proof that Trump was having an affair with a porn star. At the end of the movie, it was confirmed that Gary Hart and his wife are still married 30 years after the “Donna Rice, Money Business” scandal and there was some real evidence that the press did in fact treat Gary Hart unfairly.

As far as the movie “Front Runner”, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman, it plays like a combination of reality show and documentary, so I thought that the quality of the film making was not what I expected for a movie like this. The acting was very good, including Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart and Vera Farmiga as his wife and J.K. Simmons as Hart’s campaign manager.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a very average 58% – which is about the same as my opinion, so I give this movie a very marginal recommendation mostly for the history of what happened 30 years ago.