Movie Review: Welcome to Marwen

Best Motion Picture – Drama

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama>

Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
John David Washington (“BlackKklansman”)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Best Director

Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlackKklansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Vigo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man and the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan and Ollie”)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlackKklansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture

Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)

Best Original Song in a Motion Picture

“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin'”)
“Requiem for a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation” (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture

Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

“Never Look Away”

Best Animated Film

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns

The central story of the 1964 Disney Classic “Mary Poppins” is about a single father whose wife has recently died and who then has forgotten to make mortgage payments for 3 months and now faces losing his house, despite having to raise two children on his own. The callous inhumanity shown by the bankers in this story has nothing to do with fantasy or dancing and singing and everything to do with the the harsh reality of life and money.

For many people of a certain age, they will remember Mary Poppins as the very first movie they have ever seen in a movie theater, myself included. Given the great quality of the original, I thought this remake was extremely unnecessary. Despite never being a fan of musicals, most of the story here is quite boring with a film that is too long and with music that was not nearly good enough as the original. This could be a film that is enjoyable for young children younger than 12 years old but for everyone else, it drags on into uninteresting scenes that seem disjointed with a constantly overcast and rainy sky typical of London, reminding all of us that we would never want to live there.

The star of this film, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda are both good in their roles, with some Oscar buzz for Blunt so it is unfortunate that this was not a better movie.

I recommend Mary Poppins Returns only for young children, but this version should be skipped in favor of renting the original Mary Poppins, which is a far better movie.

Movie Review: Vice

The new movie “Vice” Directed by Adam McKay rings very similar to his other film “The Big Short” with its use of extremely unusual and never seen before movie ideas. For instance this movie starts rolling the end of movie credits in the middle of the film, in an attempt to be funny because the audience knows the movie is not over and what was going to happen next. Numerous flashbacks throughout the life and career of Dick Chaney, played extremely well by Christian Bale, try to enhance the viewing experience by surprising and tricking the audience. I thought a very simple point in the movie where Cheney was standing at the entrance of what was going to be his office as the Vice President flashing back to where it all began was extremely well done. In my opinion just about all of these new ideas worked in this movie like they did in The Big Short that was released in 2015, which was a great movie about the 2008 Financial Crisis.

As the story of Vice unfolds it uncovers what everybody knows who has followed politics and Cheney’s career have always suspected. Cheney was really the president during the Bush administration from 2001-2009 and George Bush was mostly a figurehead and even as this story makes clear, a buffoon. The problem is, the United States did not elect Dick Cheney to be President, we elected George W. Bush.

There are many references to the 911 attacks on September 11, 2001, even at the very start of this movie. There are several scenes that suggest that Cheney was in charge of the country during the 911 crisis and making all the critical decisions including the orders to shoot down any plane that might seem to be threatening the United States. The scenes involving decisions about the Iraq war point out what many also thought about this unjust conflict – the Bush administration thought that the people of the United States wanted revenge after 911 and Iraq was the country we used to get even. To achieve the end result of an invasion of Iraq in March 2003, they conducted interviews with American citizens and collected data from polls. This culminated with a speech that Colon Powell, played by Tyler Perry, gave to the United Nations citing “weapons of mass destruction”. Powell later called this speech that essentially green-lighted the Iraq war, the most difficult thing he has ever had to do. There are many suggestions that Dick Cheney profited very well when Halliburton, the company that he was formerly the CEO, gained tremendously from the Iraq war including the stock rising 500% during this period.

If there is any flaw in this movie it was about not showing the missing years where Cheney rose from being a hopeless drunk who was thrown out of Yale, to the White House where he eventually held many important jobs, then Vice President and in between became the CEO of Halliburton. I think this was a very important part of Cheney’s life story and it should not have been left out. This movie also shows several scenes where George W. Bush was himself a hopeless drunk even embarrassing himself at a party where Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney, played very well by Amy Adams, attended. There are many scenes about Cheney’s frequent heart problems even putting him in a hospital about to die because they could at the time, not find a heart donor. In my opinion, there should be Academy Award nominations for this movie, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Steve Carell who played Donald Rumsfeld.

I was surprised at the relatively low ratings for Vice on Rotten Tomatoes at only 66% because I thought this movie should be given a solid 90% and as a result I give a solid recommendation to Vice. I am sure that both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush will not have this high of an opinion as it paints a pretty bleak picture about both of them.

Movie Review: Aquaman

There are many tell-tale signs that you’re in a theater watching a bad movie. People are constantly getting up to go to the bathroom, or to buy food to distract themselves. In my case I was happy I have my cell phone to look at something – or anything other than this 2 hours and 20 minutes of what amounts to a mess. Its obvious that in the end all of the DC Comic and Marvel super hero’s will eventually be made into a movie – but this is the worst super hero movie I have seen yet. There is a disconnected convoluted story and once again, when there is no good screenplay, the workaround is huge special effects, fight scenes and explosions. What is worse is that this bad movie is way too long, well over 2 hours. Why drag on a bad movie? Give the audience a break before there is a mass rush for the exits. This bad film seems to be making money, only because its a new Super Hero Comic movie, so unfortunately there will probably be a sequel.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Aquaman are an average 64% – way too high in my opinion. I would have given this movie about a 10% rating. This movie stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard and even Nicole Kidman, who makes appearances in the beginning and end of this film. The question I asked myself when I saw Kidman in this movie was, why?

Run from this worst ever Comic Super Hero movie, its not worth 1 hour of your time, much less almost 2 1/2 hours.

Movie Review: Second Act

The problem with the new movie “Second Act” starring Jennifer Lopez as Maya who an unmarried woman is the entire premise. A high school dropout wants to go up in the world and tries to get past the barriers of previous work experience and a college education by posting on Facebook with lies about her past jobs and even her degree from Wharton School of Business. Then, the audience is expected to believe that a huge cosmetics company that hires Maya is not going to check and recheck and verify every single thing that Maya has on her resume and posted on Facebook.

There is one scene where a relative intercepts a call from the company when they try to call Wharton – that is absolutely ridiculous and could never happen. The twist in the middle of this pretty bad movie is also very far fetched and for the most part does not work. Just about all of Jennifer Lopez movies all seem the same, so I suspect that the script for this movie was laying around somewhere and someone said – “Lets use Lopez for this one.” I also thought that one scene where a number of flying pigeons were killed when the flew into a truck was in extremely bad taste.

Unfortunately nobody read this script enough to know that the entire story is pretty bad. There is some chemistry between Lopez and her real life best friend Leah Remini, but other than that, the entire concept of this screenplay is so bad that its hard to believe and anyone decided it was good enough to green-light.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie are a low 42% and I would give this at most a 30% – and recommend that this movie is skipped.

Movie Review: Ben is Back

The opioid crisis has understandably been responsible for two recent movies, the first is “Beautiful Boy” starring Steve Carrell and now “Ben is Back” with Julia Roberts. The message within both of these movies is the same: the pain drug addicts cause other people in their family is very often as great or greater than the pain they cause themselves. When you are desperately trying to rescue someone from themselves and they just continue on the same path, what can you do? Ultimately the responsibility for changing a disastrous human life is up to the person whose life is a disaster and no amount of hope, pleading, begging, paying for extremely expensive rehab, from anyone else is going to rescue any person from self destruction.

I thought the title of this film, “Ben is Back” is a bad one considering the dire subject matter but the acting from both Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges was outstanding. Ben is Back was both written and directed by Lucas Hedges father, Peter Hedges. Its been an amazing run for Lucas Hedges who is bound to receive and academy award nomination for this movie along with Julia Roberts, although I thought this movie was too weak in too many areas for her to win. The problem with this movie is after a very strong start, eventually degrades into a search mission to find a dog that was stolen from their house by some very dangerous drug pushers. I was surprised at this simplistic direction, considering how severe and complex the drug addiction problem has become in this country. Despite all of this, I do give Ben is Back a solid recommendation.

Movie Review: Bumblebee

The new movie “Bumblebee” finally answers the question, “will there ever be a good Transformer movie, if so, how will that happen?” Bumblebee is actually a good movie and after about 5 very bad Transformer movies the solution was to eliminate Michael Bay from the equation. Bumblebee actually has a good story, is not all about special effects, there is evidence of acting. All of these are never seen before concepts in over 10+ hours of 5 horrendous Transformer movies that have preceded Bumblebee.

This movie stars Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, who is the young woman who discovers Bumblebee and John Cena as the US agent who tries to find him. This movie is far from perfect and some of the story line is far fetched. The ending represents a series of events, including climbing an alien high tower to cut wires that was ridiculous and a young girl of 17 would never do. But the need for story ending high drama includes adding scenes like this far too often. The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for this movie are extremely high, currently 93% and my rating is a solid 80%. I recommend Bumblebee, however some of the fight scenes might be too intense for young children.

Movie Review: The Favourite

There are a number of things that did not make sense with the new movie “The Favourite”. The first is, why are two Academy Award Winning actresses, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in this horrendous mess? How could they have read this bad script and still taken this movie? Why is Rotten Tomatoes giving this bad movie, with no real story a 94% rating? This movie takes place in the 1800’s in France during the war with England, so it is known as a period piece, but who cares?

I have always wondered why the French use to wear those huge wigs during that time – never realizing how ridiculous they look; to say nothing of how hot it must have been to wear so much fake hair. Towards the end of this movie, there is an overweight naked French man with a long haired fake wig who is pelted with oranges and he suddenly appears in this strange scene with no buildup or explanation. He just suddenly appears out of nowhere, covering his privates with this hand, and people are throwing oranges at him. Why? This was never explained but how can you explain something this idiotic and random anyway? Its something they did in the 1800’s in France or a candid camera film editing stunt?

This is one of the few movies I can remember where I walked out before the end because I could not stand to waste the full 2 hours. This is one of the worst movies I have seen in a while and it should be missed. Do not be fooled by the critics, because they are wrong. Run from this embarrassing waste of 2 hours.

Movie Review: The Mule

The new film “The Mule” is about a story that were it not true, the overall experience would not be as believable or as good as this movie is. Clint Eastwood both stars and directed this movie and one of his best in recent years, and a good comeback from the bad “The 15:17 to Paris” released in February. It is amazing to see Eastwood still going strong at age 88 and I am sure if anyone asked him how he feels about being 88 years old he would say that “he is too busy to care”.

The Mule is about money and what a 90 year old World War 2 Veteran Earl Stone does to keep his house from being foreclosed on. To get a new truck for himself and to survive another day. By chance he becomes a mule, smuggling drugs from Mexico to Indiana and at first it seems a simple job where he does what he is told and at the end of the trip he collects a great deal of money. Over time the value of the cargo he is carrying grows exponentially as does the danger he puts himself in. What everybody finds out eventually when they deal with criminals and murders who smuggle drugs, is that eventually you will get yourself into a great deal of trouble and if you one day want to walk away, you cant, they will just kill you. The side story of Stone’s wife, played by Dianne Wiest I thought was very well done and showed how Earl Stone ignored his family most of his life, concentrating instead on plants because of his job as of all things, a horticulturist.

I thought the acting throughout this movie was very good, including Andy Garcia as the drug kingpin in Mexico and Bradley Cooper as the DEA Agent. Unfortunately, the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie are an anemic 63%, which surprises me because I give this movie a solid 80%. I do recommend The Mule.

Movie Review: At Eternities Gate

The new film “At Eternities Gate” is about Vincent Van Gogh and the isolated depressing life he lead long before he was ever known to be one of the greatest painters of all time. His isolation right after his best friend, Paul Gauguin left him for the city eventually caused him to cut off his ear.

I thought the scenes of van Gogh painting and creating were very impressive as was the acting of Willem Dafoe who played Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac who played Paul Gauguin. However, I found this movie mostly too slow boring to recommend, despite the relatively high ratings. Just not my kind of movie.