Movie Review: Hotel Mumbai

In terms of any film that has ever told a true story of a horrific terrorist attack, I have never seen a more intense, disturbing or hard to watch example than this one. The terrorist attacks that happened in Mumbai from November 26-29, 2008 claimed 166 lives not including 9 of the 10 terrorists. This horrific event involved ten terrorists who broke into 12 different buildings including the famous “Hotel Mumbai” and indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children as they ran for their lives.

Some critics have correctly written that this movie goes too far in showing this horrific terrorist attack, the point being – why depict the sick evil acts that animals like this perpetrated on so many innocent people at this level of evil inhumanity? I agree with this opinion and my thinking is that for this movie, the overwhelming scenes of so much death and the way people were killed went too far.

Hotel Mumbai stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs and Nazanin Boniadi and the acting throughout this story was real and well done. This movie is not not for the faint of heart or any children. The fear with all movies like this is that some sick person in the world might see it and be inspired by the extreme terrorism and non stop murder.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this film are 74% and I give it only 60% because it was just not necessary to make a film about a real terrorist attack that this was overwhelmingly violent and disturbing. I would recommend anyone read about this terrorist attack that happened in 2008 instead of seeing this movie.

Movie Review: Us

For the movie “Get Out”, released in 2017, Jordan Peele won the Oscar for best original screenplay. His new movie Us, is very similar in design to Get Out in that he combines horror, strange, crazy and weird into what could be argued a completely new genre of film. Like Get Out the ratings for Us are extremely high, but for me, crazy, strange and weird is not scary. Crazy and strange is just strange, not terrifying. It is no surprise that Peele, who is being called the new Alfred Hitchcock, has made a second horror movie right after Get Out and you have to admire the effort to think of another strange idea like Us.

The story of Us, starts in 1986 around the time of the “Hands Across America” event of all things, where a young girl sees her exact counterpart in a haunted house on the beach. After many years she returns to this exact same beach with her husband, daughter and son, and the existence of these counterparts explodes into something that resembles a zombie movie. Us has only one known actor, Lupita Nyong’o and her acting in this movie holds your attention throughout.

I only recommend Us for those who enjoy a strange horror zombie movies and for the rest of us, this one should be skipped.

Movie Review: Gloria Bell

The new movie “Gloria Bell” is about many things, but mostly about survival after a divorce. Gloria Bell is played by Julianne Moore, a woman in her 50’s and after her divorce is trying to find someone in LA dance clubs that play music from the 1970’s and 80’s. The awkwardness of trying to have any conversation with anyone in a noisy dance club like this, I thought was played out very well. This entire movie is a series of connected and disconnected scenes with Gloria and her new boyfriend, played by John Turturro and her x-husband, her daughter who is moving away, her son who is having marriage problems and the complicated awkward emotions so common in all human relationships.

Given that the story was so disconnected there is less of a real story and more of a series of emotions based on something that is either going wrong or right at the time. The acting in Gloria Bell is outstanding and includes a large number of known actors Michael Cera, Holland Taylor, Brad Garrett, Rita Wilson, Sean Astin and Jeanne Tripplehorn who I have not seen in a movie in many years. Unfortunately and once again, there are too many scenes where people are smoking in this film, continuing this stain on so many movies that are financed by Tobacco companies.

The Rotten Tomatoes review for Gloria Bell is a very high 94% and my rating is a very solid 85%, more for the acting then the story.

Movie Review: Captive State

The new movie “Captive State” is about the aftermath of a massive alien invasion within the city of Chicago. The only 2 things interesting about this bad movie are that making a movie about the aftermath of an alien invasion is not a subject I have seen done before and the screenwriter and director managed to make a movie about aliens and an invasion, incredibly boring. Captive State is one of the bad movies that you will forget within hours of seeing it, after wondering why a great actor like John Goodman decided to make this mess.

Everybody should run from this very bad waste of 2 hours. The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie is 47%, and my rating is 7%.

Movie Review: Five Feet Apart

If there is even the most remote silver lining in the shocking recent death of actor Luke Perry at the young age of 52 due to a sudden stroke, it is that he didn’t know it was coming. Very suddenly, with no warning he got a very severe stroke, then went into a coma and never woke up. Perry did not have to endure years of agony, fear and operations followed by hope that things would get better only to get sick again and after years of suffering finally die. The fear of knowing that death may be coming can very often be worse than the disease itself.

Diseases like CF(Cystic Fibrosis) are the most insidious because it attacks young people and slowly kills you after years of suffering as mucus builds up in the lungs making it harder and harder to breathe. The new movie “Five Feet Apart” is about two teenage patients who have CF within a well told story that takes place entirely inside of a hospital. Then we all learn about all aspects of one of the worst diseases anyone can get in life. The only cure for CF is a lung transplant but even with that miracle surgery the average life span after the transplant is about 5 years.

The title “Five Feet Apart” is the distance that the 2 teenage CF patients played by Haley Lu Richardson as Stella and Cole Sprouse as Will have to stand apart, so they don’t give themselves an additional infection that would make their condition worse. Throughout the story there are new clinical trials that provide hope for all the patients with CF as the hope that maybe this time it will work and will be the miracle cure. This is followed by more fear and depression as another attempted clinical trial fails.

We have all seen tearjerker movies like this one, where one or both of the main characters have a terminal disease and fall in love. All films like this are very hard to watch, and this one is no different. The acting is well done, and the story while not a great one, is good enough to recommend. Movies like this along with a tragic celebrity death like Luke Perry temporarily knock us away from our life of habits and very often feeling sorry for ourselves over a bad relationship, money problems, a bad job or any number of other issues that are trivial when we compare it to something like this.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie are only 53% and I think this is way too low. My rating is around 75% for a solid, but depressing story about disease and real life.

Movie: Apollo 11

Due to newly discovered NASA footage and 11,000 hours of audio recordings, the world can now see what really happened during the Apollo 11 mission of July 20, 1969 – almost 50 years ago. The documentary “Apollo 11” shows footage that even includes the late Johnny Carson attending the Apollo 11 launch and within a few hours of the launch a leak that required of all things, “bolt tightening”. Almost 50 years later, is unbelievable that any of the Apollo missions, save Apollo 13 that did not make it to the moon – did not include horrendous loss of life that might have included the Astronauts swallowing cyanide tablets because they were stranded on the moon or lost forever in space. The rockets, capsule and lunar module had millions of parts, any one of which could have failed, despite the backups and redundancy. Due to the intense cold, heat or vibrations on takeoff, something might have been missed and a rocket might not work at the exact wrong time or something could have exploded, like it did on Apollo 13. Due to the likelihood that something could have easily gone wrong, the odds of failure especially during the first mission to the moon was extremely high and this is one of the many reasons why everybody involved with the Apollo missions should be greatly admired.

The Astronauts had to be calm at all times, even though their heart rates, especially Neil Armstrong’s showed a high levels of nervousness at key points throughout the mission. All the Astronauts who flew to the moon had to prepare themselves for death, and this required incredible courage from all who went to the moon during the Apollo missions; the last one Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972. There was no way to test for every contingency considering the large number of unknowns of a mission like this. Consider the extreme level of risk with 1969 technology when we now know that 17 years later in 1986 and 34 years later in 2003 the Space Shuttle blew up during launch and re-entry, killing 14 Astronauts.

The United States has never attempted any man missions to the moon since 1972 and this decision had more to do with the extreme cost, than the extreme risk of life. There has been talk of going to the moon again, but considering our National Debt the huge costs, this may never happen. Since Apollo and the end of the Space Shuttle, non government organizations including Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos and Space X, owned by Elon Musk have continued space exploration with large rockets and now NASA only flies robot missions to Mars and the other planets and even uses Russian rockets to send men into space. When necessary NASA uses external non Government companies to get their payloads into space as this is no longer part of what NASA does.

Everybody who witnessed the moon landing in 1969 thought that by now we would be at least landing on Mars, but we are a long way from that happening, for maybe another 20 or 30 years. The entire world still sends satellites, equipment and human beings into space using rockets, that are disposable, and with some exceptions not reusable. I would have thought that by now there would be a working space plane that takes off on its own and is able to get into space without huge and dangerous launch rockets, but it seems that this is another technology that might not see its day for a long time.

This documentary about Apollo 11 is outstanding and has an extremely rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that I agree with. It is strange to see film from 50 years ago looking like it was created recently due to the restoration technology, also used on the World War I movie “They Shall Not Grow Old”, that has successfully restored film from 100 years ago. I highly recommend Apollo 11 as one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

The newest Marvel movie,”Captain Marvel” starring Brie Larson, and once again Samuel L. Jackson – who seems to be in every Marvel movie lately – was good, but unfortunately not nearly as good as I thought it would be. The events that happen in different times that make time almost irrelevant was an interesting take on time travel and most of this film while on earth, takes place in the 1990s, where Blockbuster video and Radio Shack stores were prevalent.

The special effects were nothing that special, as all of us have seen action like this in super hero movies. I thought the acting was good, but the story dragged on too long in some areas. The presence of a very likable and cute tabby cat was a very good addition to this movie, most especially for cat lovers. I give Captain Marvel only a marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: Everybody Knows

The movie “Everybody Knows” stars husband and wife Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem in a story about Kidnapping that I thought was very well done. This is a foreign language movie with subtitles to alert those who do not like to read subtitles in any movie. Of all the Kidnapping movies I have seen the one that always comes to mind is “Ransom” that was released in 1996, starring Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise. Ransom, directed by Ron Howard, was a very good movie because it showed the extremely powerful emotions the parents of a kidnapped child have to endure when a tragedy like this happens to their child. This movie is a close second to Ransom as far as these powerful emotions, mainly because of the strong acting of Penélope Cruz who was the mother of a teenage girl who was abducted in a Spanish village and then held for a long period of time for ransom. Any situation that involves Kidnapping and ransom puts the subject of money in perspective. How much would any parent give to get their child back? Does money have any real meaning compared to the life of your child?

The Rotten Tomatoes for Everybody Knows are a solid 74% and I would give this movie an 80% rating. I give a strong recommendation to Everybody Knows.

Movie Review: Greta

The new movie “Greta” is another example of a solid idea, followed by a plot with a series of illogical scenes, then an ending that was absurd and yet another good story opportunity lost. Anybody who has ever tried to write a screenplay or has researched what it takes to write a screenplay knows that its not only extremely difficult but the process requires rewrites and in some cases many rewrites. The problem with Greta is that there is no common sense in the story and when common sense is lacking, the whole movie goes down the drain. The entire story plays like it was the first draft of an idea that was plausible, “a lonely older woman leaves purses around New York City, hoping that some young woman will return the purse and they could become friends”, and then the entire conclusion is ruined by any sign of intelligence. The story of Greta is not only a very good and plausible idea, but it has probably happened in cities around the world.

A young woman Frances McCullen, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, is the main character in this story who on a New York Subway finds a purse and returns it to the owner, Greta Hideg played by Isabelle Huppert. I found horror and disgust misplaced when Frances finds other purses in Greta’s house by accident. This is because a person is more likely to show compassion rather than fear to an older woman so lonely that she would leave her purses around a city just to find someone to talk to. The entire act of leaving purses around a city to find a friend is more sad and pathetic than it is sinister.

Following the discovery of the purses is a series of repeated stalker scenes that we have all seen in movies before, nothing new here. The big problem is the very bad ending, that has some Hollywood formula flashback trickery and an idiotic conclusion that could have been completely avoided by any visit from 2 police officers. All this movie needed was probably two more rewrites of the ending and maybe it could have been saved.

The star of this movie Chloë Grace Moretz has one of the most likable faces of any bankable actress in the movie industry, unfortunately after reading this bad script and agreeing to perform in this bad film was not a good move for anyone interested in longevity as a movie actor.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Greta are a low 58% and my rating would be only 40% mostly due to the nonsensical ending. Greta should be skipped.