Movie Review: Kajillionaire

Movie Review: Kajillionaire

The new movie “Kajillionaire” is for any person in the world, who thinks that being broke, heavily in debt or even being close to homeless is not a big deal. Not only is all of this a big deal, but for so many millions of people in the world, it can be a fate worse than death.

The story of Kajillionaire is about an older man and woman and their 20-something daughter who are on the outer fringes of living on the streets. They run scams, some of them very complex that involve faking lost luggage at the airport. They duck under a fence to avoid their landlord who is renting them a former small office room that leaks foam from a next door car wash. This film stretches to a highly unusual level of storytelling that in some areas barely make sense with storylines that in some ways seem connected but then drift away. Many times when I see movies that try so hard to be different – they do not work, but this movie works and for the most part well done.

Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins and Gina Rodriguez. This is movie is not a comedy, it is a dark drama about the harsh realities of life in this country for people with no money. Over time, people become desperate animals just to survive one day to the next – and all of this makes Kajillionaire a difficult story to watch. The acting is very solid throughout, with Rodgriguez character joining this group of 3 drifters in the middle of this story – a part of the story I found to be somewhat unbelievable.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Kajillionaire are a very high 88% but a very low 54% audience rating. I am more in the middle, around 72%, with a passing rating. This is not the great movie some of the critics are raving about because some parts of this story did fail and other areas are so disjointed that they do not seem to make sense. Trying to be unusual too often in any story can ruin the final production – the best recent example of this is the movie Tenet. Overall, I do recommend this movie for its stark and depressing reality of people living on the edge.

Movie Review: Challenger The Final Flight

The reality of working for most companies, regardless of the field is the stress of “it has to be done yesterday”. “We lose money if this is late”. “Despite the poor planning, we still have this delivery date, that just has to be met, even though it is not possible”. All of this increases stress and reduces productivity.

Within my career in the Information Technology field I have had many instances where a deadline or a time frame for completing a task has been unreachable, mostly due to the inability to accurately combine a measurement of time with a complex task.

In the case of the Space Shuttle Challenger, that exploded during its launch on January 28, 1986, one would have thought that because of the 7 people involved, including a school teacher, that the corporate and very often insane “beat the clock” paradigm would not apply in this case. Of course the safety of the astronauts is always the first priority? Even worse in the case of Challenger, the problems with the O-Rings (that were rubber protective seals for the fuel tanks), were known for a long time before the Challenger exploded. Unfortunately it was also known that fixing the O-Ring problem could have taken a year or more to redesign and implement. So the cost and time of the redesign became much more important than the lives of 7 brilliant people.

The new Netflix 4 part series “Challenger The Final Flight” is about the years of corruption and mistakes that led to one of the worst tragedies in the history of the United States Space program. All that went wrong on that tragic day in January 1986 was not only known about but completely preventable. The Challenger tragedy was eventually found to be much worse because so many people knew that it was only a matter of time before one of the fuel tanks would leak and cause a huge explosion. On the day of the tragedy, it was too cold to launch – another red flag – so the entire launch should have been cancelled, but it wasn’t for political reasons. Nobody in charge cared enough about the 7 lives that were eventually going to be be lost. Pressure to meet a deadline and to avoid the loss of money should never be more important than human life. On January 28, 1986 – money won.

History would repeat itself on February 1, 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry due to a problem with the heat shield, that was also known about and preventable long before the accident.

The Netflix four part series Challenger The Final Flight is an outstanding documentary about one of the worst tragedies in American history and should be seen by everyone.

Movie Review: Ava

The trend right now in movie theaters, especially after the release of the horrendous Tenet is that for a significant period of time, low rated movies will be released because the vast majority of the movie-going public is still not going to movie theaters. The thinking here is, why risk releasing a huge and very expensive movie before we know if anyone is going to risk going to see it? All of this makes sense, and we all wonder when the movie industry will ever get back to normal again assuming this can ever happen, considering this world wide Pandemic.

As far as the new movie “Ava” starring Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common, Geena Davis and Colin Farrell, I wondered how such an impressive list of A rated actors would all agree to make a movie like “Ava” – at best a below average production. This film reminded me of last years bad movie “Anna”, where a woman who is working in some kind of a high level spy agency (never fully defined or explained) is fighting and killing everybody she faces, despite being outnumbered and injured during so many of her encounters. All movies like this are both unrealistic and in most cases ridiculous because there is just no way that any one person can overcome so many attackers at the same time. The movie Die Hard 1,2 and 3 are examples of “realistic action” where the person is fighting off one person at at time, and sometimes does not actually win the battle. Hopefully one day we can do away with unrealistic action movies like Ava, in favor of physical conflict that not only makes sense, but is realistic.

The other problem with Ava is that the reason for Ava, played by Jessica Chastain is never really explained. She is assigned to kill people, but why? What is the purpose of this spy agency Ava works for and who are these people she is killing? This is all skipped over in favor of mostly inane Karate action. The third problem with this movie is the side story, involving the actor Common who was Ava’s previous boyfriend who is now about to marry her sister. He has a gambling problem and his issues with gambling and a late night dance and gambling club has no connection to the main story, that is never fully understandable on its own.

The Rotten Tomatoes ranking for Ava are a very low 20% and I agree with this ranking and wonder once again, why any named actor would take the role after reading the screenplay. I have seen worse movies that are like this one, but Ava is not worth wasting your time.