The new Netflix 7 part series “The Queens Gambit” is about a child prodigy, in this case a young 9 year old girl, who happens to be a one in a billion chess genius. While in an orphanage she learns chess from the school janitor and after only a few games, the janitor realizes that she is a gifted genius of Chess. When it comes to child prodigies, there are only 3 kinds, Mathematics, Music and Chess and this series is one of the best of its kind when it comes to Chess prodigies, the last one was “Search for Bobby Fischer”, released in 1993.
Even for those who are not true fans of the great game of Chess, this series will win you over and maybe even make you a convert when you realize the extreme challenge that Chess is to master. There is so much you have to know, and any real player knows that with just one small mistake a game can be lost on the spot. For years the debate has been, “is Chess really a sport”. Chess was on the cover of Sports Illustrated several times in 1972 during the Spassky Fischer match in Reykjavik Iceland. In my opinion, chess a sport, because of the toll it takes on the body because of the stress of playing any game against a top player.
This series is extremely well written, photographed and acted throughout the entire 7 hours and holds the rare distinction of getting 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 97% from the audience. The high score on IMDB is 89%.
The actress Anya Taylor-Joy plays the child prodigy Beth Harmon, and as she becomes an adult in her 20’s playing in tournaments, she develops a severe drug and alcohol problem to deal with the extreme stress of playing Chess professionally. Her acting in this series is worthy of an Oscar, even thought this production will probably only be considered for an Emmy Award. Over the centuries, there have been several top chess players who have gone insane due to the stress of dominating this extremely challenging game. The most severe example was Bobby Fischer, who became an anti-Semite, in his later years, even though he was Jewish himself.
The Queens Gambit is one of the best movies of its kind that I have seen, and I give it my highest recommendation. I am also including a link to the analysis of the championship chess game in this series, that was taken from an actual Grandmaster game that was played in 1993.
The new movie “After We Collided” is the second in a four part series that started with “After” that was released in April 2019. The critics are trashing After We Collided, giving it a very rare zero on Rotten Tomatoes and while the critics are correct that this is mostly a bad movie, there is no way this production deserves a number as low as zero.
The movie After received only a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the critics were very wrong about this movie, because what After did correctly, was show the emotional pain of a relationship despite the soap opera-like story. What After We Collided did wrong was it was mostly all about the soap opera, without the effective story and acting that showed the painful emotions of a very painful on and off relationship. Despite all of this, I thought the acting within this story with Tessa, played by Josephine Langford and Hardin, played by Hero Fiennes Tiffin was very well done. Josephine Langford, as she showed in After, has one of the most perfect faces ever seen within any movie.
There are two more sequels in the works in this series, based on 4 books written by author Anna Todd, who wrote them on of all things, her cell phone. Even more incredible is that her first book “After” received over 1.5 billion downloads. Despite the critics, this Anna Todd series is still going strong with 4 movies either completed or in production. I hope the next two films are much better than this one, that did not hold up well in comparison to After.
Overall, my rating for After We Collided is about 50% only for some of the scenes of good acting within a film that unfortunately has a weak story that could have been greatly improved with several more re-writes. For these reasons, I do not recommend this movie.
The word from the movie industry (much like Broadway) is that any thoughts of a realized rebound in 2020 are out the window. The promised release of all 2020 blockbuster movies coming out this year now have all been pushed into 2021. This is why Regal Cinemas has decided to close down all of its US locations for a second time this year. The final straw happening with the new James Bond movie being pushed to April 2021.
The other large movie chain AMC has recently announced that they are running out of money and could be out of business by year end.
Many in the financial world are predicting the total collapse of the movie industry as it existed in 2019 and unfortunately because of Covid-19, they could all be right. Nobody would have imagined 1 year ago all that has happened in 2020; a year far worse than any year anyone alive can remember.
As far as the new movie “Honest Thief”, starring Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh many critics will say that we have seen most or all of the scenes in similar movies in the past and Liam Neeson is still capitalizing on his great 2008 performance in “Taken”. This is all true, but overall I thought that the story and the message make this one worth a visit.
This story is about a former bank robber, played by Neeson who wants to come clean and give back the 9 million dollars he stole years earlier in exchange for getting a much lighter sentence so he can be with his new girlfriend, played by Walsh. Unfortunately due to human greed and the amount money involved this idea goes very south quickly and what follows is a believable story and some good action. The very low 37% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for this one are way off – once again proving that the critics are wrong too much of the time. To give a good movie like this one only 37% makes no sense. More in line with reality is the 71% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes that I agree with. I do recommend this movie.
The new 10 part Netflix series “Away” is about a real life trip to Mars and for the most part is about the reality of space travel of this magnitude and so many things that can go wrong. This series stars Hilary Swank as the commander of the spaceship that takes off from the moon and travel to Mars. During the trip to Mars, commander Emma Green, played by Swank and her crew encounter and then solve numerous problems life threatening problems. Some of them are solved by Green’s husband Matt Logon played by Josh Charles from Earth. I thought all of these problems were believable and the drama of finding solutions to each obstacle is one of the best parts of this 10 part series.
Many would argue that no woman who was married with a child would ever consider taking a trip to Mars that would take her away from her daughter and husband for years – one of the main areas of drama during this entire series. Over the last number of years, there have been people who have volunteered for trips to Mars, even under the condition where they would never be able to return. I have always wondered how long someone who made a decision like this, would have a huge change of heart after months and years in the middle of nowhere with no chance to ever return to earth. Before the United States or any other country can travel to Mars, thousands of problems and scenarios will have to be solved, starting with the human problems that will be the most challenging.
I thought both the science and the drama in this series was very well produced and acted and I am surprised at the relatively low 60% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, go figure. My rating for this series is a very solid 80% and I do recommend it.