Netflix Movie Review: I Care A Lot

Number one on Netflix today is the new movie “I Care A Lot”. A highly unusual title for a film about a crime that is far too common in this country – criminals preying on older people to steal their money. Marla Grayson played by Rosamund Pike is a swindler who poses as a legal guardian along with her partner Fran played by Eiza González within an elaborate scheme that involves a corrupt nursing home and an incompetent judge who OK’s Marla’s legal guardianship of many older people. Most of these senior citizens are put in the corrupt nursing home, even though they are capable of taking care of themselves. Their cell phones are taken away and they are given drugs to keep them quiet while their life savings are being stolen from them.

Unfortunately for Marla, one older woman, Jennifer Peterson played by Diane Weist has a son – Roman Lunyov, played by Peter Dinklage who is a gangster in the Russian Mob. This is a satisfying story idea, because all of us love to see horrible people get what they deserve, especially those who have no decency or conscience while they steal millions from the retirement savings of older people. Many of us go to the movies because we love to see justice done, in a highly unjust real world.

One huge flaw I found in this movie is that when you use criminals like the Russian Mob in a screenplay, you have to be realistic. Murdering criminal members of the Russian Mob just kill people immediately by shooting them in the head or some other part of the body that guarantees death. Rather annoyingly, far too often in this film, the victim is not killed immediately which is not realistic, because it allows the person to stage a miraculous comeback. This might be good for an elaborate and longer lasting story twist or a James Bond movie, but this has nothing to do with real life. I thought the ending was very well done and highly ironic with a satisfying conclusion, especially for those who believe in Karma.

The acting in this movie is outstanding, especially with the 3 main characters played by Pike, Gonzalez and Dinklage. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is a very solid 81% and I agree with this rating and recommend this movie.

Movie Review: The Mauritanian

There is always the expectation in this country that we are always the good guys. In the United States we believe in doing the right thing, due process, common sense, justice for all. Unfortunately this has not been true in far too many legal cases in this country for many years. The movie the “The Mauritanian”, starring Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley is the latest example of massive legal injustice and like last years “Just Mercy”, this film shows how horrendous the legal system in this country can sometimes operate. In the case of Just Mercy, the main character was put on death row in Alabama in 1987 before he was even tried in court. In the case of this film, the main character was put in
Guantanamo Bay Cuba without ever being charged with a crime – and he remained there for 15 years. This is the kind of injustice that happens within 3rd world countries and is never acceptable in this country.

The Mauritanian is a true story, based on a book Guantánamo Diary written by the main character Mohamedou Ould Slahi, played extremely well by Tahar Rahim. Unfortunately Mohamedou was arrested 2 months after September 11 along with many others – because of the United States desperation to prevent another 911 attack. Due to 911, many hundreds of innocent people were imprisoned and violently tortured, with the justification that information at all costs to prevent terrorism was worth torture and illegal imprisonment. All of this was started during the Bush Cheney administration, who gave the military full authority to attain information from any prisoner using any method they saw fit. This could include water boarding, freezing cold jail cells, playing loud music day and night, non stop psychological torture and in this case, telling the prisoner they were going to arrest his mother and send her to Guantanamo Bay. My question while watching the torture of Mohamedou in many scenes was that why no person in charge did not know that torturing a human being for weeks and months would mean that the information attained would be meaningless, because anyone would say anything to stop the agony.

Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley play lawyers hired to defend Mohamedou and their many trips to Cuba to visit their client and the legal questions surrounding this extremely complicated case are some of the best parts of this movie. Many of the torture scenes of Mohamddou happen towards the end of this story, and it was hard to understand how any human being could still be alive, much less having any mental ability left, including the acuity to write a book. What this innocent man went through for 15 years, is unbelievable. The standout actor in this film is Tahar Rahim who does an outstanding job playing Mohamedou at a level that might win him an Academy Award nomination.

The Mauritanian is one of the most important movies about massive injustice, ever made. This country is far from perfect, especially our legal system, and has a long way to go to be fair and humane to all people.

I am surprised at the mediocre 70% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. My rating is at least 85% with a strong recommendation.

On Demand Movie Review: Black Bear

Over the last 10-15 years, Aubrey Plaza is known as one of the most naturally funny actors, especially on talk shows. Her talent is in her eyes and her ability to make a mundane story funny just by the way she talks, describes something or makes a face . Few people can use their eyes to be funny. Johnny Carson, John Candy, Will Ferrell, Chelsea Handler, are some of the people who have had this very rare talent.

In the new movie “Black Bear” Aubrey Plaza plays a struggling movie director, Allison who visits a married couple who have a long cabin. Within a few minutes it is obvious that the young couple Gabe, played by Christopher Abbott and Blair – who is pregnant played by Sarah Gadon are bickering and obviously are having massive marital problems. This very strange film has two parts – the first part nothing but conversation with these 3 people and the second part, is a group of people making a movie in the same log cabin.  None of the two parts are connected or make any sense and I have always hated movies like this.  The only good part of this movie is in the second part, where Aubrey Plaza conclusively shows that she is a very good dramatic actor as well a very good comedic actor. Unfortunately, the audience has to sit through 2 hours of a disconnected mess of a story to get to the only good part within a screenplay, that never should have been made into a movie. 

The critics are viewing this movie rather highly, and I have no idea why. This is a pretty bad 2 hours, that should be missed.