Amazon Prime Movie Review: Without Remorse


Based on the several trailers I have seen for the new Amazon Prime movie “Without Remorse”, I was expecting a much better film. The problem with this story (based on the Tom Clancy novel “Without Remorse”) is that we have seen all of this before. Michael B. Jordan plays John Kelly a Navy Seal, who after completing an operation involving the Russians that went wrong, his wife is killed. This is similar to a much better movie, “A Man Apart”, starring Vin Diesel released in 2003, where the main character goes on a rampage to avenge his wife’s murder.

The remainder of this movie is a story line very similar to so many other movies involving the CIA and covert military operations, where a series of high level executives in the US Government are suspected as being double agents. All of this leads to a standoff in a run down Russian building with massive gunfire and killings. The one scene that stands out in this movie is the scene where Michael B. Jordan sets a car on fire with gasoline, then opens the door of the car covered in flames, goes into the car and gets in the backseat with the person inside in an attempt to gain information. For this extremely dangerous scene, Jordan did his own stunt, risking his life or being a life long burn victim. Once again I thought about “its only a movie”. Why some actors – mostly Tom Cruise, insist on taking risks like this for a movie, is hard to understand. No matter how careful the planning, or how many times a stunt is tested, all it takes is one instant of time and someone dies, or is permanently disabled. As more and more actors take risks like this, its only a matter of time before a huge tragedy will hit the movie industry.

I dont think this below average movie will hurt the movie career of Jordan who has already announced he will be directing and starring in Creed 3.

I agree with the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for this film and I do not recommend it.

Netflix Movie Review: Stowaway


Movies about traveling to Mars have been becoming more prevalent the last few years. The catalyst has been all the Mars probes – the latest one Perseverance even includes a helicopter as well as a very impressive new method for landing. When any screenwriter writes a screenplay about traveling to Mars (the most important of these is “The Martian” released in 2015 starring Matt Damon) – the science and logistics have to be the most important parts of the story.

The new Netflix release “Stowaway” is lacking in both science and logistics, because the story here is that a maintenance worker become a stowaway during a trip to mars (this could never happen), and then other things go wrong (could definitely happen) and as a result the ship does not have enough oxygen for 4 people because the mission was planned for 3 people. The problem here, is that Nasa or Spacex would have redundant oxygen for any manned mission to Mars of the Moon, because there is nothing more important than Oxygen. Therefore, the odds of an oxygen problem like the one in this story, barring an explosion like what happened with Apollo 13 – would be highly unlikely. The other problem with this movie is that the story dragged on way too long in between the major action points, making the entire film rather boring.

The acting in this movie is good enough, despite the weak story, including Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, Shamier Anderson and Daniel Dae Kim, but is far from enough to save this movie. Also I thought that the ending was far too abrupt, almost as if the screenwriter ran out of ideas.

I agree with the low ratings on IMDB of only 5.6 and I do not recommend this film.



Oscar Winners 2021


All avid moviegoers who look forward to the Academy Awards as a once a year major event, are now – after Pandemic Academy awards last night – looking for a quick return to normalcy. There was nothing watchable with the Academy Awards last night. This is understandable under the circumstances but this Oscar show was hard to sit through.

The winner for best picture “Nomadland” (reviewed in this blog) was a good movie/documentary about the plight of so many homeless and near homeless in this country, but it was also a movie that does not compare to a best picture winner within a normal year. Hopefully, maybe even next year, the Oscars will have a host again, maybe even Billy Crystal, and this show will be a major event again.

Best original screenplay

Judas and the Black Messiah
Minari
Promising Young Woman – WINNER
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best adapted screenplay

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Father – WINNER
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger

Best international feature film

Another Round – WINNER
Better Days
Collective
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best actor in a supporting role

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah – WINNER
Leslie Odom, Jr, One Night in Miami
Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best makeup and hairstyling

Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
Mank
Pinocchio

Best costume design

Emma
Mank
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
Mulan
Pinocchio

Best director

Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland – WINNER

Best sound

Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Sound of Metal – WINNER
Soul

Best live-action short film

Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers – WINNER
White Eye

Best animated short film

Burrow
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You – WINNER
Opera
Yes-People

Best animated feature film

Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul – WINNER
Wolfwalkers

Best documentary short

Colette – WINNER
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best documentary

Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher – WINNER
Time

Best visual effects

Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet – WINNER

Best actress in a supporting role

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – WINNER

Best production design

The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank – WINNER
News of the World
Tenet

Best cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank – WINNER
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best film editing

The Father
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal – WINNER
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best original score

Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Soul – WINNER

Best original song

Husavik, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Fight For You, Judas and the Black Messiah – WINNER
Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead
Speak Now, One Night in Miami
Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best picture

The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland – WINNER
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best actress in a leading role

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland – WINNER
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best actor in a leading role

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father – WINNER
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Best makeup and hairstyling

Advertisement

Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
Mank
Pinocchio

Best costume design

Emma
Mank
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – WINNER
Mulan
Pinocchio

Best director

Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland – WINNER

Best sound

Greyhound
Mank
News of the World
Sound of Metal – WINNER
Soul

Best live-action short film

Feeling Through
The Letter Room
The Present
Two Distant Strangers – WINNER
White Eye

Best animated short film

Burrow
Genius Loci
If Anything Happens I Love You – WINNER
Opera
Yes-People

Best animated feature film

Onward
Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul – WINNER
Wolfwalkers

Colette – WINNER
A Concerto Is a Conversation
Do Not Split
Hunger Ward
A Love Song for Latasha

Best documentary

Collective
Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher – WINNER
Time

Best visual effects

Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
Mulan
The One and Only Ivan
Tenet – WINNER

Best actress in a supporting role

Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman, The Father
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – WINNER

Best production design

The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank – WINNER
News of the World
Tenet

Best cinematography

Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank – WINNER
News of the World
Nomadland
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best film editing

The Father
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal – WINNER
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best original score

Da 5 Bloods
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Soul – WINNER

Best original song

Husavik, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Fight For You, Judas and the Black Messiah – WINNER
Io Sì (Seen), The Life Ahead
Speak Now, One Night in Miami
Hear My Voice, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best picture

The Father
Judas and the Black Messiah
Mank
Minari
Nomadland – WINNER
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best actress in a leading role

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day, The United States vs Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand, Nomadland – WINNER
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best actor in a leading role

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins, The Father – WINNER
Gary Oldman, Mank
Steven Yeun, Minari

Movie Review: Together Together


On a recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher”, he mentioned the statistic that the single population of the United States has doubled in the last 50 years. This amazing statistic is based on the misery index of the millions who have gotten married and divorced, currently 53% for first marriages and 70% for second. Studies have shown the getting married and staying married is responsible for longer lives and more happiness – but we all know what happens when things, just don’t work out. Bill Maher is 65 years old and has never been married and more importantly, doesn’t care if he ever gets married and never wants kids. There is nothing wrong with this decision, when you consider the downside of divorce, child support, legal bills and even living in your car. The statistics show that the single percentage of the populations of the United States is now the fastest growing demographic. Trends are changing and for good reason.

The new movie “Together Together” is about a man in his late 40’s named Matt, played by Ed Helms – who through no fault of his own, never found the right woman to marry. Despite this he still wants to have children, and he turns to the help of a surrogate named Anna, played by Patti Harrison to give birth to his child. Most movies I have seen about surrogates always involve a woman who cannot have a child, this is the first one I have seen involving a man. This movie is unusual because it shows in a very subtle way how the relationship between Anna and Matt changes over time into a strong friendship, despite their 20+ year age difference. They visit the obstetrician together and discuss plans for the future, while slowly learning about what each of them has gone through in their lives. There is a good bit of humor in this story, most of which works and I thought the acting and directing was well done.

The Rotten Tomatoes review for this film is a bit too high in my opinion – around 93%. I give this movie about an 80% and do recommend it.

Movie Review: Minari


The new movie “Munari” reminded me of several others in the last few years, where parents who are barely surviving (the couple in this movie have jobs where they separate baby chicks by sex into boxes) bring their children along for the ride. The point is, if you are an adult and unable to make a living – then do not have children. Its always been just that simple.

Munari is a heartbreaking story about a Korean family mired in poverty and trying to break out of their plight by starting a farm in a field somewhere in the Midwest, all the while living in a run down tractor trailer that had some furniture and plumbing in side. Somewhat like the devastating movie The Florida Project, released in 2017 about young children being raised in a hellish-purple apartment building in Florida, Minari is also told within the perspective of two young Korean children, Anna and David, where David has a dangerous heart ailment. Children have no way of fully understanding, and have no perspective about poverty and squalor. All they know is that they have parents and an innate ability to look at the world in a way that allows them to survive. For me, the naive innocence of children living on the edge is the most devastating part of both of these films.

The father Jacob, is played by very well by Steven Yeun, who is most famous for his years on the TV series “The Walking Dead” and his horrific end that came from the side of a large baseball bat. The mother, Monica is also played very well by Yeri Han, who is always at the edge of taking the kids and leaving her husband to possibly avoid financial disaster. Their arguments about their many problems and lack of money create some of the best acting in this movie.

What bothered me about this depressing story about a Korean family close to becoming homeless is Jacob’s plan of running a farm is backed by bank loans – and what bank would give him money to do this? His only source of income, is sorting baby chickens (known as chicken sexing) with his wife, his collateral is his house which is the back of a tractor trailer, and his land looks like an abandoned field. Somewhere along the line, all movies have to make sense as well as entertain and educate and I think this bank loan part of the story just did not work in the real world.

It was very surprising to see the actor Will Patton in this Korean movie with subtitles, where he plays the character Paul who an almost insane religious fanatic who helps with the farm and on Sunday, carries a large cross on his shoulder while going to church. This definately is something I have ever seen any character do in any movie – except for films about Jesus Christ and the crucifixion.

Minari is one of the 10 films nominated for an Academy Award this year, and has very a very high 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. My rating is more in the 85% rating and I do recommend this film.

Past Movie Review: Flight


In all my years as an avid movie-goer, I dont think I have ever seen a movie with better airplane special effects than the movie “Flight”, starring Denzel Washington, released in 2012. This movie, and specifically this one scene when the pilot Whip Whitaker, played by Washington – is not for those who fear flying. After a major part failure on the plane, Whitaker had to make the airplane turn completely over on its back, to prevent a straight into the ground crash. This scene was amazing with both the special effects, and Washington’s expert-calm-acting where he prevented the crash, but not without 6 people dying out of the 106 onboard.

The real story of Flight is about alcoholism and drug abuse. It turns out that Whitaker is a very serious drug addict, who is very good at hiding his problem, for many years. Despite his brilliant flying to prevent a horrendous tragedy, the toxicology report showed that he had cocaine and a very high alcohol level in his system after the accident. After the accident this story is all about a massive coverup to kill the toxicology report and save Whitaker from a very long prison term that may even include life in prison. The point here is, it doesn’t matter that the pilot saved 100 lives, all that matters is that he was operating an Airline Jet while drunk. This movie might have been based on recent true stories about pilots who were flying under the influence that came out within a few years of the release of this film.

Flight is one of Denzel Washington’s best movie roles and performances, along with Don Cheadle who is Whitaker’s lawyer who will do anything to keep him out of prison, John Goodman who almost steals the movie as Whitaker’s drug hookup and Bruce Greenwood as Whitaker’s friend. All of the performances were outstanding in this very memorable film. The direction of Robert Zemeckis was also great.

There are many messages in this story, but for me the most important one is, when you are addict you never think you are addicted and you will continue to use, even if it might mean that as a result of your drinking and drug abuse you might kill many people even if you are an airline pilot.

Once again, the critics back in 2012 were wrong, this is not a 77% movie, its more in the 90% range and I highly recommend it.

Netflix Movie Review: Thunder Force


I have always wondered when a bad movie is released, how the people who spent 1-2 years writing and creating the production feel, when it gets very low ratings. One of the best examples of this is the movie “Gotti” released in 2018, which received a 0 total rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After all of of those years of hard work, writing and acting, and in the end, a bad movie is still made. Very often the people involved are not even aware that the movie is bad when they are making it. Critics are extremely cruel and Gotti was not a zero, but it was also not a very good movie. Gotti should have either not been made, or delayed until a good script was re-written. Very often due to budget concerns, or a deadline that just had to be met, becomes just another reason why a bad movie is made.

Melissa McCarthy is married to actor Ben Falcone, who both wrote and directed the new film “Thunder Force”, about high school friends who later become super heroes to fight off human mutants known as miscreants who were infected with cosmic radiation that affects each of them with dangerous super powers.

The idea behind this film, is an attempt by the screenwriter to cash in on the huge interest in Marvel Comics and Super Hero movies. In this case, Thunder Force is mostly a comedy, but unfortunately most of the comedy does not work. There was a good amount of money spent for special effects, with one of the highlights – “Melissa McCarthy who plays Lydia Berman throws a bus down a street”. One of the miscreants, a character called “The Crab”, played by Jason Bateman has lobster claws for hands. My assumption is that was idea was created entirely because they thought that having lobster claws for hands “looked funny”. It did not look funny.

Lydia Berman’s friend Emily Stanton is played by Octavia Spencer who is also best friends with Melissa McCarthy in real life, otherwise it is hard to understand why Spencer, who has won an Academy Award, decided to make this movie after reading the script. This production is a friendship collaboration that started with Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy coming up with this idea, writing the script and then hiring their two best friends to make the movie. I was surprised how few of the jokes were not funny in this story, visual or otherwise. Movie making is a long and arduous process and so many ideas that seemed so good at the beginning, fail either while trying to fix the script or on the cutting room floor. Melissa McCarthy is extremely likeable and funny, so hopefully this bad film will not do any damage to her career as a comedic actress.

I mostly agree with the very low 4.2 rating in IMDB and 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This one is a surprisingly big miss, unfortunately for everyone involved.