Movie Review: Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

On June 8, 2018 Anthony Bourdain, a famous chef, author and star of his own TV series took his own life in a Hotel room in Paris France, by hanging. The new documentary “Roadrunner” does an outstanding job showing how someone as successful and rich as Bourdain could go from such highs to lows low enough to take his own life.

One of the phenomenon’s of success at a young age, is that once it seems like you have it all and should be happy, and you’re not, where do you go from there? Bourdain was already a famous chef and best selling author at age 30, and as he became more famous this lead to his own TV show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” where he traveled around the world from 2013-2018 sampling different restaurants. Unfortunately for Bourdain, a show like this meant that he was on the road, 250 days a year and hardly ever saw his wife and child. This show was filmed in some of the poorest and most depressing parts of the world including the Congo and even Vietnam. Over time, a life like this would take a huge toll on anyone – and just for a TV show? For Bourdain, was all of this ever worth it?

I wondered often during this film that if Bourdain’s show was all about food in the United States, then his life could have been so much easier, and much less depressing. However, Bourdain’s suicide is more complicated than any one explanation. As this 2 hour documentary unfolds, a relationship with actress Asia Argento – one of Harvey Weinstein’s many accusers seems like it could be a major cause of Bourdain’s suicide near the end of his life.

In my opinion, Bourdain’s suicide was ultimately caused by the huge lows of his depression, followed by a manic high when in love with Argento, followed by another extreme low, that he just could not recover from. It also could just come down to Bourdain himself, who was so fortunate in his career, never believing he was worthy of such extraordinary fame and wealth. The world will never know the real reasons why Bourdain took his own life, because he did not leave a note.

The amazing thing about this documentary is the amount of film that was produced during Bourdain’s life, so much of what happened flowed more like a movie than a documentary.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a very high 95% for Roadrunner and I highly recommend this documentary.

Movie Review: Black Widow

For the new movie “Black Widow” I would have liked to have much more background and setup explaining how this “Black Widow Family” has powers where it seems they cannot really be hurt or killed, at least not very easily. Where do they get their fantastic martial arts skills? Early on the two girls in the family; Natashia played by Scarlett Johansson and Yelena, played by Florence Pugh are placed into some kind of a spy training camp for unknown reasons at very young ages. At this point it would have been logical to see some of this training, explaining some of their impressive skills. Maybe this important part was cut out of the film because it was too long.

What is explained is a foreign spy syndicate that is involved with mind control to train young women to be spies and killers using brain washing chemicals. Unfortunately, the ending is completely out of sync with the sudden appearance of a far into the future huge space ship at the end of this film. This ship looks like something that might be built 100 or 200 years from now, definitely not present day. This is yet another example of special effects over story, almost as if an incredible idea for a fantastic ending with explosions, fights and action on a space ship had to be melded with a present day spy story and as a result we have a time-line that once again makes absolutely no sense.

The special effects and acting in this movie is very good, with a standout performance from Florence Pugh who is becoming a very well known actress who has a perfect face for the movies. With all of that in mind, why Florence Pugh has not changed her last name is about as mysterious as a good part of this screenplay.

David Harbour plays Alexi the girl’s father along with Rachel Weisz who plays Melina, their mother and in my opinion that twist at the end of this story, involving Melina and Natashia, has trouble making enough sense to round out the ending.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie is in the low 80% range and I mostly agree with this rating and do recommend Black Widow.

Movie Review: The Summer of Soul

The full title of the new documentary “The Summer of Soul” is “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” – easily one of the strangest titles in movie history.

In 1969 at the same time the very famous Woodstock festival took place, 300 thousand people attended the Harlem Culture Festival and for reasons that most likely included that just about everybody at this festival was black, this major event went mostly unnoticed until some film was found in a basement some 50 years later. There is some important history here but mostly gospel singing and a few popular acts including Stevie Wonder playing the drums and the Fifth Dimension. This movie is not for an ordinary movie goer, because this is a documentary about a musical event and I found it boring and too long. The Summer of Soul has won two major awards at the Sundance Film festival and for me it was interesting to see video that was so well preserved that it looked at times it was created weeks ago, rather than 52 years.

See this documentary if you are big fan of music and cultural history, otherwise this documentary might be too boring for most people.