Movie Review: Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret

This is one of the few times in the life of this movie blog where I can definitely say, a new star has been born. The star of the new movie “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” who plays the title role of Margaret is Abby Ryder Fortson, a 15-year-old actress who is so good, that there are no signs anywhere within these 2 hours where it looks like she is acting. This young woman is a natural, not only destined to be a new standout in future films but should be nominated and win, a best actress Oscar for this role.

This film is based on the Judy Blume book of the same name, published in 1970. Most impressive about this story is that it is entirely about mundane real life, normal events, including moving from New York City to New Jersey, adjusting to a new school, making new friends as a 15-year-old teenage girl, peer pressure and worries among several teenage girls about getting their first period. Within this story, getting your first period mutates into a contest, born from a desperate need to feel normal and wanting so badly to be like everybody else.

The central character in this outstanding film is Margaret a 15-year-old girl, played perfectly by Abby Ryder Fortson. Her mother Barbara, is played expertly by Rachel McAdams, in one of her best roles in years. Margaret has a very close connection with her grandmother Sylvia, played by Cathy Bates and their relationship is one of the highlights of this movie. This story is also about Margaret talking to God while trying to decide on her chosen religion because her mother is Catholic and her father is Jewish. This choice of religion reaches an important high point towards the end of the film where Margaret’s grandparents meet during a family dinner.

Several other substories include PTA meetings and other run of the mill, normal situations, that at times seem to defy the normal pattern of most movies – where something crazy, or off the wall has to happen only to make the story unique and different. We have forgotten that normal and mundane can be good, funny and entertaining. There is nothing crazy in this story, this film is all about solid story telling and nothing more, making it unique entirely because it was all performed so well.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a very high 99%, with my rating at 100% and my highest recommendation.

Movie Review: Big George Foreman

The full title of the new movie about the incredible life of boxer George Foreman is “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World” – which seems to be an attempt by the producers to stand out because obviously, “Big George Foreman” is the perfect title for this film.

From watching this very compelling story about the life of George Foreman, what stands out the most is the series of miracles that happened to this man that took him from extreme poverty to the Heavyweight boxing champion at a young age, to then leaving boxing after almost dying after a fight and due to financial mismanagement from a trusted friend, forced to return to boxing again when he was 40. Then amazingly, primarily due to his all-time punching power to becoming heavyweight champion again at age 45. Most unlikely and amazing about George Foreman’s life is the creation of the George Foreman grill – the most simplistic and widely used kitchen appliance of all time.

After Foreman lost to Muhammad Ali in 1974 in Africa, he became the angriest boxer in the history of the sport. The most significant aspect of the life of George Foreman is how he changed from an angry and unlikable person in the mid-70s to a funny big man who was so likable the opportunity of a lifetime, George Foreman Grill came to him – making him worth 300 million dollars today – far more money than he ever made from just boxing. Foreman’s likeability came after his loss to boxer Jimmy Young in 1977 where he found God and almost died after the fight, and then pursued a life of preaching for many years before returning to boxing for a second time.

As far as this film, there are a number of issues that are missing – including not focusing enough on the Foreman Grill, showing how angry and unlikeable he was during the 1970s and the fact that he was married 4 times before he married his 5th wife, who he has been with for 37 years. Too much time was spent on this story up to the time when Foreman was forced to go back into boxing for financial reasons, so less time was spent on all of the challenges and fights he had before he became the Heavyweight champion the second time, 20 years after he lost to Ali. Foreman came out of extreme poverty, only because of Jobs Corp, where he was sent to get job skills and there just so happened to be a boxing trainer who taught him how to box.

I thought that the acting was very well done, with Forest Whitaker as Foreman’s long-time friend and trainer and Khris Davis who plays George Foreman.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating of 53% for this good biopic is once again wrong, with my rating a solid 80% and a recommendation to see this movie.

Movie Review: Chevalier

While watching the new movie “Chevalier”, a true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner – I kept thinking about the risk this man was taking in the late 1700’s France, given that he was half black. Due to his amazing musical talent as a musician, violin player, and composer, he was given much more leeway than any other black person of that era. However, Joseph Bologne took risk after risk, including having an affair with the married woman of a powerful political rival, that if this were not a true story, It would be hard to believe that anyone would risk their life so blatantly, even if they were white.

I thought that the story was well told, but too boring and slow-moving in too many areas. The acting was good, with the only known actor in this production Minnie Driver, and the main character played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. With all movies about the 1700’s and 1800s it is still hard to believe that the style in those days, was for everybody to wear a huge wig. Why this happened, over the centuries is anybody’s guess. For the most part, everybody looks ridiculous, especially the men in those days.

There are some good references to French history, including frequent appearances by Marie Antoinette played very well by Lucy Boynton.

Overall, I give this film a marginal recommendation, which is in the area of the 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.