Movie Review: Devotion

What is most impressive about the new movie “Devotion” is that it will remind all who see it about the underlying logistics of war movies. This film has many vintage war planes used during the Korean War in the 1950s. This means that these planes have been stored in a warehouse somewhere in the world and have to still be maintained and mechanically sound – and then flown by stuntmen during the making of this movie. Flying very old planes the way they are flown during this movie had to be very dangerous – because given the machinery is so old, anything might go wrong. One amazing side story involved the use of the world’s oldest helicopter where a part had to be taken from the Smithsonian to get it to fly Many of the combat scenes have reminded me of recent war movies about World War 2, including “Midway”, reviewed in this blog.

What is most amazing about aerial combat scenes is when these incredibly brave pilots dive down into enemy fire straight into the ground with gunfire all around them, facing certain death. Given all the gunfire they faced as they flew straight down, it seemed impossible that any plane could have survived. It is also hard to believe given the technology of the 1940s and 50s that airplanes like these could accomplish such impossible aerial feats. The courage of these pilots through all of these world-changing wars was always unbelievable and this movie did a good job, mostly at the end of this story, showing the danger these pilots faced.

The problem with this movie is that there are too many times within this story when what is going on is slow and too boring to maintain the continuity and viewer interest in the story. There is too little action, and too much peripheral filler that looked like it was designed to make the film a full two hours, rather than enhance the story. All of these filler scenes we have all seen before in war movies, there is nothing new here.

The positive side of this true story is about the friendship between Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner well played by Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell. Jessie Brown is the only black man within his unit of aviators and like all black men in the arm forces during this time, faced prejudice and bigotry. Inside the group of aviators, Jessie is treated with respect, but outside his unit, he faces bigotry that understandably results in violence. There are highs and lows within the friendship between Brown and Hudner that are all about the issues involving racial injustice and the chain of command. All of these scenes are very well acted.

This movie could have been much better had there been more war action scenes, but this issue was most likely caused by budget constraints. There are too many “we have seen this before generic war side stories” that in too many cases make the film drag on too long. I agree with the middle-of-the-road Rotten Tomatoes rating of 74% for this movie and give this film a moderate recommendation.

Movie Review: The Menu

The new movie “The Menu” succeeds in one very big area. It is far different than any movie most of us will ever see. But trying to be so different will never make any film great or even good. This movie goes from one new strange and weird idea to the next strange and weird scene, then on to the next one. Then finally some insane ending, considering all that came before, makes very little sense.

A group of very rich couples all congregate on some isolated Island, somewhere in the world, to experience a dinner given by one of the most highly respected chefs in the world. Everything is going fine as far as the impressive food until one of the workers commits suicide by shooting himself. Then they all find out that they will be dying at the end of the dinner. Then all the men in the congregation have to run out onto the island, at night, and the workers in the restaurant try to find and capture them. Surprisingly, nothing really comes out of this idea – continuing the strange “trying to fool the audience” theme of this movie.

Ultimately, this movie is far too weird and strange – across the board – to ever recommend. The high rotten Tomatoes rating of 89% makes absolutely no sense. The only upside is the long list of named actors who agreed to make this mostly bad and weird movie, including Ralph Fiennes, Judith Light, John Leguizamo, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Janet McTeer. It is even harder to believe that all of these named actors would agree to make this movie after reading the script.

I cannot recommend a movie that is all about being so different, rather than actually being good and entertaining. I rate The Menu a solid pass.

Movie Review: She Said

The “Me Too” Movement is now five years old. The phrase “Me Too” was coined in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, but it was not until 2017 that actress Alyssa Milano was the first to urge all victims to share their experiences on social media. Then the movement exploded during a standup act with comedian Hannibal Burris who called Bill Cosby a rapist. The movement then expanded even further with movie producer Harvey Weinstein – who is the subject of the new movie “She Said”. The Me Too movement was a unique moment in history because many victims of sexual or work harassment were given strength in numbers to come out against so many well-known celebrities. Many of these celebrities, including Matt Laurer, Kevin Spacey, and Bill O’Riley no longer have careers in their chosen profession. Several of these famous and formerly successful people have also faced legal prosecution.

A lowlife like Harvey Weinstein is simple to understand. He is ugly and throughout his life was rejected by women countless times. Over the years his hurt over being constantly rejected turned from depression to anger and then rage. It could be argued that Weinstein’s huge success as a top movie producer could possibly be his unconscious way of getting even with so many good-looking women who rejected him. There is no better profession where an ugly man with power and influence could use his leverage to sexually harass women who desperately wanted to be an actress or wanted to stay in the highly competitive movie industry. Weinstein had the ability to make or break any woman’s acting career including famous actresses, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose McGowan and even Ashley Judd. All 3 of these actresses are referenced or appear in this movie and have accused Harvey Weinstein of ruining their careers.

At the end of this film, due to the strength in numbers so many women were given due to the “Me Too” movement, 82 women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or rape. Weinstein is a person devoid of any empathy for any other human being. He is justifiably paying for decades of ruining the lives of so many people and will spend the rest of his life in jail. He is also a person who was at the top of the entertainment world and was called “A God” by Meryl Streep during a Golden Globes award ceremony a number of years ago (see video below). How times have changed. One amazing thing about men like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein is that they say that large numbers of women are all lying and they are telling the truth. How or why any lawyer would take their case is another mystery, apart from the legal representation they can afford.

This movie is mostly about a long series of interviews with a large number of Weinstein victims, including both actors and employees of his movie production company Miramax. She Said reminds me of the movie “All the Presidents Men”, released in 1976 about the investigation and interviews leading to the resignation of Richard Nixon due to Watergate in August 1974. The stars of this story are Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan who play the real-life reporters of the New York Times Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor who broke the Weinstein case, leading to him being convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Other actors in this very good drama include Andre Braugher and Patricia Clarkson who play executives of the New York Times. Weinstein still faces more trials in Los Angeles and London. Considering Weinstein is already going away for 23 years and is 70 years old, seems a waste of money to contest any of these cases.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for She Said are a very high 86% and I agree with this rating with a strong recommendation.