Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – Podcast Review

Check out my non -podcast movie review. Only 7mins 30sec long. (I try to keep ’em short). I beg your comments if you have 1-2 minutes please. 2 way communication is my real goal here with all this.

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The Zookeeper’s Wife

This is a historical film showcasing the Warsaw Zoo that protected and hid over 500 jews during the holocaust reign of Hitler. there is excellent acting that makes an average script shine.

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I love the scene where the Zookeper is bringing in a new Jew to the zoo and he is stopped and questioned by the Nazi police. They pass through but later on he shares with his wife he didnt know if he was going to be shot. its a powerful sequence and illustrates well what it must have been like.

To summarize this based on a true story plot, a small family run the Warsaw zoo. They get along with the animals incredibly well. Whenthe bombers of war attack, war is evident. the Zookeper and his famoly take in Jews and give them a place to be safe.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I loved the light cadence of this film. Chastain’s performance is nothing short of marvelous. The story drags a bit at the beginning but the final scenes makes it worthwhile.

7/10

Goliath (Season One)

I’ve just finished watching the season finale of Goliath, an Amazon series, starring Billy Bob Thornton. It’s a righteous legal drama with some great acting from the man as well as from a certifiable odd William Hurt.

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Legal dramas can be very appealing to me. I watched every episode of Judging Amy and The Good Wife and started enjoying legal drama films with Spencer Tracy in 1960 Inherit the Wind and Gregory Peck’s uber classic To Kill a Mockingbird early in my movie watching life. Unfortunately, they can also lag, sputter, and die to become boring Fords up on blocks in the annals of the IMDB.

I wasn’t sure about Goliath at first but I’m happy to say it had suspense and smarts and all the stuff I look for in a legal drama series. There is a spot where the writing gets a little dull around episode 4 and thereabouts but these days I can’t say any show is perfect.

There is an explosion at sea that causes much controversy. Thornton is in a bar in the first episode basically feeling washed up in his law practice. He’s been successful in ripping people off and getting money the easy way and it has more or less driven him to depression and drinking. You can probably imagine him in this state if you’ve seen the Bad Santa films.

William Hurt plays the head of a corporation trying to hide what happened on that boat. The storyline is a mystery really that unfolds about what happened in that mysterious explosion. Thornton is approached by a woman who needs his skills to take on the corporation and he sees the chance to do something right with his skills, for a change. Oh, and don’t let me forget to mention it’s a chance to redeem himself with the firm that expelled him.

FINAL THOUGHTS
It’s great watching Thornton in this series. He is truly in his element in this series. I recommend it to fans of the genre and of Thornton.

8/10

High Fidelity (2000)

This is before Jack Black was huge. He’s quite funny here in a supporting role. John Cusack’s character is the consummate “cool dude” managing a record store. He is also the narrator of a quirky, hosted, cult-status film that takes the viewer through museum tour of failed relationships

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This is a hip movie for hipsters. In other words, the jokes are subtle and righteously understood by students of pop culture circa 2000. It has a simple setting: a record store and we watch Cusack’s character travel to the edge and back again not being able to keep a girl around to save his life.

While not a romantic comedy per se, this film could be recommended as a great date movie. It conjures up the lessons of falling in love in your teens through your twenties. Cusack definitely has his shit together in terms of having a pad and a job but he falls way short of what these women need. Caught in the middle: any guy whose gone through dating segments will likely relate, I know I did.

There is a scene when Jack Black and his friends go gangsta on “Rob” (Tim Robbins) the current dating interest of his late girlfriend. It’s quite a sight to see. The whole “bros before hoes” idea played out. But that scenes ends up different. Most of the film is a bit different, I guess that’s why it resonates so much with me.

FINAL THOUGHTS
In a similar tone to “Office Space,” this film is quirky hilarious. You hae excellent actors, a dynamite script, beautiful women, and of course JACK BLACK! I recommend to all but especially those with a quirky and dark sense of humor.

10/10

Chariots of Fire (1981)

This is a repost of my review from 2012. I plan to write an encore review this week.

Chariots of Fire was directed in 1981 by Hugh Hudson, known also for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. It stars Ian Charleson as Eric Liddell, a devout Christian runner, and Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams, a dedicated Jewish runner. Watching the movie now, over 30 years later, one can identify an A-list class from both major and minor characters.

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This movie is based on a true story. It is called a drama, history, and sport movie by imdb.com. It’s one of those movies I liked so much I bought. It’s a story of running, endurance, and conviction. The signature music of Vangelis inspired many in my generation to run and to appreciate running. I’m a proud runner probably because I saw this film at age 11.

Chariots of Fire is about two rising Olympic champions: Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams who are driven by very different impulses. Liddell is an ardent missionary who cares more about “feeling God’s pleasure” when he runs that he does about winning trophies or medals. Abrahams on the other hand is overly ambitious about winning. He is in fact primal in his drive to win at any cost. There is a lot of development toward the climax but the most important point is when the Olympics are to be held on a Sunday. Liddell refuses to run due to his beliefs. This is where we see the conviction of a truly inspiring man displayed in real time. Because this is a true story, we feel the temptation we might have to run but Liddell refuses. It is an excellent conversation piece. What drives us? How do we define success? and What will we not do in our quest for that success?

This movie is a gem and a pride among movies. While I don’t share Liddell’s polarized worldview, I still admire his conviction and resolve. This movie tells me I should define success and answer the questions above for myself. I am always defining and redefining myself. Chariots of Fire reminds me that true success has to be self-defined. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this film, it’s for everyone. When I first saw it I was 11 years old. When the credits rolled, I got up to walk out of the row. My mother stopped me and motioned me back into my seat. I saw the eyes of my parents and siblings watching the credits in awe as they listened to the angelic music. I would later learn the theme song and play it in the house hundreds of time. This is truly a remarkable film in my collection.

10/10

‘The Walking Dead’ S07 Finale

Be warned, I’m not happy. Tiger, Tiger … I thought this was an improvement but not much better than what this soap opera has been lately.

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The reason I still watch this show is because it’s on Sunday nights and my family likes it. Every week I get less and less interested in what the millionaires who make it want to say. I know Negan is in the comic lol ut he needs to die. This isn’t because I fear him or anyone should but rather because he is a boring character that simply does the same thing over and over.

The show has lost its zombie appeal almost completely. It seemed once the human stories played backup for the zombie reality. Now its flipped. We have ti sit through tears and crap side dialog about people who are dead or who are in other camps. I truly hope this show improves.

Negan gets wise to Rick and his plans. He captures some people. It looks like Rick or people close to him will die. There is an intervening hand (or paw) at the end.

What I’d like to see is less of a “war” with Negan and more about how the zombie world is rebuilding itself and innovation is taking over. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably seen it, if not, this is not the one to come in on. Dull and mundane. Does anyone really care if she killed herself as a sacrifice to become a zombie? I won’t get into detail but feel free to in the comments.

2/5

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Article first published as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close on Blogcritics.
At a time of enlightenment about Autism, this film sheds a realistic light that’s not always easy to watch.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was directed by Stephen Daldry, known for The Reader, Billy Elliot, and the Hours. It has been advertised as a stunning, avant garde movie centering on how the 9-11 tragedy affects one family. It centers around Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a nine-year-old boy who is hell bent on discovering a remnant of his father’s past. His father is Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), a jeweler, who dies in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The last remnant, as it were, he has left behind for his son is a cryptic key. Oskar finds in a vase in the closet after his father is dead. He is from then on driven and fixated on finding the lock that the key opens. This generates a plot of pseudo adventures meeting all sorts of people and devising all sorts of elaborate schemes along the way. What about the twin towers? That was my burning question most of the movie. Make no mistake: this film is not so much about 911. Instead it is more akin to a public service announcement for Asperger’s syndrome, or some garden variety diagnosis of a tortured genius nine year old. Oskar Schell apparently has license to scream horrible words at his mother, (Sandra Bullock) because of his unique disorder. He rolls on the floor, bangs his hands against furniture, and shows utter frustration when his “genius” ideas are thwarted. I could get into the unrealistic amounts of time he is alone to carry out his adventures but I won’t. I also won’t get into the ridiculous cussing exchanges (equally implausible) he has with the security guard (John Goodman) of his building as he comes and goes. I don’t think this movie is meant to be realistic, it’s up to something else. I am not sure I know what it is. It is definitely hard to follow. Fortunately, we can find some compassion for the boy and that held my interest for some of the film.

Of course, anyone would have sympathy for Oskar. He lost his father who was seemingly his best friend to the tragedy we now refer to as 9-11. Still, it doesn’t excuse his disdain for his mother and the strange fixations he leaps headlong into to find the origin of the key. Along the way, he meets a nice, quiet (mute in fact), man who rents a room from his grandmother. He is aptly called “The Renter” (Max von Sydow). He accompanies Oskar on his key expedition which is very difficult because the old man cannot speak. In a way, the renter is best suited to Oskar: he never talks back. The renter is Oskar’s long lost mute grandfather and ironically becomes the only voice of reason. In my opinion, Max von Sydow gives the most compelling performance in the movie. I must add also that there isn’t much competition.

Oskar is very taken with his own “clever” ideas and likes to tell people about them with every opportunity. His lines are annoying and they are delivered with an equally unsettling voice. There isn’t much more to the story than Oskar finding the lock for the key. The mystery’s end is not exciting and he doesn’t seem to advance much in is grieving process for his dad.

I think this movie failed to impress me because it was not about what it advertised. A movie can get away with that when it is such a powerful film you forget you were cheated by the ads. In my opinion, this movie used 9-11 as a “bait-and-switch theme to get people into the theater. There is only minimal reminiscing about the tragedy. On the other hand, the movie centers on Oskar who is not an emotionally well young man. We therefore have nothing to relate with. The boy’s actions are annoying and obtuse, he treats his mother atrociously. I can’t relate with how a kid like that sees his mother and the world. We want to relate with Oskar but the feelings never come. Then there is the theme of 9-11. We want to relate with that but it has such a small small place in the movie. I think it would have been better to either make a well developed movie about 9-11 -or- to make a movie with a decent script about Asperger’s syndrome. They didn’t do that though so what we are left with is a movie with an extremely long title and an incredibly flat plot. I was very let down by this movie and the way it promoted itself to be something it was not. If you like the actors, it is worth seeing. If you want to re-examine 9-11 or anything “real” about the grieving process, or Asbergers for that matter, stay incredibly far away from this one. While this movie may be extremely loud & incredibly close on one level, it is most decidedly not incredibly deep.