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The Siege of Jadotville (2016)
Picture "Zulu" with modern weapons and an untested army. If this were not a true story, no sane person would believe it.
Irish soldiers on a UN peacekeeping mission are besieged by mercenaries in Africa. They h.....SPOILER ALERT...they hold out and though they lose, they win. Sadly it took DECADES to show this.
An outstanding film with an outstanding cast. Each and everyone was magnificent, there's no need to pick individuals though Jamie Dornan and Jason O'Mara are the leads and DO dominate the screen time as does Mark Stong, but overall, this is a magnificent cast doing a magnificent job. I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning because, frankly, from the moment they became enthralled with the African beauty and the exotic animals, there was no way in hell, title alone, I didn't expect the worst. How it came about was done wonderfully.
I could go on for paragraphs. Why bother. I'll leave where I started, "Zulu" with modern weapons. (and leadership-Guillaume Canet , also does one HELL of a job as the villain who is simply doing his job.*)If you enjoy war movies, THIS IS FOR YOU! *It's tough when you root for the main bad guy to get killed all the while respecting him. Man, that must suck for actual soldiers, all of whom I truly respect. God Bless the good guys, each and every one, no matter what country they fight for and God, never let us forget who the GOOD guys are.
The Finest Hours (2016)
Amazing True Story
Yup, Amazing, but I gave it an 8. I ONLY gave it an 8 because so much of it seemed a bit too Hollywood-ish. But hey, I'm not a film maker and a history buff, not a historian. But as I watched and thought now and then, "Oh, REALLY?" I still enjoyed the intensity. The slow start was a nice way to introduce a couple of the main characters, just a couple and funny enough they ARE a couple. Bernie and Miriam. But even they don't get too much in-depth coverage. But that's OK, it's not really about them, but it's enough to give you a bit of a reason to feel for someone besides everyone who risks their lives in this scenario.
If you're reading this (and few will, I know) you already know the story, so we'll skip that. This is kind of an opinion forum/review. Here's mine.
GOOD MOVIE. Like I mentioned, I saw some clichés, some 'Hollywood' moments that don't happen in real life and some silliness. I also saw a true story and as often happens with me, the full impact truly hits when photos of the actual folks are shown at the end. Holy Moly, that's the way to make a jaw drop. Then, I looked up the whole story and even by way of the United States Coast Guard's own website, the movie is far more accurate than I imagined. Little exaggeration here. We're talking life threatening, edge of your seat, nails chewed to the knuckle stuff and portrayed far better than I believed. OK, so Bernie and Miriam were actually married already, not engaged like in the movie, big deal. I'll cope.
Chris Pine has truly impressed me. I liked him as Capt. Kirk more (smarmy, snarky and lovable) but here he takes on a real life person and does him justice. Miriam, played by Holliday (add an 'l' and it's now a name! Hippies. Sheesh) Grainger was sympathetic and believable, not fake. Casey Affleck gave a voice to a character that in real life seems to have been forgotten; a man who did as much to save the remaining crew of the Pendleton as anyone and did it wonderfully.
The supporting cast, most especially Ben Foster and Kyle Gallner came through like champs. Everyone always remembers the MAIN guy, but hey, if the other guys weren't there, the main guy could NEVER accomplish what was done and these guys throw that in your face, but respectfully.
I have always had enormous respect for the USCG and feel they are truly the overlooked heroes of our armed forces, especially in peacetime. This movie (as well as "The Guardian") is finally shining a much deserved spot light on them and in a respectful, professional and entertaining way.
Scott is ANGRY, and rightfully so.
Let's get a few things out of the way first. For one thing, it has all the feel of a TV movie even a TV movie cast other than George C. Scott (one of the FINEST actors ever-NOT sarcasm) and Martin Sheen in his early career. Otherwise, this has made for TV all over it, even the credits have that second rate feel.
Many things happen that are very believable but there are plenty of things that make you go, "Hmmm?" Just a quick example that could be considered a spoiler, when Scott leaves the hospital, WHERE DID HE GET THE CLOTHES? And if they wanted to keep him there, I have a hard time believing his wallet would be left for him.
And why did he have to kill so many folks (a guard, two cops, at least one soldier) who were as responsible for what was going on as much as HE was? They had families but eh, screw that, "I HAVE A GRUDGE!" A righteous grudge or not, these folks didn't kill anyone, but now their families grieve. It took the hero out of it and made him a douchebag.
OK, that's off my chest. Whew.
I saw this movie when it came out in 1972 and I liked it. After I had seen "Patton" I couldn't think of a GCS movie I wouldn't like, and I don't recall seeing one either. This movie has its flaws but it makes a statement and makes it clear. If you must experiment with stuff, don't do it anywhere near innocent people and if you screw up, rush up to the nearest podium and scream, "We are VERY sorry. This was a MAJOR screw up and we are doing everything we can to rectify it!" Some would say don't do these experiments, but hey, this is the real world and this stuff, sometimes has to happen. Yeah, the REAL world where there are folks who hate us, want to kill us and will do whatever it takes, maybe like flying planes into buildings or potentially releasing gas that we really should now how to deal with.
Politics aside, GCS's character, Dan Logan was angry, and very rightfully so. He was being screwed, figured it out, and went for revenge. He apparently knew he was dying so, why not REALLY get back at those who wronged him. I understand and almost applaud his actions. I stress, ALMOST (see above). No time for a law suit when you're about to check out, right? The photography was good, the script was actually quite good but lots of clichés. Scott, that guy couldn't turn in a bad performance if it was required of him. The supporting cast did a fine job as well, even his kid who for a good portion of the movie just had to convulse and bleed. He bled well and his convulsions were to die for.
Bad joke, but I'm not deleting it.
Overall, the scariness of the potential real life stuff is there and this movie really makes you think. I caught it for the first time in YEARS on YouTube last night and I was so glad I did. Now if I could only find some more of his classics that for some reason just don't get shown. "Oklahoma Crude"? Where ARE YOU?
The Night Of (2016)
Enjoyable, Hey SOUND guy.....
This series is typical of HBO. It's well written, well filmed and brilliantly acted. But hey, the SOUND is annoying. I find I'm often straining to hear what's being said as the background noise is almost overwhelming. It's annoying as hell. I can't stress the word ANNOYING enough. The sound guy is the one who should spend some REAL time at Rikers Island.
With that said, I saw the other choices for the part of John Stone. I can say I can see either one playing him, but John Turturro is brilliant. Here's a guy who has done insane comedy and tough drama seamlessly. He does so here. I'm glad he got the part in the long run, no slight to anyone. He's sympathetic and OK, he can pull off looking like a shlub better than almost anyone when we know he's NO shlub.
Riz Ahmed is scary good. He almost has me believing he's becoming a real thug while in prison. Of course he's sabotaging his defense, but he's surviving.
Peyman Moaadi and Poorna Jagannathan (I believe I've seen Peyman before)are magnificent as his parents, they are proud and determined and yet, real. This means, vulnerable and scared and desperate.
Bill Camp as Sgt. Box is admirable. He's doing what he sees is right and with a case as seemingly airtight as this, he'd be a damn fool to do otherwise. He's not on a crusade, he simply wants justice done.
Every other supporting cast member does a fine job. To acknowledge each and everyone would be not only lengthy, but would get a bit pretentious.
Finish this up with a simple endorsement, FAN-DAMN-TASTIC! The photography is wonderful and every cast member does a splendid job. If only I could be 100% sure of what they were saying. What was that again? My rewind button is wearing out.
The Intern (2015)
Nice Story that's a bit predictable.
OK, first and foremost, I'm sick of the pretentious a-holes who rush like sharks to a seal feeding area to condemn this type of movie. You blow hards go and make a few movies and THEN spout off your know it all garbage. GAWDALMIGHTY! OK, with that out of my system, this movie is a fairly predictable and pedestrian film. I have to be brutally honest however, a couple of small curve balls did surprise me, but overall, eh. Not a great movie but hey, a nice story. I use that word a lot, 'nice' and I've acknowledged that before. For some films, it's the best description. It's not exciting, it's not thought provoking and it's not intended to be. It's entertaining and at times, a bit uplifting. In a word, it's NICE! What the hell is wrong with nice? Not a damn thing. The whiney folks who feel every movie must have impact or teach a lesson or...what-have-you, are jerks, morons and probably failed film students who were rejected by EVERY movie studio, even the Troma Team. Let's be honest you egomaniacs, shall we? I'm just a guy who loves movies and in this movie I see a pleasant story that allowed me to sit for an hour and 1/2 and just enjoy a nice story. Is that so wrong? No, dammit, it isn't. Am I angry, yeah, I guess I am. Do I care if I offend a few douche bags? Hell no.
Sorry, I'm really ranting here.
Bottom line, Robert De Niro can do ANYTHING (and sure, it seems like lately he WILL DO ANYTHING!) and he pulled off this role very nicely. If you don't like this word, stop reading....NOW! He's a mild mannered good guy who wants to not be bored. Anne Hathaway has shown she can handle acting very well. I keep wanting to see more depth in her characters, but this movie didn't require much and that's fine. She's a good actor, not a shlub who gets by solely on looks.
Rene Russo. 'Nuff said.
The supporting cast do a magnificent job doing exactly what they are supposed to do, SUPPORT.
Sure, I found some things that I scratched my head at. Where did HE go? Why did SHE do this? What ever happened to....? But it's not a documentary, it's a nice (YEAH, NICE-IN YOUR FACE!) story that shouldn't have to explain everything. People don't go to the movies to have every detail correct and every single moment or event fit perfectly into reality. Take it from me, I can be a stickler with some types of movies, but I'm also a realist and even when I'M the one whining, I try to keep my whining in perspective. Some here do not. They think they're some important critic who's word will make or break a movie. NONE OF US HERE ARE VERY IMPORTANT! GET OVER YOURSELVES! So, bottom line, it's a nice (yeah, nice) movie that entertains. If you like simple movies that simply make you smile, this is one for you. If you demand perfection, make your own damned movies.
Yeonpyeong haejeon (2015)
This Movie Is Special
We start by getting to know the men of the 357 Patrol ship of the South Korean Navy. A good bunch of men who, being human, kid around, have fun and generally work very hard and then let off tension as any normal person does, be it sneaking a feast on the bow or cheering on their hometown soccer team. We get to meet their families as well and see just how much those people back home mean to them.
We also see what a bunch of punks the North Koreans are. OK, sure, they're not about to be shown as sympathetic characters, but why should they be? They started this entire incident, as they often do. Punks. And when you compare the ships, you see the difference between a modern free society and a backwards one being run by some little runt with something to prove. But I digress.
This movie was filmed magnificently and very believably. We (in the Western Hemisphere)often see movies made in other nations and feel they look a little cheesy compared to our slick productions. That's a bit condescending, but I'm sure many who may read this know what I mean. We get to know these guys and like them. They're good people and the ships new Commander starts out a bit of a hard nose, but even he sees that, this likable bunch will do anything for someone they both respect and like and mutual admiration and affection between officers and crew truly brings them all together.
Then disaster, and for what? Muscle flexing of the worst kind and this entire sequence, the battle sequence is both exciting and heartbreaking as we see those we've gotten to know being shot up by...well, the bad guys. It's very well done and riveting.
I was not fully aware until the end that this was indeed a true story and yup, I teared up. I teared up for the men of 357, I teared up for their families and the horror they all faced in their different ways. I also teared up for the world that we must tolerate nations like North Korea who seem to simply exist only to provoke, incite and threaten. They have no meaning otherwise and this movie, should I say, this story is proof.
It's a wonderful movie on a number of levels. I've reviewed this movie from a soapbox, but this movie tells truth in a very dramatic fashion and tells it well. For a history lesson and for a lesson in national terrorism and current events, this movie is a must see.
All the Way (2016)
I have a whole new outlook on LBJ
Bryan Cranston has come so far since Malcom in the Middle, where he truly showed his comedic abilities. Here, he shows himself not only a great actor, but an amazing impersonator. Is that good grammar? Ah, who cares. There were times that I honestly saw LBJ on the screen, not Bryan Cranston PLAYING him. He was that convincing as was Melissa Leo.
I grant you, I was just a very young kid during the Johnson years but even as a young kid, when the TV is on, you watch, even news. Over the years I've been given impressions of Johnson that didn't have much impact. He was the president between Kennedy (whom the whole world loved) and Nixon (who wasn't so loved) and he made some people mad and made some people happy and blah blah blah. That first year in office and his devotion to getting the Civil Rights Act passed, and his brilliance in the political sphere just blew my mind. Yeah, I'm not a moron, I know there was some creative license taken with some things, but I've seen that when HBO does something like this, they do their research so I'm confident there's a hell of a lot of truthfulness in this. And they don't pull punches. Johnson can be crude, can be a bully and can be a bit thin skinned. He can be tough and even a bit lovable. Anyone who loves Beagles in my opinion gets extra points.
I so very much enjoyed this movie and sat with my wife saying, "We LIVED through this!" As for the rest of the cast, WOW! I almost swore Bradley Whitford was simply lip syncing Hubert Humphrey's actual voice. And watching J. Edgar Hoover played by the always entertaining Stephen Root was terrific. If you do watch this, watch his face closely when LBJ asks how you can spot someone who is gay. Amazing.
I also loved the fact that the story pressed home one unmistakable fact, if you want change in politics, you can't do it without playing the game. To demand change to happen, HERE AND NOW, you're going to be very disappointed and may find yourself slipping backwards in stead of striding forward. Sad, but true.
I don't want this to turn into a novel. I didn't summarize the plot because there's no need, you know it. I'll finish this with the recommendation that, if you enjoy anything related to politics and/or history, this is a VERY entertaining and informative history lesson.
It's "OK", that's about it.
"Every morning when I get up, I thank God for drugs and murder and subversion." That is the best line in the entire movie and I thank Steve Skafte of Nova Scotia for including it in his review. Kurtwood Smith is, for me the highlight of this otherwise, "OK" movie.
But first, a couple of the review titles are kind of give-a-ways to the story's end. I'm glad I didn't look at this page or the review until AFTER seeing the movie.
With that said, I wasn't overly impressed. I've never thought Kris Kristofferson was a great actor, nor a great singer, but he's a better actor than a singer. Not a popular opinion on either count, but that's where I stand. He's "OK" in this movie, so is Treat Williams. Slightly better than "OK", he's actually GOOD. I'll end it there as for the acting. No wait, Kevin Conway was a little too stereotypical of the tough boss. Terrific actor, but come on, had he toned it down just a bit, it would have been a very nice job, not just...."OK".
One of my biggest gripes however is how all these Border Patrol Agents can be listening to the radio and yet still miss that two of their own are dead. Sorry, but if the Sheriff and the creepy secret police guys got wind, it HAD to go over the radio at some point. Pre-Cell Phone era, right? Real life would have seen every agent in the area swarm down on the barn, even if told not to. And yet, no matter what, people seem to hear selectively and no one is phased by all the insanity going on around them. No one seems to notice ANYTHING unusual except our heroes.
I know, I know, it's just a movie, calm down. But a movie is supposed to pull you in, make you want to believe what you're seeing is real, even if only for the length of the movie. This didn't for me. It was just a bit borderline DUMB, slight pun intended.
And lastly, though I have no association with the Border Patrol, I felt insulted on their behalf by a few lines here and there that essentially made the Border Patrol seem like a meaningless, nothing agency full of malcontents and people with no where else to go. That is a fine agency that deserves a bit more respect than the movie gave it, no a LOT more respect.
"The Border" with Jack Nicholson really only made a few of the Agents look bad, and since bad people can end up on ANY job, that was fine (even though Nicholson's character was essentially a good guy doing a bad thing)but "Flashpoint" insulted the agency a bit. At least I felt it did.
But that's not why I find the movie only "OK". I just wasn't impressed on the whole and yet, I watched it from start to finish and walked away satisfied....that it was on HBO and I didn't pay any extra money to watch it. That's the best way to see an a movie that just, "OK"!
Let Us Prey (2014)
Plenty of Blood, but not a slice and dice.
I've never been a fan of slice and dice movies where you see the maniac and he kills everyone. OK, the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a classic, I give you that and "Motel Hell" is a hoot, but the whole idea of some scary thing walking around terrorizing teenagers and killing them, well, blah.
This film is more what I go for. Scary but most of the horror is in the heads of the characters. Sure, there's plenty of blood, but it's there due to people losing control, not because they're simply lunatic killer. Some of these folks are BAD people, but that's what's great, on the surface, they seem like everybody and anybody else, it's the darkness inside of them that is drawn out by the mysterious stranger.
"Below" and "Session 9" are this type of movie. They make you think. Sometimes it's fun to just shut down your brain and be entertained, but when the movie makes you actually THINK, I believe you tend to enjoy it more. "Let Us Prey", I felt, made me think.
A Long Way Down (2014)
Not disappointed at all.
I expected a comedy. I love English movies and am rarely disappointed. It had some funny moments, but a comedy, it's not. And I was STILL not disappointed. It was a very good story, a NICE story. I use that word a lot but sometimes, I can't think of a more appropriate one.
As you know, 4 people who are planning suicide end up not doing it on New Year's Eve making a pact to do it Valentine's Day. It shows how they bond over the coming weeks and as has been mentioned, they form a sort of surrogate co-dependent family. It's a chance for them to talk out their issues and have someone with issues just as tough for them (in different unique ways), to listen. Misery loves company. What starts as mutual annoyance slips into reluctant friendship and you eventually see it become a loving family of sorts.
Nice. Photography, done well. Acting, hey, it's a cast of real pros, so you can expect that was good. But honestly, unless the photography and acting is really wretched, WHO CARES? When I read the reviews of others, I want only to know if it was a good story executed well, not if it's academy award material.
I don't know if this could win an Oscar and don't care. It was very nice movie with a upbeat story. Isn't that really all that matters in the long run?