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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
An almost perfect "popcorn" movie, highly entertaining.
14 June 2019
I watched this at home, I own it on DVD.

As the sequel to his first Spiderman role, Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker. He has been fighting crime and trying to figure out how to balance his life as Spiderman and his desire for a relationship with Mary Jane Watson, capably played again by Kirsten Dunst. Then mid-movie he has an identity crisis of sorts, discards his costume in the trash in an alley, and vows to give up his crime-fighting role.

But the call is too great, on the loose is Alfred Molina as Doc Ock , with four metal bionic arms attached to his back, powered by Tritium fuel. The risk to the city and the citizens is too great, he has to put his costume back on and save the city.

The romantic side story is MJ getting tired of what she sees as Peter's lack of commitment to their "friendship", e.g. repeatedly failing to show up to see her stage play. She in fact gets engaged to be married to another man. Somehow through all the turmoil MJ has to realize who Peter really is and that he is the only one for her.

Good, entertaining movie.
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Bereave (2015)
Charming story, and some funny stuff, that takes a loooonnnnngggg time to get there.
12 June 2019
I watched this movie on Amazon streaming, which lists it as a 2019 movie even though it is a 2015 release. There are only a couple of user reviews and very few votes so it seems not many people actually saw it. Which isn't good news for the producers who also star in the movie.

It is mainly about Malcolm McDowell's character, Garvey, and he is very good in it. We don't know his backstory but living in an expensive Hollywood high rise he must have been successful. He is dying but doesn't want his family to know. Much of the story is his figuring out what to do and what to say.

His wife is played by co-producer Jane Seymour, as Evelyn. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary but while she is enthusiastic Garvey seems distant. He won't talk to her, he won't explain why, she doesn't deal with it well.

Old reliable Keith Carradine is Garvey's younger brother Victor, whose driver is always with him, again showing he must be successful and wealthy.

I probably enjoyed Mike Starr most as Victor's driver George. Who could ever forget his role in "Dumb and Dumber"?

Anyway I found the movie hard to watch in many respects, so many angry and rude characters, especially the daughter who was abrasive with both her father and her young daughter. But it was a L-O-L moment when the "tooth fairy" came into the kid's room and night and she used her martial arts training and baton to deal with the intruder.

I most enjoyed the last 30 minutes, after everything was set up. But it was trying, to get to that point.
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Braid (2018)
Grownups play their kids game.
12 June 2019
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. I first read several user reviews and they are scattered all over the place so the only way to know for sure was to see it.

The summary on its IMdb page pretty well summarizes it, "Two wanted women decide to rob their wealthy psychotic friend who lives in the fantasy world they created as children; to take the money they have to take part in a deadly perverse game of make believe."

The two "wanted" friends were dealing drugs, lost about $80,000 worth in a police raid and now they are on the run. Both from the cops and from their drug supplier.

I see the writer/director is Italian, maybe that partly explains why it is so unusual, the relationships, the dreamlike aspect of some scenes. Frankly I didn't find it to be a very good movie, I was never invested in the characters and what they were doing didn't make a lot of sense. I'm glad I watched it, I enjoy seeing experimental movies here and there, but my opinion is most viewers will NOT find it a rewarding experience.
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Sequel to the 2012 "Wreck-It Ralph."
4 June 2019
So, my wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our local public library. Almost exactly 6 years after we watched "Wreck-It Ralph".

Most of the voice actors from that earlier movie return to voice their characters here. The innovation is a Wi-Fi router has been added to the arcade so the electronic characters are no longer limited to traveling through electrical wires. They can go anywhere the internet can take them.

The core story here is that a kid playing a car game in the arcade accidentally breaks the steering wheel. It is so old replacement parts aren't made anymore so they search the internet and find one at auction on the 'bay. So Ralph goes into the internet to find it and get it so the characters in that game won't perish.

The animation and voice acting are first-rate, and the script has many inventive references to social media and other web-based technologies. Like the Google search character who tries to guess what you want after one word or sound. Not as much fun as the 2012 movie but still very enjoyable.
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Morgan (2016)
Thriller based on new, gene-spiced individuals.
2 June 2019
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our local public library. There is a very interesting "extra" on the disc featuring the filmmakers and a number of scientists and doctors involved in DNA typing and gene-splicing research. The theme of the movie is based on that, a fictional story of what might happen if this were done and certain things didn't turn out favorably.

I really like this movie and Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Morgan, the synthesized individual, is quite good. With her somewhat exotic looks she is very believable. Part of the synthesis was to develop an organism that matures more quickly and here she is 5 years old but developed to the actress's real age, about 19 or 20 during filming.

The other central character is company specialist, Kate Mara as Lee Weathers. She is quite unemotional, eventually we learn why. She is sent to the remote location to see if Morgan can be a success or if she is too flawed and has to be terminated.

Quite a good movie, makes you think.
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Piercing (2018)
At the end you wonder "Why was this movie even made?"
1 June 2019
I watched this at home on DVD in spite of its low IMDb rating. After watching it I think it is rated a bit too high.

We get no real idea where all this takes place, but as Christopher Abbott as "Reed" begins preparing for a trip, ice pick in hand, we see the lips of his baby daughter move and some deep voice comes out. At other times different things happen that leads us to believe he is schizophrenic.

Be that as it may when he gets to a hotel he arranges for a prostitute. In some brief flashbacks we sense that his mother had been a prostitute and maybe that messed up his mind. Regardless he gets Mia Wasikowska (almost 30) as "Jackie".

It is clear that he intends to kill her with an ice pick, he even rehearses it in his room. It has a sense of absurdity about it more than terror. And as we might guess Jackie has some tricks up her sleeve also.

Fortunately the movie is short, just over an hour. To me it really is a mess, it just makes little sense and at the end I found myself wondering "Why was this movie even made?"
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Sequel to 1964 movie, the kids are now adults.
30 May 2019
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our local public library. Emily Blunt now has the role made famous by Julie Andrews, as Mary Poppins, she has been gone for some years and now returns to help the next generation.

I was unsure how Blunt would handle the singing but she does fine. Very few actresses in history could sing as well as Andrews but Blunt does a credible job. And she otherwise fit the character very well.

There are a few ties to the original movie, including the Tuppence that the young boy was advised to invest rather than buy seed for the birds. The investment has grown to the point he could use it to get out of debt and pay off his mortgage.

This version doesn't have the magical look and feel of the 1964 movie but on its own is sufficiently entertaining.
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Here and Now (2018)
A day in the life of a performer who gets unsettling news.
29 May 2019
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library.

This movie has received a number of very bad reviews and very low ratings, which are NOT deserved at all. It in fact is a very good movie to do what it sets out to do. It is a character study of a female singer who seems a bit past her prime, then gets some very upsetting health news. The movie follows her for almost 24 hours, interacting with family and friends, reluctant to tell any of them what is going on.

One will like this movie if they are a Sarah Jessica Parker fan, who now is in her early 50s. She plays Vivienne, a professional singer. Divorced, she has a 16-yr-old daughter who lives with Viv's ex-husband. The movie is not dynamic, in fact often there are reasonably long pauses, we are supposed to identify with the terror that surely must be going through her mind.

We only hear her sing a couple of times, quiet nondescript songs. I was surprised when I looked at her bio and found she had a lot of early musical theater experience, even playing the lead in Annie at one point. So she is probably a better singer than is shown in this movie.
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Well-made Lego movie, just not my type of entertainment.
28 May 2019
I was able to watch this at home on BluRay from my public library.

Much as they did for the first one, the animated, alive-looking Lego characters are really the toys of a couple of children. The story and scenes are good, if this is your type of entertainment. I find that it does NOT strike a chord with me. But for those who enjoy this type of entertainment it is very well done.
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A 1940s film noir, boyhood friends on opposite sides of the law.
27 May 2019
I found this movie on DVD at my public library. It is B&W and in a 4:3 picture ratio.

Victor Mature stars in it just a year before he became famous for "Samson and Delilah." Here he is New York detective Lt. Candella. The story involves him and his former boyhood friend, now grown, is Richard Conte as Martin Rome. Rome grew up into a life of crime and is freshly incarcerated for killing a policeman.

Early on Rome manages to escape with the help of a trustee and most of the movie has Candell and others trying to recapture Rome and also solve a pending murder mystery. It is a well-made movie and Conte is particularly good as the crook.

It was also fun seeing two big female stars in their early years, Shelley Winters as Brenda Martingale and a teenage Debra Paget as Rome's too-young girlfriend, Teena Riconti. We only see her briefly near the beginning, then briefly near the end, but she is very good in her abbreviated role.
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Oil for Food program and cheating in Iraq.
26 May 2019
My wife and I watched this movie on Amazon streaming. It is based on a book presumably accurate in its analysis of the situation in 2002 and 2003.

It was shortly after the 9/11 attacks in the USA, pressure was being put on Saddam Hussein, and one UN-backed program was "oil for food" program where Iraq would supply oil and in return would get food and medicines for the suffering population.

Theo James plays the lead character, Michael, who takes a job working for the UN. His immediate boss is Ben Kingsley as Pasha, a man from Cyprus who nominally was in charge of the program. When Michael writes a summary report, including the data showing up to 30% of the money was being skimmed off illegally, Pasha took those pages and immediately shredded them. PLus food and medicines were not being distributed evenly to those in need.

This movie isn't overly interesting in its style, but the story is interesting, to show how widespread corruption is in high places all over the world.
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A nice, representative Day and Hudson Rom-Com from 1961.
25 May 2019
My wife and I watched this movie on DVD from our public library. I looked it up after Doris Day died earlier this month (May 2019) at the age of 97. I recently watched a documentary of her life, part of it mentioned how she and Rock Hudson became good friends as a result of their movies together.

This one is set in New York advertising, Rock Hudson is the veteran, Jerry Webster, known to use every trick in his book to sway clients his way. Grand deception is part of it. Doris Day is the new advertising executive in town, Carol Templeton, she plays it straight and fair and assumes others do too.

Very quickly he and she are at odds over his stealing a $5Million client, they talk on the phone but she doesn't know what he looks like. So when she finds him in a Chemist's lab with lab apron on she assumes he is the Chemist, he doesn't correct her.

So most of the movie is Carol thinking she is working with the Chemist to develop a new product when in fact is was jerry playing her. A really fun movie with some delightful dialog. Day and Hudson were both in their 30s and in good form.
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Destroyer (2018)
Less-than-perfect L.A. detective battles her demons.
23 May 2019
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. It is a pretty fascinating story and made in a very interesting style. The movie begins with a scene of three people looking at a murdered man and then wraps around itself, we eventually realize that opening scene was also the end of the movie.

Nicole Kidman, pretty and glamorous in most of her roles, is way against type here as old-looking and rough-looking Erin Bell. She is a L.A. detective. I can't really say much about the story without revealing key spoilers, so I will just say it involves undercover work that eventually leads to a bank robbery where people are killed. Then 17 years later some issues resurface.

I have been a Kidman fan for most of her career, I have never seen her in anything like this and she is fantastic. In fact it is the main reason to watch this movie.
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Glass (2019)
Sequel to two movies, 'Unbreakable' and 'Split.'
22 May 2019
I watched this movie at home on BluRay from my public library system. My wife chose to skip.

M. Night has made a few good movies and also a few real stinkers. He is a great director, shots and scenes are always interesting. But he is very hit-N-miss as a writer. While this script isn't that good it is OK for the story here.

What he has done is merge sequels for two movies into one, 'Unbreakable' where we see the beginnings of a man realizing he has some super powers, and 'Split' where a man has 23 different personalities and kidnaps young girls. In this movie their paths collide.

James McAvoy is back playing the 23 characters and he does it fantastically. While Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn, who runs a store selling security equipment in Philadelphia, along with his now grown son. And of course Samuel L. Jackson is back as Elijah Price, but calls himself Mr. Glass.

There is a very slow section in the middle when all three men are imprisoned in a secure medical facility, and a psychiatrist works with them, one time with all three together in a large room, in essence trying to convince them they don't have super powers, everything can be explained by natural phenomena. I suppose that was necessary, considering how the movie played out, but I came away thinking that could have been shortened some and still get the points across.

Overall a good effort, I enjoyed viewing the movie and, although the conclusions are not what I was hoping for, I can see how it made sense to the filmmaker.
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Viewing this 2 years after "Fantastic Beasts." OK, but not my type of movie.
21 May 2019
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. My wife started with me but left midway, she never got immersed in the story.

In fact a "story" is not easy to find. The movie contains lots of "magic" and various fantasy beasts, some flying, some swimming. Grindelwald seems to be an untrustworthy magician, and a real rascal, and Johnny Depp plays him very well. It seems they want him dead but he is not easy to get rid of and the final scenes leave clues to the next installment.

In my review 2 years ago of "Fantastic beasts" I wrote, "I really enjoyed the various Harry Potter movies, their stories were more clearly presented, but this movie, while mostly entertaining, is not that special." And I can say pretty much the same thing for this one. It was mostly fun to watch but not a movie that I would ever want to see again.
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Les Misérables (2018– )
Worthwhile mini-series, not like the musical.
20 May 2019
I have not read the Victor Hugo book(s) regarding Les Miserables, I have only watched the musical, which I enjoyed very much. I am very partial to musicals.

But here we have a non-musical treatment in several episodes on PBS. Dominic West is Jean Valjean and very good in the role. David Oyelowo is Javert, also very good in the role. The several scenes where the two of them specifically interact are some of the highlights of the extended story.

I believe it is also now available streaming online, it is definitely worth a watch.
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'Morally ambiguous', suspended policemen decide to rob the robbers.
20 May 2019
I watched this at home on BluRay from my public library. Filmed mostly in Canada, the picture and sound are first rate.

The first thing I noticed, the movie is very long, running near 2 1/2 hours. That made me apprehensive. But getting into it actually never seemed too long, it was more like a mini series to me because I watched it over 3 or 4 different sittings over 3 days, each time overlapping 20 seconds to retrieve my reference point.

There are a number of good actors but the three key ones distil down to Mel Gibson as Brett Ridgeman, veteran policeman with a wife suffering with MS and a teen daughter who gets bullied during her two block walk home each day. They need to move to a safer area but his police salary won't allow. This becomes important as the story develops.

His sidekick is Vince Vaughn as Anthony Lurasetti, wanting to propose to his girlfriend but unsure if she will say "Yes". Then there is Tory Kittles as Henry Johns, just out of prison, with a younger brother in a wheelchair and a mom who has to resort to hooking to make ends meet.

So these guys are all in tight spots of different natures but when the two cops get suspended for being too rough with a criminal apprehension the motivation for extra cash gets stronger.

As the filmmakers state in the extras this is a "morally ambiguous" story, the cops and the driver know what they are doing is wrong but somehow justify it by relating to their unfortunate circumstances. What makes the movie fresh is the dialog, mostly veering from what we usually hear, and what is expected, to something much more interesting. It has to be interesting because the movie is so long.

The outcome was unexpected, yet expected at the same time. When you dance with the dEVIL you're bound to get burned.
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Aquaman (2018)
Another Arthur seeks to become King, this time it is a Trident he must obtain.
19 May 2019
This is a good popcorn movie, but I watched it at home on BluRay from my public library. It has a lot of very deep bass in many scenes and often rattled the glass doors covering the fireplace.

The star is Jason Momoa as Arthur, the product of a union between a lighthouse operator and a mysterious injured woman from the sea. He is destined to become Aquaman. Momoa has the looks and at 6'-4" has the stature to be legitimate in that role.

His nemesis becomes Patrick Wilson as the underwater King Orm, the half-brother of Arthur. Their mother is Nicole Kidman as Atlanna. Each very effective in their roles. The general thrust of the story is Orm is unhappy with how humanity has been treating the world, both above and below the waves, and wants to conquer all to make things right. Arthur, being of both ancestries, seeks to instead promote cooperation. So naturally a mighty battle settles that issue.

The computer graphics and special effects are really great, but for my tastes there is just too much frantic battles and destruction in the scenes leading up to the conclusion. I most enjoyed the first 1/3rd of the movie plus the last couple of scenes.
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The Mule (2018)
Clint Eastwood as an elderly drug mule.
18 May 2019
My wife and I watched this movie at home on BluRay from our local public library. Eastwood was age-appropriate, in his late 80s playing a man who was almost 90.

The story is inspired by and mostly based on the real story of Indiana man, Leo Earl Sharp who grew and hybridized daylilies. In this story Clint Eastwood is Earl Stone. As he became despondent from financial problems he was offered a chance to carry drugs from the southern US border to Detroit. In this movie the drugs are transported to the Chicago area.

Eastwood produced, directed, and starred, and it overall is a very fine, entertaining effort. His daughter in real life plays his estranged daughter in the movie. Also good is Bradley Cooper as the DEA detective leading the effort to identify and arrest the mule.
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Cold Pursuit (2019)
Good "guilty pleasure", Neeson once again kicks butt.
18 May 2019
I watched this on BluRay, courtesy of my neighbors. Filmed in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is set in Denver and a nearby ski town in the wintertime.

Liam Neeson is snowplow driver Nels Coxman, mostly quiet family man with a son that works in baggage at the local airport. Due to a mixup the drug lord has the son killed by injecting a drug overdose. Nels knows his son, vows to get to the bottom of all this and kill those responsible. So it is a revenge movie, very well made, and might be best considered a very dark comedy. However the amount of graphic violence is more than a bit distressing, seems to make killing a sport.

In tone and weather it often reminded me of "Fargo", although the story is quite different. I don't endorse going out and killing all those who wrong you and your family but from a "guilty pleasure" point of view it was nice seeing all those crime bosses and gang members get theirs.

I actually watched it twice, 9 days apart, still too much graphic killing, the humor doesn't dampen that much.
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Beautiful Boy (I) (2018)
Teenagers and drug addiction, based on real people, late 1990s.
16 May 2019
I managed to view this movie on Amazon streaming. Carell seems mostly known for his comedic work but shows again that he is even better in a straight dramatic role, here as the father who loves his teenage son but finally comes to grips that he can't save him from his drug addiction. The boy must save himself.

Good performances all around, it is hard to watch at times because we know that often a young man or young woman in fact fails to overcome the addiction and dies very young. In fact in the USA for those under 50 drug use is the most common cause of death. The problem with many teens, going through puberty and high school years, is they want to experiment but experimenting with drugs is a very dangerous thing. No matter how the parents raise them some will always go there, it is sad.

This movie, mostly based on the true story, shows that vividly.
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Smartass (2017)
Crazy, dark comedy, young girl goes on a walkabout in S. Los Angeles.
15 May 2019
I watched this on Amazon streaming, only because Joey King is in it, as 15-yr-old Freddie. As she is preparing to skip out she tells her mother, just imagine I am at summer camp, if you don't hear from me for a week don't worry.

The thing about Freddie is she goes into any situation totally unafraid, whether it be jail or a drug deal with guns pointed at everyone. It is as if she can't get hurt, but others may get killed and often do. She always "smartasses" herself out of any situation.

It isn't a good movie per se but a few of the situations are really entertaining. Like the time she caught a ride, the guy drugged her, put her in a cheap motel room and "sold" her for $200. When she realizes what is going on and what was expected she went into action to escape and even get money from the motel manager by threatening to expose his scheme.

No question Joey King is the only good thing about this movie, all the other actors and characters are worthless. Most viewers will not enjoy this movie.
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Interesting story premise, not developed particularly well.
15 May 2019
I managed to catch this movie on Amazon streaming. It has a capable cast, including Ansel Elgort and Chloë Grace Moretz as teenage classmates and friends who decide to help each other understand the "sex" experience, plus David Strathairn and Catherine Keener as their respective parents.

The key storyline here is a classmate is gunned down while working at a local popular spot, apparently targeted. The police don't seem overly invested in solving the murder and early on assume the victim must have been in a gang, and it was gang related.

But Elgort's character knows he wasn't a gang member and sets about a dangerous path to find solve the crime, and Moretz's character gets involved as a matter of course.

There is something about the script and the pacing that just doesn't ring true, even considering that is it a fictional story. While it was mostly an interesting time-killer I could not recommend this movie.
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Summer '03 (2018)
It was an eventful summer for 16-yr-old Jamie.
12 May 2019
I managed to watch this on Amazon streaming movies.

I had seen Joey King in a couple of other movies and find that she is a very interesting young actress, probably 18 or 19 during making of this movie. As the movie begins her voice-over states how forgettable summers tend to be. But not this one, the summer of 2003 when her old grandmother died.

She plays the role of 16-yr-old Jamie Winkle who is still a mostly good student and obedient daughter. But she happens to be at her grandmother's hospital bed when she dies, but not before revealing a series of "secrets" that she had been holding. This new information throws several things in complete disarray, and that makes 2013 memorable.

My only disappointment with the movie is that it closely follows the current trend in "teen" movies, the script is pretty well filled with filthy language and more sex and sex talk than is needed to tell this story. It muddies the main story which has family members reevaluate their relationships, and young Jamie learning about sex in mostly the wrong ways.

It could have been a much better movie.
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Creed II (2018)
Followup to the 2015 "Creed".
11 May 2019
I watched this movie at home on BluRay from my public library.

Michael B. Jordan is back as Adonis, son of Apollo Creed. This movie is a continuation of the 2015 "Creed" where Adonis, "Don", begins his prize fighting career. Here he is World Heavyweight Champ but has to fight the big, strong brutal Russian.

He doesn't lose but the first fight doesn't go well, he is very beat up but the other fighter was disqualified. So for the rematch a year later Rocky Balboa has to train him to be a brawler instead of just a fighter.

Pretty good story overall, including a new baby and Rocky's reuniting with his son and family.
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