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It was 1962, they were a clueless young married couple.
18 August 2018
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library.

It has a British "period piece" feel although the period is 1962. Two new college graduates from different backgrounds, which was still a big deal in 1960s England, get married.

She is Saoirse Ronan as Florence Ponting, violinist and leader of a string quartet. He is Billy Howle as Edward Mayhew, much less refined and often confused by his role in the world.

The movie starts with the two of them in their hotel room, about to spend their first night together, figuratively and literally, and much of the backstory is told in a series of flashbacks.

The movie is based on a popular book, and the author also became the scriptwriter for the movie, which is a nice touch. It moves a bit deliberately at times but we found the movie very worthwhile. It plays on a theme that certain moments in life create crossroads and the decisions we make each time can have a great and lasting effect on the rest of our lives.
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Jasper Jones (2017)
Australian story, it was 1969 and Charlie was coming of age.
16 August 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library. It is mostly unmemorable but has a number of good actors in it.

Set in a small Western Australia community, Corrigan, it is 1969 and some locals have lost sons in the war in Vietnam. This creates some racial tension with a local Vietnamese family.

Jasper Jones is a teenage boy living there, he is mistrusted because of his mixed race heritage, a white father and an Aboriginal mother. He is also angry because of the way he perceives himself.

The boys stumble upon a person hanging from a tree, they quickly assume it is the work of the old man that people whisper about.

So the movie is sort of a slice of life in this community, how people behave and react to what is going on. And the resolution of circumstances involving the deceased. Plus young Charlie's coming of age.

It is an interesting 1.5+ hour movie.
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Giacometti's last painting, of his friend James Lord.
15 August 2018
I managed to watch this movie at home on DVD from my public library. My wife watched the trailer and decided it was not her type of movie.

There are a number of very negative reviews and I can understand why. Not a lot happens, it is basically a glimpse of a few days in the life and work habits of Alberto Giacometti, played admirably by Geoffrey Rush. A movie fan not interested in this sort of glimpse probably should not take the time to see it.

I went into my viewing completely ignorant of the artist. If the depiction here is faithful, and I believe it is considering the writer/director, the artist was quite an unusual person.

The story focuses on what is the last painting the artist did in 1964, just a couple of years before his death. Armie Hammer plays his good friend, American James Lord, who was visiting the artist in Paris. Lord is asked to sit for a portrait before he leaves, the artist saying just an afternoon, maybe 3 or 4 hours. That sitting turned into an 18 day process.

Whether one likes or appreciates the work of the artist is immaterial, this movie is a very good glimpse at the life of a very unusual man.
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Catch-22 (1970)
Catch 22, if you ask to get out you aren't crazy so you can't get out!
13 August 2018
After all these years I finally saw it, at home on DVD from my local library. It was fun just seeing all those first rate actors in their 20s and 30s when the film was made. Now those still alive are mainly in their 70s and 80s, many still acting.

It is set in WW2, primarily in Italy. A group of ragtag aviators flying bombing runs. The story focuses on Alan Arkin as Capt. John Yossarian, bombardier. He is probably the most sane one there but he wants to survive, he wants to go home. At first it would be after 25 successful missions, then it got pushed to 50, then to 75. He was losing patience.

It is mostly a madcap type of absurdist comedy. Most of it works, some of it doesn't for me. Still I am glad I took the time, it is such a classic.
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In the Fade (2017)
Achieving justice, inspired by real events in Germany.
13 August 2018
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library, my wife skipped it, not her kind of movie. Instead of reading subtitles I selected the English audio version, it is pretty good but you can tell it isn't authentic.

As the DVD extras explain, in Germany especially in the early 2000s were a number of murders, some by explosions, of non-Germans simply because they were non-Germans. Neo Nazi attempts at preserving the "purity" of their country. The script here is aligned with those incidents.

Diane Kruger, now a US citizen and coming back to Germany after 15 years, is Katja Sekerci. She is married to a man from Turkey, they have a young son. One day as she leaves their shop she sees a woman leave a brand new bike in front outside, tells her she shouldn't leave it unlocked, it might get stolen. But it contained a bomb in the luggage compartment on the rear, when Katja returns she finds a crime scene, both her husband and her son were killed.

Kruger is really good in this role, a wife suddenly without her husband, a mother suddenly without her son. A pair are arrested, the trial seems to be going favorably, but a verdict sets them free, the prosecution wasn't able to prove their guilt. So Katja has to figure out a way to establish justice and that takes her to Greece.
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Tully (2018)
Mother caught up in the routines of life with a bunch of small children.
11 August 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library.

I have always been a big Charlize Theron fan, ever since I first saw her in 1998's 'Mighty Joe Young'. She was a producer for this movie and, in the lead role, gained 50 pounds to make the character authentic. She is really great here in a difficult role.

Here she is Marlo, she and her husband are also best friends, but as often happens he can't quite relate to her task of taking care of two young children, and on top of that she is very pregnant and about to deliver their new daughter.

As we watched the story develop, and Marlo gets a night nurse, Tully, who comes in at bedtime and takes care of the baby, the story seems to be taking a very strange twist. At the height of that strangeness Tully talks Marlo into driving into New York City for drinks at night after the baby and her husband are asleep.

When the story resolves itself completely it all makes sense, the overall thrust is how what we commonly know as postpartum depression can affect a busy mother.

From the same writer that gave us "Juno" and "Young Adult."
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Pretty simple and for children.
8 August 2018
I managed to find this on BluRay at my public library. It was a new addition and there were zero requests so I got it.

Curious, I started to watch it and quickly found it it didn't "speak to me at all". The animation is good but the story is quite odd, as the title would indicate, and for me this was a big miss.
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Gringo (2018)
Goofy caper in Mexico with a Shawshank ending.
8 August 2018
I was able to watch this movie at home on BluRay from my public library.

The story mainly concerns a character played by David Oyelowo. He is Harold, a dedicated, serious, hard-working employee of a firm located in Chicago. His "best friend" runs the company, but as things unfold we see that his friend is duplicitous and will do anything for the bottom line.

Harold goes to Mexico but finds out his company sale is imminent and he will be out of a job. Industriously he plots to fake his own kidnapping in an attempt to get a big severance for himself. $5Million sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Yet nothing goes as it should, the mess gets bigger and bigger. It is a dark comedy, lots of funny stuff but characters get shot and killed. While I enjoyed it as an interesting diversion, with very good actors, in total it isn't a particularly good movie.
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First Civilizations (2018– )
Four part series, examines the start of Human civilizations starting several thousands of years ago.
8 August 2018
This page appears to be only for episode one of four, yet my comments are for all four episodes, each running just under one hour.

This is a high quality PBS production, I was able to watch it on the 2-DVD set from my public library. Not only is the subject fascinating, leading right up to our modern cities and modern civilizations, but one can't help learning a lot about the history of the world.

Good series.
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Lean on Pete (2017)
Young Charley forced to grow up quickly.
5 August 2018
I found the DVD for this movie at my local public library. My wife watched it separately online while she was at the gym.

There is a horse racing theme, and the older horse that Charley befriends is named "Lean on Pete", thus the title of the movie. These are quarter horses, generally for sprint racing at various distances shorter than a quarter mile.

Charlie Plummer is teenager Charley, living with a sketchy dad and no mother, she ran off some time earlier. Charley is a good kid, never complains, runs track, plays football, but isn't getting much parental support.

He is industrious enough to approach a man for a job and gets hired to help out with the horses. The $20 or $30 bucks a day he gets often goes for groceries. But Charley's life changes when his buddy, Pete, getting too slow to win, is headed to be sold to a Mexico slaughterhouse.

Charley has to grow up quickly, he sets off on a personal odyssey after his dad dies from an unexpected complication, so Charley and Pete head from Portland to Laramie, Wyoming looking for his aunt.

The movie runs a bit slow in several places but young Plummer creates a very interesting and genuine Charley. It isn't a new subject but it is done interestingly.
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The Party (I) (2017)
Found it mostly unwatchable, no likeable characters and uninteresting dialog.
5 August 2018
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library. Well we started. She abandoned it first, I got about half-way.

The first problem is there is no clear story line. It turns out to be a party to celebrate one woman's getting appointed to a government position, a number of friends come over to her house. But the characters are all too quirky and the dialog too unrealistic.

There are a few "glowing" reviews here but I suspect most if not all are shill reviews to get people to see the movie. I am a great movie fan, I have written thousands of reviews here over the past 20 years, in general I really like British movies, but this one is definitely a movie for only a very narrow section of movie fans.

For those of you who really like it, I applaud you. But I believe most will find it just about as I did. A waste of time.
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Inspired by the 1960s M.I. TV series.
3 August 2018
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. I somehow missed this 22 years ago when it came out, I was inspired to look it up after seeing the most recent M.I. movie last week in 3D IMAX version.

This is a good movie, with more of the feel of the missions that the old TV series featured. It uses what might be considered a MacGuffin, the theft of a secret list of undercover agents and their real names. But we never learn the fate of the list and whether or not it is really that critical.

Instead the focus of the story is a mission gone wrong, and all the team except Ethan Hunt are killed. It is clear there is an inside "mole" and the rest of the movie is identifying that mole and neutralizing him or her.

The was Tom Cruise's first M.I. movie in the lead role of Ethan Hunt. In a connection to the old TV series, Jon Voight is in the role of Jim Phelps.
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Couple takes a road trip as they get near the ends of their lives.
2 August 2018
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library.

Helen Mirren is Ella Spencer and her husband of many years is Donald Sutherland as John Spencer. A former well-regarded professor he now is experiencing bouts of dementia as he ages. Most days he doesn't remember much, but then will for a brief time return to normal. However the condition is progressive, they have no hope it will turn around.

In an early scene her adult children are told by a neighbor she will help out when their mother goes to the hospital. We don't get any more information, except that she wears a wig, but during their trip she begins to experience her own deterioration.

They have an old Winnebago in a garage at home, it is caller the "Leisure Seeker", thus the title of the movie. The story here is their own road trip, heading from Massachusetts to Key West, and she knows it will be their last trip together. They tell no one of their plans, their adult son and daughter desperately try to get them home to no avail.

It is a very well-made movie but since it involves an older couple tying up loose ends of their lives likely appeals more to the mature viewer.
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Focus is on classic 1980 Wimbledon finals.
1 August 2018
My wife and I watched this movie on DVD from our public library. We are both tennis fans, we enjoyed the glimpse into the past of two great tennis players.

The movie focuses on the epic battle of Borg and McEnroe during the 1980 Wimbledon matches. Their final match is generally considered one of the very best of all time. Borg was only 24 but also only 2 years away from retirement. McEnroe was just 20 and destined to eventually become world #1.

You can't make a 90+ minute movie just featuring one match, so there are ample flashbacks of each competitor in their younger days, looking at what influences they had and how they dealt with some of their behavior issues.

A worthwhile movie.
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The Snowman (2017)
Rather bland and disjointed movie searching for a serial killer.
30 July 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library.

I am not familiar with the book but it evidently was a good success. This movie not so much so. It starts with a scene of an unhappy family and rather quickly the mother drives her car onto a frozen lake then stops. The boy gets out but she stays in, the ice cracks, she drowns. The story that follows is more than a bit disjointed and only near the end do we learn of the significance of the opening.

Michael Fassbender is Harry Hole, a detective assigned to a murder that quickly appears to be linked to others. Most of the movie is him and others investigating clues and piecing together what is going on. It could have been made into a rather gripping story but instead comes across as rather bland.

We were disappointed, the several good actors here are mostly wasted.
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A Quiet Place (2018)
Pretty well done, dangerous monsters can hear but can't see.
30 July 2018
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library, my wife chose to skip, she doesn't care for scary movies.

John Krasinski wrote, directed, and has a lead role here as Lee Abbott. His real life wife, Emily Blunt, is his wife Evelyn Abbott. They also have a deaf daughter and two young sons.

As the movie opens we see shadowy figures quietly moving through what appears to be an abandoned store. Then we see that the whole town appears dead, but this family has a home and small farm outside town.

On the screen flashes brief messages, like "89 days" or "492 days", presumably since the alien monsters attacked and killed most people. These monsters are very fast and vicious, but they can't see, only detecting possible prey by hearing sounds. So everyone is very quiet, conversing mostly in sign language.

Of course there wouldn't be much story if the people remained quiet and undetected, and if the monsters never were able to find them. So things do develop and as the movie ends it sets itself up for a possible sequel. The family does find the monster's "Kryptonite", very high pitched sound.

And in fact the IMDb has a listing for the sequel now in pre production. Suitably interesting movie.
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A "mission impossible" movie with a Maze Runner cast.
27 July 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on BluRay from our public library. Just coincidentally the night before we were at an IMAX theater watching the newest Tom Cruise "Mission Impossible" movie and I couldn't help see many parallels. This Maze Runner movie has helicopters to rescue a rail car load of teens. It has chase scenes, gunfights, buildings destroyed. It has the main protagonists getting into a seemingly impossible situation, only to devise a novel escape plan.

The Maze Runner trilogy began in 2014, then followed with another in 2015. This one is purported to be the final one. A virus is ravaging the world, turning people into a type of zombie, but some of the kids formerly trapped in the maze have natural immunity. Their only hope is to use their blood to manufacture a vaccine that will cure the infected.

Much of the action comes across as very silly, but there is a lot of action and the movie is entertaining for those seeking that kind of movie.
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In 3D IMAX, quite an action movie.
26 July 2018
My wife and I were invited to a private showing of this movie in 3D at an IMAX theater. Man the sound is loud during action sequences, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

As a kid I remember seeing a movie or two in 3D with the glasses that had a green lens over one eye and a red lens over the other. That was pretty crude 3D compared to what they use now. Now the 3D is ultra realistic and it was fun actually feeling we were in the scenes, not just looking at them.

Tom Cruise will retire some day, I suppose, and most will remember him for his roles as Ethan Hunt in the long series of "Impossible Mission" movies. These are not to be taken very seriously, we know he and his team will accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, the job of the movie-makers is to come up with stuff we have never seen before. Just sheer entertainment.

In this one a rogue scientist has come up with some small Plutonium bombs and tries to detonate them in a location near the Pakistan and China border that might kill one-third of the world's population. "The greater the loss the more we appreciate the peace afterwards." The Impossible Mission team has to find the bombs and stop them.

The last 30 minutes or so are the most manic, action filled I think I have ever seen. Including the helicopters chasing each other in the snow-covered mountains.

Great entertainment, just don't take it too seriously.
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Beirut (2018)
Gripping hostage negotiation in war-torn Beirut.
24 July 2018
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library. It is ultra realistic, touching on worldwide terroristic events in 1972, then again some years later. In 1972 was the Palestinian attacks at the Olympics in Germany that resulted in 11 Israeli athletes being captured and killed.

As per the title most of the story here takes place in Beirut, a very war-torn city. In 1972 Jon Hamm as US negotiator Mason Skiles is living happily with his wife in Beirut when a bomb and an attack kills her. He vows he will never return to Beirut.

Some years later he is summoned by the government, his good friend has been kidnapped, he is to return to Beirut to negotiate his release. It gets very complicated, for several different reasons. It is a very gripping story, well made and well acted.

Filmed in Morocco.
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How a tough upbringing led to an all-time hit song.
23 July 2018
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library system. Some call this a "faith based" story but that misses the point. It is about a boy from a small Texas town who loved music and refused to give up on his dreams, in the face of long odds. And in the process needed to forgive his abusive dad.

This is a really good movie, especially for anyone who appreciates music and singing. In a stroke of casting luck they found J. Michael Finley to play the lead part of Bart Millard, the real writer of "I Can Only Imagine". Finley happens to be the son of a Baptist minister and who grew up going to MercyMe concerts. And he also happens to be a professionally trained singer with several years' experience on stage singing some of the most famous parts. He of course does all his own singing and is a really gifted singer.

Young Bart was always a dreamer but his dad Arthur, played well by Dennis Quaid, was mean to him and often downright brutal. Much of the story is how Bart survived this and found his way into music.

Also good is singer Trace Adkins as Brickell, an entertainment manager who helped the MercyMe band get recognition.
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Hostiles (2017)
Retiring war hero must escort a Comanche family to Montana.
22 July 2018
I watched this movie at home on BluRay from our public library system, my wife decided to skip and read instead. The making-of extra is interesting, the writer/director explains how he wanted to make a western but with a message for modern times, tolerance for others with more kindness and less animosity.

It is 1892, the movie starts with a scene where a family with three young daughters see a small band of Natives approaching their homestead, presumably to steal their horses. The man comes out shooting, seemingly a suicide move, and in fact only the woman survives, Rosamund Pike as Rosalee Quaid. She was destined to join the Army party to Montana.

Christian Bale is war hero Capt. Joseph J. Blocker, at a Post in New Mexico, with a reputation for killing Natives, sometimes brutally. An old chief (Wes Studi) has been imprisoned for years and Blocker would really like to kill him. But instead is ordered to escort him and his family, including young grandkids, to their Montana homeland. At risk of losing his pension if he refuses.

So that in essence is what the movie is about, the trip to Montana, the troubles they encounter along the way, the things they do to preserve themselves. Incidentally a trip from New Mexico to Montana is roughly 1000 to 1500 miles, depending on your route. That's a difficult trip in 1892 on horseback.

Overall a very well made movie of a difficult subject.
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12 Strong (2018)
Formerly classified Afghanistan invasion now told in this movie.
21 July 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library.

It is about an Army Green Beret mission of 12 men about one month after the 9-11 attacks on the USA. They needed an elite team to go in, meet up with friendly Afghanistan militia, use coordinates to direct some bombing from B52 planes flying out of sight above.

This mission was classified for years so few knew about it. As we now know the war in Afghanistan is still an issue but this mission showed how the spirit and cooperation of an elite team could accomplish so much. In just 3 weeks.

Several of the men from that mission assisted in the making of the movie, therefore it is quite authentic. Good, scary battle scenes. Filmed in New Mexico.
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Blockers (2018)
Trashy movie that glorifies teenage sex.
20 July 2018
I watched this at home on DVD from my public library. My wife chose to skip it and read a book instead. She made a good choice.

The theme has been done many times, teens decide to lose their virginity at senior year prom before going off to college. Quite by accident the parents find out by seeing text messages and go on a late night hunt to find and protect their 18-yr-old daughters.

OK, so it isn't groundbreaking but still could have been a pretty nice movie. In the first scene we see a quick glimpse of the three girls, their meeting on the first day of first grade then staying fast friends as they grew up. Now, preparing for prom, they hatch their plan.

So what is wrong with this movie? The script writers were lazy, instead of writing a smart script they instead filled it with profane language, and in dialog it's all "F-this" and "F-that" to the point that we realize we are just hearing profane dialog. Plus the adults make a case that sex among teens isn't so bad, is it? And I won't even mention the "butt chugging" scene that Cena participates in.

Anyway I continue with my long-held belief that to fully appreciate really good movies we occasionally need to see a really bad movie. This one, "Blockers", is a really bad movie.
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Thoroughbreds (2017)
Entertaining dark comedy, two teen girls set a situation on a better path.
19 July 2018
My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from our public library. Both young actresses are in good form, they make the movie good. The title may come from the fact that one of the girls had horses in her upbringing, but it could as easily refer to the two girls and their status in life.

British actress Olivia Cooke is Amanda, smart but often detached, she has a disorder which prevents her from having normal feelings, fear, remorse, empathy, etc. She reconnects with her old friend who was going to a private school, American actress Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily, when Amanda's mother hires Lily to tutor Amanda.

Then Lily's problems start to surface, she is not what she appears, she has difficulty dealing with expectations placed on her, and seems to loathe her stepfather who likes to have everything under control.

The other key character is played by Anton Yelchin, who suffered an untimely death in 2016, as small-time 27-yr-old drug dealer Tim. Amanda has an idea, why doesn't Lily just kill her stepdad?

All of this sets up some funny but dark situations. I enjoyed the movie strictly as a different type of entertainment, my wife no so much so. I suppose it isn't for all tastes.
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Early Man (2018)
Mostly entertaining but not up to the previous claymation movies.
18 July 2018
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our local public library system.

One of our favorites of this genre is "Chicken Run", the claymation is always good but that movie also has a superb story.

In "Early Man" the story is more straightforward. It is a clash of stone age men vs bronze age men. An ancient meteorite created a huge crater near Manchester, England, and the center of it contained what appeared to be a soccer ball, when they began kicking it soccer (or football) was invented by these cavemen.

In time the big crater grew lush vegetation and the stone age men thrived, until one day a strange group invaded with modern weapons, with bronze tipped spears and other bronze items, driving the stone age people out. Eventually one of them, Dug, bargained that if they could defeat their soccer (football) team then the bronze age guy would give their land back. If they lost they would be banished to a lifetime working in the mines.

So the climax of the whole story is the soccer (football) match. I also viewed the extras on the DVD and one can't help be impressed with the massive effort that went into making this movie, the sets, the number of technicians and animators. Truly a first-rate effort and it turned out great. I just wish the story itself had been a better one, it just didn't strike an overwhelming chord with me.
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