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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The Getaway” (1972)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the fourth film in my “Steve McQueen Collection“.  The movie is “The Getaway” with McQueen starring as Carter “Doc” McCoy, Ali MacGraw as his wife Carol McCoy.  The bad guys are Ben Johnson (as corrupt Texas business man, Jack Beynon) and Al Lettieri (as criminal / gunman, Rudy Butler).  The movie is “supposed” to be an action thriller / chase movie, but really it’s a love story with the poorly done action scenes thrown in to speed up the pace (I guess).
Pretty simple plot: criminal genius (Doc) is in prison pining away for his wife.  She visits and he tells her to contact the big shot baddie to get him (Doc) out.  She does.  He does.  Doc gets picked up by his wife at the gate and immediately begins asking if she’s been unfaithful during his four years in the joint.
Doc meets with baddie (Beynon / Johnson) to repay the favor by doing a job (robbing a bank).  The job goes bad and Doc and wife are on the run.  Blah, blah, blah…  mostly unbelievable stuff happens.  Beynon tells Doc his wife slept with him (Beynon) to get him (Doc) out of prison.  More mostly unbelievable stuff happens.  The two baddies die.  The couple decide they love each other and escape to Mexico with the cash.  Who says crime doesn’t pay?
So, is this movie any good?  As a “action” movie?  As a love story?  Ehh, so-so.  Not really.  And, no.  I didn’t think much of this film and, while I realize it’s dated, the effects seem cheezy even for that time.  Even worse, the action wasn’t very action-ie.  It’s hard to believe this movie was the second highest grossing movie of the year!
What about the “love story”?  Sorry, I just didn’t feel it.  There were very few scenes where there was any chemistry between McQueen and MacGraw – all the more surprising because McQueen was getting divorced and he married MacGraw in real life the next year (1973).  I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I’ve never particularly liked MacGraw.  The ending scene is the only one were I believed I liked her acting.  So, it wasn’t all bad, but as I said above, I just didn’t feel it between the two leads.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best).  There are probably a half-dozen other movies with McQueen which I would have preferred in the four-pack, but three out of four was pretty good for the discount price I paid for the set.
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On This Day In:
2019 Voices Of The Past
2018 Sunrises, Rainbows And Newborn Babies
2017 Untold Agony
2016 Just Borrowed
2015 Warning
2014 Always More Productive
2013 Is Not
2012 Loosely Translated
2011 Your Opinions Are Not My Facts

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The Cincinnati Kid”  —   movie review
Today’s movie review is for the 1930’s / Depression era, stud poker drama “The Cincinnati Kid” (1965) starring Steve McQueen as Eric “The Kid” Stoner, Edward G. Robinson as Lancey “The Man” Howard, Karl Malden as Shooter (the main card dealer), Ann-Margret as Melba (Shooter’s wife), Tuesday Weld as Christian Rudd (the “Kid’s” girlfriend), Joan Blondell as Lady Fingers (the secondary card dealer, and Rip Torn as Slade (a wealthy rich southerner).
Set in Depression era New Orleans, the movie revolves around “The Kid’s” attempt to become “The Man” (the champion) in stud poker.  This is the position / title currently held by Robinson’s character Howard.  Basically, Shooter deals a game between Howard and Slade where Slade looses badly.   (Famous quote:  “Son, all you paid was the looking price.  Lessons are extra.“)  While dealing the game, Shooter engages Howard to play the Kid.  Howard agrees.  Slade, who wants to get even with Howard, extorts Shooter to fix the game.  The game is played and Howard ultimately wins with a devastating hand (inside straight-flush) over a full house.  (Wikipedia says the odds of this happening are in the hundreds of billions to one.)
There are side story lines about the personal relationships between Shooter and his wife Melba, the Kid and his girlfriend, and the Kid and Melba.  Howard cautions the Kid during a break in the game to avoid relationships because they distract from this career they have chosen.  He recommends just having flings on the side / in-between games which will naturally peter out when the gambler moves on to the next venue.
This movie is widely considered as among the best of all the poker playing genre, but not necessarily the best of all the gambling genre.  It is widely compared (unfavorably) to “The Hustler” as a distant second / reminiscent / poor remake.  I have seen “The Hustler” (1961), but not in fifty odd years, so I can’t honestly say this is true, but I generally prefer Paul Newman to McQueen, so it probably is accurate.  They are both gambling movies with the young handsome up-and-comer trying to upset the old-lion, so I can see the comparison.
Is this any good?  Was it entertaining?  The answer to the first is that I found it more “interesting” than good.  Too much drama and not enough action for my tastes.  But, yes, it is an entertaining drama – in the classic old Hollywood sense (acting, character and plot development).
I enjoyed seeing the setting of New Orleans in the 1930’s.  I enjoyed the funeral band and the jazz club scene.  Right up until the very end, McQueen is consummate “cool”.  But throughout the movie – and particularly at the end – Eddie G. just smokes him in every scene!!  Robinson is the epitome of the alpha-male.  This movie is worth seeing just to gain an appreciation of him and his acting ability – without the hammy gangster-ism of some of his earlier / younger roles.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I am not a poker player, so the game scenes did not have much appeal to me.  I have personally only played (for money) once in my entire life – although I have watched it on TV a few times.  I “really” didn’t find that interesting either.  Anyway, as an old-style drama with character acting / development and two stars bringing their “A”-game, this is a movie worth viewing.
Two other points worth mentioning…  The first point is there is a cock-fight scene in the movie which doesn’t show “much”, but would simply not be allowed in today’s cinema.  While not showing the death blows, it shows enough to make the movie problematic for young viewers.  The second point is the five main supporting characters (in no particular order).  I am not a fan of Karl Malden, but I must admit to being surprised by his acting in this role.  He is very good.  I am even less a fan of Rip Torn, but he made a surprisingly effective “bad southern guy”.  I was very disappointed by Ann-Margret in this role.  Considering she was not yet 25 years old during the filming, she looked too old to play the young tramp wife married to the older unsuccessful gambler (Malden).  Obviously, she’s attractive, but she just didn’t have “it” in this role (for me).  Weld made for an appealing (but extremely forgettable) ingénue in this movie.  Although a very familiar name who has appeared in a number of films and TV series, I struggle to remember her in any role (and most of the films / series).  And, finally, Joan Blondell!!  She hits it out of the park!  Considering she is in her mid-50’s during this film, she is FAR more sassy / attractive / interesting than Ann-Margret or Weld who are both 30 years her junior.  She steals EVERY scene she appears in – including when matched up head-to-head with Robinson.  She was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role and she is worth the price of admission herself.
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On This Day In:
2019 Live It
2018 Mostly Unconsciously For Most People
Desperately Ginger Lass
2017 Explaining My Equally Meager Results
2016 Every Tool And Every Chance
2015 Something That You Love
2014 Not Really At All
2013 Listening And Deserving
2012 I’m Still Not Certain
2011 True, False And Useful

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Papillon” (1973)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the prison / escape historical drama “Papillon“, starring Steve McQueen in the title role as Henri Charrière (aka: Papillon) and Dustin Hoffman as his friend and fellow prisoner Louis Dega.  Papillon is french for “butterfly”, which is the medium size tattoo character he has on his chest.  He has been sentenced to life without parole for murdering a pimp.  He insists he is only a safe-cracker and that he was framed for the murder.  The Dega character has been sentenced for forgery and embezzlement.
Before I forget to mention it, there is an outstanding supporting role of a prison warden (for solitary confinement) played by William Smithers.  In this movie, the system is the villain, but he makes an exceptional focal point for the “system”.
They get on a ship from France to French Guiana / Devil’s Island.  Papillon saves Dega’s life and contracts to protect Dega in exchange for Dega funding Papillon’s escape.  After several acts of bravery, Dega trusts that Papillon is a true friend and probably innocent of his conviction for murder.
Blah, blah, blah…  Brutality, betrayal, torture, escape attempt, solitary, torture, betrayal, solitary…  you get the point.  There are three things to take from this film: man’s inhumanity towards our fellow man; friendship; and, the indomitability of some men’s spirit.  In the end, Papillon escapes and “outlives” his prison.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining?  Is it worth seeing?  If you are a fan of either McQueen or Hoffman, I believe this movie is a MUST see.  McQueen plays a different role /character than normal – he doesn’t settle for “cool”.  He acts.  Hoffman really “just” plays Hoffman, but he does it very well and it’s kind of a mini-display of many of his doddering roles in other films.  That sounds like a put-down, but it’s not meant in that spirit.
Is it an entertaining movie?  No.  Try as I might to find joy in the progress and eventual success, I did not.  The movie is just too long and there is only so much punishment you can watch before you start to feel victimized too, and I don’t watch movies to feel victimized (too).  I won’t say it was boring.  It just felt plodding.
Is it worth seeing?  Again, it depends…  It is supposed to based on a real life experience, it does have two good actors in two above average performances, and finally, it is a story about perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit.  So, yeah, I guess it is “worth” viewing.
Final recommendation: moderate.  The acting is good.  The end result of the movie is satisfying (spoiler: he gets away).  But the movie really just felt almost as suffocating as the prison, so it would be hard to give it a higher rating.
Two final notes:  First, there has been a remake, in 2017, but the reviews were pretty bland, so I’m not sure I’d spend another two hours on this story.  And, second, I don’t remember this “movie”, but I feel as if I definitely must have seen it before because I distinctly remembered the last ten minutes (the satisfying bit of the movie).   Coconuts, anyone?
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On This Day In:
2019 Insha’Allaha Bukra
No More Tears (Or Fog)
Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
2018 Lost Time
2017 Are You Talking To Me?
2016 Here, Desire Is Purified
2015 Hopefully Just Visiting
2014 Fond Memory?
2013 Distress, Hope, Trust
2012 Creating Interlocking Fragility
2011 Four Stories And A Gospel
What Have You Burned Lately?

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Bullitt” (1968)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1968 cop movie “Bullitt“, starring Steve McQueen in the title role as homicide Lieutenant Frank Bullitt.  The film also stars Jacqueline Bisset as Cathy (the girlfriend), Don Gordon as the partner (homicide Detective Delgetti), Robert Vaughn as US Senator Walter Chalmers, Simon Oakland as the gruff voiced boss (Captain Sam Bennett) and (in an early role) Robert Duvall as Weissberg (a cab driver).  There’s also a bunch of bad guys (who cares).
The basic plot is a some guy is running from the mob in Chicago.  He flees to San Francisco.  He is “made” by a doorman at a hotel and the mob sends a couple of professional contract hitmen to kill the runner.  We are introduced to the star and his partner.  Bullitt meets a big money / sleazy politician (Vaugh / Chalmers) and is assigned to protect a witness over the weekend until a Senate hearing on Monday.  The witness is (of course) the runner.
The protection goes south and the witness and the cop protecting him are shot.  The witness (ultimately) fatally.  Bullitt smells a rat and bends the rules to keep the case open.  Blah, blah, blah…  BIG car chase – for which the movie is FAMOUS.  The two killers are dead, but Bullitt feels the case still stinks and continues to work it (this time, with permission).
Blah, blah, blah…  Bullitt chases and kills the runner at the airport.  The END.
OK.  There are really only three reasons to see this film:  1) you are interested in seeing police movies from 50+ years ago.  2) you really are interested in checking out “Mr. Cool” aka Steve McQueen.  And,  3) the CHASE.  Did I mention the “chase” is over ten(10) minutes long and “visually” covers most of San Francisco?  No, in reality the areas filmed are not really contiguous, but what the heck…  IT is a GREAT chase scene!!
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  This is considered a classic movie JUST because of the lead (McQueen) and the car chase, so normally I’d give it a “highly to must see” recommendation, but it’s really not that good a movie.  To me, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense (even if it goes out of the way to hit you with plot checkpoints) and it is particularly unsatisfying.  The “real” bad guy in the movie is Senator Chalmers and nothing happens to him.  So, loose threads and no resolution.
Why “strong” then?  I like Steve McQueen as a big star in a number of films from when I was growing up, not the least of which are: “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape“.  And then, of course, there is “The Chase“.  Just as a bit of personal trivia / nostalgia, shortly after the movie, one of our local TV news stations shut down the block I was living on (a big hill in SF) and recreated the chase with one of their reporter cars jumping the intersections to “follow the news”.  It was cool to see our house on TV for months as this commercial was rebroadcast.  And, finally, if you watch this film, it’s easy to see where “Dirty Harry” (1971) comes from.
So, come for the “cool” and stay for the CHASE!
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On This Day In:
2019 True Piety
2018 I Would, Too (A music-video for all)
2017 100th Day (of the Trump Presidency)
Both Unlucky
2016 Or Blog
2015 Stretched Today?
2014 Outta Here
2013 Getting Words Right
2012 There’s A New Dog In Town
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is
2011 A Conservative Is…

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Fury” (2014) — movie review
Today’s review is for the World War II action / drama “Fury” starring Brad Pitt as Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Shia LaBeouf as Boyd “Bible” Swan, Logan Lerman as Norman “Machine” Swan, Michael Peña as Trini “Gordo” Garcia and Jon Bernthal as Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis.  The movie gives the impression that it is all happening in a single day, but that seems improbable (if not impossible), but whatever.  It is late in the war, the Germans are on the verge of defeat, and four of the five main characters have been together for three years fighting and surviving.  The exception is Lerman’s character Norman / “Machine” who is a raw recruit brought up as a last minute replacement.  He was supposed to be a clerk / typist and knows nothing about fighting a war or manning a tank.
“Fury” refers to the nick-name the crew has painted on the barrel of the the tank’s main gun.
The movie follows the tank through a day of “war-is-hell”.  There are several battles, multiple random deaths, lots of gore, violence, and cursing and two implied sexual relations.  And then we have the main battle, where the tank doesn’t actually fight against another tank.  The tank is disabled at a critical road intersection and the men have an option to abandon the vehicle or stay and risk their lives in defeat in an upcoming battle against a several companies of SS-troops.  Pitt’s character chooses to stay and fight, but he gives his permission to the others to leave.  They also choose to stay / fight / die.
So, a movie which starts out as a morality play about the horrors of war and its debasing of the human spirit then reverts into a heroic / mythic journey with the “hero” leader (Pitt) staying behind to struggle against impossible odds to make a difference in the war (and to defend his emotional home).
Is this movie any good?  Is it an accurate depiction of combat?  Is it at least entertaining?  I found this movie to be very good as an action / war movie.  Yes, it is gory and some of the violence is random, but both of these things are by design / intent.  Real war IS hell and it can be heart-breakingly random.  If you thought the opening beach scene was “good” movie making, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy most (if not all) of this movie, because that’s pretty much what you get for almost two hours.
Final recommendation:  Strong to highly recommended movie.  If you can get past the gore and the profanity – it’s “R” rated and obviously not for folks with a weak stomach – I think you’ll find a lot of pretty good to very good acting.  And, by that I mean ALL five of the main actors do a great job in these roles.  There are telling glances, flinches and all out emotional confrontations. Heroes don’t always have a happy ending to their story, but that doesn’t detract from their effort to do their duty.  I would add one qualification:  the movie stands on its own, but to “really” understand it you will need to watch the deleted scenes.  They provide a lot of character background info which I hope will someday in the future be integrated into a “Director’s Cut”.
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On This Day In:
2019 The Ones Worth Remembering, Anyway
Boot Edge Edge (My New T)
2018 To Reach The Next Threshold
2017 Streaking Tales
2016 Singular Reality
2015 He Says It’s Hard To Get There From Here
2014 Question From A Founding Father
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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Today’s review is for the 2019 Rom-Com / Rock-Musical “Yesterday” starring Himesh Patel and Lily James.  Patel plays Jack Malik – a small-time songwriter / performer and James plays his part-time manager Ellie Appleton.  Jack “works” in real-life as a clerk at a warehouse style retail store.  Ellie’s real-life job is as a Maths teacher in middle-school.
After a string of failed performances, Jack decides to quit music and go back to being a teacher, himself.  He leaves Ellie to ride his bike home and along the way, the world shuts down for 12 seconds.  During that time, Jack is struck by a bus at a darkened intersection.  He wakes up in the hospital getting visited by Ellie.
At a hospital release party, Ellie presents Jack with a guitar to replace the one destroyed in the bus collision.  Jack plays the Beatles song, “Yesterday” and his friends surprise him by not recognizing the song and believing Jack wrote the song.
Jack’s life dream is to just once get cheered by a crowd at one of his performances.  Jack realizes he can “create” the Beatles songs and thus become rich and famous.  So, he does.
Blah, blah, blah, (actually great music and a few funny scenes) Jack realizes it is true love (and Ellie) that he really wants and not fame and wealth.  He also doesn’t want credit for songs he never wrote.
Because the “Beatles” never became famous, John Lennon lives into old age and Jack meets him to discuss life and philosophy.  The message is (IMHO) very much John Lennon: “Tell the one you love that you love them and tell the truth as often as you can.”
So, is this movie any good?  Yes, well, it’s entertaining and works for me!  The music?  It’s the Beatles – Duh!!  The acting?  The acting is pretty good to very good.  The story?  I didn’t really feel a “connection” between Patel and James, but it was close enough to be almost believable.  The key is the story…  No.  It is not at all believable, but it still works in a quirky rom-com way.  It has moments and lines which I found quite amusing.  Not “ha-ha” laughing funny, but amusing funny.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  Being an “older” person, the Beatles music has had a big impact on my life.  They were never my favorite group back in the 60’s, but their music and influence were always present.  As such, I admit to total bias in this review.  The movie portrays two additional people as remembering the Beatles and when they meet Jack they tell him they have no grudge against his taking credit for the Beatles music because they are just happy to have it (the music) back in their lives.  If this movie brings the Beatles to a new generation of music lovers, I can live with a bit of lack of credibility in a story line.  Don’t think about the plot’s paradoxes too much.  Just enjoy the movie for what it is – a Rom-Com with great music.
One quote from the movie that particularly tickled me:
Jack wants to fly from Los Angeles to Liverpool for inspiration and is asked: “What does Liverpool have that LA doesn’t?
Jack’s answer: “Mo Salah, Cilla Black, mushy peas, rain…
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On This Day In:
2019 An Epitaph For #45 (#LyingDonald)
2018 Before And After
2017 Verbs
2016 Not Too Tidy
2015 Little Understanding
2014 Open Early
2013 Movies And A Lifetime Of Lyrics
This Truth
2012 Cheaper To Hold
2011 Resistance Is Futile
One Great, One Enjoyable, One Terrible…
Unfortunately, No Approval Is Required

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Today’s movie(s) review is for each / both the “Midway” movies – the first from 1976 and the second from last year (2019).  Both movies are “epic” war movies with ensemble casts.  Both try to give a “feel” for each combatant (Japanese and American).  And, both are – at best – mediocre in terms of popular and professional reviews.  Anyway, here goes…
Midway (1976) — movie review
This film is almost entirely a male cast.  The only significant female role is Christina Kokubo playing the fiance of a (fictional) naval pilot.  The movie hosts a number of (for that time) big name movie stars on both sides of the battle lines, including: American side: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Ed Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Wagner; and, Japanese side: Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, John Fujioka, and Robert Ito.  With the possible exception of Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” movie series, most of these actors will (probably) be unknown to anyone under 30 years of age as most have been dead or retired for over 20 years.
This movie has two basic story lines.  The main one, of course, is the naval battle.  The second, which I guess is meant to create character sympathy, is a fictional story about a father and son who are naval pilots and their “family issues”.  Other than the overly-strict father (Heston) trope common to military movie / stories, there is also the introduction of an inter-racial love story between a Japanese-American young lady (Kokubo) who is about to be incarcerated (internment for the war) with her family, who is also not allowed to marry the son / naval pilot (played by Edward Albert).
The movie incorporates a lot of stock footage from World War II, most of which is not from the actual battle.  Anyway, the “Battle of Midway” is widely considered the turning point of the naval battles in the Pacific theater.  It marked a decisive victory for the Allied forces from which the Japanese forces never recovered.
As a small point here…  In my humble opinion, the Battle of the Coral Sea (which is mentioned in both movies) was actually the turning point, but it was not a “decisive” U.S. victory, so history almost unanimously ranks Midway as the more significant battle.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining (even if not entirely accurate)?  Why is it considered “blah” by viewers and reviewers?  I have distinct memories of first seeing this movie at a theater, so I viewed it while I was in the Army (1974-1978).  I mention this to answer the third question first.  In the 1970’s, the U.S. was just getting out of Vietnam and there was a significant amount of backlash against our participation there and a corresponding backlash against the glorification of past wars.  Both of these trends would culminate in the “Rambo” genre movies which began emerging in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
So, is this movie any good?  Yes.  Is it accurate?  Well, it had the correct combatants, the correct time line and the correct result.  Most everything else I put down to artistic license and limited special effects.  Entertaining?  Yes, but I like action movies and war epics, so I’m a biased audience.
Final recommendation: moderate to good.  Come for the “old Hollywood” and stay for the so-so history lesson.  One caution to younger viewers: many of you will come away thinking either these guys can’t act or they are mailing it in.  My vote is the latter, but mostly because I like(ed) most of the geezers in this version when they were in other (mostly younger) roles.
Midway (2019) — movie review
This second review is for last year’s remake.  As mentioned above, another ensemble cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.  I’m not sure why, but while watching this version my initial reaction was: “they picked a lot younger cast.”
As with the earlier version, this movie chose to run parallel story lines to create character interest (drama).  This movie chose three lines, though, instead of two.  Again, a pilot love story, blah, blah, blah, “those who sit and wait”.  The second is about an Intel Officer who figures out what’s going to happen (Edwin Layton – who was “kind of” the basis for the composite fictional character played by Heston in the earlier version).  And, then of course, the battle / result.  This movie also provides a view of leadership on both sides of the conflict as we lead up to and then throughout the battle.
Is this movie any good?  Yes!  Is it accurate?  Again, so-so.  Like the first, it gets most of the main stuff correct.  Is it entertaining?  Yes!  Much more so than the 1976 version.  To begin with, the special effects are FAR superior.  Gosh, what a surprise…  Seriously, though, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle scenes almost appeared to me to be in 3D.  Of course, I’m watching this movie on a 48-inch screen from 2.5 feet away and not at a big screen theater, but still…  I thought most of the photography was excellent and I don’t remember ever thinking: “CGI this.  Or, CGI that.”  It looked like I was watching the action through a window.  So, how was the acting?  Again, FAR superior to the earlier version.  Some of the acting may not have been very good, but I didn’t think it was because they were mailing in the performance.  I would add – in particular – I have never been a fan of Woody Harrelson, but he played a much better Admiral Nimitz in this version than Henry Fonda did in the original.  (Just my opinion…)
Final recommendation: Good to strong.  The camera / photography was very good.  The acting was pretty good.  I find “epic” war movies very difficult to get right (as a viewer / fan of the genre).  The action scenes (independent of the effects) were good.  And, I think they got most of the main history points correct, too.  I don’t usually prefer remakes, but this is the much better of the two versions.
Final thought:  I’ve owned the DVD of the 1976 version for over a decade and watch it every three or four years.  I bought it when I went through a Henry Fonda kick after re-watching “On Golden Pond“.  I will pick up a copy of the 2019 version when the price point drops to my range ($5 – $6).  Heck, I may even pick up a streaming version of the original if it ever makes it’s way to my preferred supplier.  Then I can binge them both like I did this time!
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On This Day In:
2019 Speaking Of #45
2018 A Higher Loyalty
RIP – Our Silver Lady
2017 Slowly Cutting Their Own Throats
2016 Man’s Advantage Over God
2015 Deeply
2014 Hi-Yo Silver, Away!
2013 Warning:
2012 Thinking About Beauty
2011 A Founding Father’s Argument Against Public Funding Of Religious Education
Weekend Update
So Far, So Good

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That’s the Way of the World”  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1975 movie “That’s the Way of the World” starring Harvey Keitel as record producer Coleman Buckmaster (the man with “the Golden Ear”) and featuring “the Group” aka R&B / soul group Earth, Wind & Fire.  The movie also has some “F” list actors: Cynthia Bostick (the “sexy” female role), Jimmy Boyd (the drug addict “brother” role), Bert Parks (the pervert “father” role) — the three are a “family” singing group calling themselves “The Pages”, and, Ed Nelson (as a mob-influenced record label executive).
I don’t think the movie was intended to be what it turned into:  a vehicle for introducing the music of EW&F to a broader audience.  In real life, the band saw an early cut of the movie and felt it would be a box-office bomb and so rushed to get the soundtrack out before the movie hit the theaters.  They did get the album out early and it did become a much bigger success than the movie.  Basically, the movie is about a good band (with talent) struggling while a bad group (with little talent) gets a push from the mob and the heroic producer has to save the day.
I saw this movie on its original release back in ’75 while I was in the military and I enjoyed both Keitel’s portrayal and the (spoiler alert) twist at the end of the movie.  The movie is very symptomatic of the mid-1970’s with references to drugs and sex with a fair amount (a full scene) of discussion about the latter (child molestation / abuse) and some pretty open use of the former (booze, weed, cocaine and heroin).  I guess as a reflection of my naivety, I have no recollection of any of this and the topics surprised me in this viewing.  My only recollections were EW&F, the acting of Keitel and the twist ending (which I only vaguely remembered).
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is about 100 minutes, so it’s not like you’re giving up a tremendous amount of time to see a snap-shot of the 1970’s with all of the stereotypical tropes / clichés from that era:  roller-rinks, cars (a Pinto sighting), billboards, bell-bottom pants and “Super-fly” shirt collars.  I stumbled upon the movie on Tuby TV as a “free” movie with limited commercial interruptions.  I don’t know if any sex scene was deleted from the movie, but the actors mouth swear words which are simply deleted with noticeable silences.  It has a “PG” rating.
Just a few more comments:
1) Harvey Keitel – this movie marked Keitel for me as a star to look out for before I really started looking out for stars.  I don’t know if this role was Keitel’s first big movie lead, but it’s the first I remember.  (The only other actor I’ve had the same reaction to was Robert Duvall a few years later in “The Great Santini“.)  I haven’t seen very many of Keitel’s roles, but, with one notable exception, his appearance in a movie meant it was going to be worth the price of admittance.  The exception was the DVD / movie “Star Knight” which I picked up on the strength of Keitel’s name on the cover of the DVD.  It is the ONLY movie I have ever thrown away immediately after viewing so I would never again be tempted to waste time re-watching it.  (Full disclosure: I pulled it out of my waste bin and put it on the very back of my film shelf and have never re-watched it.  I did this to serve as a reminder that even good / great actors can take bad parts in bad – really bad – movies.)  And,
2) Watching the movie today, I was reminded that seeing a live act is (normally) nowhere near as good as hearing a great album.  I used to go to concerts periodically when I was younger, but it wasn’t until fairly recently (the last 15 years or so) that I realized the concert was the experience you enjoyed or you didn’t.  It wasn’t the music.  Even when a concert has great music, it is almost never as good as the music on an album.  As a cost-benefit analyst type, I’d much rather spend $15 on an album or CD to listen to it 100 times than $50 on a concert for the one time memory.  But that’s just me…
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On This Day In:
2019 Carrying Humanity
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1

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Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
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On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

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Legion” (2010) — movie review
Well, I’ve had this bundle for ages now and I’ve finally finished viewing the “Fallen Angel 3-Movie Collection” which I bought on Vudu.  The first movie I watched was “Priest“.  I had already seen it at the theater and offered my thoughts (review here) several years ago (2011).  I bought the “collection” (on discount) quite awhile back, and re-watched “Priest“, but just never got around to the other two.
So, I finally watched “Gabriel” (review here) this week and posted my comments (“so-so”), and now I’ve (again) finally watched the last film: “Legion“.
Legion” stars Paul Bettany as the “fallen” Archangel Michael, Kevin Durand as the “obedient” Archangel Gabriel, Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson (the “protector”), Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams (a random guy who helps), Adrianne Palicki as Charlie (the mother of the “savior” baby), Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson (a “bad” mother), Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson (the “bad” daughter with the heart of gold), and Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson (Jeep’s dad and the owner of a diner / gas station in the middle of nowhere).
Charlie is 8-months pregnant and God is unhappy with humanity and wants to wipe everyone out and start again.  (There’s no reason why.  Just go with it…)  God commands Michael to kill the unborn baby and Michael refuses and goes to Earth to protect the mother / baby.  God sends angels in the form of possessed / zombified humans to kill all of humanity.  Blah, blah, blah.  Motley crew gathers at the diner (“Paradise Flats”) and fights off the zombies with machine guns, anti-tank weapons and hand-to-hand combat.  It’s not “really” a martial arts movie as much as a horror / drama.  Blah, blah, blah.  Baby is born, Michael and Gabriel have the big final showdown and happy ending: “Keep the faith!”
So, is this movie any good?  How about he action / horror?  What about the religious aspects?  Was it at least entertaining?  Yes, so-so, laughable, but strangely, yes, it was entertaining.  Did I mention strangely?  (I think so…  Yes, I did.)  I’m not sure why, but the movie felt better explained overall than “Gabriel“, nothing specific.  Maybe, just maybe, I liked it because I think I enjoy watching Bettany.  I can’t figure out if he’s a good actor or if he’s just John Wayne, playing John Wayne again.  Of course I mean Bettany playing Bettany again.
Final recommendation: moderate but not quite strong.  I enjoyed this movie, but it wasn’t a “good” movie.  It’s a much better movie than “Gabriel”, but not as good as “Priest”.  I will say Gibson and Quaid were very good in their supporting roles.  I was surprised to see two more “big-name” actors in this kind of movie.
So, not a strong horror movie.  An okay action movie with some above average (for this genre) supporting actors / roles.  Not advisable for children or impressionable youth.  Language, too violent and bloody gore.  It’s rated: “R”.
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On This Day In:
2018 Nothing To Build On
2017 This One Is…
2016 Happy Is…
2015 Dare Yourself To
2014 Damned If You Do…
2013 On A Rainy Sunday
2012 Not Sure Anymore
2011 But What Does It Cost?
2009 Another Day, Another Diet…

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Gabriel” (2007)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for a “religious” based action / martial arts / horror film along the lines of the TV shows “Lucifer” or “Supernatural” or the movie “The Crow“.  This review is probably a lot longer than the movie deserves, so unless you really enjoy my writing, feel free to come back later…  You’ve been warned.
Gabriel” is Australian movie and therefore has (mostly) folks I’ve never heard of in the starring roles: Andy Whitfield as Archangel Gabriel (hero / good-guy), Dwaine Stevenson as fallen Archangel Sammael / Michael (evil villain / bad guy) and Samantha Noble as Jade / Archangel Amietiel (former good-girl / now “love” interest).  I understand Whitfield went on to play the lead in the series: “Spartacus”, but he developed a fatal illness and died before the second year of the series.
Basically, there is a place between heaven and hell where human souls go to await their final judgement.  It wasn’t clear why this was (waiting or judgement) or when it (judgement) was supposed to happen – the end of the “real” world or just some arbitrary time for each person.  Strangely, the “dead” who are there can still “die” and then they are “really” dead and (I guess) don’t go anywhere.  [Exposition to create drama…]  This is the fate of any of the Archangels who happen to die while in this place.  The place is called: “Purgatory”, but it doesn’t seem to be the same place / purgatory I was raised (I am a Roman Catholic) knowing about.  It’s kind of a permanently dark, gloomy and raining Los Angeles.
Anyway, the film is supposed to be a battle between the “good” Archangels and the “bad” Archangels (called: “The Fallen”).  While the battles involve a lot of martial arts, they also have a fair amount of gun and knife action.  It’s not clear how any of this is relevant, you just kind of have to go with it…  Like I said: anyway, the good angels have to kill the bad angels to restore “light” to Purgatory and then they (the good angels) can go back to heaven (the light).
And therein lies the basis of the the film’s problems: none of it (Purgatory) makes any sense and none of the exposition helps make it (the film) make any sense.  The exposition mostly is just an early warning that the plot is going somewhere.
So, is this movie any good?  What about the martial arts scenes?  The religious aspects?  Was it entertaining?  So-so, so-so, more confusing than the plot and only marginally (entertaining).  I think the film was meant to be some type of morality play.  It just didn’t work for me.
Final recommendation: poor to moderate.  The fight choreography was okay.  The acting was kind of okay (sometimes), but almost too over the top, to the point of being a send-up.  The plot (as explained) made no sense.  The ending, also made no sense.  I understand the original movie was well over three hours long and the release version was cut down to just under two hours.  If you like your movies dark (screen black, sound, but you can’t see anything) and foreboding (when you can see something) with a couple of fights thrown in to keep you awake, you should be entertained.  Otherwise, you probably need to give this one a miss.
And one last thought: I should have known better…  I got this movie as part of an “angel” three-pack with “Priest” (a vampire movie) and “Legion” (not yet viewed) for a tenner.  I saw “Priest” in the theater and thought it was ok (even though I don’t usually like – or watch – vampire films).  It starred Paul Bettany, as did “Legion“, so I thought I could “risk” the third movie being a dud.  This movie (“Gabriel“) isn’t really terrible – it’s just not to my taste and the martial arts scenes don’t really save it for me.  And, yeah…  I should have known better.
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On This Day In:
2018 A Gift
2017 Unless You Genuinely Are Small
2016 B1
2015 Five Things
2014 Have Faith
2013 Found In A Mine
2012 Two-Sided Coin
2011 Passionately Scorned Rules

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Upgrade” (2018) — movie review
Today’s review is for the SciFi / near future / revenge / action / drama which stars Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace (the husband / “good guy” / hero), Melanie Vallejo as Asha Trace (the wife who dies), Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen (the “main” bad guy and creator of STEM), Simon Maiden as the “voice” of STEM, Benedict Hardie as Fisk Brantner (the secondary “main” bad guy), Betty Gabriel as Det. Cortez (the police detective trying to solve the murder case) and Linda Cropper as Pamela Trace (Grey’s mother).
Basically, a couple are in a staged accident and the wife is killed while the husband is paralyzed.  The husband is offered a chance to regain the use of his limbs and he seeks to use this as the means to get revenge against the men who killed his wife. Blah, blah, blah, lots of bloody action set pieces.  Blah, blah, blah, the detective suspects the star / “hero”.  Blah, blah, blah, big fight with the action bad guy.  Blah, blah, blah, movie twist at the end and no resolution.
Is this a “good” SciFi movie?  How about a good action movie?  How about a good movie?  No.  Yes.  So-so.  I was looking forward to seeing this movie at the theater, but then never got around to it.  I picked it up for Vudu at a sale price which was less than the movie price, but over my normal $5 rate because I “really” did want to see it.
The movie is set in the “near” future and “biological enhancements” are a “common” thing.  The visual effects of the future are pretty good in wide-screen shots.  Actually, the over-all special effects are pretty good to very good.  The near-future setting allows the production to save money on most of the movie’s other (close-up) sets.  The “science” in the SciFi is mostly fiction and / or just unexplained. Really, for a SciFi movie, most of the plot does NOT bear consideration — or afterthought — for that matter.
Final recommendation: moderate.  If I was rating this as “just” an action movie, I would say it was a strong recommendation, but I am not.  The martial arts choreography is good to great, but the overall movie story isn’t smooth enough to prevent the viewer (me, anyway) from stopping to ask “why did that happen?”  When that is happening or happens too frequently, the viewer gets removed from the fantasy and you just have to try to enjoy the movie and hope it ends making sense.  Unfortunately, this movie really doesn’t (make sense).  That’s not to say the ending’s twist isn’t good or surprising…  It just doesn’t redeem the rest of the film.
The movie is not appropriate for young children (far too bloody / violent), but (for adults) it’s entertaining enough for its action scenes.  And, yes, Logan Marshall-Green is a dead-ringer for Tom Hardy (LoL).
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On This Day In:
2018 Come November 6th
2017 Hearts And Memories
2016 Tremendous Energy
Beyond Trying
2015 Tell Me…
2014 Live Forever (To Remember Me)
Orange October (VI) – Giants Win Game 4
2013 More Than Just Words
2012 Egotist, n.
2011 Good And Bad

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The Age Of Adaline” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie is a SciFi-Fantasy / Drama / Romance movie starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones (Ellis’ father and 1960’s lover of Adaline); Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones (Ellis’ mother); and, Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Bowman (Adaline’s daughter).
Adaline is born on New Year’s Day in 1908.  She grows up, marries, becomes widowed and is then in a car crash / lightening strike which she survives (altered) with the gift of immortality.  She is stuck at 29 years old for another 80 (odd) years.  In order to avoid discovery, she moves every few years, changes her name and avoids close relationships.  Meanwhile, her daughter – Flemming – grows up and eventually ages into an old woman.
Shoot to the present (2015) and Adaline (now called Jenny) attends a New Year’s Party and meets Ellis Jones.  Over the next few days they fall madly in love and blah, blah, blah – lots of Hallmark moments.
Ellis invites Jenny to meet his parents and “it’s a small world, after all”, Ellis’ father (William Jones) is a former flame of Jenny’s (Adaline’s) from 50 years ago.  More blah, blah, blah.  Adaline’s “true” identity is discovered by William.  Jenny / Adaline flees the house, is in a car accident, blah, blah, blah… Jenny / Adaline is saved and reverted to a “normal” (i.e. aging) person, … and happily ever after.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a SciFi-Fantasy?  Does it work as a Drama / Romance?  To paraphrase “Gladiator“: was I not entertained?  Yes.  Well, okay.  Yes.  And, yes.  SciFi-Fantasy doesn’t really have to make sense.  It just has to offer a reason to get from “A” to “B”.  It does.  And, then it gets you from “B” back to “A” at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter how realistic it (the science) is.  Only that they tried to give an explanation.
Drama / Romance?  Yes.  It’s a simple Hallmark – meet, fall in love, test of love, love wins out, happily ever after movie, and, I’m good with that.  I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but as these movies go, it wasn’t bad.  In fact, yes, I was entertained.  Yes, both Lively and Huisman are very attractive and good in their roles, but I particularly liked Ford, Baker and Burnstyn in their roles.  They sold, if not carried, the movie for me.
Final recommendation: Strong recommendation.  Two young, beautiful people fall madly in love and live happily ever after.  What’s not to like?  A final note: there is a satellite shot that pans from outer space into California, then the Bay Area, then San Francisco which I’ve dreamed of for decades.  It was nice to FINALLY see it in a movie!  I’d have given the movie a good review for that shot alone.
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On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

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Today’s review(s) are for the extended / sub-titled version of “The Millenium Series“. “Millenium” is a six-part television series made in Sweden based on the novels written by Stieg Larsson.  The six parts were combined into three “movies”, each movie consisting of two parts from the series with each part running about 90 minutes for a total of about nine(9) hours.  The English version was released under the name: “Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition”.  I watched the sub-titled version, not the one with the dubbed English.
The three “movies” have the corresponding names to the first three novels in the book series.  I understand the book series was originally intended to run to ten books, but the author (Larsson) died unexpectedly.  The “movie” titles are: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“; “The Girl Who Played with Fire“; and, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest“.
The two main characters in all three of the movies are Lisbeth Salander – played by Noomi Rapace, and Mikael Blomkvist – played by Michael Nyqvist. Salander is a twenty-something Goth hacker who works as a “researcher” for a Swedish security firm.  Basically, she’s a private-eye with computer skills.  Blomkvist is “famous” journalist and part owner of a do-gooder “investigative” magazine called “Millennium”.
The first movie (“Dragon Tatto“) has Blomkvist setup to take the fall for a false libel charge.  In between his conviction and his lockup he is hired by a wealthy Swedish capitalist who wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece several decades ago.  He is getting old and just wants to know what happened to her before he dies.
Anyway, Blomkvist enlists Salander’s help and they solve the mystery and Salander saves Blomkvist’s life in the process.  Closing the quality circle, they also prove the libel charge was a setup and the rich guy commits suicide to avoid going to prison himself.
The second movie (“Played with Fire“), has Millennium investigating sex trade in Sweden for the publication of an expose implicating some government (and police) officials.  The reporter and his girl friend are murdered, as is Lisbeth’s “guardian” and Lisbeth is implicated in the deaths of all three.
This time, Blomkvist comes to Lisbeth’s rescue gathering evidence she is innocent.  Basically, some of the men involved in the sex trade are also involved with (and being protected by) the government officials.  The main “bad-guy” turns out to be a Russian spy who flipped to get Swedish government protection.  In turn, the government looked-the-other-way for over three decades of criminal behavior (drugs, sex trafficking, and gun running).  The bad-guy also turns out to be Lisbeth’s father.  In the end, both Lisbeth and her dad are captured by the police.
The third movie (“Hornets’ Nest“), has Lisbeth on trial for the attempted murder of her father and the possible murder of the other three (the journalist, girl friend, and guardian) from the second movie.  The “government” agents seek to kill Lisbeth and her father to silence them both.  They succeed in killing the dad, but not Lisbeth.
Ultimately, Blomkvist convinces some of the police and another secret group in the Swedish “Constitutional Protection Division” of Lisbeth’s innocence and together they gather the evidence to arrest all the baddies.  There is also another issue which gets wrapped up at the end of the movie.
Final recommendation: High to Very highly recommended with the qualification that all three are rated “R” and there are extremely violent and sexual (nudity) scenes in the first and second movie.  This is not a movie series for prudes or for anyone squeamish about nudity, rape, abuse of authority or violence (depicted) against women.  The “redeeming” factor, if you need that kind of thing, is that all of the bad guys get theirs in the end.  Although some are only shown arrested and disgraced, most have “untimely” deaths.
One cultural note: this is my first exposure to a Swedish production (TV or movie) and, other than the fact that I do not care for sub-titles, I found it a very entertaining production which reminded me of the first Jason Bourne movie in how the movie “looked” – not quite TV, not quite movie; just a funky realism look.  The “only” other “Swedish” thing I remember seeing has been the “Wallander” police series.  That series was shot in Sweden, but was actually a BBC production and started Kenneth Branagh in the title role – so I don’t think that counts as “Swedish”.
I have had this version for several weeks and just never got around to watching it.  I then got an offer from Vudu to buy the “English Dubbed” version for $10.  I didn’t even know the version I had wasn’t already dubbed.  I watched the first movie (parts 1 and 2 of the 6-part series) and decided to pick up the dubbed version as well.  I don’t speak Swedish, but I noticed what appeared to be discrepancies between what the actors were saying and what I was reading – at least some of the words sounded a LOT like other English words to me.  Since I’ve invested the extra money, I’ll watch the dubbed versions, but I’ve no idea when (or if) I’ll get around to reviewing them.
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On This Day In:
2018 Four Loves
Favorite Westerns
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

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Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
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On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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