Posts Tagged ‘Ben Kingsley’

Today I have reviews for two movies I’ve just watched (initial viewings) over the weekend and a third which is a re-watch.
Beauty And The Beast (2014) — movie review (La Belle et la Bête)
No, this is not the Disney remake which came out earlier this year of the now classic Disney animated film (from 1991).  I’ve not seen that version yet, but I hope to when it comes out on DVD.  This is the 2014 Belgium / French / German version (a romantic / fantasy) of the fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.  The film stars Vincent Cassel as the Beast / Prince and Léa Seydoux as Belle.  I must admit to never having read the original fairy tale, so I can’t speak to how closely it follows the original.  With three young children growing up in the 1990’s, I have, of course seen the Disney animated musical multiple times.
This version is live action with special effects.  The “live action” is strangely European.  I’m not sure (quite) how to put my finger on it, but it is unmistakably NOT an American film.  That is not good or bad.  It just is.  The special effects were okay, but reminded me of the “Jack and the Beanstalk” movie from 2013.  (I believe that movie was titled: “Jack the Giant Slayer“.)  In other words: adequate, obviously computer generated, but okay.  The problems I had with the movie came down to this: worse than the predictability, too many parts made no sense or were never explained.  They just kind of happened.  This detracted from the overall theme of the movie: that true love is magical and can be redeeming in itself.
Having said this, I found the movie pleasantly enjoyable.  Not great, but enjoyable.  It’s not terribly frightening and can be viewed by the whole family – well, maybe not very small children.  I give it a moderate to strong recommendation.
War Machine (2017)  —  movie review
Brad Pitt stars as General Glen McMahon, a character based on General Stanley McChrystal.  McMahon is portrayed as an accomplished general with degrees from West Point and Yale brought in by the Obama Administration to bring a resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan because he is an “expert” on counter-insurgency.  Pitt’s portrayal is one of a focused, disciplined, but rather buffoonish military leader who “seems” to be caught in a situation he can’t lead his troops out of.  In a terrific casting, Ben Kingsley plays President Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan.  “Caught” in a similar situation (one of figurehead leadership), Karzai only seeks to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
Are the portrayals of the fictionalized characters accurate to the real people?  I can’t say because I have never met them and have not read enough about them to form a solid opinion.  Do they “appear” to be realistic portrayals?  Yes, they do.  So, is the movie a satire and / or a dark comedy or is it a realistic depiction of what happened?  My gut feeling is this movie is FAR more realistic than we want to believe.  Absent the horror of combat (injuries and death) and collateral civilian casualties, when viewed externally, most of war can easily appear as satire and dark comedy.
So, is this a good movie?  Yes!  You (or I) may not like what it says about our politics or our wars, but I believe it is an accurate window into the crisis situation we place our combat troops in when we send them into (and leave them in) places where / when they cannot engage and destroy the enemy because they can’t tell the enemies from the friendlies.  Collateral damage becomes almost a certainty.
I highly recommend this movie!  If all you see is the dark comedy or the even darker portrayal of our military and civilian leadership, that’s fine.  If it is, re-watch the film and ask yourself: “What if it’s true and this is what it was (is) really like in Afghanistan?”  What does it mean to you?
Captain America:  Civil War  (2016)  —  movie review
I have reviewed this movie before (here) and watched it a couple of more times since.  Every time I watch it I see something a little different(ly) and I enjoy it even more.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is not great drama and the physical effects of the combat scenes are completely ridiculous, but it’s a comic book movie and if it’s not “JUST” the way you would imagine it from the comics, it’s pretty darn close.
I highly recommend this movie (again).  I would add one side comment.  I watched this movie on TV with commercial breaks and found it MUCH less enjoyable.  Some movies can stand the interruptions, some can’t.  I found this to be one that did not hold up well with the frequent breaks.  Again, just my opinion.  So, watch it on a movie channel or get the DVD.
Apologies for such a long post.  Thanks for hanging in there with me (and finishing it).
On This Day In:
2016 Patronage
2015 For Blogs, Too!
2014 Righteous Anger
2013 An Irish Blessing
2012 But Is It Worth It?
2011 Let Us Start

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On last Tuesday evening, I watched the movie: “Exodus: Gods And Kings” (2014).  The movie stars Christian Bale as Moses, the protagonist in the Bible’s book of Exodus, which describes the Hebrews release from slavery (“bondage”) by the Egyptians around 1400 to 1300 BCE.  The Pharaoh, Ramses, is played by Joel Edgerton.  I really intended to go see this movie at the theater because I am big fan of viewing “spectacle” special effects on the big screen.  Just as seeing a large picture of the Grand Canyon doesn’t do justice to seeing the Grand Canyon, so viewing a tidal wave on a 32 inch screen three feet away is not the same as going to the movies.  I think this is a revelation to movie goers at multiplexes.  They “think” they are seeing a movie on the “big” screen, when actually they are seeing most of the movies on the secondary screens and the viewing experience is actually viscerally different.  But, that’s a discussion for another day…
Exodus” is a longish is movie which takes time to develop a lengthy re-telling of a man’s conversion to faith.  Despite frequent “miracles”, Moses simply refuses to accept the power of God until the very end of the movie.  Some viewers will have a problem with this (the length of the movie) for a host of reasons.  For the person of faith, what does God have to do to make you believe?  For the average movie goer, “Man this movie is taking forever to get to the FX!”  As someone who struggled with finding (and keeping) faith, for most of his life, the movie’s slower pacing (in parts) did not particularly bother me.
Does the movie follow the story from the Bible or its most recent and popular depiction (DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments“)?  Sort of, but with fairly significant changes.  Do they matter?  If you are a Biblical literalist, yes.  And, they (the differences) may even be offensive.  If you are someone looking for a rational explanation for some of the 10 plagues / “miracles”, no.  Well, yes.  There is still no rational (i.e., natural) explanation for what happens, but at least the story tries to throw you a bone.  In either case, literalist or rationalist, my question would be: what are you really expecting from a major motion picture?  You’re only expectations should be a “fair” treatment of the source material and entertainment.  I think this movie / adaptation tries – and mostly succeeds – to deliver both.
The acting is pretty good, but several of the “big” acting names have fairly trivial roles – Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley, to name just two.  The special effects are pretty good.  (Again, I regret not seeing this on a big screen.)  The movie, I think mostly due to variance from the Biblical story, is not as predictable as I thought it was going to be.  I frequently thought, “they did that well” or “that’s not what’s in the Bible“, and I think that is a good thing because it raises questions which make me want to go back to the source material (the Bible) and see if my memory or the interpretation is correct – or if the interpretation (movie) brings me new light to and new understanding of the Bible.  I personally feel anything which makes me go back to the Bible is a good thing.  But again, that’s a discussion for another day, too…
Final recommendation: strong recommendation!  Good entertainment value without any sex and very little violence (considering there’s a couple of battles and a whipping scene).
On This Day In:
2014 Not In Any Sense
2013 The Circus On TV
2012 To Be Stronger
2011 Are You Sure?

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