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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Pitt’

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 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).
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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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Today’s post is reviewing four movies – one re-review and three new reviews.  The movies are: (old) “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016); (new) Immortals (2011); (new) Jason Bourne (2016); and, (new) Moneyball (2011).  Because this post is for four movies, it will be longer than normal.  If you’re not interested in my movie reviews, move along…  So, in alphabetical order…
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)  —  movie review
My original review can be found here from back in April.  Back then I gave it a “strong” recommendation as “entertaining”.  That review stands.  If anything, I might raise it to high.  I think I actually liked it more.  The plot still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but as previously stated: it’s a marketing gimmick to get three super-heroes together so DC can start a franchise.  Even given that, I still liked the movie a lot – more so than the first viewing.  I particularly liked Ben Affleck (Batman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).  And, while Superman is never going to be my favorite super-hero, Henry Cavill owns the role like no one since Chris Reeves in the original “Superman – the Movie”.  The movie worked for me.  Bring on the Justice League of America!
Immortals (2011)  —  movie review
Okay, so in ancient Greece, some beefcake named Theseus (Henry Cavill aka Superman) is blessed / cursed by Zeus (Luke Evans) to protect humanity (well, at least the Greeks) from a mad tyrant – King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).  Phaedra (Freida Pinto) plays the love interest, an Oracle of Delphi.  Anyway, blah, blah, blah, Theseus finds a magic bow (“The Epirus Bow”) and saves the world from the Titans.
Since I’d never heard of this “legend” tale, I looked it up on Wikipedia and it is completely made up.  The names of the characters appear in Greek history or mythology, but this myth / story does not.  Still, it’s a good tale.  The movie is from the same producers as “300“, so if you like that kind of bloody action, fights and special effects (and I do), you should find this movie to your visual taste.  Final recommendation: strong.  I picked this movie to see if Cavill can act in any other role beside Superman.  That didn’t work out so well as he plays a “minor” superman / hero here, too.
Jason Bourne (2016)  —  movie review
This is a movie I really wanted to see at the theater, but never got around to.  It’s the fifth in the series and the fourth with Matt Damon in the title role.  Matt skipped number four which starred Jeremy Renner.  (Wow.  Now I’ve got to go back and see that one again.)  While it was nice to see Matt back in the saddle, this movie makes absolutely no sense.  The plot is the same as the others (the first three), the CIA wants Jason Bourne dead and he fights back.  The special effects technology is upgraded, but it’s used badly and adds to the “huh?” factor.
I never thought I’d say this, since I much prefer Matt to Tom Cruise, but Ethan Hunt is now better in the Mission Impossible series than Jason Bourne is in this series.  And it’s not Matt’s acting.  It’s the story telling.  This movie is what it is: Matt / Jason fighting and running around and being super clever.  Other than that, it’s an extremely average action movie.  I’m sure Hollywood will try to string this out for another couple of sequels, but it’s running out of air and there’s a DNR on the patient’s chart.  Time for a better re-boot than we got with Jeremy.
Moneyball (2011)  —  movie review
What can I tell you?  It’s only been a couple of weeks since the Cubs won the World Series and I’m missing baseball…
This is one of those movies “based on a true story”.  Basically, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has to make a small market (ie “poor”) baseball team competitive.  He does it by introducing “Sabermetrics” to baseball.  Here, Sabermetrics is renamed as “moneyball”.  The baseball team is the Oakland Athletics (better known as the “A’s”).  The A’s lose three of their best players to teams with more money and in the struggle to replace them, Beane tries to redefine how you evaluate players using statistics instead of experienced baseball “eye-balls” (veteran scouts).  What happens is he turns the “rebuilding” team into one which not only makes the playoffs, but sets an American league single season consecutive winning streak.
The movie gives a fascinating look into the “business” of modern baseball, and, yes, I did get caught up in both the streak and the “romance of baseball”.  I liked Brad Pitt in Troy, but most of his stuff is just kind of “so-so” for me.  He is excellent in this role!  Final recommendation: High!!
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On This Day In:
2015 More Prejudice
2014 Say What?
2013 Daring Errors
2012 Are You Comfortable?
I Just Have To
In Flux
2011 True New
2010 A Job Well Started Is A Job Half Done
I See With My One Good Eye

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The Big Short”  (2015)  —  movie review
Last night I watched “The Big Short“, which is a movie about how the banking, finance, credit bureaus  and real estate industries defrauded the American public (actually the entire world) and got away with it.  The movie stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling and is rated “R” for language and frontal nudity (brief scenes with strippers).  The movie uses cut-aways to random famous people to provide “definitions / explanations” and (I guess) a bit of levity.  This act of having the person on camera “speak” to the audience is known as “breaking the fourth wall”.
For some time now, about forty years ago, the banking industry moved away from traditional “banking” and started trying to make money off of making money.  This began as an attempt to monetize risk into products which could be sold.  This was done via derivatives, which is a fancy way of saying “money for nothing”.  It is not really “nothing”, it’s position, options, leverage, coverage, insurance, or any number of other names for financial security – or rather, the illusion of financial security.  Some people think of it as shared risk.  I think it’s more traditional name is gambling.
Okay.  I’ll get off my soap-box and get back to the movie.  Four groups of financial players discover the housing market is being fraudulently (and criminally) propped up and, in fact, is in a giant bubble.  A “bubble” happens when greed takes over common sense in a market and prices for the items in the market are far higher than the actual value of the item and / or the ability of the buyer in the market to purchase the item.  Theoretically, when you lose the ability to pay for something, you should stop buying it.  However, in a true bubble, because “everyone” expects the price to continue to increase, the buyers continue to buy under the assumption the price will continue to go up and just before you lose the item (foreclosure for realty), you sell the item and take whatever profit you can.  IF you can time your exit correctly and get out with a profit, you win.  However, this is not true investing.  It is merely speculating.  This speculation is what is at the heart of the movie.
That is the “before” side of the movie.  The four groups know there is a bubble and one of them creates a derivative to profit (vastly) if the housing market bubble bursts.  The other three parties  get wind of the derivative and essentially go “all-in” to bet on the crash.  This is all happening in roughly 2005.  The expectation is the crash will happen in early 2007 when a percentage of mortgage loans which are variable rates with short-term fixed rate teasers have the teaser expire.
When 2007 rolls around and the housing market does crash, the derivatives don’t initially pay out because the banks / credit agencies / insurance companies  and government don’t want the national economy to collapse.  Essentially, the U.S. Taxpayer (via the government) foots the bill for the losses of the restructuring financial market.  Inevitably, a few of the large financial players “go away” (get bought up at severe discount) and the global economy is saved.   Here, the key point of the movie is that the little guy in America loses their home, but none of the fraudulent bankers and financiers goes to jail.  The irony is they (the banks and financiers) have prevented legislation which might stop this from happening again in the future, and we are back on the same roller coaster again.
Final recommendation:  highly.  This is a complicated movie about a complex subject.  The average person seeing the movie will probably not understand the financial portions of the movie.  They will (probably) understand the effects of the bubble burst because most of us have been living through the results (recession) over the last ten years (and still going).  This is not a great movie, but it is an honorable attempt to educate the working people of America.
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On This Day In:
2015 Even The Little Ones
2014 Who’s On First?
2013 No Equal Measure
2012 A Single Host
2011 No Exemptions
2010 Memories Of KSA – Inside The Fire

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Fight Club (1999)  –  movie review
“The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club…”
Okay, now that that’s been said, we can move on…  Cult movies fascinate me.  I’m really never sure why the movie is going to be a cult favorite, so I watch a fair number of movies which friends and associates say, “You’ve gotta see…”  Some times they hook me too.  More often than not, they don’t.  Some rare times, even after viewing, I’m still not sure.  “Fight Club” is one of those.
Now, in fairness to the movie, I’ve seen the last third of the movie about a half dozen times.  I’ve never seen the beginning or the middle parts.  Last night was the first time I’ve seen the whole movie and I’m trying to guesstimate if knowing the twist at the end of the movie spoiled it for me or if it was just a so-so movie and it (knowing the twist) didn’t much matter.
The movie is a quasi-SciFi movie about 30-ish young man  (Edward Norton) who feels like he’s lost in his own life.  By a chance encounter he meets another guy (Brad Pitt) who challenges him to live his life more fully.  In this case, “more fully” means beating yourself senseless and then beating others senseless, too.  And, of course, sometimes they beat you senseless.  How (you ask) does this make you live life more fully?  To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure.  It seems to be some kind of cross between a rite of passage into manhood and the adrenaline rush of living with physical pain as a consequence of risking your life in “moderated” conflict.
The movie is appropriately rated “R” for language, brief nudity and violence.  Of the three, the violence is the most consistent (Duh, Fight Club, right?).  The movie has thee main sections: pre-club – an examination of loneliness; club – an examination of an attempt to stem imagined emasculation via participatory violence; and, finally, post-club – a somewhat feeble attempt to reset civilization as we know it.  Of the three, the last is the least believable, which left me with mixed feelings about the movie.
So, is it a good movie and is the movie any good?  I would have to say yes and so-so.  It is shot well.  The characters are well played.  I particularly liked Edward Norton in the lead role.  The movie has “stirring” scenery – a decrepit house,  Dark and Light, dripping and flooding, falling down and being (moderately) resurrected.  The camera conveys the emotions and the building is almost an allegory for the main character.  This, to me, is the “definition” of a good movie.  But, is the movie any good?  In the end, it comes down to the difference between enjoying a movie for what it is and thinking a move is good AND that it makes sense.  Try as I might, the movie doesn’t make sense.  I guess it’s just me…
So, final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This is definitely a “cult” classic.  If you discuss it with you’re (male) friends you’ll find most of them have seen it and enjoyed it, but VERY few (if any) would actually participate in such a club.  Why?  Because in the real world, pain HURTS and generally speaking is to be avoided.  And, if you think about it, it (fighting) doesn’t demonstrate you’re a “man” or prove you’re more alive.  …As romantic as many movies may try to make it seem.
Enjoy it for what it is: fantasy / fiction, and leave it at that.
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On This Day In:
2015 Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow
The Man Without Fear
2014 I Blame Robocop
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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